Wow. I can’t believe how long it’s been since I blogged. This summer was a whirlwind and I just didn’t have it in me to blog. This isn’t good because I use this blog as a personal journal, especially for my farm milestones, so I’m a little unsure of how old some of the animals are. I didn’t log in the major events of the summer. So I’ll try to catch up a bit.
Pigs! We don’t have them anymore. We had the butchered on August 4. They were butchered, here on the farm, as peacefully as possible. No stressful ride to the butcher. No stress of smelling death in the air while awaiting their turn. Simply eating grain, in their usual spot, shoulder to shoulder. Nate Huse, a local 4th generation custom butcher came to the house with his well stocked truck. Each pig was shot, bled and hung. Skinned. Placed in the truck, and brought back to Nate’s shop to be hung, and pieced. Nate is fast, efficient, a master with a knife, and clearly cares for the animals with a great deal of peace in his manner and respect in his actions. It was amazing to watch him work. He processed them to our specifications, and sent them back all vacuum packed for the freezer several days later. We have been enjoying the meat with such dishes as curried ground pork, pasta sauce, stuffed pork chops, and country style ribs simmered in cherries I put up last year. My friend built a smoke house, and we will be smoking the hams and bacon over there in the coming weeks. Check out her bacon! MMMM.
Cows! Declan is growing well. He is still running with mama all day, spending time in his own space at night, and joining her again after morning milking. We are going to have Nate come to butcher him this fall, before Winter hits. We decided to try this as an experiment. We don’t want to over winter 2 cows, that need to be separated, so that the nursing will stop. We don’t want to have a steer while we are caring for Nellie and her new calf that will come next summer, if all goes well. The meat should still be fabulous, even if it’s less. Sort of like veal, but without the mistreatment associated with veal. It’s an experiment. We might like it, we might not, but we won’t know until we try.
Nellie is ready to be re-bred. Truth be told, she’s past ready, so we have an Artificial Insemination technician lined up for the next heat cycle in another week or so. We hope this takes the first time, so she will calve in early June and not need to be rebred for calving in July. We’ll see.
The pasture area is starting to fill in with natural grasses and weeds. I have been weeding it, to try to keep the weeds she doesn’t like to eat, out. This month we are going to finish raking it, and start throwing down seeds and mulch, in the hopes that next Spring, Nellie will have a beautiful pasture to graze on.
Not a lot to say about them. We’ve had a lot of loss. Seems we had a bout with coccidiosis, that took most of one age group. We were able to control the outbreak without employing any chemicals/medications. So we felt good about that. Next year we will keep chicks inside a little longer so they can get past their vulnerable age before going out into the environment.
We also had a coon that was far more successful than coons in years past. We lost about 20-25 to that before we caught him and disposed of the little menace.
We will be selecting a breeding flock from those that remain, and hope for a better year next year.
Also a summer of losses. We lost Mimi and Isabelle to heat. We lost Clementine to old age, but that is a happier ending. She was retired, so she’s been lost in the since of one less breeding does, but she’s happily playing with her friend Clarice that she grew up with. We are enjoying the rabbit ground pens we made. They are eating grass, laying on the ground, safe, easy to care for. It’s really the best of all worlds. The rabbits will be moving around the pasture after Nellie in the Spring. I’m excited with where our rabbit herd is and the direction we are moving.
We had a couple successful hatches of Muscovy. We crossed our chocolates with blacks, and will be selecting a male from one pairing and 3-4 females from the other, so we can start a solid breeding program with that breed. I’m excited about how that went.
We had a rough hatching year for the Runner ducks. They hatched very poorly in the incubator, so I tried using a broody hen. She did much better, so next year I’ll be using a couple hens to hatch out our replacement runners. I have not divided males and females yet, but it looks like we will have a good little new flock to join last years layers this winter.
Fail! Seriously. I am done with a large garden. I scaled back this year and still found myself too busy during the critical times to maintain the thing. My summer squash/zucchini all died. My tomatoes (all 6 plants) were destroyed by hornworms. I had a good crop of onions, string beans, and peppers. My plan for next year is to sign up for a CSA and simply gardening with the girls. I hope to create good little gardeners who can take over that part of the farm. We’ll see.
Why was I too busy to garden, blog and get the cow bred? I had a lot going on with my full time job. I went to a large trade show of sorts in July, so all of June and July was spent making inventory and getting things ready to freight to Seattle WA area. Upon return I had a lot of orders to fill, followed by my friends wedding! It’s been a good and fun summer, but now it’s time to settle into a new rhythm. The rhythm of fall. Foraging, picking, canning, preserving, organizing, knitting, and all around hunkering down for Winter.
I did my canned good inventory, and am quite proud of my last year canning self. I canned enough for last year, and for many things, this year! I have 65 quarts of diced tomatoes and 33 quarts of peaches. We are looking good on jams. I will be canning apple sauce on a large scale and a moderate number or of Pears since we are down to 17 quarts. I am hoping to can up some tomato paste, various chutney’s, a little salsa, mostly fun small batch canning. I’m very excited to be in such good shape already.
Eowyn is now a “first grader”, so we are officially homeschooling. We have, of course, been educating our kids since they were born. Hours of reading, and many other hands on activities to help them make connections in their brains. But with the official homeschooling we are working out what our rhythm is for that, as well. The girls are excited to do their “lessons” each day, so we are off to a good start.
I’m back on the torch. The show this summer, along with some other fun things, motivated me to making spending time melting glass a priority again. It’s been fun, and I’m glad to be back. I will share some things here, from time to time. Here is the necklace I made to wear for the show, this summer.