Sunday, November 29, 2009


i know to most it seems such an awful waste but items one through twelve  on the above diagram are all ground meat. we still have steaks left over from the half beef that we got in the spring. it is the burger that goes quickly around here. spaghetti meat sauce, tacos, meat loaf, chili, burgers and many other tasty dishes all require ground meat and that is what those kids mostly like.

the meat processing went wonderfully. james has this three quarter horse commercial meat grinder. it chewed everything that we could throw at it--first time.  i also cubed twenty plus pounds of lean meat for tabitha to can. it made a pressure cooker load and dinner last night. the kids liked the stew from the butcher two days prior. another ridiculously-local meal from the omelay farm.

cancel the appointment with the slaughter plant..
i have already recovered from the mad-slaughter. i plan to do it again. those pigs will be next. seeing the stuff that we didn't add to the grinder and realizing that a processor would have just added it plus.. even though it took four shots to kill that steer i am sure that it was more gentle on him than riding to a slaughter plant and getting killed there. plus, meat tastes better from an animal that isn't stressed. yes i already ate some. it is good.

thank you everyone for your words of support. it was traumatic but, so was the first time we butchered chicken. now we have a system and it is just part of our lifestyle. butchering our other animals will likely become part of our deal too.

i really liked the home schooling opportunity when i was sawing up the bones for beef stock. explaining a ball and socket joint having a working example on hand is rather interesting--anatomy 101.

we played uno (card game) for several games this afternoon. toly joined in for the first time. amazingly he got it right away. i was totally blown away. tristan was really trying some strategy but didn't win until the very last game. it is difficult to understand, no matter how well you play uno is still mostly a game of luck.  it doesn't help having a really lucky sister that taunts you with her alleged mental powers of mind over matter. he was in tears before that the final win. furthermore he harbored a grudge toward her for quite a while. i was only a minor villain, even though i actually threw the game and tried to throw it on several earlier occasions only to have one of his siblings swoop in for the win.

jocelyn is back from her visit with her beau. we hope she is bred--fingers crossed. she is really upset that phoenix is gone and the place probably smells like blood.  it is raining tonight and hopefully it will wash away the rest of the kill smell. henry is feeling better, he is happy to have jocelyn back. but when we arranged a meeting between jocelyn and astrid, henry noticed that jocelyn was throwing her head toward astrid and threw a fit. he came rushing toward her with all his most aggressive force and suggested to jocelyn that the puppy was HIS.

i guess after he had to save the puppy from being mauled by the pigs he is a little defensive of her. oh yes, he saved that puppy's life. before that i was sure that he didn't like her. in fact when i heard henry making attack sounds from the upper yard, i was sure that he was killing astrid. joy, he was saving her from the pigs. what a good dog.

i take my certification test tomorrow. i should be studying instead of blogging...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

ok, i'm still a little freaked out

please be warned and if you are compelled to flame me about it please do it on your own blog.

in the heat of the moment i can do just about anything. my adrenaline kicks in and i get on task. killing anything generally upsets me. i killed that steer, phoenix. earlier that day i spent a little time with phoenix. i thanked him for his gift and hoped that we gave him a good life. i believe that we did.

james a friend that i work with came over to help with the deed. he brought his gun since my twelve gauge would have made a canoe out of his head. i lined him up where i though it would be best for him to stand. i put the barrel right between his eyes, up just a little and fired. he just stood there and staggered away. s#@T what a bunch of crap! it took three more shots, four total. finally the last one i got just over his eye and he dropped instantly.

now i was really upset. the last thing i wanted to do was hurt him. tabitha tried to console me that head injuries don't hurt nearly as much--right... insert plenty of profanity here. anyway, he was finally dead and needed to be moved to where we could hike him up.

he weighed too much for james and i to drag him without a mechanical advantage.

the kids helped.

my block and tackle made my tie-off height too low. he was too heavy to lift entirely with both simple machines. we had to improvise. we decided to try to gut him first.

this where i began to loose myself in the moment.

james gave me instructions every step of the way.

he helped at every turn or would step in where i would stall.

the kids were right there. they saw every little thing.

the innards were ridiculously heavy and near impossible to manage.

finally we hiked him up to to work on.

kassi was especially interested. she stuck through until the end.

i used my cordless saws-all to cut through the neck bones.

finally progress could start in earnest.

i even kinda enjoyed myself.

kassi was amazing, she would size things up and try to be ready to hand me the next ting she thought i might need. here it is a towel.

we cut him into quarters and put him into the freezer. james is coming back tomorrow with his commercial grinder and we will put him into little packages. this is the last photo before the camera battery gave up the ghost.

it got dark and i had to set up a four foot florescent light. kassi was so impressive she helped until the last moment. her little hands were freezing. i tried to shew her inside several times and she wouldn't have it.

we are thankful for our bounty. next time we'll try to afford to have money to have our animals processed professionally. i was overwhelmed and had to severely decompress after that ordeal. i know that some people can do that stuff day and night but it was a big job for me. learning stuff always makes me anxious. i guess there was too many things whirling around in my head compounded with the stress of it taking four shots. we'll see how i feel in a few weeks. it might not be so bad once a little spilled milk has passed under the bridge.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

new puppy (up dated)

astrid, it is too dark to get photos of her tonight. she looks like a little polar bear cub.

blogger has lost three of my long and thoughtful comments lately. i have to remember to copy the contents of my comment into RAM before i hit the submit button. i thought things were stable over there at blogger? i guess it might be my internet connection. it has been a bit buggy lately. by the time my comment is lost in the aether i have lost heart to try again. sorry folks..

photos of astrid will be put up first thing in the morning.

(as promised)

also we are going to kill, skin, quarter and freeze that bull calf tomorrow. i think i'll try to get that photo documented too.

big post tomorrow evening (fingers crossed)

btw henry seems to be getting better. he still tentative about astrid though

henry went to the veterinarian

henry has been sick and not really eating. we thought the worst. our vet is our large animal vet too. they understand that henry is a working farm dog. they understand that we love him a true love but his real value is that he protects our farmstead. i told them that he has never even been in the car.

things were a lot different from when most people who take their dogs to the vet. henry is not leash trained. in-fact he has never had a collar on him. i don't want to put a collar on him it just seems wrong for henry--each dog is different. to further complicate things henry doesn't come when you call him like most dogs will. when i call him he has always taken it more like a suggestion. eventually when he has resolved all other things he has bouncing around in his head he'll come. sometimes it is right away. other times if he hasn't checked the perimeter in a while he'll give things a good look around the be sure things won't fall apart while he is getting petted. he takes his job very seriously and i figure anything else i do as far as training goes will only detract from that.

so given the above constraints how does a person get a huge one hundred pound dog into the vet? luckily i'm fairly strong. i carried him. tabitha arranged the proper door people and that a room would be waiting. the waiting room made a singular gasp when they saw me with this huge thing in my arms. he is one quarter Komodor which means he is very fluffy and looks like he weighs two hundred pounds. he weighed in at ninety four pounds.

i am always surprised by peoples reaction to henry. he is a very scary presence. to us he is just henry. our big fluffy teddy bear that would die rather let something hurt his pack. he was very confused but well mannered as always. they said he has a temperature and likely has a tick borne illness. they prescribed antibiotics and pain killers and said, of the multitude of treatable things that can cause his symptoms, this medicine will fix it. we are hopeful.

we love henry and he is trained just the way we like him. he doesn't go into the yard and he protects us with a ferocity that is so comforting that we don't know what we'd do without him. when i set him down at home it was in the yard where he has never been. rome pounced on top of him. rome loves henry and henry has a special tolerance for rome's nose grabbing, hair pulling ways. we gave him his medicine and i carried him to his pastures. he seemed happy to be home. it was almost like he though he was never going to go back home again.

we are getting a companion for henry very soon. lgd's preform better in teams. we want to never be without livestock guardian dogs ever. our life is too enhanced by their presence.

Monday, November 23, 2009

swiss chard recipe

ok, i know adding bacon to any dish is like cheating. tabitha's father has stumbled across an elegant simple meal where the sum is greater than it's parts.

fry up some bacon we like ours a little on the crispy side. while the pan is still hot dump in a bunch of coarsely chopped swiss chard, stems and all. cook it until the chard stems are fairly soft.

toast some bread, tabitha has been making the best bread since i motorized her grain mill. spread a bit of mayonnaise on two slices. cover one with bacon and then pile about 1/2" of cooked chard and cover with the other piece of toast.

even you chard skeptics will probably like this dish. we added a soft poached egg on top of that and the result was pure magic.

motorized grain-mill = good

we went over to our friends yesterday. they have a jersey bull and jocelyn needed a boyfriend. it has been a while since we visited and their homesteading progress is amazing. lance has a huge complex of rainwater catchment to water his cows. it is a wonderful sight.

they also built an enviable outdoor bread oven. tabitha brought over two loaves of challah to test it out. it was amazing our bread oven construction queue has just moved up a few notches and might get incorporated into our milking barn.

their small jersey herd looked very healthy and they had the most wonderful giant-black (breed) pig. she free ranges around their farmstead. she comes when you call just to get a little back-scratch. we might get one of her offspring. she is registered and looks perfect.

we are so happy for them it is exciting to see such progress and thoughtful additions to their homestead.

they have a little house on 30 acres for sale. it would be the perfect homestead the house is quite nice. a large garden plot, wood heat, an old root cellar and plenty of land for pasture and a wood lot. i don't think they are offering it to just anyone but i'd sure be tempted if we weren't so happily entrenched here. the main enticing factor over our slice of heaven is that it is secluded. high-speed-internet might come at a very high price there. but, to be able to realize our crazy ideals without the multitude of onlookers and let us not forget two-stroke-man. two-stroke-man has a two-stroke powered implement for every menial task. daylight hours are half filled with the whirring buzz of his oil and gas mix powered engines. nary an autumn leaf is able to hit the ground without feeling the smoky waft of a leaf blower immediately.

fall is the season of realizing how close our neighbors actually are. all the leaves fall and they seem to move right on top of us. it takes until the first snow before we get accustomed to it. we love our little place and would never willingly leave. privacy fence and some strategically planted evergreens would make this time of year not so traumatic.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

slight change

sorry to create another obstacle to commenting but i'm putting word verification back into service. i don't know if it is the holidays or what but i have been getting way too much spam commenting lately. i'd rather post more often than have to spend my time deleting a bunch of spam.

i put shelves in the green house now all i have to do is build some deep boxes for lettuce and greens.

tabitha has been making slippers. these are mine!

tristan and kassi are both part of the no-cavity-club.

we bought some really great hay. the cows love it, they eat it almost all the way to nothing. our cow are spoiled.

Friday, November 13, 2009

play park

my wood cutting area has morphed into a complex and dangerous play area.
ramparts and bridges divide the separate "rooms" (rounds).

very dangerous.

the kids balance has improved ten fold since this "park," as the kids call it, has been here. toly's domain is usually on the actual stump and he traverses to the fell log. kassi and tristan flit across the rest of the play area in such a graceful fashion that i plan to incorporate some of this concept into a new play area for them.

i have been making some serious progress on cutting, splitting and stacking some of this tree. other duties of the daily nature supersede this activity. i have to steal away every second to get this task done.

the greenhouse has been flourishing.

the kale and swiss chard are really beautiful.

just a couple of more days until we'll be eating salad from these beds.

i love swiss chard.

i like it steamed with a touch of salt the best. greens like this aren't especially popular to most people that i encounter in person. it is difficult finding a common conversational denominator when my mind continually wants to chat about our glorious greens. politeness usually forces me to chat about hunting. don't get me wrong hunting is great and all but our greens are really cool.

we just had a little visit by the local johova's witness. david is a really nice guy. today i just drug him around and showed him stuff, how the greenhouse is doing. a captive audience forced to admire my greens. he hadn't been by to see my finished root-cellar either. he left his cohorts in the car and just basically took a tour of the omelay spread. other than the bible in his hand, a subliminal message, no other message was foisted on me. i really like david, we understand each other. he got to save face with his car bound accompaniment while we had a nice visit. best of all i got to brag on my beautiful greens;)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

useful tools on a farmette

all tarps are not equal. this tarp is like the kind you can buy at the local farm store.

the plastic that is used is actually woven as the tarp.

as you can see here it frays under mild repeated stress. these kind of tarps are not designed to hold up under rugged conditions. in-fact, in less than a year out in the sun they will be of little value. their lifespan will be shortened further if they are exposed to any stress like wind or rain.

i use tarps for everything around here but the kind i use are entirely different and not readily available. they are recycled from billboards and are very heavy at larger sizes. a thirty feet by thirty feet tarp can weigh over seventy five pounds. i got one once that was seventy feet by thirty feet. i couldn't pick it up by myself.

their makeup is vinyl coated rip stop fabric and wont tear except under the most extreme conditions. this tarp has been on my previously very leaky barn for three years.

the wind whips that excess flap. it has finally begun to tear through at the corners.

here i have used them on my chicken tractors as sides and covers.

this is a wind break that i made for the pigs. it flapped and then they started to tear at it by biting it.

this is all the damage they could do to it over the three months that they had it exposed to them.

sometimes i screw boards to them to make them not flap in the wind. this is a shade for the current pigs.

here i have fashioned a tarp and a cattle panel to make a winter pig hutch.

here a zip tie holds it tight. the zip tie will not outlast the tarp.

here we are using them to keep the weeds from the center of our okra rows. they mostly lay flat even during stormy weather because their weight.

this is my square bale feeder. it has a steel roof but directly under the purlines i stretched a tarp as a secondary barrier.

interior walls for a chicken coop?

chickens are dirty and i wanted to be able to hose the walls down occasionally.
the tarp cuts to size with my very sharp pocket knife.

here i just stapled it to my studs.

this is my first chicken tractor. the tarp has been weather exposed for three years and i will take it off and reuse it for something else.

this pile of chat has been on this tarp for two plus years. chat mixed with the grass makes my mower unhappy.

this tarp covers a pile of lumber. it will stay cozy and dry until i can use it.

this is part of a larger tarp that i use for everything.

it is very thick and won't fray even at this raggedly cut edge.
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