Breast Obsessed

Clearly our customers have a breast obsession.  We are selling far more chicken breasts than any other cut.  Having a product that sells is great, but there’s a “however”. Here, however, is the dilemma:  breasts are selling too quickly, while drumsticks and the soup parts (necks and backs) are piling up.  We aren’t part of the commodity market, so we can’t dump certain cuts on third world countries.  I don’t want to be scoldy here, but it is true that sustainable eating involves the responsibility to eat all the edible parts of… Read More

Meeting With My Constituents

Every time I walk through the pigs’ pastures, they congregate around me, scratching their backs on my legs, chewing on my boots, and just generally getting in the way.  Younger pigs are leery of humans, but once they get into the 150 pound range there is a noticeable change in their ratio of fear to curiosity.  Younger pigs will wander over to sniff me and then bolt away, but older ones will stick around for scratches behind the ears. At this time of year it is fine and fun, but there are… Read More

Fire and Ice

I spent my day at the extremes of fire and ice. During the morning I repaired the tractor loader quick attach mounts.  They have been replaced before, but for $240 for the set, this time I decided to straighten them and see if I can coax a little more life out of them.  I’ve seen a few others of this series loader bent in the same way, so I blame Case/New Holland’s flimsy design.  I used the oxy-propane rosebud to heat a 5/8″ thick section (two 5/16″ layers stacked together) up to… Read More

At Long Last

Rachel started planting an orchard six years ago after I cleared the sumac and brush behind the house.  Our first crop of peaches are just ripening.  It has been a long wait for that first taste.  These peaches are a delight.

My Hay Habit

This year we’ll spend a little above $10,000 for hay for the cattle, not counting about $1500 for low-quality bedding hay for the pigs.  Unlike the chicken feed, which costs a few thousand bucks every month or two, the summer hay bills all hit at once.  Buying from neighbors adds a little cushion since everyone understands that we run short, but we don’t want to push the community line of credit too far either.  Robert Frost could have added “Good payments make good neighbors” to Mending Wall.  Shown above is a small… Read More

Milk Bath

Even though the pigs have made some lovely mud wallows for cooling off on a summer’s day, this girl chose a dunk right in the drink trough.  This pig weighs in the high 300 pound range so she displaces a lot of liquid,  nearly causing it to overflow.  Today’s drink menu includes sour milk curds and whey.  Remember that bit in Charlotte’s Web when they give Wilbur a scrubbing with buttermilk before going to the fair? Maybe this pig knows something about milk baths.  Or maybe it was just a convenient place… Read More

The Eggo Lego

While Rachel was busy washing eggs, the kids grew bored of labeling cartons and turned it into another Lego project.  Good thing those are all empty.

Grazing the Pigpen

Most years I allow the yard where the pigs spend the winter to grow up with whichever plants volunteers there.  Usually that includes pumpkins, butternut squashes, and tomatoes, along with a mess of weeds.  This year I hoped to plant an experimental crop of corn in there and let the pigs hog it down in the fall, but the wet spring didn’t allow that.  As a backup plan I broadcasted pearl millet and rape left over from last year’s pasture trials. Despite the lack of soil preparation, the swampy conditions, and the… Read More