Tuesday, September 4, 2018

September 4, 2018

So excited!  Yesterday marked the first time we have had pigs at Powell Acres!  Our new adventure!  We bought two pigs locally.  Red and Freckles.  They are Duroc/Yorkshire cross.

Don't know what we would have done without all of the helpful hints we got from our friends at Homesteads and Sustainability Facebook group here.  Because of their advice, we shored up our pig area with more electric fencing, contained our pigs to train them to electric and help them assimilate to a new environment, and learned a number of other tips and techniques.  We also watched a number of Youtube videos where we learned how to put peanut butter on the pig nipples for the pig waterer to attract the pigs and "train" them where to find water.  We also learned from Youtube research what kind of feeder to get by weeding out what went wrong with others and learned to anchor it to a post by watching some videos by Lumnah Acres.  We really like these videos as they do an excellent job of showing how Homesteading is really trial and error, and there is no end as to how you can tweak things to make them right for you.

We transported the pigs to their new home in our horse trailer.  It was quite convenient to put them in the side door, as it is above the floor of the trailer and insured that they did not escape while we were bringing in the next one.  When we got home (a very short distance - maybe 7 miles), they were still terrorized by the new experience, with one hiding behind the other one in our trailer.  After some water and food, they decided it was safe to come out.  

One of the things we worry about with adding a new animal to the farm is how our "security force" is going to react.  Our dogs, Phoenix and Hercules.  We put them both in the basement (they love it there on a hot day - especially when a neighbor is enjoying target practice, as they don't like the noise.)  We brought out one dog at a time to meet our new farm animals, since they are brothers and tend to be closer to inciting a riot when they are together.  Once one dog met the pigs, my husband took him back to the basement and brought out the other dog.  This led to a more peaceful introduction to our new farm animals.

Friday, August 31, 2018

August 31, 2018

We are continuing to prepare for getting pigs this fall.  My latest project was a pig waterer.  This was made out of a barrel, two bulkhead fittings and two pig nipples, with some teflon tape thrown in.  I am so thankful my husband showed me the right way to wind the teflon tape so when you screw it in, it does not just unravel.  I still need to build the skids it will be sitting on so we can rotate it when we rotate the pigs to new pasture.

Tomatoes are still coming in, and since we already have 57 quarts of spaghetti sauce, 20 quarts of tomatoes with green chilies, and 15 quarts of ketchup, we have decided to dehydrate the rest.  I did an experiment between dehydrating them in our Excalibur dehydrator and the greenhouse.  The Excalibur took from 12 - 24 hours to dehydrate them (but uses electricity).  The greenhouse took a day and a half (of course there is no heat during the night, but it uses no electricity).  We sliced them thin with the food processor and laid them out in trays.  I learned to be careful to turn the end pieces of the tomato up as I dried all of these Juliet tomatoes with the skins on.  They taste like candy and I can't wait to throw them in salads in the fall and spring when we have lettuce, but no tomatoes.  One five gallon bucket ends up drying into two one gallon freezer bags, and I put them in the freezer to make sure no bugs could get in.

Okra is coming in steadily now and We already have about 13 gallon bags of cut up okra in the freezer.  I just cut them up and put them in the bag with no blanching.  When we are making fried okra, I just batter them while they are still frozen so they will hold their shape.  Works great!  We also use it for soups and a great okra tomato dish from a recipe a friend shared (Thanks Jeanne!)

A big project was getting the new barn extension stained so we could put in the windows and painting the trim.  Done!  Thank goodness.  I got tired of ending every day with a bath with some vegetable oil in it that did a nice job of removing the stain from me.  Why do I make such a mess when I do things?  Must be half of the fun!  My husband and I make such a great team.  He is tall and I am not, so if I can't reach something on my 6 foot ladder (my comfort zone), he pitches in and gets the rest.  So glad to be married to a hard worker who is such a handy guy!

This is the time of year, as we harvest, that we are picking our best produce to save seeds.  I am doing a much better job this year, as I have adopted the practice of using empty spice containers and labeling them with a picture of the item.  I also learned to put the seeds with lots of stuff around them (pumpkin and watermelon seeds for example) in a large bowl and massage them out of their stuff.  The seeds fall to the bottom and I scoop out the "stuff" with a tea strainer.  Then I pour the seeds in water in a colander, and oila!, clean seeds for saving!  Also, some fellow homesteaders taught me to dry them on wax paper.  After I think they are dry, I put them in the spice containers and watch them for a few days.  If you see a fog forming or water droplets, immediately dump them back out on wax paper and let them dry some more or mold will form.  I also air out the containers during this time.

We are getting closer and closer to retirement and hopefully making a little money on the side with our freed up time.  I am always looking for new things to add the possibility of income to our farm.  This year I planted 30 bulbs of Crocus Sativus for the spice saffron which is very expensive.  I am hoping it will multiply greatly in the next three years.  I also used an old horse trough to plant some turmeric on one side and ginger on the other.  In our zone, it is said that you can plant it outside as long as you mulch it in the fall.  The horse trough will not only protect it from too much sun and the lawn mower, but give us a way to keep in the mulch.

Life is so good here on the farm!  Always something interesting to do!