Sunday, February 28, 2010

On getting by...

I love this book. It's all about making what you need. Granted it's a bit dated. Some of the things that were taken for granted as available and cheap are now considered antiques and are expensive. Still it does stir the imagination and get the old brain cells working on ways to improve life around the farm. I especially like the Dog powered pump... ... hmmmm I have an over exuberant pyrenees... I wonder?

Little green noses

The daffodils peaking their little green noses up through the mulch around our house!!!!

Spring is definitely on it's way. :)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Stocking up as a way of life

This book is going to be my near constant companion this year. January 2010 begins a year long experiment in not only eating "locally" but in producing most of what we eat. I spent more than a little time trying to calculate how much food we need to put by.
104 quarts of greenbeans (that's green beans twice a week or less if we have company over for dinner)
52 quarts of corn, about the same amount of peas. Brian's not fond of peas but mom and I are.
200 pounds of potatoes
50 quarts of whole tomatoes
50 quarts of tomato juice
As many cherry tomatoes as we can dry... I love to eat them like raisins. Yummy snack.
24 pints of pickled beets
18 quarts of saurkraut
A batch of my Grandfather Chili sauce- this recipe is huge. I only need to make it every other year.
32 quarts of greens-kale, swiss chard, mustard greens, spinach
24 quarts of broccoli
As much cauliflower as we can manage. Cauliflower is sooo finicky. Some years we get some and some years we don't. We'll see.
Brussel sprouts - yes we are trying again. This year I think we'll grow them throughout the season under row covers. Maybe then we'll get some sprouts!
Carrots- this year we'll experiment with keeping carrots either in the ground or in the root cellar to eat fresh through the winter.
Several bushels of winter squash including pie pumpkins, butternuts, spaghetti squash and banana squash.
Onions - I'm planning on curing them in the garage then braiding them up and hanging them from the rafters in our dry basement.
A bushel or more of Sweet potatoes.
12 + quarts of pickled okra and about the same frozen. One of Brian's favorite foods.
Relish: corn relish, chowchow, zuchini relish, pepper relish at least 48 pints.
Pickles whatever comes out well. I am pickle making challenged. Surely this year I can make some that are crispy.
We'll be hanging whole cabbages upside down from the rafters this year to see how long they will keep.
Turnips and parsnips - like the carrots this will be an experiment to see  how long they will keep.
If the melons do well this year I want to try to make some syrup. If they don't do so well, then we'll just eat them all fresh! or made into sherbet.
Elderberries will be made into syrup. Elderberry syrup is one of my favorites on pancakes and waffles.
We should have a few apples and some pears. The pruning continues on our  much neglected fruit trees. For now we'll go up to "Apple Works" for their yummy apples.
Blackberries- yes I am going to brave the chiggers and go out for the wild ones. :)
In the meat department we plan on butchering a steer after Christmas, at least one hog during the year, 2 lambs and about 100 chickens. We will possibly have a few juicy ducklings to add to the larder. And in the fall Brian insists he is going deer hunting. That  means venison loins and lots of deer jerky.
Miss Hazel will supply us with milk, cream, cheese and kefir.
We aren't set up yet to grow our own grain, but my son has a grain mill so we will settle for milling our own grain. Maybe we'll try grain growing next year.

Wow! I just looked over my list.... we'd better get busy!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hazel is MOOOving to Indiana

This is Hazel soon to be our family milk cow. We can hardly wait. I'm reading up on cheese making!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Brian made the paper

Ok so it wasn't the front page, but it's still great that people are reading more about the Red Wattles and what it will take to save them from the slippery slope of extinction.

So come on out if you are in the area and join us for breakfast on March 8th!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Babe decided to go first. Sometime this morning while I was sleeping off the affects of having worked overnight at the hospital Babe decided to have her babies. This is her first litter. Arthur is the daddy.
Unfortunately, she had several that were stillborn, but she had 4 lovely little ones nursing away when I left for work. :<)

I'll post pics when I get a chance.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Red Wattle Vigil or The waiting is killing me!

Babe and Petunia are expecting... and they are due any minute now! 

We've been trying to guess for days who will go first. Last week it looked like Petunia was making more milk. Then this week Babe looks about to bust. Both their bellies are almost dragging the ground.

Brian went out to check them just a little while ago... no piggies. Just two very large Red Wattle momma's wondering why he keeps waking them up with that awful flashlight.

Be careful what you wish for!

A couple of months ago, I said to my daugher " I wish someone would come in and reorganize this kitchen. It just doesn't work at all."

Three days ago she started doing just that. Now we have a special cabinet for tea and coffee, a neatly organized place for herbs and spices and she found all the food containers that have lids and made them a home. The orphaned lids and bowls were delegated to the "Good Will" box. After two days of rearranging, things came to a complete stand still.

We had talked about clearing out the closet in the laundry room to use for a pantry. Clearing it out meant removing a century's worth of family photos. All of those photos were just too tempting and much organizational time was lost in reminiscing over pictures. (Though I did find several I want to add to my "Are you new here?" blog.)

Once the closet was empty, we had to convince Brian he wanted to install three shelves. This didn't take much convincing when he saw all the groceries piled on the kitchen floor!

Now the shelves are up and tomorrow Lydia doesn't work, so I'm hoping she'll come out and finish up.

Then it will only take us a week or two to find where all of our neatly organized stuff is!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I wanna be a spokes pig!

When our big old Red Wattle boar Samson died last fall, we lost our "official" spokes pig.
Samson loved to have his back scratched and would beg for treats and he was very gentle. His role as spokes pig for the Red Wattles on our farm will be hard to fill, but we need a new spokes pig.
This is Petunia. She is the friendliest of all our sows. She likes to have her back scratched and she likes a nice dog biscuit treat or an egg now and then. She is very curious and a really good mother.
She wants to be our new spokes pig.
So if you come out to visit the farm stop by and visit a spell with Petunia. Get to know our gentla giants the Red Wattle hogs and don't forget the dog biscuits!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

We spoke - they finally listened

No more NAIS:

An email from the ALBC states: "On February 5, 2010, the USDA announced it will abandon efforts to implement a National Animal Identification Program to track livestock. "

According to an offical news release from the USDA:
"On February 5, 2010, USDA announced a new, flexible framework for animal disease traceability in the United States.

The framework will provide the basic tenets of an improved animal disease traceability capability in the United States. USDA’s efforts will:

Only apply to animals moved in interstate commerce;

Be administered by the States and Tribal Nations to provide more flexibility;

Encourage the use of lower-cost technology; and

Be implemented transparently through federal regulations and the full rulemaking process.

USDA is committed to working in partnership with States, Tribal Nations and industry in the coming months to address many of the details of this framework, and is establishing a Secretary's Advisory Committee on Animal Health to address specific issues, such as confidentiality and liability."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow will stay these farmers from their appointed rounds

This is Brian running water for the "Louisiana" hogs. We haul water to the hog pastures using the tractor bucket and two 55 gallon plastic barrels. Brian's plumbed the barrels with faucets and hoses to make it easier, but on days like today it is cold and windy and wet.
Praying for an early spring, yep praying for an early spring...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Barn Report

It's really starting to take shape. No more "Post Henge".
Brian has the skeleton of the roof up and one side covered in native wood siding. The logs you can see in the foreground will become the balance of the siding and the dividers for stalls and a feed/tack room. These logs are salvaged from trees the "near miss" tornado took down last summer.
Now it just has to quit snowing so the sawmill guys can get in and out with the logs/lumber. The perfect day would be cold, no snow with the ground frozen so their big truck won't sink and make ruts. The weather man says that probably won't happen this week, but he's never right. So here's hoping and praying for perfect "logging" weather.

10 more days. . .

Until Peaches can come out of her cast. That is as long as she doesn't chew through it again. We have had her back to the vet 7 times now to have the set redone because she licks and chews at it.
I can't blame her. If you have ever had a cast you know that it itches in there!

But the vet said she can have the cast off in 10 days. Then it will just be a matter of getting the cut to complete it's healing.

Right now Peaches is sad she wants to be out playing in the snow. Everytime you look out at the garage or walk by the big garage door there  is a pair of big puppy eyes looking out just under the door and a black puppy nose sticking out sniffing hopefully .

Hang in there Peaches. It won't be long now. :)

Friday, February 5, 2010

A whirlwind tour of Illinois

So we needed a vacation. We got up early fed and watered all the animals extra well. We talked our son in law into walking the dogs. Got my son to agree to gather the eggs, put up the hens and generally keep things on an even keel and we were off to Illinois.
Why Illinois? Well because we want a milk cow and our friends at Green Acres Dairy happened to have one they would be willing to sell. They also wanted some feeder pigs from us. So we packed up the piglets and headed northwest. I forget sometimes how flat the upper 2/3rds of Indiana and Illinois are and just how barren it all seems in the dead of winter. Good thing Brian and I had much farm "stuff" to talk over on the trip. Otherwise Brian would have had to listen to me sing along to the radio!
We arrived at Green Acres Farm midmorning Keith and Donna came out and we all helped unload the piglets into their new barn home. Nice digs! Lots of straw and Freddy the herd dog really wanted to play with them! Then we got reaquainted with the three pigs we had sold them earlier in the year: Cagney, Lacey and Mad Max. They are really growing! After the pig rangling Donna invited us in to warm up.
Later we went out to meet the cows. There were black one, black and white ones, mousey gray/brown ones, red ones and golden tan ones. We found the perfect Jersey for us. She's not to big, not too young and very friendly. That last one is most important since this will be Brian's first experience with a milk cow.

After the tour of the milking mommas we headed in for lunch. Home made chili with crackers and big glasses of raw milk followed by home made blueberry buckle. Yummy!
I spent some time picking Donna and Keiths brains about marketing all natural pork to restaurants - article to follow in the Red Wattle Hog Association Newsletter - Spring edition. Then it was time to head on north to visit our friend Clyde in Rockford.
We took a detour out to see the sows who are expecting before we took off. They looked really happy in their pasture with the Piggy Palace Keith built.
Here are couple of pics of the happy pigs at Green Acres Dairy - Oh and of Keith and Donna!

And it snowed...

It snowed and it snowed and it snowed but the animals went about their day as though nothing was different than the day before. And when the day was done they went off to their warm beds for a long winter's nap.