Don’t be hard on yourself

I don’t know about you, but I am always so hard on myself.  No matter what I do or how long I work, there is always more to be done.  There are goals I have not met and food I have not preserved and floors I have not cleaned and games I have not played with the kids.  I beat myself up.  I collapse into bed at night and promise myself that tomorrow I am going to work harder and get more done.   Well, this morning I was slapped in the face with a piece of bacon, and it woke me up!

This morning alone, I have chicken stock cooking in the crock pot, from a chicken that we raised, with veggies that we grew. I have cured bacon for dinner and extra for breakfast, I took out ground pork to make sausage tonight, all from our pig raised on our land. I cheated for breakfast and had store bought greek yogurt, but I added home made strawberry sauce.  Made a cup of coffee and added goats milk that I got out of the goat yesterday and pasteurized last night.  Do you know that I had the audacity to be upset with myself because I did not make the yogurt from scratch and I added store bought sugar to my coffee instead of honey raised on the farm.

As homesteaders, we put so many expectations on ourselves.  And I feel like I can say “we” because I have talked to many others that feel the same way.  We feel like we have to do it all.  Bake the bread, raise the animals, grow the veggies, hand make all our clothes and gifts, clean the house, homeschool our kids…. the list goes on and on.  Why do we not take a step back and be proud of what we do and stop criticizing ourselves for what we don’t?

There is just not an easy answer to that question, I believe most people, no matter their profession, are hard on themselves.  Homesteaders especially, it is not like we can call ourselves lazy, we raise most of our own food!  Something inside of us strives to do more and to be better!  What is the answer?

Right now, I am going to take a step back and be proud of what we have been able to do!  I am proud of the fact that we raise almost all of our own meat.  I am proud of the garden and the food that comes out of it.  I am proud of these sore hands and back.  Yes, I want to do more.  But today I am going to be proud of what I have done, and not feel guilty about buying bagels for breakfast tomorrow, instead of making them from scratch. Take time today to be proud of yourself.  You are an amazing person,  no matter what you do, you do not have to always be perfect.  Hold on to your drive and let that motivate you, but don’t put yourself down.  Feeling good in what you have done is not a sign of weakness, but one of strength. Have a great day!


July Jitters

July is here and we are finally starting to see the fruits of our labor, well vegetables, I mean.  The tomato plants are growing a foot a day it seems and there are tons of green tomatoes on there.  My hands are aching just thinking about the canning in my future.  We have started to harvest kale, lettuce, some peas and herbs.  The next few weeks should bring squash, tomatoes, radishes, beans and more peas.  It is like waiting for Christmas morning, you can’t sleep, and you count down the days.  The whole family is jittery as we watch the plants grow.  This spring has made us wait longer than normal and the an anticipation is building.

The planting continues.  The vegetable garden is starting to look good, but we do not have much fruit growing on the property. Last year, we planted blueberries and raspberries and they transplanted ok, but this past winter and spring was really hard on them, we collected maybe a dozen blueberries off of 10 plants.   This year we decided to add fruit trees that produce within a year or two of planting.  Grapes, strawberries, figs and kiwi are in the ground and there is hope that we will get something off of them this season, but if not we know next year will be great.  The long term plan is that we get apples, peaches, pears and cherries going in an orchard, but that is a year or two down the line and will be built up slowly.  Those trees take years to produce.  Which is a good thing because I know nothing about how to grow them.


We are done with the meat birds for the  year and I am thankful to have one less chore in the morning.  Our freezer is full and we are looking forward to the turkeys being done.  They still have 8 more weeks, but we are halfway there and despite the foxes best intentions we have only lost 2 birds.


The goats are our work force this summer and they are clearing the property line for us so that Soil Conservation can put a fence up in the fall.  We found out that we have been approved for the grant and we are moving forward in the next step of the process, which is proving to be as long and tedious as the previous steps.  We are remaining patient, this grant is a tremendous blessing and we are grateful for the help with the fencing task. Below is a picture of the next area the goats will clear.  Go goats go, eat goats eat.  We have even been tossing around the idea of getting more goats to help with this huge task.


Piggie, Piggie, Piggie… they are growing great!  We had the vet out of give them a check up and we are estimating that they are around 100 pounds.  To celebrate the 4th of July we moved them to new pasture.  They enjoy eating the new grass and they really enjoy any extras we are getting out of the garden.  The Old Spot breed of pig is just amazing.  These animals are friendly, calm, and an all around pleasure to work with.  I am really looking forward to being able to have a sow here year round in the future once the fences and buildings are done.


Now that the garden is producing and we have a full freezer it is time for us to cut the string that binds us to the grocery store.  Our goal has always been to produce 75% of our food on the farm, setting up the farm took longer than we thought and we have fallen far away from that.  I finally believe that we have turned a corner.  I am not sure that we will get to 75% this year because we will still have to buy most of our fruit and the goats are not producing milk yet, but we are getting closer.   So this is me putting it in down in writing, we have had a family meeting and we are committed to the challenge to eat what we produce.  We will buy local fruit but still get grains, oils and dairy from the store.  The hope is to transition to buying local dairy as well and only getting grains and oil from the store only.  Each member of the family has chosen two foods that they do not want to live without and we will continue to buy those, but we are ready to roll up our sleeves and make this transition.  I am excited, our homestead is finally taking shape.


June’s A Jumpin

I was talking with a friend this morning and I reviewed the list of things that I would be doing today, it goes something like this:

Breakfast, coffee, devotional, animal chores, plant crop of corn, cook breakfast for this kids, start them on their school work, process 30 pounds of strawberries, laundry, mop and wipe down kitchen after making jam, cook lunch, help kids with more school, clean up, work in garden till 6, cook dinner, eat dinner, clean up dinner, help with evening chores, bath children, shower, and pass out!

As I look at that list, a few things change from day to day, like I might weed instead of plant corn, or process beets instead of strawberries, but this is my day.  No wonder I do not have time to keep my blog up to date!  The difficult thing with never leaving work is you never leave work.  I never get to say “Ok, Im done for the day”.  The minute you do that a chicken gets out or someone throws up.  I do however, need to find a way to write more.  So here I am relaxing, thank you for listening.

The pigs have arrived!  They are doing great, we were able to move them out of their baby pen and into the field this week.  They are loving the grass and the open space.  Their names are Ketchup, Mustard and Relish.  We keep saying that we are going to have a race, like they do at the baseball game but it has not happened yet.  These pigs are just as sweet and lovable as our last ones and we are just head over heals in love with this breed.  It is looking more and more like pigs will become a forever animal on our farm.  Within the next year or two we will get a breeding pair to guarantee we always have this breed around.


We are almost down with our spring meat birds.  One batched has already gone to butcher and the second batch will go in about 2 weeks.  This is the first year we have really been able to put them out on pasture and we are, as always, learning new things.  The major learning curve this year has been predators.  We have lost many birds, to raccoons and fox this year.  The fox is continuing to be a problem, we have trapped some, but electric fencing around the outside of everything seems to be our only solution.  We have added many small fence chargers for the moveable bird pens and for the pigs and goats.  This seems to be working but we still live in fear.

Lastly, we are happy to announce that we received our cost share grant from  Soil Conservation.  It has been a long, very long process and we are not done yet, but they did tell us we have been approved.  We are excited to start the next step which is planning, estimates, building and yet more paperwork.  It is worth it!  I can not wait to be able to open up those fields and let the animals run.

Alright, enough relaxing for me, time to start chores.  I hope you have a great day!


April 2016 Goings on

I will be honest with you, keeping up with the farm has been a challenge.  My foot really has slowed me down and limited what I am able to do everyday.  Now that it is starting to heal and that the weather is getting warmer, it is time to just push through.  Our day starts at 4:30. Before the sun comes up, I start with the paperwork for the farm and my bible/prayer time.  Once the sun is up the animals start calling to me.  The day comes to an end when everyone is locked back up safely in their pens around 8 pm.  In the middle of the day we address whatever problems come up, clean pens, collect eggs, homeschool the children, cook 3 meals a day, clean the house and plant the garden.

There have been several additions to the farm, we currently have 60 meat chickens, 10 turkeys, 5 ducks, 5 rabbits, handful of tilapia, 3 goats, and 36 laying hens. Within the next week we will have 2 liters of bunnies born, 3 baby pigs arrive and 5 more turkeys will be coming.


We are also in the process of putting in a garden.  The soil is so bad, we are having to bring in truck loads of compost.  It is costing a lot of money, but so does buying groceries.  We are hoping and praying that the investment pays off and the need for the grocery store will be greatly reduced. So far we have had 21 yards of compost delivered.  I do not think that it will be enough and we are going to need more brought in.

Our world is crazy, but it is a good crazy. We are learning new things everyday.  Some days are good and some days are bad, but all in all we feel very blessed to be farming.


Buying a side of Pork

So we are starting a new chapter on the farm, we are selling sides of pork.  We loved raising pigs last year and this is something we are going to expand on.  I hope we continue to love it!


Pork Cuts Vintage Vintage blackboard cut of pork

the picture is from

This is the email that I sent out to inform people about what it means to buy a side of pork.  I hope that it is helpful to you as well, even if you do not buy from us.

Thank you for expressing an interest in buying Pork from our farm.  This email has a lot of information in it but if you still have questions please feel free to call me.  Most of the people that we sell to are friends and family or friends of friends and family.  We love you all and will not judge you one way or another if you decide not to buy from us, this is not for everyone, we understand that and will continue to love you no matter what!

About our Pigs: Our pigs are Gloucestershire Old Spots, a heritage breed of pig that is an original homesteading pig breed from England.  These pigs were almost extinct in 1990 in the United States but are making a come back now through awareness and education.  This breed thrives on pasture, has an amazing personality, is easy to handle and the meat tastes great!  We raise our pigs on grass, not concrete like most pork is raised.  They play in the mud and sunbath.  They are given as much pasture as they want, but are fed grain as well, they are not 100% pasture raised. They are also given treats like veggies from the garden and they love apples and watermelon.

When buying a half an animal you pay the farmer for the animal, the farmer transports the animal to the butcher for you, and then you pay the butcher for the custom processing.  Buying pork in bulk can sometimes be confusing, especially if you’ve never bought your meat this way. You want to think about what cuts of pork you and your family like to eat. In the Spring, you might be thinking about grilling meats, but remember to think ahead to the fall and winter when you might cook more roasts and stews. The butcher vacuum packs the pork and it will keep in the freezer for a year or more. When you buy a side of pork, you are the one that calls the butcher and tells them how you want the meat packaged and processed.  How big do you want your pork chops?  How many pounds of ground pork do you want in one package?  How big do you want your roasts / ham?  Do you want it cured or left uncured?  Buying this way gives you more control over your food.

Lets talk Money: The cost is $4.25 per pound of hanging weight to the farmer (which is me!), and the custom processing costs to the butcher.  The processing costs varies slightly depending on what you want but it is about $80 give or take depend on the size of the pig. The price is based on the hanging weight of the pig, which is the weight after the head, feet and organs have been removed, but before it has been butchered into usable cuts. We estimate that the hanging weight of a side of our pork will be between 70 and 100 lbs. That equates to about $400 for a side of pork, plus the $80 to the butcher. Add those together and that is the per pound cost of the meat.  To compare it to the cost at the store, look at the price for a pork loin, ground pork, bacon, ribs, ham and chops; average all that together and you will get an idea of how the price per pound compares.
You pay $200 now to me as a deposit and the remaining $4.25 per pound to me when we find out the hanging weight.  You pay the butcher directly when you pick up your meat.

Cuts of Pork
There are five specific sections to a hog, two of each section if you’re buying a whole hog, or one of each if you’re buying a side:

– Loin
– Belly
– Ham
– Shoulders
– Ribs

This is a rough picture of what you can get, it changes depending on the size of the pig and how you want it processed: 6 pounds of bacon, 7 pounds of rope sausage, 16 pounds of ground pork, 6 pounds of shoulder roast, 4 pound loin, 9 pound ham, 4 pounds ham steaks, 9 pounds pork chops, 1 smaller pork loin, 4 pounds spare ribs, 1 1/2 pound spare ribs, and 1 1/2 pound baby back ribs.

Ok, I know that was a lot of information.  Please, please let me know if you have any questions!  I currently am picking up 3 baby pigs at the end of April.  I already have 1 1/2 reserved.  If you are interested please let me know so I make sure I have enough.


As always it was been way too long since I have written an update.  Today’s blog post is purely a couch therapy session with World Wide Web.  Thank you for allowing me to get this morning off my chest!


Our fabulous pigs are finally old enough and big enough to go to slaughter.  They had such a great personality and were so sweet, but their size was really starting to become a problem.  They are very, very strong animals and ours had behaviors similar to dogs.  When we went into the pen to feed or water them, they would rub on you and go between your legs, or lean into you.  Well, 275 pounds of pig leaning into the back of your knees makes it difficult to stay on your feet.  That was just if one of them came over, when they both wanted attention and to love on you, it was down right dangerous, our son was knocked over and it was very scary.  In addition to their size, they really do not like the cold weather or the snow.  It became difficult to get them water and we have not been able to move their pasture so the mud was getting too deep for my liking.

So it is time to slaughter!  We had made our appointment months ago, we had no idea what the weather was going to be or what would be going on in our world on the day of slaughter.  Last week I found out that I have a torn tendon in the same foot I just had reconstructive surgery on. I am back in the fashionable walking book cast thing.  Not really where I planned to be 6 months after my reconstruction surgery. In addition to me not being 100% there was a winter storm warning in effect for our area.  Not really the ideal time to take a trailer back into the pasture in the mud and haul pigs out. So this combination was stressful enough. To add to the stress, when we borrowed the trailer from a friend, we decided to also buy 90 square bales of hay to stock up until after spring.

So the pigs are suppose to go to slaughter on Tuesday morning no later than 8am.  Monday morning we wake up at 430am we looked at the forecast like every good farmer and see that the rain/ice/snow event is not suppose to start till after dark Monday night.  Perfect.  My husband can go to work, when he comes home we will unload the hay from the trailer and load the pigs before dark, perfect plan.  WRONG!  When I checked the weather again at 930 the timeline for the storm moved to 3pm and the fields were already muddy from the melting snow.  Great, by the time we unload the hay tonight, the fields will be a complete slip and slide.  There is no way we would get that horse trailer out.

So me and my fashionable boot had to unload the hay bales so that my husband could focus on getting the pigs in and the trailer out of the field ASAP when he got home.  Luckily, I had some help unloading the trailer, but it was still hard on my foot.   My husband arrived after work and with the help of another friend were able to get the pigs on the trailer much smoother than we imagined.  Getting out of the muddy field was a struggle, but even that happened easier than I thought.


OK now the pigs are happy and on the trailer for the night.  We were suppose to get ice and snow all night.  When we woke in the morning we were thankful to see that the roads were not covered.  We loaded the kids in the truck and off to the butcher we went!

This is when the nightmare happened.  Apparently, we were in a warm patch, because when we got 5 miles west of our small farm, the roads were covered with snow and ice.  It was still dark out, the snow was falling so fast you could not see 10 feet  in front of the truck and there was so much ice and snow on the ground that we could not stop.  There was several times I saw the rear trailer lights in the side view mirror.  There was a couple times we were on the wrong side of the road because of a slide and low visibility. We missed our turn and ended up going 25 miles out of our way because the roads were so bad that we could not stop to turn down a side street without jack knifing the trailer.  The butcher is normally 30 minutes away it took us an hour and a half to get there.



Once we arrived we were not out of hot water yet, there was no open holding pens for the pigs.  We had to wait for 30 minutes or so for them to be able to go in.  This was a blessing though.  Our babies were in the trailer, sleeping  and getting extra love right up until the time they went into the “back room” area.  They were never under any stress or had any fear of what was going to happen.  They were completely relaxed to the point of snoring up until moments before their lives ended.  That is exactly how I wanted it to be.

Now we have dropped off the pigs.  We are still 25 miles from home and it is still snowing really hard.  Luckily the sun had come up at this point.  The first 20 miles of the ride home was very uneventful.  We took a Southern route home which made a big different in road conditions.  About 5 miles from the house, the alternator goes up on the truck.  We have to get home in the snow with whatever battery power we have left.  Of course we hit every stop light possible in the 5 mile stretch.  Finally we made it home, three and a half hours later!  We were all stressed.  I made another pot of coffee and sat down to vent to you.


Thank you for this therapy session, I needed to get it all out!  It has been a roller coaster ride.  I am glad we are all home safe and we are going to have a quite day to allow our blood pressure to go down.  I hope you stay safe this winter and I will write again soon.

Farm Set up and Soil Conservation

Quick Update

So we are still working on the farm and right now just trying to keep a float, literally as the rain comes down.  With my foot still healing most of the work on the farm has to be done by my husband.  He is fabulous and works really hard, but it does not allow us much time to start new projects.  At the new farm so far, we have the chickens in a new chicken coop and yard. The inside of the coop needs to be remodeled, but it is functional and for the most part dry.  The goats are in a structure made from a recycled dog run roof, pallets and weed cloth.  They are also for the most part dry.  The pigs are in a moveable run in that we are moving around our field, until we get permanent fencing up.  The ducks are happy in the rain, the rabbits are dry in their barn and the tilapia are warm in the basement for the winter.


Soil Conservation

Now that you are caught up with general goings on, let me talk about Soil Conservation.  Soil Conservation is a government company that can help a farmer establish and improve pasture rotation practices to improve soil quality.  Pasture rotation is when the livestock are moved to different fields on a rotational basis.  This allows one field time to recover while the animals are grazing on another field.  The pasture sizes depend on the type of animal you are raising and the number of head.  For example, we are raising a small amount of animals, at most 10 pigs or chickens, our pasture fields will be broken up into small fields 1/2 acre in size.  These fields all need a structure and water for the animals.  Soil Conservation can help new farms create a pasture rotation plan as well as apply for a grant to be able to help with some of the cost.

Phone pictures end of may 2015 282


We are just beginning that process with them. Below is a check list of what you need to get started.

  • Own the land you want to farm.
  • LLC or Sole Proprietorship
  • Employee Tax Identification Number (EIN)- This number can be obtained through the  IRS.
  • DUNS number-
  • Contact your local Soil Conservation Office- Search Soil Conservation and your state name.

The Soil Conservation office will send you an application as well as set up a time to come out and look at your property.  So far everyone I have dealt with has been very nice and they will be visiting the property next week.  I will keep you posted on what happens.  We are hoping to get fencing, water, and structures put up within the next year.  Who knows what God has in the plan for our little farm.

In the mean time, I am resting inside trying to get as much of the administrative stuff taken care of on the farm.  I hope this was helpful.