The sun shone beautifully yesterday for the first time in a long time.
Today we are back to steady rain with more and heavier in the forecast.
We got our garden in a few weeks ago.
Allie planted her row of strawberries.
Despite the over abundance of water and the pesky hens’ attempts to scratch up the entire thing, the garden is growing.
We’ve been taking armed midnight walks out to the chicken tractors to see if we can catch the critter that has been killing our birds. 15 of our meat chicks were snatched along with 6 layer chicks. Our guineas are dead, only two of the chicks born to the three hens this spring remain.
Our favorite rooster was scattered from his tree roost across our front yard and down into the lane that opens into the pastures below. I’ve been sleeping later since he died–no 4am wake up call. He and the other rooster had come to blows and the lesser of the two must have been cowed out of his roosterness.
He lost his tail feathers, his comb shrivelled up and he stopped crowing.
Two days ago Wilcocks’ hen mother Wild Woman got smashed by a car. What luck. The two prettiest birds gone in the same week.
A local cheese plant delivers 6000 gallons of whey at a time to our pigs.
It comes off the truck steaming and is drained into three tanks we installed in early January.
Below Dave is working on the fittings for the pipes.
All we have to do is open a valve, and the whey is carried by pipes down the hill to the waiting trough where our pigs drink it at a rate of 6 gallons per pig per day.
Besides the tenderizing effect of the whey on the pork, whey provides a complete protein that enables the pigs to put on weight more quickly while on pasture.
The result? Hmmm. Yes, please!
The word we like to use to describe our pork is pastured. As soon as the winter snows are over and the fields begin to grow, we get our pigs out of their winter paddock where they have enjoyed a diet of whey, grain and hay and move them into the fields. During the early stages, we prefer to use them to clear out any underbrush that has gotten out of control,
but by the beginning of May, we have them in the fields.
Our management of the fields is intensive. We use a double strand electric polywire to fence a 50×50 ft section of pasture and move the pigs into a new area about every three days. We then come behind them and reseed with clover and forage brassicas. We sometimes use field peas, oats, or barley, depending on the season.
The first day the pigs graze the grass.
The second, they focus on rooting.
By the third day the pasture is mostly turned over.
Time for another paddock.
Having grown up in a suburb of Oklahoma City, my mind keeps returning to the events of yesterday, and a blog post seems more insignificant than usual.
I’m thankful that my family and friends made it through and are out giving comfort and aid.
I have been fermenting for a couple of years now, and though I am pleased with the results, I am always tweaking.
I am always looking for good books on the subject, and I am often asked about the process of fermentation.
I have a favorite beginner book now. Real Food Fermentation by Alex Lewin covers the basics simply and clearly. He also has a variety of simple recipes. If you want to try fermenting, this is a great place to start.
An article I came across recently gave me the final nudge to move to an airlock system. I don’t think it is absolutely necessary, but it has proven helpful for us. I’ve not been entirely successful in waiting the full 28 days before consuming these yummy veggies, but I’m working on it.
Garden planning takes place in the dead of winter,
so my ordering may have gone overboard as I longed for spring.
In no time, I filled the 30ft x 40ft plot Dave prepared for me and had quite a few seeds left over.
We also wanted space to grow lots of pumpkins for the pigs, so we had a 650ft x 6ft strip tilled along the top edge of one of our pastures.
Today we planted it.
Dave used the tiller to help in some spots and got out his seeder for the carrots and beans.
The kids picked up a load of rocks,
and stopped to peek in the bird house they made a couple of years ago.
In the strip we planted
corn–pop and sweet
beans–KY Wonder and Blue Lake
cucumbers–pickling and gherkin
flowers–chrysanthemums, zinnias, calendula
Tomorrow we finish up with about 200ft of pumpkins.
Friday night the Rainbows brought Iris and Thomas to the farm for a quick visit.
Thomas is an environmental historian completing his dissertation in history at NYU this year. The name of his dissertation? “Three Little Pigs: Development, Pollution, and the ‘Greening’ of East Germany, 1970-1989”
He and Iris jumped right in to the farm life and were delightful to have.
Iris got to do a bit of shepherding escaped sheep and hog whispering
and Thomas got his hands dirty moving pigs and installing whey lines.
The kids, of course, found plenty to delight them.
Such a fun weekend. Come again!
Up until this year, we have depended on a local auction for laying hens.
We decided to be purposeful about what we wanted and order them as chicks.
AJ was thrilled to receive the call from the post office that our chicks were ready for pickup.
He immediately ran to the coop he and Dave prepared yesterday, removed the door, switched on the heat lights and filled the water jars.
When he returned from the post office, he was beaming.
3 Turkens (Naked Necks)
3 Rhode Island Reds
3 Buff Rocks
12 Black Australorps
AJ is the chicken man.
He has taken on the responsibility of caring for these birds and will receive payment for each one that reaches laying age.
He’s one proud boy today.