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My life as a young wife to one, a mother to many and a flawed yet faithful follower of Christ.

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Two Little Piggies Went To The Market

Posted by AFarmhouseFull on November 7, 2011 at 8:20 AM Comments comments (3)

 

Remember theses sweet, pink piggies?

 

They are not small anymore.  They have a total combined weight of a little over a quarter of a ton!  Ahem….that is a LOT of pig!  They will be arriving at the local butcher this morning and I am VERY happy about that.  Those suckers can EAT!  After  seeing the amount of food those piggies put away in the last few months I am starting to get nervous about running the numbers to find out what they cost per pound.

 

 

 

As for the cuts of meat, we will be dividing it as follows.  The bacon and ham will be smoked and will be ready in about 2 months ( I think!).  Which, of course, means no Christmas ham…BOO!  We will be reserving the butt roasts, ribs, chops and loins and the rest will be ground for sausage.

 

 

We are thinking about keeping the ground sausage unseasoned so that we can season it at the time of cooking.  Although, never having done that, I am not sure if it will taste the same as sausage that hasn’t “marinated” in the seasoning for a while.  Has anyone done that?  Did it taste the same?  

 

 


Farm Update

Posted by AFarmhouseFull on September 21, 2011 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (0)

I have been procrastinating on posting about the farm because quite frankly other things have been on my mind.  I don’t think I actually had even SEEN the pigs in a week – thank goodness I am not in charge of feeding them!  Also, we had been taking a “wait and see” approach with the bees.  After we had added the honey super their expeditious proliferating had slowed drastically and I wasn’t sure if we were losing the hive.  At that point I decided not to worry about it and was at peace if they ended up not recuperating.  I was, however, pleasantly surprised when I opened the lid again today and found that their numbers had increased and many new larvae were almost ready to take flight!  The top honey super is still virtually untouched, but their numbers are a lot stronger now.  I am not as fearful for them.  That said, we will NOT be extracting honey from this newbie hive this year.  Although a little disappointed, it probably worked out for the best since we really don’t need to spend then money on a honey extractor when we are saving for a much bigger purchase (a tractor/loader!)


The chickens are laying and their smaller pullet eggs have been replaced by HUGE brown eggs that taste OH SO HEAVENLY!  We were pulling about 9-12 a day from them for a little while, but we have recently lost a few layers.  We are now getting between 8-10 eggs a day.  Anyone who lives in the area who would like eggs let me know; we are selling them for $3 a dozen or 2 dozen for $5.00.


“Bacon” and “Sausage” are getting nice and meaty!  I will be glad when we aren’t paying to feed them and rather they are paying to feed us!  Bacon looks near ready while Sausage is a couple of weeks behind.   They are SO playful!  Here is a video of them acting like dogs playing with an old feed bag.

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As for the dairy animal I longed for mere months ago…..well, I have decided that it is not the season of our lives to be adding it.  And I am at COMPLETE peace with it.  Actually, looking back, I would have been very regretful had I went ahead and took the plunge to get one.  This season in my life is a fleeting one and a dairy animal would be taking precious time from those babies that are growing up WAY too fast (yeah, I have said that a thousand times before……but they ARE!).  Possibly when they get a little older and are a little more independent we will reconsider, but for now we are going to stick to low maintenance animals that we can leave for a day or two without a big upheaval.  I wasn’t willing to give up my frequent trips the cabin – I am spoiled, I know!

The garden…..what garden?  Ahem.  We did get a good harvest of red and white potatoes, red and white onions, jalapenos, salad greens and carrots.  Our sweet corn failed…..miserably!  I ended up buying a large amount from a local source that we blanched and froze.  Our first crop of green beans was decent, but we never got around the second crop.  Our peas did okay, but again we didn’t get around to a second crop.  As of now the chickens have had the pleasure of scrounging the leftovers tomatoes that are not ripening in the cooler weather.   The argument arises each year (within MYSELF!) whether making and canning tomato sauce is worth the effort.  Each year I start by thinking it is and by the second large batch of grinding, boiling and canning sauce I become doubtful again.

Do you find canning large amount of sauce worth the time and effort?  If so, why or why not?

 

 

"Necessity is the Mother of Invention"

Posted by AFarmhouseFull on July 9, 2011 at 9:31 AM Comments comments (5)

Have I mentioned on here we don’t own a tractor?  Please, don’t revoke our homesteader’s club card!  Actually to tell you the truth we are probably more innovative homesteaders because we don’t own one.  Owning one would be nice for various reasons, but this week’s reason was because we needed a little help to turn the compost.  With Mike doing so much landscape work our compost pile has become quite the little mountain.  “A tractor would be nice,” was the comment that seemed to fly out of our mouths as we sat and stared at the ever-growing pile of organic matter.  Of course only 5 foot away played 2 energetic live rototillers with the appropriate names of Bacon and Evil Dr. Porkchops!  LIGHT BULB!

   

 

 

After just a few minutes and some extra T posts and hog panels, my husband temporary enlarged the pig pen to encompass the compost pile.  Since then we have been experiencing the benefits of those strong, pink snouts.  They started in at it right away and have been turning it quite nicely since.  So, here’s to our 2 horse pig power compost turner – no tractor, PTO or gas and oil needed!

 


Random Recap

Posted by AFarmhouseFull on June 24, 2011 at 7:14 PM Comments comments (0)

I know, I know…..it has been a while.  When I let more than a week or pass between posts I usually am overwhelmed to start again and get a case of writers block.  The easiest way I know to catch everyone up is just an un-witty list of stuff that has been happening.  So here goes!

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  • We added the top deep super to the honey bees and while we were in there checking we noticed that they had made somewhat of a mess of the inside cover of the hive.  We had to scrape off quite a bit of comb and brood that was attached to the lid.  Because it seems the only time these bees of ours get testy is when we are messing with their babies we were a bit nervous about destroying their handiwork.  But alas, we need the hive to stay neat, tidy and manageable.  We luckily scraped all of it off without anyone getting stung!  I don’t wear gloves when I am dealing with them (gloves make me more apt to drop frames) and I DO NOT WANT to kill our precious and hardworking queen!  Everything looked well and we nestled them back into their home and shut the lid.  We will check in another week or so and see how they are doing in their new addition.

  • The pigs are doing wonderful!  Our littler pig (The Evil Dr. Pork Chops) is catching up quite nicely.  Pigs are just a joy to be around and they are super playful.  Our bigger pig (“Bacon”) likes to chew on the edge of my skirts, most assuredly my white skirt! Go figure.
  • Our garden is coming along quite nicely and we have zucchini and peas coming off and we have already harvested quite a few pounds of broccoli.  The potatoes look a little puny, but after close examination I think it has to do with the shadow cast by the large shed just to the west of the garden which shades the potatoes in the evening.  We are going to scoot the garden over a hair next year to eliminate this problem.  


  • We are getting anxious about getting eggs again.  Our gals should be laying about mid-August.  I am REALLY looking forward to it.  We ended up with 5 (white) mystery chickens (they must have messed our order up – we didn’t order any white chickens).  Out of those 5 white chickens 2 are roosters.  One may survive if it is lucky and stays somewhat friendly.  Otherwise….chicken noodle soup anyone? Speaking of eating chicken…..


  • We ate our first meat bird last week and it was SOOOOOOOO good.  I roasted it in the crockpot and it literally FELL APART!  So tender and juicy and that was even without the skin on!  We definitely will be doing another round of meat birds (possibly a different breed). 

  • With the warmer weather and longer days the kids and I have been spending MANY hours in the backyard.  “Night walks” have become quite a tradition around here in the spring/summer and fall.  We all go as a family and walk a mowed path that runs the border of our property which takes us down the hill and along the river.  It is just beautiful here and I love it so much.  That golden color the sun gives off as it is setting blankets my beautiful children and makes them just glow.  It makes me just sigh and relax even thinking about that feeling. 

  • We even have our “rural pool” up (a.k.a. the “hillbilly pool”).  You know, those pools you see in EVERYONE’S back yard, especially those who live 30 minutes from the nearest community pool.  Yep, we’ve got us some chickens, pigs and a Walmart pool; we are hicks! LOL!

 

How has summer been treating you this week?

 

 


Life and Death on a Homestead

Posted by AFarmhouseFull on May 26, 2011 at 10:16 PM Comments comments (6)

Sorry it has been so long!   We have had an eventful week.  Our meat birds were harvested last Saturday.  It was quite the family affair.  Having no one to watch the children and having a task that require both Mike and I's participation, the kiddos got a little lesson in chicken anatomy! Mike worked the "kill station" and I scalded and plucked the chickens.  Both of us worked on cleaning out the innerds and we then rinsed them and packed them in a cooler of ice water.  We finished about half the birds before lunch (we didn't start until after 10:30).  Once we had washed up and served our crew lunch we finished the remaining  5 or 6 birds.  At that point we had a much appreciated extra hand when our neighbor came down and helped with the cleaning and piecing.  All together we put away about 62 pounds of chicken.  One (monserously huge) rooster weighted in at 7.25 pounds - DRESSED!  I am assuming his live weight was about 8 or 9 pounds!  Not bad for 9 weeks.  We are planning our next batch of meat birds and we will be going with another breed that range a little better than those freakishly large Cornish Cross birds.  I am thinking we will do about 25 next round.

We also had a little more dramatic death at our farm.  One of our feeder pigs died of pneumonia.  She \ fell ill just a couple of days after arriving and we did what we could and even made a last ditch effort to save her with a round of antibiotics.  It was not enough and she died shortly after.  It was sad to see her suffer (we were there when she started to die), and gasp for air.  While this is all part of life on a living and breathing homestead; it is till solemn sometime.  I am pleased to say, though, that "Bacon" seems to be doing VERY well and her antics are very similiar to a dog!  She scratches her back on the gate of her pen, chews on sticks and runs around the pen in circles.  She is hoot to watch.  Tuesday, she will be recieving a new (and hopefully healthy) roommate. 



Farm Girl!

Posted by AFarmhouseFull on May 18, 2011 at 12:24 AM Comments comments (0)

 

   


To the Market to Buy a Fat Pig!

Posted by AFarmhouseFull on May 10, 2011 at 3:51 PM Comments comments (0)

The piggies are here!  This morning Mike, AJ and Michael all loaded up to pick up our Durock/Yorkshire/Large White cross piggies.  The boys all said they learned that pigs do NOT go wee wee wee all the home.  I learned quickly they DO go wee wee wee when you pick them up and toss them into their pens.  They settled quite quickly and got right to tearing up the grass and rooting in the mud!  They are lively little things and I am excited about having them here for a temporary stay.  AJ has named them well, Bacon and Ham!  Mmmmmm, now I am in the mood for some biscuits and gravy with my homemade biscuit mix (which I will be sharing this week with ya'll!).  But, while we wait for the end product, they sure are fun to watch!

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Farm Plans

Posted by Farmhouse Family on April 1, 2011 at 3:34 PM Comments comments (0)


Over the last five years we have been slowly (as the Lord has supplied) been adding to this modest, little homestead of ours.  I thought I would share with you some things we have here and some that we will be adding in His timing.  The red line outlines our property and the green line is our mowed walking path.  In the summer we do evening walks around our property.  It is nice to be able to let the kids roam while Mike and I leisurely walk, not having to worry about cars zooming down a narrow country road.  The blue line is the river that runs adjacent to our property.

Our "path"

 

Lets start at the front of the property (top).  The drive winds up about 300 ft or so from the road and I am thinking about adding a turn around to the “parking lot” part of our drive.  (Right now the drive winds under the tree there and can hardly be seen.  The really white part is what I am planning on adding.) Maybe mulching the center of it and adding a dwarf fruit tree and some berry bushes.

 

Herbs: I am going to be installing a small gated area to house my herbs.  They are just not fitting into the regular garden anymore and since some are perennials, putting them in a garden that gets tilled and turned over year after year is not an option. I will be using a picket fence to enclose it and natural arbors for each entrance (possibly climbing some morning glory or honeysuckle up the arbors).  

 

House – self explanatory – the farmhouse, already existing.

 

Woodshed – houses all our wood for our stove in the winter.  We heat our home with wood and while we do have a propane furnace, it only runs when no one is home to stoke the woodstove (which doesn’t happen very often).

 

Orchard – We have 4 apple trees and 1 peach tree.  We used to have 2 peach trees but we lost one last summer.  We are planning on putting at least one more peach tree in this year and maybe a cherry tree. For the last few years we have been gathering apples from the farmer's apple orchard which is right next to our land.  He doesn't live there, he just houses his tractors in the barn on the property.

 

Fenced Area – this is our kids play area.  It is nice to have a fenced area that allows the kids to play within eye and ear shot of my kitchen (have I ever told I spend a LOT of time in my kitchen).  Right now I have raspberries and blackberries planted along the fence and a patch of strawberries in one of the corners.  This makes for an easy little snack when the kids are out playing!  I am planning on moving my strawberries this year though.  I will be using mulched rows this year to make for easier picking.  

 

Fire Pit – This is something we put in a year or two ago and LOVE it.  It is just a small (16’x20’ ish) rock area we put in to place a fire pit and picinic table on.  We eat “camp” dinners out there in the summer and have a lot of evening fires and just hang together.  I am planning to put up a natural pergola made from logs my husband will harvest from my parents cabin.  Growing some vines up it will provide some shade for the picinic table area.

 

Garden – We just relocated our garden here.  If you look really hard you can see were it was last year in the arial photo (just above where it is this year).  The soil is A LOT blacker in the new area and the run off from the farmer’s shed was creating a little bit of a drainage issue in the old spot.

Chickens – this is our coop and our pen for the laying hens.  The meat birds/turkeys will be in the movable pens called chicken tractors.  The laying hens are the only gals the get the benefit of permanent housing.  We will be keeping a cockerel this year in hopes that one of our Barred Rock hens will go broody and hatch us some chicks.


 

Hog – this is a 30’x30’ pig pen with a small shelter for our two hogs that we will be getting soon.  They will be slaughtered in the fall for Christmas ham and lots of yummy bacon, sausage and pork chops!


 

Bees – the hives are here! The bees will be here in a week or two and we have a small area around the hives that we will be planting some wildflowers/clover for the bees.  We will only have one hive this year but plan to add one hive per year for 4-5 years so that we will have LOTS of excess honey for us to eat and to sell.  

 

Barn/Pasture/Hay Field – we are making preparations for a dairy cow.  The breed we are researching now is called a Dexter and they are a VERY small heritage dual purpose cattle that are excellent food converters.  We plan on dividing up our pasture into 3 areas for rotational grazing and also a hay field for hay in the winter.  Total our pasture/hay area is probably 2-3 acres.  We will also need a small barn for hay storage and a milking parlor with a stanchion that out of the cold and wind. We are still in the  praying stage of this adventure, therefore I am not sure on the timing of these things.  Fencing, buildings and animals are expensive; on the other hand 40% of our grocery budget is dairy products! So, in the long run it will save us tremendously with the added bonus of having a beef steer in the freezer in 18-24 months after our cow calves.  "All in His timing" is what I keep telling myself. 


So what are you farm plans this year?

 

 


Backyard Barnyard

Posted by Farmhouse Family on March 27, 2011 at 5:09 PM Comments comments (3)

 

The chickens are getting quite big already, especially the broilers.  We did have one casualty and we are down to 29 chicks now.   I think for our next crop of meat birds we are going to stay away from the hybrid variety and stick to some heritage breeds.  In particular I  found a breed while searching called a Freedom Ranger.  They are known for free ranging for a large percentage of their food, thus lowering the cost of feed and increasing the quality of their meat (because they are eating their natural diet instead of just grain all day).  

 

We picked up the hives Saturday and I am super excited about the bees this year.  The local honey farm we picked them up at sold out of packaged bees already so we will have to order them elsewhere.  Soon we should have a buzzing package to pick up from the post office! YEAH!

 

The pig pen is done!  We found some cheap hog panels on craigslist and got them at half of their sale price which makes momma a happy camper.  The hog house itself is missing only a half sheet or so of tin roof otherwise it is fully functional.

 

Our dairy dreams are starting to get sorted out in evening debates about goat vs. cow.  I am really leaning toward a cow because it’s milk is not naturally homogenized (meaning the cream will separate naturally) which lends to easier cream separation and therefore easier cheese making, whipped cream making, ice cream making and also butter making.  Also, the excess milk from the cow (they will give about 5-8 times that of a goat) can be used to supplement the pig feed and sold to friends of ours who want good hormone free raw milk. I still haven’t decided yet if we will be drinking the milk raw or pasteurized.  If you have a dairy animal and don’t pasteurize I have a few questions for you:

  1.  Do you have a goat or cow?
  2. Have you had any problems with bacteria or anything else making anyone in you family sick?
  3. Does it tase any different raw?

About Me:


 

Hey y'all! Welcome to our family blog. We are a large, loud and Jesus loving family from the rural Midwest. I am Nicci, also know around these parts as "mom" to my brood of a half dozen and as "babe" to my handsome other half.  We live on a handful of acres and have raised chicken, pigs, bees, tomatoes and most importantly our rowdy bunch of kidlets.  We cloth diaper, homeschool, DIY, and try to eat as "homemade" as possible.  My ratio of hobbies verses free time is COMPLETELY unbalanced.  I enjoy crocheting, knitting, sewing, designing, drawing, using power tools, and anything else that involves creating. I also love to decorate and organize when time and money allow - but come on now, it is hard to make it to the bathroom without little people following 2 steps behind me and my grocery bill is comparable to a mortgage payment!  It is a busy, challenging and sometimes chaotic life managing a larger than normal family but ultimately one of God's greatest blessings that I am immensely grateful for!  In no way have I "arrived" or  "figured it all out", but I am humbled to be able to share my experience with others!

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