Monthly archives "October 2010"

life and death

Right now, the five goats to be harvested are in their separate pen for an overnight fast before their gentle end tomorrow AM. I thank the goats we’ll offer up to the gods and am so grateful for what they bring to the farm in terms of money which is used to feed all the does through the winter.

And with death, comes birth, or conception- my buck has gone into the lady goats’ area for the next month. He’ll be with them through the heat cycle, 21 days, at least, to ensure all 5 of my does are bred for babies due beginning late March. With any boy kid goats born, that completes the cycle on a farm of care, nurturing, love, milking and harvesting the male offspring next fall. What a night to contemplate this all, the air is still and stiff with a chill, the stars are out, our woodstove is cozy, Andrew’s made a luscious French Onion soup, and I will go out to milk in a few minutes.

cold and stormy

Ack –we have had quite a couple days. Winds up to 60 miles an hour, rain and SNOW! From what I hear we didn’t have as much snow as closer to the cities. But, the turkeys were all wet and starving this morning, so Andrew made them a simple shelter, and we bedded them with some loose hay. Tough birds, still running around in the wind and cold with a funny little prance.

The goats are looking shaggier, as they poof up their undercoats to insulate their bodies. They start to resemble stuffed animals when their cheeks and faces get fluffed up! Luckily I do not have to worry if the pigs are warm enough……actually this cold is great for the meats we have brining in tubs on the sun porch- it is like a walk-in refrigerator now! Draining some of the last feta in there as well this morning. The three goats I am milking are giving a 1/2 gallon per milking. (That’s really not alot of milk, even though an average family couldn’t use that gallon a day.) We are winding down for winter already, but I will continue to milk as long as they keep it up, to make our winter stock of cheese. Ususally right around Thanksgiving is when I dry them off- too cold, and such a small amount of milk by then. I always miss the twice daily ritual of milking though!

The cold and dreary weather has almost stopped the duck egg laying entirely. 1 DOZEN eggs this morning. Yikes. I’ll have to get creative about the final CSA shares, maybe load everyone up with goatmilk soaps instead of eggs. I miss the duck eggs so much, miss my over easy egg fried and drizzling all over some crunchy toast. If you have some in your fridge, savor those beauties for me!Our little housewarming CSA picnic was a success a couple weeks back, everyone brought such GREAT food, a lovely asssortment, and I made 4 duck egg quiches with goatmilk ricotta and various fillings. We toured around the farm, showed everyone the set up and the “kids.” We are so grateful for such caring and conscious customers. There was lots of great conversations and sharing, and I even got tossed on my butt by Roxy as part of a little pig performance!

pigs, pretty much the best gift on this planet

Last tuesday was the pigs’ harvest. The following pictures may be too graphic for some, but this is what has happened out here and I want to share what we experienced. It was an amazing day.

reviewing our books before the harvester arrived


I can’t imagine how it could have been better. We hired a professional slaughterer, who came to their paddock, was gentle and kind with them, and with the pull of a trigger, immediately they were gone, with a single bullet to the brain. There were four couples present for this amazing experience, each of us was getting a half of one of the pigs. Some of us cried, as it is not simple to watch beings leave this planet, no matter how you may view meat…there are so many questions about meat and animals, and life and eating, spirituality and loving a beings’ existence. We treasure our own so much. But these animals had been raised for this day, and for all the days/weeks/months of sustinence and gustatorial pleasure their meat will provide us. The harvester said they were obviously very well cared for and fed, and weighed around 350 lbs each!

caul fat


blood sausage on toast, my first pork taste in 14 years, andrew made spanish style morcilla....amazingly rich and delicious


the six of us who witnessed the harvest, and spent 4 hours gleaning all we could from the hides and organs.


It was a day we’ll never forget. Andrew and I had spent a good part of the previous day hanging out with the pigs, absorbing all their wonderfulness, giving them love and scratches, contemplating how their harvest would go, feeling a bit nervous to know they’d be gone tomorrow. But the thing is—–these pigs died instantly, and they died where they were comfortable. No trucks hauling them somewhere foreign and scary. They were alive, then they were dead. 

Today we all got to pick up our halves today from the locker, after being deep chilled for a number of days. Andrew built a great hog processing table, which we moved into our sunroom since it was raining. We studied our diagrams all morning, for how to properly butcher a half a hog. When our half of Roxy was there, on the table, it was quite something. She lived such a good, loved life, and by the amount of fat, she obviously ate very well. We began by sectioning off the back leg- the ham. Then we sectioned off the front leg- the boston butt and picnic ham and hock. The loin and belly sections are tricky to figure out, but suddenly we had shapes we could recognize from the books and we proceeded to cut off some of the hugest pork chops I have ever seen, divy out roasting sections and decide what was going to be brined and what would be dry cured. We have 100 lbs of pork now…. in the freezer, in the brining tubs and the belly sections are being dry cured with salt/sugar/pepper. Such gratitude for those lovely, amazing pigs. They are the dearests to hang out with during their time with us, they help us till up turf out here for gardeing, and their meat is incredible. INCREDIBLE. Not to mention the fat we rendered into lard from scraping the hides and heads, and the resulting cracklings (yummmmm) and the head cheese, and the paprikash simmering on the stove right now with Roxy’s heart and some of her liver. Such a gift, pigs will forever be part of LTD Farm. We have 3 little piglets coming November 1st to raise for late spring harvest, let us know if you want to be a part of this experience .

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andrew with roxy

Today’s the day I say thank you to the immense pigs, for tomorrow they’ll be harvested.

Dearest Roxy and Matilda, you have changed our lives and rocked our world with your joy and enthusiasm, your intelligence, your piggishness, gluttony and rambunctious behavior. It has been my pleasure to guide you through these months, tend to your needs and scratch your bellies and back, jowls and shoulders.  The people who you’ll be nourishing are all so grateful for your lives well lived. And thank you for tilling up the soil for our gardens too, it was great fun to watch you plowing through the sod and brambles, grunting with glee and tummies filled to the brim. Tomorrow will be your swift end, and every part of you will be utilized and savored.

It is with a full heart I say thank you to those pigs.

a few precious duck eggs, with apple wine fermenting in the background


hoophouse progress!

andrew and our frined heidi, harvesting the last of the male ducklings for 2010

me and heidi plucking

part of the goats area for the winter

oh, those turkeys!


factory farm near our place....booooo! look at how jam-packed those poor birds are! Such a disgraceful thing...

our kitchen in the morning...

Seward's got my picture up as part of the the new "p6" campaign, all about small scale local producers!

it’s never as easy as it seems

Today I totalled the Subaru- driving round a sharp bend I lost control on the gravel edge, and off we went. So lucky to have not rolled in the very steep ditch, but I hit a culvert in the ditch and FLEW over it, right onto the rock embankment, and kept going. Serious momentum in a vehicle. The underside of the car looked like i had landed on a pile of rocks and kept driving. Which is what happened. So lucky to have not been injured, but yikes $$ for losing my car (probably.)

Yesterday we were on hoophouse setup day 2, for assembling the arches and erecting them. This is serious work. they are 30 feet across, made of heavy steel pipe, and the height at center is 12 feet. Well, on arch number two for the day, I lost control of holding my side of the massive beast, and it fell. No biggie usually, but the end pipe came down and hit me in the chest, scraping a nice big “battle wound” down my chest. OUCH. I haven’t gotten the wind knocked out of me in a long, long time. It hurts seriously. We gave up for the day, since I was the walking wounded. Andrew made a beautiful retaining wall around the front sides of where the finished hoophouse will look out, I putzed as best I could, doing little projects around the place. A day off my day job is invaluable, and I had blown it all, with one careless move. ARGH! But these arches are not a force for most to deal with, and especially not me, the weak-ish one, along with Andrew’s burly strength. If there had been two burly men, this probably wouldn’t have happened. So- we’re working on getting some strong folks together to get this hoophouse set up before winter. It is where the ducks will hang through the coldest months of the year, so, very important! We’ll figure this out. Brushes with death……….

The pigs are enjoying the last days of their time here on earth. We moved them yesterday, to fresh raspberry brambles and grass. They have been gorging on milk soaked barley and all kinds of other goodies. Such dear, good pigs. And every pig, I can imagine, if given love and respect, will be a good pig. Next Tuesday is our pig harvest day, and we (Andrew, me, and the customers who have bought a half) are all a bit nervous about how it will go. We will all take part in the harvest experience, a big deal for all of us as newbies to this. We’ve decided to have Northwoods Locker take the halves to their locker to chill for 3-5 days, as the owner said he does with his pigs, before the breaking down day (aka butchering) of the halves into roasts, chops, hams, belly, trimmings to make saussage, fat to be rendered into lard, etc. All the offal and other parts will be used as well. A full circle experience from start to finish.

Andrew and I constantly refer to the day back in March when we brought the 2 pigs home to Osceola in a dog kennel, in the back of the subaru. It’s a measure of our 2010 season, and it was the beginning of farming together. It was “pig day”, and we have absolutely loved every day with them since. On that note- we’re planning to raise 3 piglets this winter, for April harvest. One is available for purchase.

conventional meat…..dare to see this

We just saw this last night. You can view the entire thing through the link below….it is some of the most real footage of what happens in conventional factory farm settings. From life to death, an atrocious lack of respect for beings. The point this film is making is that we are all beings on this planet, not just humans here to dominate animals. I have alot to say about this, but we felt very reassured over our choice to be small scale farmers. Please watch this movie. Acknowledge what’s going on, and then make your own decisions. 

earthlings documentary

After we watched this sickening and ghastly film, Andrew and I sat for a while to decompress and reflect on what we are doing here on LTD Farm. We are making the serious choice to raise animals to eat. Even though the amount of meat animals being raised here on our farm are a drop in the puddle compared to the millions of factory farmed animals, each small scale farm IS making a difference. Our raising a small number of animals allows a one on one reationship, an inherent respect for them because we know each one of them. There is a total respect for their creatureness, and they have the best care and best lives we can provide them. With small scale farming, animals are vital in the full circle component of that farm they spend their lives on. They deserve respect just for this alone! Free ranging animals provide fertility to the land they roam on, invigorate the plant roots by grazing, and the pigs turn the soil, eating grubs, roots and churn nutrients back in, which allows vegetable crops to be planted there afterwards. They live well and live a natural animal life- not in crates and cages and closed up cemented barns. Our animals also end their life here peacefully, with nobility. None of them will be sent to slaughterhouses. They will not be subjected to transport and terrifying new places right before they die. This is a very important part of what we are doing here.