Saturday, November 3, 2012

Learning Something New

It finally dawned on me that I should be able to make blog posts from my smart phone. Don't ask me why I'm figuring it out at 11 o'clock at night though because I really should be asleep!  I'm going to add a photo just to see if I can.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Farm TV

Does anyone know how to take control over time?  We all get the same number of hours in a day, yet some accomplish much and those like me wonder how they do it!  I was cleaning my Inbox and found this picture of the goats.  I took it with my phone (it's rare that I actually take the camera outside) so the quality might not be that good.  I was aiming at the goats on the beam, but when I got inside and looked at it on the computer screen I realized I had all of the goats we owned on that particular day in the shot.

On the beam are the triplets-Popcorn, Firecracker and Mushroom (Goober Gus named them).  At the bottom of the beam is Annie's daughter.  In front is Bambi-a rescued goat.  In the lower right corner (really hard to see) is Molly's rear end and her daughter.  Behind the beam is Annie and behind the post, barely visible is Sugar.  Since taking this picture we have sold Bambi, Sugar and Firecracker.  However, we also gained Trixie, Lilly and Josephine.  Trixie was also sold.  You'd think we were running a farm store here!

Tony took this picture a couple of weeks ago-it overlooks the river valley we live in.  Clouds are rare around here, but not too much this time of year.  Neat picture, isn't it?
This is the tarantula that Goober Gus found outside but was too scared to capture.  Mom wasn't afraid though.  Yeah, I'm bad!  When Tony got home he tried to let it crawl up his arm, but it just jumped to the ground on the Forest Service side of the fence.

This was taken back in May.  In an effort to keep the peach tree alive, get grass growing and let the ducks have a little fun, we'd turn the sprinkler on.  I forgot and created a little lake for them, but they didn't care!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Farm TV

I don't imagine we're the only ones that consider watching the antics of our animals more interesting than what's offered on cable or satellite TV.  Lately though it's been so hot that just sitting outside to enjoy watching isn't something we do.  We go out to tend to their needs and get a brief glimpse of their games before we get back inside to "cool off" in our 80° house.  Since we've had highs in the 110's lately, 80° isn't so bad!

I haven't written much lately.  Too busy/too much brain fog/not enough creative thought process.  I'd like to share more frequently, even if it's just a brief story about what we saw that day.

Our "TV" has 12 "channels".  We are currently the proud owners of:
  • 1 cantankerous cow who gives false pregnancies
  • 2 young pigs
  • 1 emu
  • 3 turkeys (hoping to have a tom for breeding,  but so far we can't tell)
  • 8 ducks
  • 40 chickens
  • 2 rabbits
  • 1 Australian Shepherd puppy
  • 1 cat
  • 2 Barbados lambs
  • 2 Alpine dairy goats
  • 2 young Alpine does
  • 1 Nubian dairy goat
  • 3 young Nubian bucklings
  • 2 other goats-rescued, not sure of their breed, mom and buckling
Not on the property is our Alpine buck.  He lives with friends and has a young Nubian buckling to "train".  I don't know if you're counting but I think that's 71 animals here and 2 more elsewhere!  I'm sure glad we have 2 pastures to feed the big animals so we don't have to buy hay anymore.  Next on my "feed" list is to have a garden for all of the poultry birds and the rabbits.  Oh, and to grow winter squash and beets to have around in the colder months for all of the animals.

We discovered yesterday that the goats like the mesquite beans that fall from the trees that line the forest service property behind us.  Many fall into the yard...more free food!

I'll close with the description of what we saw yesterday evening while milking/tending animals.  The little bucklings-that are just now 3 weeks old-walk up a beam that used to be a cross beam for a shade structure, but it fell down on one end, so it's a perfect ladder for walking up to the roof of the shade structure.  They go up and then jump down onto a big wooden spool.  The young does get in on the action too and it's funny to see them all clambering for position on the beam.

Hopefully this will be the first of many farm tv reports-and more frequently too.  If I think of it in the morning I may go out and take pictures of as many critters as I can.  Pictures are always nice.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Wow-my last post was in March!  Yes, I've been busy trying to settle in to our new home.  I had planned to do before and after pictures to share, but I couldn't find the camera.  When I did, it needed batteries, and well...they were at the old house still.  There's still a lot to be done, so maybe I'll still have a chance for some of the projects, but for now I wanted to share the bounty in our kitchen right now.

We got our first CSA share last Wednesday.  There's turnips, beets, spring onions, chard, two kinds of kale, lettuce, cilantro and basil.  Reading it, that doesn't sound like much, but it filled more than half of a large sized ice chest.  I had to rearrange the contents of the fridge to get it to fit!

We already had peaches, apricots, Brussels sprouts, beets, carrots, purple cabbage and a variety of greens from a U-pick farm we visited a few weeks ago.  My son has been eating the apricots now that they're in the fruit drawer instead of the paper bag they came in, on a higher shelf in the fridge.  He'll also eat the peaches if I'll keep some in the house (we have a 2nd fridge outside to hold milk and eggs).

In addition to all of that we're members of a produce rescue program that provides up to 60 pounds of produce weekly.  There's tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers, grapefruit, peppers (hot and sweet), and melons.

Then my wonderful husband brought home baskets of strawberries and blackberries from a produce market in the Big City.  He's going to make pies for a gathering we're going to this week.  Don't forget the mulberry tree that's going crazy with fruit.  Or the food co-op where I buy frozen berries once a month, along with a supply of onions and potatoes, celery and oranges when the price is good.  I even bought a coconut last month.  Hubby has also made friends with the clerk at Circle K who gives him bags of overripe bananas every week.

If you have ideas for using it up, please share!  I've got a pot of this simmering in the slow cooker right now.
Ribollita Soup Recipe

I also made kale chips, a turnip green frittata, marinated tomato salad and have a perpetual garden salad bowl in the fridge.

Stephanie at Keeper of the Home is hosting an Eat From the Pantry challenge.  I think I need to join!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Treasure Hunting

That's what I've started calling my trips to the new house to sort thru what's been left.  Problem is, I forget to take the camera, so I end up not sharing here because it'd be nicer with pictures.  This particular post shares the decided 70's decorative touches we uncovered when taking out this wall.

We plied off the strips of smoked mirror and painted wood panels and simply found plywood.  On the other side we took off the bead board that I want to save and found this.

Nice, huh?  At least we have the ability to change it!

When I remember, I'll take pictures of the treasures and share them.  Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Natural First Aid Kit

One night last week I checked email before going to bed and saw that I was drawn as an alternate winner of a mini first aid kit from Naturokits.  The first person drawn didn't respond to the notice, so they drew again and I won!  That's 3 online giveaways in 2012!

As I was showing my young son what would be coming for us, I noticed they sell an upgrade kit, to turn the mini kit into the full basic kit, so I asked if I could pay the difference and get the full kit instead of the mini.  Julie was happy to accommodate my request and even told me how to mark my order so that it would be shipped for free.  Two days later we had our kit!

I've mentioned it to my husband twice, listing the needs the kit can meet, so that if he needs it he knows we have that option.  I also noticed the company recommends taking off the protective wrap on each item in the kit so it can be used quickly in an emergency-good idea!

I hope to never need it, but I have a 6 year old son and a husband who is only slightly less fearless than our son.  In fact, it's my husband who experienced the worst injuries over the last 6 months...

I'm grateful to have won, and to now have a first aid kit filled with natural remedies!  Here's what comes in the kit, and i recommend taking a look around their site for your own needs.

The Basic First Aid NaturoKit® includes:

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Ultimate Prescription, A Review

When I saw this title, written by a cardiologist and Christian believer, I was excited to see what he had to say about health.  So excited, that despite my own moratorium on requesting books for review purposes, I requested this one from Tyndale House.  The reason for my self imposed moratorium is that the book arrives, I set it on the shelf-and then forget that I'm to read it and post a review in a timely manner.  This one was no exception to that pattern.

A few weeks ago I finally picked it up and started reading.  I liked what he had to say about conventional medical practices and our society's belief that doctors and prescriptions cure what ails us.  He was willing to admit that this approach just treats the symptoms-that true change can only occur by discovering the source of the problem and addressing that.

He reminds us that we're asking the wrong questions.  Instead of asking how to get well, we should ask "Why am I sick?"  The author states that it's been estimated that 80-90% of all cardiovascular disease is acquired.  As in something we do that causes it, not simple genetics.  He states,
The painful truth is that we give the disease to ourselves by the choices we make over a lifetime.
Now I was really getting excited!  I know he's speaking about heart disease, but the principle applies to anything else, don't you think?  If bad choices cause the problems, the good choices ought to be able to prevent and maybe even reverse them, right?

He goes on to briefly point out the dangers of high fructose corn syrup (and the irony that it's in nearly every hospital meal served) and the argon gas applied to fruits and vegetables.  He poses the questions I've asked myself.  If it's dangerous, why has it been allowed into our food supply?  Whose responsible?  He suggests we take a look in the mirror and ask if the Standard American Diet is really working.

Then it happens.  The myth that animal fat is what causes heart disease is upheld by this doctor.  I was so disappointed that I put the book down for the night!  I decided that I didn't have time to spare reading a book that propogated a myth that has been disproven.  The next day however, I glanced through the table of contents to see what else to expect and read a few more pages in later chapters.  Unfortunately, there wasn't enough there to redeem my hope and I've chosen to write my review and offer the book to anyone that wants to read it.

I also just decided to include a short video on how the lipid hypotheses came about.  I don't think it explains why society bought into it, but here's some myth busting for you.

Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book, which did not affect my review.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Another Surprise @ the New House

It just keeps getting better and better-at least as far as crazy things happening is concerned!  We were there Wednesday late afternoon just to check the water lines for the irrigation system.  We immediately found that we'll need to repair a crack in the PVC near where it goes underground to reach the pastures, so Tony turned off the water and we started looking at available space for expanding.  He got a phone call during that time and was busy on the phone when I turned around to see a man standing in our backyard.  He asked if we were the new owners, then informed us that he's the previous owner!  The one we'd been told was working in the Phillipines.  Well that was a shock-and then a bit of panic as to why he was there.  After assuring us there were no hard feelings he filled us in on the details surrounding the loss.  Basically it's a matter of not being able to find work locally that pays well enough, so he's building a house on the beach in the Phillipines.  He had his Phillipino wife with him and it was very pleasant to chat with them.  We were able to ask questions about the place and give him some of the personal effects that other family members had left behind.  I was glad we got to meet, hear the story and learn some details about the property.  It sounds like we'll be continuing the goal he had for the place, so I think that eased his mind a bit too.

Now, how about some pictures?

As suspected, this room used to be a formal dining room, and the first owner (not who we met) added a wall to make it a bedroom.  We can't decide if this should be taken out or just updated for a fresher look.  Thoughts?

Part of the pantry.  Can you tell the house was built in 1979??  There are 2 small closets side by side that I think I'd prefer to have as 1 larger closet.  The washer and dryer go on the wall to the left & perpendicular to this wall.

Master bath.  Previous owner says the water heater wasn't big enough to fill this for a bath.  Guess we'll need to fix that!  There's a dinky shower to the left that will have to be enlarged, IMO.

The drawing on this wall was done by the previous owner's dad and is among the things we were able to give him.

Pretty good view of the kitchen.

Front entryway.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

More Goat Babies

These are the kids of one of the goats born on our farm last January.  We gave her and a half sister to the neighbors at our pasture last fall.  They don't want to add to the flock, so we'll get them or be able to sell them.  We think there's a boy and a girl, but the boy won't hold still or stand up long enough to get a good look.
I think this is the boy.

And the girl...

Girl again.

She held still more than him...

Mom checking out son.

Friday, February 17, 2012


In the last two days we've found or gathered 30 of them!  33 if you count the duck eggs.
I found these early this afternoon.  I had just returned home from a false alarm-I can now add goat midwife to my resume-when one of our hens cackled at me from behind the minivan.  If you own hens, you know the cackle that says, "look at me, I just laid and egg!"  I went to investigate and that's what I found.

Yesterday our son found 10 in the old feed box that was used when we were trying to milk our cow.  The hens also laid 12 in the hen house-double what we've been getting!

I found 1 duck egg on the lawn yesterday and 2 in their pen today.  What a blessing!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Elsie vs Tony, Round One

So much happened today that I wanted to share here, but the topics don't mix, so you'll have to come back to hear about the other things.  I've written numerous times about how cantankerous our cow is.  Read more here, here, here, here, well-you get the idea!  Most of the time she's at a pasture we used to own, but there's no grass growing anywhere and she'll be calving in April, so we brought her to the house again.  I was thinking I'd start working with her to give her a second chance at being a good milker.

Today was the first attempt at that, and as the title might suggest, it was a battle!  Given that the price of hay is close to $21/bale with tax, we're trying to find some less expensive alternatives and still give her and the 2 pregnant does good quality feed.  Alfalfa pellets are somewhat less expensive, so I bring the goats to their milk stands and give them some along with cheap produce.  Today I also soaked a batch for Elsie using apple cider vinegar.  A friend had read that it helps to calm cantankerous cows.  I found the wording ironic, as that's what I've been calling her for a long time.  Elsie the cow-not the friend.

While I worked with the goats, Tony took the container of ACV alfalfa pellets into the pen for Elsie.  She was loving them and ate almost the whole batch.  Toward the end she lost interest.  He offered it to the goat buck who is also usually on pasture instead of here with is.  I went in to check on dinner and upon my return I hear Tony yelling at one of the animals.  As I got closer I could see it was Elsie and that he was giving her "what for".  I asked what happened because he was also holding his head.  Apparently, she decided to jump on him while his back was turned, but he turned just as her front legs were coming down on his shoulders!  It knocked him to the ground and he thinks she stepped on him, but you know how those things can be-it happens so fast that it's hard to recall just what did happen!

He has a bump on his forehead and a few scrapes (likely obtained from giving her "what for") and is feeling better now.  We put ice on the bump and he took a hot bath with Epsom salts, eucalyptus essential oil and lavender essential oil.  I'll be keeping an eye on him thru the night though, just in case.  His pupils are normal and he seems fine, but we want to be sure.  Oh-his left thumb was hurting when it first happened-and an injury there would sure make it hard to play fiddle for a living!

Shortly after this happened I was back outside to take something to the pig and I noticed that Elsie had Boots (the buck) cornered.  That was odd because he rules the pen-even to the point of keeping her from getting the food she needs.  By the time I walked back up the hill to the top of the pen, she had him by her horns, pushing into his side.  We think the ACV might have made her "drunk" because she looked wild!  So much so that I wasn't going to risk the lives of the does by putting them back into the pen.  Tony tied Elsie to a post and reconnected the fence that divides the pen so that we could put the does in the lower portion.  Elsie was then untied.  However, I don't think I'll be trying to tame her and turn her into a good milker!

We bought a house-Part Two

In my last post about this I left off with what I knew the evening of the first day.  At our Realtor's suggestion we put a new lock on the gate that day.  After that it got even more exciting, though maybe not all the good kind of exciting!  With an auction you pay a deposit the day of the bidding and then the remainder has to be paid prior to 5PM the next business day.  The office location was downtown Phoenix and since Tony had a job there that day we went with him.  On our way home we went by to see if the keys I remembered seeing in the RV would unlock either the front or back door.

We pull up to the gate and there's a different lock on the gate!  Our lock is gone.  No signs, no notes, nada.  There's a lockbox also.  A call to our Realtor confirms he didn't do it, he gives us a code to try on the lockbox, and tells us that it's our house-if someone has changed the lock they are in the wrong and we have every right to break the lock off.  Off we go to get tools.  Tony hammered open the lockbox which we assumed contained the key to the lock-we were right. 

Can you imagine the thoughts going through our heads during this time?
  • Did we just get scammed?  Our we out $30K now?
  • Are we dealing with an upset previous homeowner who will make our lives miserable?
As we approach the house we see that all the gates around it that were previously open are now closed.  There's a lockbox on the gate to the front door, and another on the front door.  Once again, a call to our Realtor and he's able to identify who it is by the colored box on the front door.  He calls us back with info from the guy and suggests we call him.  This picture shows how far from the road the house is and why we couldn't tell all this from the gate.  This picture was taken a couple of days later, but Wednesday night when this was taking place, the sun had set before we were able to get in.  What you see here is our driveway and the road is out by the two evergreens.

Tony called the other Realtor who had put the lockboxes on.  He'd been contacted that morning by FreddieMac to secure the property and prepare it for sale.  Needless to say he was a bit put out by the lack of communication between the bank/trustee/FreddieMac.  He asked if we got a good deal.  Tony simply answered yes, and this other guy says, "So you paid what, about $75,000?"  I think he almost creid when Tony told him what we actually paid.  I feel pretty good about the price, knowing a Realtor felt two and a half times what we paid would still be a good deal!

I had the power turned on last Friday and we went over to check a few things, but haven't been back since.  Tony's eager to test the well and the pipes in place to irrigate the pastures.  He took pictures that day and I'll post those soon.

The books we ordered to learn more about meat preserving have arrived and Tony's thinking it's pig butchering time sooner than he thought.  Our goat buck is in the same pen as the does and our cow.  All 3 are pregnant and need extra food, but Boots (the buck) shoos them away, so he needs his own pen-hence the earlier than expected pig butchering time.  She's over 250 though, so she's plenty big enough.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Rescued Produce

Last week we learned of a program that rescues produce from being thrown away.  For $10 a person can get a box of produce that weighs up to 60 pounds!  Even better-for a $100 annual membership you're entitled to go each week for one of those boxes!  We bought the annual membership and even though distribution points are a bit over an hour away for us, we go to that area enough to make it worthwhile.  We'll use some for our own eating and feed the rest to our animals.  Hay is getting so expensive that we've got to find a better solution.  Hay was about $8 a bale 3 years ago when we got our first goats.  The last 6 bales Tony bought were over $20 each!  With a cow that eats 4 flakes a day, and 3 goats that eat 1 each per day, that's about $10 a day just to feed them!!  Moving to our new house will help-we have 2 pastures there that we can use for grazing, and they can rotate so that one doesn't get overly grazed, but even if we can start on that this week, it'll be 6 weeks minimum before either field is ready for animals.

Do you have any special programs in your area that make use of food that would otherwise be taken to the dump?  If you have farm animals, how do you keep feed costs manageable?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

We bought a house today!

For anyone that's hung around long enough to read my blog for a while, you'll recall we've been trying to find a house to buy.  We even got close a few times-as in accepted offers that either got revoked by the seller or us.  Last night at 530 our realtor called to tell us about a property that was being auctioned this morning at 10AM.  Not so odd except we had told him we decided to stay here and add on, so he wasn't even really looking for a house for us anymore.  We had contacted a SIP home manufacturer and were awaiting their reply as to whether they could build a modified version of their standard plan.  In other words we weren't even looking anymore!  We couldn't get over to see the property before dark yesterday, so we got up early today to have a look.  The auction was at the courthouse at the county seat-an hour's drive from here-so we needed to be ready to head that direction before 9. 

Did I mention we didn't get to see the inside?  Or that to bid on a house at a trustee's sale you have to take a cashier's check in the amount of $10,000 as a deposit?  And the remainder has to be paid prior to 5PM the next day?  How about that we didn't get to see the inside first?  Oh yeah, I did tell you that part already!

We knew at least 2 other investors were interested in bidding.  We knew that both would want to make a quick sale afterward.  We knew we'd be willing to pay a little bit more for that investor to hold the note, should we decide to buy from him or her.  We were told to arrive about half an hour early, but we weren't able to do that and I was getting nervous.  We got to the courthouse at 955AM after having rushed into a branch of our bank that just happens to be across the street from the courthouse.  Tony and Goober Gus went ahead to see if we needed to check in or something like that, bu the trustee's rep wasn't there yet.  Whew.  Another couple and a single lady were though.  Were they there to bid on the same property?  All the excitement!

The trustee's rep told us he hadn't heard from the trustee yet that morning as to whether the sale was going thru.  What?  All this and the sale might not even be today?  OK, maybe that was one way God was answering our prayer to lead us in this transaction.

Turns out the single woman was a rep for one of the investors.  Hmm, how would we handle bidding against an investor with a rep that's well versed in these transactions?  Tony had rehearsed his strategy in his mind on the drive over.  He was going to let someone else open the bid and gauge how serious they were and set our upper limit. 

Having been told there could be a wait, Goober Gus and I went inside to use the restroom.  When we returned, the trustee's rep was reading the legal intro to the sales process, then proceeded to read the details of the property we were there to bid on.  I looked around-the investor's rep was nowhere to be found!  The rep opened the bid at $30,486 and asked if there were any offers.  Tony stammered over his words and started saying $35,000 (our upper limit), while he actually meant $30,500.  The rep instructed us that the first bid only had to be $1 over the opening price, so Tony restated our offer at $30,487.  The rep asked for other offers.  Having heard none, we heard the familiar, "going once, going twice, sold for $30,487"! 

Wait.  What just happened??  Did we just buy a house?  Without seeing the inside?  Do I care?  We just bought a house on 2 acres with 2 pastures, outbuildings, a 5th wheel trailer and backing up to Forest Service land.  We just bought a house.  In the span of 5 minutes!  It's been 10 hours and I still can't quite wrap my mind around it.  We've been looking for about 3 years, gave up and now we have a house for one tenth of what we planned to spend when we were going to build!

God is so good!  Did I mention that we still haven't seen the inside??

Oh yeah,  one of the new neighbors is a lady that was a dear friend of Tony's mom.  They bought the land from Tony's dad years ago.  Kinda funny, huh?

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Testimony of Our Pig

She loves milk.  Real, whole, raw milk.  The timing wasn't right for her though, as the goats are dry prior to her reaching butcher weight, so she hasn't had milk for a while.  Until my husband noticed 1/2 gallons on sale at the grocery store for .88¢.  I saw it too and never thought about actually buying any for her.  He did and started giving it to her.  Guess what?  She doesn't like pasteurized, homogenized, high pressure treated, possibly hormone and antibiotic containing, artificially fortified white liquid.

With real milk, she slurps it up first, no matter what else is in her feed bin.  With the other stuff, she ignored it at first, but has started drinking it after everything else is gone.  I'm thinking I don't want her to have any of this for a few weeks prior to butchering.

Interesting, huh?

This post is shared at the Homestead Barn Hop at Homestead Revival and Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Books About Preserving Meat

The two that we're excited about right now and planning to purchase are Charcuterie and Pig:  King of the Southern Table.  Having recently butchered our first steer and knowing the pig's turn is soon, we've been looking at all the wonderful things we can do with the meat. 

I came across Pig a while back while exploring titles thru my Nook Color.  I downloaded the sample and just the first chapter piqued my interest.  I now have it from the library and am convinced we need to own it.  The only question is eBook or hardback.  The size of it says eBook, but there's just something about a physical book that I can't quite overcome.  Since the majority of the book is a how to and recipe book, we'll likely get it on the Nook.  The Nook works well in the kitchen-I open a cabinet and secure it behind the cabinet's center support, keeping it at eye level and away from spills.  This book will show us how to use just about every part of the pig available.  There are some things I can't wait to try (making our own bacon) and others that I'm sure I'd never miss (blood sausage).  According to the book, Southerner's make use of just about every part of the pig-the ears, jowls, hooves, feet, brains.  I think the eyes were the only part I haven't seen a use for!

This one is going to teach us a lot!  Everything from hot dogs to red wine salami to confit to pate (which I formally believed to simply be pureed liver) and everything in between.  Tony and I are both excited to work through these recipes and processes.  The challenge is going to be our small kitchen and lack of curing space.  However, Tony's already talking about building a smoke house!  I wonder if it could have a cheese cave basement below it?

This post is shared at the Homestead Barn Hop.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Around the "Farm"

It might only be January, but we've already started this year's batch of baby chicks.  They arrived last Thursday and are growing so quickly!  The Rhode Island Reds are already getting wing feathers!  This was taken the day they arrived.

On the 4th we added more ducks to our farm.  We had a breeding pair of white pekinsg, but the female disappeared a few weeks ago.  The male was lost without her so I had 4 ducklings in the order with the baby chicks.  Before they shipped though, I found 4 females for sale thru Craigslist, so we bought them instead.  They were the same price and already a year old!  I can't get close enough to take pictures yet, but one is really pretty-I think she's a blue Swiss?

On the 7th we butchered our first steer.  Completely grass fed.  Maybe not organic (neighbors wouldn't stop giving him their grass clippings and I suspect they use chemicals for weed control) but no grain.  This Thursday is cut & wrap day.  He ended up being about 200 pounds heavier than we had hoped for, which is a blessing.  If averages can be trusted, we should end up with 500 pounds of beef in the freezer, plus bones for stock and fat for tallow!
Sorry it's sideways.  Hubby is 6'2" and you can see how much longer the steer is even with his arm raised, which is close to an 8' reach.  The hoist is rated for 1300 pounds and struggled to raise him off the ground, so we're thinking 1250-1285 pounds on the hoof.

Next month it's the pig's turn.  So looking forward to fresh beef and pork!

This post is shared at The Homestead Barnhop #45.

Monday, January 16, 2012

I Won an Herb DVD!

My first win of the year!  I think I've won 5 giveaways from other bloggers now in the last 2 years.  The DVD is from The Bulk Herb Store and the blogger hosting the giveaway is Just Making Noise.  Let me share one of those seemingly coincidental stories with you.  Last summer I was reading Wardeh's blog and learned of the mission run by Marilyn (of Just Making Noise) and her husband in Honduras.  Wardeh was giving away a copy of Marilyn's eBook Just Making Ice Cream and I had 14 gallons of fresh, raw goat's milk in my fridge just begging to be used.  Rather than wait for the drawing to see if I won, I just bought the book.  While trying to explain to my husband why I bought the book, I sent him the link to her blog and as he was reading about their ministry, he found out they'd be coming to our small town in two weeks!  How odd is that?  So, we went to hear them speak and got to meet them right after buying and trying her eBook!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Is Everybody Comfy & Cozy?

This was taken last February.  Unfortunately we don't have the cute cat behind his knees anymore.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Baby Chicks!

This is the first time we've ordered by mail and they arrived this morning.  Tony left for the post office about 645, after getting the call that they were here.  We have 6 black australorps, 7 gold sex links, and 7 Rhode Island reds.  All happily chirping away in their "crib".

I was holding one of the black ones and she crawled into the sleeve of my shirt (not before pooping on my hand though) and went to sleep!  I guess for her it was like being tucked under mama's wing.

Anyone ever put a baby bunny in with little chicks to help keep them warm?  After thinking it'd be good for the chicks I had to question if it'd be good for the bunny!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Our First Steer

WARNING!  If you're sensitive to what happens to animals raised for dinner, you probably shouldn't read this.

Jasper was born January 24th, 2010 to the first heifer we've ever owned.

Wasn't he cute?  And look at that gorgeous rusty coat! 

Here he is at about 6 months.

This one is middle of summer 2011.  I think this is the last picture I have of him.  He's the one on the left.  His coat isn't as rusty as when he was born, but more so than what this picture shows.  He's been rapidly growing on a mix of grasses on our pasture, free to roam and do as he pleases.  We thought he'd get to about 1050 pounds and were surprised yesterday at butcher time when the 1300 pound rated wench could barely lift him.  Our guesstimate is he was about 1275.

My husband is gallant enough to do the hard work and not require my presence.  Goober Gus and I arrived in time to see this:

We're very grateful to these friends from church for helping out!  None of us have ever done this and I'm happy to report that despite it taking longer than they thought, no one got hurt and things went quite well.  I was there to gather parts that won't be aged and start prepping the hide.

As much as I felt I had researched and learned what to do when this day came, I was still woefully unprepared.  I knew which organs I wanted for human consumption and the parts I wanted for the pig and chickens.  I thought we had enough buckets.  If you've never done this-take more than you think you need!  Take plenty of everything.  I saved the tongue, liver and heart for us.  I kept the brain because one of the tanning methods I read about uses the brain.  We needed a bucket for the scraps of meat that were being trimmed during hide removal and quartering.  I was going to take my rubber gloves and don't know why I chose not to at the last moment.  I wanted to keep the kidneys, but to our untrained eyes, we couldn't find them.  There was a bucket for the fat that I plan to render into tallow.

I had it in my brain that there wasn't much for me to do on butcher day, that all the work I'd be doing would be on processing day after the meat ages.  Wrong.  All those decisions to make about what to keep and how to package/store it were up to me. 

The guys told me the wench pulling him up is rated for 1300 pounds and it struggled to get him off the ground.  When the hide was removed, it took 2 of them to carry it outside for me to clean.  When they gutted it, again they were amazed at the weight of all the internal organs.  Once the quartering was done it was a little easier to estimate weight.  Even the smaller sections were at least 150 pounds.  Tony can usually lift that alone, but it took 2 to get each hindquarter to the truck to transport to the meat locker.  The front sections required a 2 wheeled cart.  When there was just one left hanging on the hook, Timothy (the one in the red shirt) tried to counter balance it by hanging on the other arm.  He couldn't do it-he was raised off the ground!  Even the guy that owns the meat locker said the pieces looked big.  Our conservative estimate is 800 pounds dressed.  Using national averages, we'll get 500 pounds of meat.  Since we plan to use the bones for stock and the fat for tallow, our total yield will probably be greater.  So you really can raise a hefty steer on nothing but grass!

My goal yesterday was to get the hide skinned and salted.  That part didn't even start until about 530PM!  Tony worked with me and at 8 there was still about half the hide needing to be skinned.  5 hours of manpower and we were only halfway done!  We stopped at that point (Goober Gus was getting hungry and we still needed to get parts for the hot water handle in the shower that broke the night before-good timing huh?) and decided to go ahead and salt it down and see what happens.  We're hoping the salt will dry the remaining fat well enough to make it easier to remove.  My hands were so cramped from gripping slippery fat in one and trying to trim it with the other!  My back was stiff and for some reason so was the rest of me.  Prior to the skinning tasks, it doesn't seem that I did that much, so being so sore afterwards was confusing.  I understand now why professional tanners get $500 per hide!

The irony of the whole day was eating at McDonald's at 9PM on the day we'd been working toward for 2 years-the processing of our own homegrown, grass fed steer, so that we didn't have to eat industrially raised beef anymore.  Another reason to be better prepared with a meal plan!  I think the plan from now on will include yummy, healthy beef several times a week-at a fraction of the cost!  My best estimate (if we yield 500 pounds) is about $1.70/pound.  The inexpensive cuts from the local ranchers are over $4 per pound.  The savings are worth the crazy day we had yesterday.  Even if I am still sore and tired!