An the Camera came with..

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Well my local garden elderberries are starting to be ready, so normally that means that my wild forage patches are ready to help fill a 5 gallon bucket or two  for processing, so we headed out to get it done..

Nope, not only was the yield down due to the drought, which I expected, the bird has all got there first, for every clump, there might have been 5 or 6 left max. we did pick one of the forage apple tree’s and there was a nice batch of blackberries that were ready for picking, so our trip out was very worth it but I will be sad to see that I will only have enough elderberries this year from the farm cat protected bushes, even our bushes in the food forest have been bird raided and are almost nothing..

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the Litchi tomato’s are riping at a nice rate but still the tops are in bloom and growing well.. a very interesting little fruit.. I do not really taste tomato nor do I think of them as a fruit.. really seedy..  will do a post on what I decide to do with them.. so far I have had fresh eating and tried them dried.. I think I will deseed them and try them in a jam next.

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Bullwinkle has been moved from the baby pen in the front farm yard to the joining the horse herd for the day in the pastures and at the hay feeder, he gets put up at night into his own pen in the barn where he gets his extra rations and I know he is safely tucked up, chewing his cud, then let back out for the day, I hope to continue this training till its cold, its important for him to learn the routine.

He ripped out his tag from his ear, and did a right muck job of it, that poor ear is split sideways, I have been treating it and its healing up nicely but I was so sad to see it.. at least I found the tag, which I will need for processing time but its not going back into his other ear until its needed.

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The twin bucklings (that are weathers, as they were both altered) are growing well, they are very dairy, they are surely not big nice meaty type, but they are so easy to get along with, friendly as can be.. gentle and sweet..  the big boy in the front of this photo is sold and will be heading to his new family soon enough, the just slightly smaller boy in the back will stay with us for another couple months before he will be butchered, I will be sad to see him go, but I am looking forward to having a small amount of goat meat in the house and I have plans for his hide as well.. I have to remind myself of it.. in truth to start to settle my mind that way as they grow bigger.

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Jack my young buck is looking awesome, he is a smaller buck, I picked that, for a few reasons but he is a stout gent, he is gentle and friendly but with respect, he is smart and willing but has trained to his routine very well, I like that I can touch him without him having stress, and he likes to be around us but he is good about keeping that little bit of space, Ideally I will be able to keep that for many years to come.  I also think he will help create some very pretty babies with Juno.

Man, I am not believe we needed to crack out the round hay bale feeder but it was time, its one thing to haul the hay daily for the sheep flock but with the pasture done, to hand do each load for everyone was just a bit over the top, so we rolled out 900 pounds of hay and we are letting the horses, goats, and Bullwinkle self feed, both in the pastures and here..

As we have had three, count them THREE rains in two weeks, my pasture and yard is green again.. but other then for a few hours two or three times a week, I am keeping the sheep off the pasture. I need the time to let them out to give their area a cleanout, I am raking up the extra’s and removing the poo for composting.

So far, we have lowered the sheep flock numbers in 2016 by three adults, and five lambs to date.. more to do but as I am doing the butcher work myself,  while keeping up with the gardens and farm, I have only time to do one at a time and then process it.

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I forgot to get a photo for you, will at a later point, my wonderful turkey hen sat faithfully, and hatched me wee baby turkeys, sadly we lost al but two to the coon.. so they have been moved to a new pen and hopefully its secure enough to do its job. but despite the loss, the breeding pair did their jobs.

Well, I had better get back to it.. Everyone have a grand day..

 

 

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No Squash for you!

Well, Its not really true, I will get a limited amount of squash this year,  just like in 2012, the hugelbed pumpkins are growing like a house of fire and they are a heritage French pie storage type.. so we will have a good amount to put up..  I grew a version of them last year.. Only a 50 Percent loss from what I should have.

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and we have a few plants tucked in here and there that are slowly thiving and they have flowered and produced fruit, now the question is, will they be able to push that fruit in growth enough to reach even the first stage, I do not need them to have a full rind, I can take them in and process them into canning or drying for future use.. but that means I lose the ability to save seed from them..

I will have to buy to replace them, but that is fine.. it not idea an I do have a number of squash seeds collected from 2015 that can be used but a few of the more rare ones, where new and they were all started out this year..

However my two biggest main stays, that being the first eating of the acorn squash, not a one survived that I am aware of, and for my butternuts, well I do have a few but its going to be just that.. a few at best.. at least a 90 percent loss from what is expected.

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I was reminded of a good lesson this year.. again.. what will work on a wet year is different then what works on a average year vs what works on a dry year..

I need to work on creating a deeper  dug garden that is created to help hold moisture, I need to create more swells in the gardens, I do have that in many of the gardens but I am using a raised bed with a swell walk way, and I am going to create at least one area that is a in ground bed with just at slight raise (four to six inches) with the depressed swell walk ways.

And for the second one.. I need a green house! yup.. really its on the list, its been on the list for years but I need a greenhouse..  I think it would make a huge difference to extend the seasons even more so then I already do.

So the staple crops that are doing ok, the corn is about half the size but its there , the potato crop is looking good, but lots of very small spuds at the moment, hopefully they will keep growing over the next weeks, the tomato are loaded but splitting.. the beets are good, the climber beans are doing ok, the rest.. well the rest.. not so much!

Squash is normally more then just a staple crop for me, it normally feeds us for months but it also helps feed my livestock.. not this year.. What we get will used for us humans.. the livestock will need to make do with corn stalks, and a crazy amount of pig weed..

That is my best “green” seed crop of the year.. good things young tender flesh pigweed is a delightful crop, because its going to be my regular green for the winter for both us and the livestock.

We did get rain this past week, once on the weekend, and once during the week, both were so very needed.. both will go along way to helping everything, my brown pasture greened back up.. things that were so droopy, picked back up and the rain collection systems filled and then overflowed!

Such a good thing for my heating up and composting of my piles.. they have been so dry this year, not much as been happening in them.. this will be a very good thing indeed.

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Multi-Gen Household to be..

I tried to write about other subjects but just sat there with titles and the words would not flow, so clearly until I get this out.. I will not be writing the other things that I have already started..

So big things are heading to the farm.. part of me is very excited! part of me is steady as she goes and part of me is “whoa girl.. what are you thinking”

Our Family is growing!

Let me explain..  unless something changes (and life is full of change) my mom in approx late winter-early spring of 2017 will be moving to Ontario and to the farm..

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We will join a growing trend, we will become a multi gen household..  I did a little research and this is a hot growing trend, it makes sense in so many ways.

My Step-dad passed away coming on two years ago and while she has done well in her home, but for a number of reason’s that I am not going into here, but it can be summed up with.. Does not want to live alone..

I was excited at the idea that she would move to Ontario and my local area, I was surprised when she asked if we would be open to her moving to the farm, but after we talked it over, it made a lot more sense then us, trying to help her with a small house, yard, snow removal and so forth 20 to 30 min from the farm.

The house does have two extra bedrooms, one is used at the guest room and the other is normally a storage room..  we are planning on some Reno’s to create the most positive and creative use of space to give both of us their own area’s and at the same time share the main parts of the house. (more on that as it happens)

There will be challenges that for sure.. my mom keeps a very clean house, I do my best, my mom loves a traditional grass lawn with pretty flowers, I am very free-flow and much more permaculture leaned, mom loves looking good, curled hair, makeup on and she has outstanding taste in cloths.. me.. when I am home, I am in one of my o so comfy farm dresses..

But at our core, we still hold the love of the farm, garden and family, but the most important thing is that we can talk.. we are able to talk about it, we can listen and find a middle ground.

It will be challenging, and wonderful all in one!

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Drought -Pastures 2016

Well, the 2012 drought did a number on the pastures an I struggled to seed and frost seed it back into a reasonable working pasture, I used dry lots to create a better pasture for rotation and it all helped..

But the pasture was unbalanced, I had too much clover and I worried about it, both for the sheep (bloat issues) and the horses as well..

I seeded out with whole oats, barley and other quick-growing grains to put a push on the area and to have them come up over the clover and to make sure that the grazers were getting a better mix in their bites..  It worked for a temp measure.

This year, the pasture came up and I had three things that were clearly pushing forward.. White Clover, a local grass and more thistle then I am used to seeing..

and then came the drought and the wow.. do we have a drought..  it’s the worst in our area since the mid 1800’s.. we are losing plants, tree’s, creeks are running dry and my pasture is dead.. I mean in a one square foot, 80 plus percent are dead and what is left is clover.. lots and lots of clover..

We had to go to full-time hay feeding again at the start of Aug this year and this drought will affect our pastures and our feeding for the pasture critters for the next two years at a min.

I am going to have to bite the bullet and change some things up, part of it will be turned over to grow fodder beets and turnips and carrots..

the rest will be lightly turned, cleaned, fertilized with homemade compost and it will need to be heavily re-seeded out into a properly done seed mix at a couple hundred per year for two years to get the balance back into the pasture..

Its going to be costly, in terms of money and time..  I need to build a bigger outside paddock for dry lot, as I will need to use it a lot, other than when pressure grazing with electic fencing, then I will need to pay for more straw as bedding, more hay to feed out, more gear, I will need to set up a new roof water collection system to help keep it full and haul in the rest.. I figure I will buy at least two thousand gallon collection ones that can then be used to feed the tank to help reduce the water load.

then there is the cost of time in cleaning that pen, it has to be done and regular all season long, plus at least for the horses, they will need bigger turnout or walks or rides to keep them mentally healthy.

Then I will also have the cost of doing the pasture itself, however the one good bonus is that we can do any required repair work on the pastures and the fences and have the pond worked on.. as well as bring in a load or two of gravel for the paths, normally the idea of getting my pasture cut up is enough to make me cry but if we have to turn the soil anyway, we can get the rest of the things done while it will not hurt anything in the end and we can get things ready for the next ten plus years.

My main hay supplier is doing the same thing this year, over half of his hay pastures have died to the point that he is turning them under and re-seeding them out.. that had the possibility of effecting my hay quality for the next two years, one because the drought hit pastures that are left, will have a loss of what they should have, as some plants are more easily killed. and the new pastures will also be lacking, as it takes one and up to two years to get them up into proper production..

It means more tracking and studying to make sure that I have the correct extra’s in place to keep the health of the different critters on the farm.. Farming in so many ways is about science and gut feelings all rolled up into having the eye and the grit to go with it!

 

 

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It you make it, they will come.. 5 years strong..

This past week has been Busy! It all started around six years ago, a group of like-minded homestead-folks that prefer to be prepared where chatting online and they said.. we should get together locally and network.

and I waited.. and then I waited and then said.. coffee and the first get together was a lunch and coffee meet and greet.. and there is nothing wrong with coffee or lunch to meet folks but running the farm and such, it’s not really something I do often..

so I thought well if we are going to get together, let’s make an event of it, let’s make a day of it, and lets share knowledge, an I will give a huge thank you to some of the folks that have been supportive every single year since the beginning!

The basic outline is four “talks” seminars a potluck, and a visit and a few goodies given away an such..

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Jump forward and this years event was our Fifth year! Wow, time fly’s by.. the five-year mark! the longest running every year meet of its kind in Ontario..  We had folks come from Ontario and Quebec, we had close folks and we had folks that drove hours to make it

We had a local campground where some of the folks stayed and it was a delight to get to close out the days sitting around a campfire and have a relaxed visit, I was running for a few days before and for the time the event was on.. I had some amazing help and they made things move so much smoother..

My presenters where outstanding this year, and it was the first year that I was not giving a talk myself, but I was busy enough regardless, we had beekeeping 101, we had pruning, we had hatching eggs and we had two amazing ladies show how to turn raw wool into yarn on a drop spindle.

So my next speaking event is not until Sept.. if you are local and want to learn about canning, drop me a note in the comments, I have a amazing sponsored event that is free to those that come that get me teaching water-bath and pressure canning and answering questions for the afternoon.. would be happy to have you there!

I could tell you that is a lot of work (and it is) I could say that I need to give my head a shake at times putting that kind of time, energy and money into holding the event each year.. and I am sure that some would..

but instead I am going to be honest..

I have made some amazing friends from the event..

I have had support from awesome people each year and some of them from the very beginning

I really like doing something real for my community, I think its important to find a balance in regards to online community and in person community🙂

Its worth it! I hope that all my dear readers have something they feel strongly enough to that they reach out and attend events and that if there its not in place.. consider stepping up and making it happen..  There might just two or three or five others or more that are just waiting to here that its going to happen and will be there to give you a hand.

As always a huge thank you to my Dear Hubby, he puts up with the planning, the extra box’s and gear and he helps load and unload, he holds the farm down when I am gone for 14 plus hours at a time.. You are the best!

 

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Meat Pies- A easy one pie plate meal

This recipe turned out to be just yum!

I made my regular pie crust but with a touch more salt then normal in it to go with the meat.. I cooked up half a pd of pork/half a pd of lamb, one big onion (grated), 1/4th a med size head of cabbage, one cup of mixed peppers red and green, spices where a mixed bag but for ease, I would say just use montreal steak spice, with a touch more garlic, along with a half tsp of cinnamon and 1/4th teaspoon of fresh grated nutmeg..

If you wanted to play with it, go half fresh cabbage and half crout, and if you wanted to really add a little “bang”, dice and add two large dill pickles.

Served with a nice side salad and its a complete meal

I cooked the meat mix and set it in a bowl, made the pie, and put the cooked filling in and then baked in a 350 oven till golden brown on bottom/sides.

This was taken to a potluck supper and got rave reviews!

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How much Sugar did we use in a year on the farm!

This post is mainly from How much sugar did we use in 2011 with a five year update..

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As I dipped into a small dish of yugurt and strawberries as a afternoon snack, I made a note in the farm book, see if I can reduce the sugar in the canned strawberries for half of them, I can with a much heavier sugar base then many of the “new light” canning books say you can as I want my canning to be able to be just as good at the two year mark as at the three month mark.. but still I think I will try a very small batch of four and see if I can bring it down just a tad without loss of texture and taste.. The reason for wanting at least two years, is you just never know what the next garden season will bring.

The answer is NO, you can lower sugar on a number of fruits, but strawberries is not one. I believe because it is so low to the ground and soil that it has a natural “mold” count that you are battling when canning and that means if you want to keep them in that ruby redness of perfection.. you need to use the sugar!

The remark on sugar made me realize that I could now measure out what was left in my big bucket and finish the numbers on what we used for the year here on the farm.. Now according to Dr. Oz “The average person consumes 150 pounds of sugar per year”

Now its worth noting, that I use and tracked three kinds of sugars on the farm.. White Sugar, Molassies and Raw Local Honey. Do I even need to say that there is NO corn syrup on the farm (well to be honest there is a bottle but its been there since the move down from the artic, I used to use it make puff wheat sqaures), I do have some leftover icing sugar from my last sealift order 9 years ago, that is also in storage, if I want brown sugar, I make my own.

So I buy one ten pd bucket of raw local honey once a year, my local bee hive owner down the way has offered to put in another hive this year so that I can buy a bit more, and I am still looking at considering getting my own, for a number of reason’s.

I was surprised to see that I in fact used just over 9 pds of molassies for use in the house..

Now comes the white sugar.. I bought and used 122 pds for the year of 2011, now I can’t say that we consumed 122 pds because approx 88 pds of that went into canning use, and I still have over a thousand of my jars in the cellar, so I canned just around 1300 jars or so.. of them about 70 percent went into either syrup or brine or sauce, all of which used sugar.  Which is right around 900 jars, we have used 300 jars already in this past year, plus I figure another 200 jars from last year, for a total of 500 jars.. so if my math is right, around 48 pds of sugar in those 500 eaten jars for the year 2011.

So waiting in the cellar is at least another 78 pds of sugar and food products for this coming year to be use.. that means we used for baking, cooking and in the canned goods for the year a total of 62pds of white sugar.

So a total of White Sugar 62 pds, Honey 10 pds, and molassies 9 pds, but there are two of us in the house.. so we each used 31pds of sugar, 5 pds of honey and 4.5 pds of Molassies each..

So for in house use, we used 119 pds less then the average person in N.A. -Not bad, Not bad at all.. but then comes the bad part.. how do we figure out how much sugar is eaten on the eating out meals, we don’t eat out often but we both do eat out on trips off the farm, and we do have date nights etc.. so we are going to go with a pd of sugar per month, because this is something we didn’t track, and I can’t even begin to try and figure out..

So that brings up to 43 pds of sugar per year.. now a 107 pds less then average person in N.A. What do you think? Not bad, or still way! to much.. I don’t know, we can certainly cut down our odd meals out, make better choices, track it closer for the coming year to figure out a more closer account.. 

 I can’t and won’t stop using the required amount of sugar for proper preserving, so that stays, I already use fruit or veggie butters for alot of baking, cooking, and use natural dried fruits for adding sweetness to things..

So how much sugar are you using per person per year in your neck of the woods? Got any tips to share to help me reduce the amount? 

So its 2016 this year, and its been five years since this post, for sure time for a update..  I still buy and use about ten pounds of Molasses , but I use a few of them for the critters, I need to buy a bucket of critter grade so I can keep the good stuff in the house for us.

I have changed honey suppliers, my local beekeeper just down the road is no longer, so I get it from a little farther away, still get around ten pounds yearly..

And sugar.. well, I have brought that down, I average about 90 pounds of white sugar use per year for all my canning, baking and COFFEE needs (lets face it, I can not imagine coffee without sugar) so while just like above its a bit tricky to figure out,  we break down to about 35 pounds of sugar per year per person in the house!

So the reason for this reduction, I would like to tell you that we did cut it out for this and that.. but the truth is.. we had already done most of the leaning five years ago. I already cut sugar in recipes in half (unless I am really treating hubby) I use apples sauce, I use prunes, and so forth in baking.

Nope, the savings came from me doing a few things.. drying more food and pressure canning more food as well as added in more fermenting.. yup.. my data shows that the dryer and the pressure canner save me 8 pounds of sugar per person per year. plus we stopped eating out as often, we had gotten into a habit of eating out at least once on each payday and once or twice a month for a nice sunday breakfast out.. we have cut that down to one meal? a month, sometimes not even that.

So how are you doing in regards to sugar use in your household? Well, it turns out that despite looking that it appears that there is no new study, that they say we are still consuming the same amount of sugar yearly..

Its worth noting that I had a full medical workup in 2015, including a ton of bloodwork testing for blood sugars and my numbers were excellent..as in shocked the medical staff, and baffled them a bit..

But I was happy with the results!

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Summer Sausage

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When folks think sausage, they tend to think small but it does not need to be that way, with the heat, sometimes have cold cooked meat for sandwiches or cold plates is awesome. however that means cooking roasts and slicing them thin..

or does it? i highly recommend keeping a bag or two of these handy big sausage bags in the house, they need to be pre-soaked before use. then you can stuff them, the great thing is these ones you can do by hand.

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Ground meat is still the cheapest to buy, can be all one kind, can be mixed, add your spices and stuff them full!  you can use a cake pan or any roast but in my case, i was gifted a fish roasting pan, it rarely sees fish but it fits two rolls perfectly, and i put the water to steam in the bottom under the tray that holds the rolls

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And into a low oven they go till cooked though, afterwards if i had wanted i could have put some smoke on them or you could put them in a hot smoker

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Now, i have one pork and one beef pre-cooked and seasoned roll in the fridge, can be sliced and fried at breakfast, sliced cold for cold plates, can be grabbed with a pickle for a snack or can be sliced for sandwiches or to go on homemade pizza

i will need to pick up extra supplies soon for my fall butchering!

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The overwintering critter overview

Well, there is a part of me that is struggling mentally with what needs to happen, but happen it must.. I sat down with pen and paper and started planning my next years breeding plans, my fall butcher plans and my over winter plans..

At the moment, this is what I am looking at..

Geese- Butcher the Guard Geese, with the new plan to dry lot the ewes in the spring to help the pasture, they are not really having a plan anymore but they sure eat enough in winter and they require a extra pen and setup.

Geese Keep- the new breeding purebred trio..

Savings.. none.. overwintering three geese instead of two.

Quail- No overwintering.. Butchering out.. closing of the breeding program.

Guinea Fowl – Butcher out, closing of the breeding program.. I only have one female and she did not sit a nest last year or this year..  Not carrying her over the winter.

Ducks-All Hens are being kept, One Drake, if the Drake Dies, replace in the spring bird sale.. All other drakes butchered out.

Turkey’s-Breeding pair.. Hen is sitting now, raising out the pullets and overwinter Hen-Tom and if I can tell, one more hen out of the 2016 hatch.

Chickens- the 4 best laying hens from current flock, My two best Roosters

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The whole flock of nine little USA imported faverolles, I have four hens and five roosters, I will grow them out and will work to increase the flock of them next year in 2017.

I will keep back the good speckled sussex rooster and I plan to bring in new white Speckled Sussex hens early in 2017 to raise up, I know that the white speckled nick to the faverolles males in a outstanding way.. I am hoping that the same will be said on the other side as well..

The goal to work to produce pure favorolles and to produce a good dual meat-egg producer cross between the sussex and the favorolles.

Sheep Flock- 6 ewes, 2 yearlings, one ram

this is where I am making my biggest cuts, all lambs, and currently yearlings are being butchered, half of my ewes are being culled out of the herd..

Goat Herd- 1 Nanny Goat, One Billy Goat..

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Horse Herd -Brandy and Caleb.. Caleb! my awesome big guy.. and Brandy, we will continue to work with her health issues and see what the future brings.

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Bullwinkle- One big sweet Steer calf!

My current pigs are going to be butchered out and will not be carried over the winter.. No plans to get a new piglet or two until 2017

We will be heading into the winter of 2016-2017 with a greatly downsized farm in terms of critters and breeding groups..

So are you expanding or are you closing some programs and expanding others, or are you tightening down on your keep backs this winter as well.

 

 

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Canning with dried veggies

Its strange sometimes needing to change your ways, on a farm, in some ways you are always changing, always reacting to what is happening and many times it out of your control, the wind pushes the corn over a the wrong time, the storm drops that tree, the rains keep coming or they pass you by

But some things you do them by routine, using fresh veggies for my soups and stews are pretty much the norm, as is making the jar so that its a single serve..

However that does not mean that is the only way it needs to be.. so this time, I used mixed dried veggies and made a fully loaded jar, in a way I made it like the store bought ones that need equal amount of water added, but in my case, ideally you will use broth instead of water, or you will make a gravy and put some mashed over top and Voila.. Shepards Pie!

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I cooked up three pounds of beef with onions and garlic and put 1/3rd cup in each jar, then topped it will beef broth and processed for amount of time needed for beef soup in pints at ten pounds pressure.

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Now the perk of this that each jar is fully loaded and while be heated up with a full pint jar of beef broth, think of it as a quart of soup for each pint put up.

I also canned up 14 pounds of just pork meat for other dishes in the future! I need to start clearing the freezer of the older meat and canning it up so that I can make way for the fall’s meat.

A far amount is going to be cured, most will be canned and the best cuts will be put in the freezer for future use..

 

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