A Blackberry Bumper crop

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A good wild blackberry patch is hard to find. In fact, a neighbor told me that if you do find a patch, you never disclose its location.  On our farm, we are blessed with several small blackberry patches. Often the berries are small, incomplete, and rather sparse– they are wild after all. Well, this year the blackberries are out in force and we have enjoyed the bounty. As we continue to expand our permaculture gardens, forest, fields and thickets, we will plant domesticated blackberries alone with a great many things. But for now we continue to enjoy wild blackberries.

~Alexander

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It’s that time of the year again!

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Spring, for those of us with laying hens, means we get to enjoy lots of eggs again after the winter laying lull.  We are getting 2 dozen each day! That really makes up for the 1 per day over the winter months. How does that affect our life? Well, it means we eat eggs for breakfast, eggs for lunch, and sometimes even eggs for dinner. At least I’m kind enough to serve them in different ways 🙂 We may have scrambled eggs for breakfast, deviled eggs for lunch, and then quiche for dinner. Actually, I’m getting really good at all the possibilities of potential egg menu items. As I scan recipes, my first or second thought nowadays is, “Good, it requires a lot of eggs!” The fun ends when I have to go out of town for a speech and debate tournament, and those at home have to deal with all the eggs. 😉

If any of our local friends and followers would like to buy some of our wonderful spring eggs, please contact us. We’d love to share our abundance. In taste and nutrition, these eggs are leaps and bounds above any store eggs we’ve ever bought! Our chickens are expected spend their entire day engaged in fowl play outside in the glorious creation. Theirs is a good life.

A Quiet Year With Our Hogs

DSC07509 DSC07512 DSC07514 DSC07519 DSC07532 DSC07538 DSC07544It’s been a pleasant year raising these three Berkshire/ Old Spot cross hogs. They’ve been some of the most content pigs! You may recall in past years we’ve had to chase pigs around the pasture after they’d broken out of their paddock. Not so this year. These guys happily played in their paddock until it was time to move, and then the trotted on into the next paddock.

If Alexander had a complaint, it would be that they weren’t quite as friendly as other pigs have been. He has always tried to get his pigs to roll over so he can scratch them on their bellies. I don’t think he succeeded this year. He’s also always had them awaiting his arrival with feed. Again not so this year, these three have been like teenagers sleeping late and enjoying their “room.” But when they wake up, they have spunk and he appreciates that. You’d have to ask him, but I’d say pigs were his favorite farm animal.

Market day is approaching. I’m thankful for our quiet year with these pigs. It’s been a blessing. Lord willing, on Monday they will leave the farm, and once again Alexander will begin dreaming about what kind of pigs he’ll be able to raise next year.

We still have 1 hog to sell, so if you know anyone interested in buying some humanely and naturally raised pork, please pass on our information.

Healthy Mom on Overdrive

Want to know what happens when you try everything to grow organically? Well, you’re always searching for ways to get rid of the bad bugs which are trying to consume your garden produce before you.

Last year, while waiting in a doctor’s office, I read about how catnip plants can keep squash bugs away. Of course I got super excited about that; squash bugs are my nemesis! As soon as I got home, I seeded catnip plants. Excitedly, they grew and got transplanted into the garden.

They did okay at keeping the bugs away. More specifically, we had squash bugs, but they came a lot later than usual. I’m guessing the power of the catnip scent couldn’t ward off the masses of bugs that trooped in during late summer. Neem oil did the trick on them though.

This year? Lets just say, if you could survive on catnip, Popeye would be envious of our strength. No, we aren’t eating the catnip. But, wow, those plants came back with vigor for another season of warding away squash bugs, and that’s no understatement! What’s a kooky heath nut like me going to do with all that catnip? We do have a lot of cats multiplying here on the farm, but really we do need garden space to grow other crops.

So, my crafty homeschool daughters and I are thinking about selling trendy cat toys stuffed with catnip, which is free of all chemicals, at a few craft fairs this fall. What do you think of our first harvest? Do you think we’ll be able to sell any cat toys? The basement sure smelled good when our harvest found its drying place.

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Eggs, Eggs, Eggs!

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We are blessed with an abundance of farm fresh eggs this spring. This is such good news to the kiddos who were tired of eating cereal and oatmeal all winter. Yea, Chickens! Way to start laying again! When did this glorious event occur? Exactly when it got beautiful outside, and the bugs appeared. Chickens love to eat bugs. This is definitely a win win situation for a gal who doesn’t love ticks attached to the kiddos. Mom is happy. Dad is happy. Kids are happy. Chickens are happy.

Why else is this farm mom happy? She’s happy that her 3 year old can notice a difference between store “farm-fresh organic eggs” from free range chickens and eggs from our chickens. Yes, we were just blessed to spend a spring break week in Florida. What did we do there? Well, besides getting a bit burnt, digging sandcastles, playing in the water, having a relaxing float or two, and enjoying family time, we sought to enjoy good food. We bought the best eggs we could find in a natural food store. The result? Kirk wouldn’t eat them, and for good reason, they weren’t very tasty. Kirk loves eggs; he begs for them at home; and he wouldn’t eat those eggs. That moment in sunny Florida showed us how blessed we were back here in Ohio on the farm. We have a lovely farm where we can enjoy God’s amazing creation and produce amazing tasting food. How thankful we are!

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DSC07057 (2) Happy spring from us Kidds!

A Beautiful Move & A Sad Mom

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Well friends, with sadness in my heart I have to report that I witnessed a beautiful scene today, but I can’t share it with you. My gloved hands failed to press the record button on the video camera. I didn’t realize this until I was ready to pause and transition to film the final loading of the pigs into the trailer which you will get to view if you head over to YouTube.

So, how did it go? It was beautiful! Men and their sons, dear friends of ours, came at 7:30 am to lend their brawn. They encircled the pigs and Alexander in panels which had been connected with twine. Then they simply walked the pigs down the hill from the pasture. When they got to the trailer, they opened one end and snugged it up to the trailer. As the pigs got curious (and hungry) they climbed on in and we closed the door. The Lord couldn’t have blessed us more with a perfect move on a perfect morning. (The forecast had been a 70% chance of rain!) Praises to a gracious Father!

Preparing for the big day

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Tomorrow is the big day…the day this year’s piggies go to the market…a day mixed with many emotions, yet mostly relief that a year’s worth of labor is at its rightful conclusion.

Alexander is preparing an alley down the side of our pasture to guide the pigs to the trailer. In years past, our butcher has driven his truck and trailer up to the pig pasture at the top of the hill only to have much turmoil trying to get back out. Happily, we can report that Tom survived after inhaling much exhaust when pushing the pigs, trailer, and truck out of the pasture last year. Our new butcher is 1 1/2 hours away, so it’s up to us to get the pigs to him. We are hoping the pigs will walk right down the hill and not stop to play with the dog or explore any other part of the property that has been off-limits for the past 8 months. However, we are not taking any chances. We’ll have friends (men and their sons) standing by with panels to add direction.

It should be interesting! Hopefully, we’ll have some video to show of our success and not a circus! By the way, if you look closely at this picture, you’ll see the free ranging chickens trying to figure out how to get to the other side of the fence 🙂

Wooly Wattles liked in Netherlands

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Alexander had some dialog with Mangalitza breeders in the Netherlands today. Pretty exciting that they liked our humble pigs! It is fun to find others out there who share your passion for cross breeding heritage pigs.

Alexander and Tom moved the pigs to a new paddock this morning. Tom came in chuckling at how they just willingly follow Alexander around. What a blessed year we’ve had with this breed.

Our processing date has finally be set! Announcing: Dec. 20th! We will be driving the pigs to a processor that is further away, but comes with high recommendations. If you would like a fresh ham for Christmas, let us know. Curing takes longer and won’t be ready for this Christmas, but would easily last in the freezer for Easter. Pork orders continue to be received! Just head over to our Pastured Pork Page. Wouldn’t you rather eat pork from pigs residing in the great outdoors and being fed non-gmo feed, raw milk,  and farm fresh veggies, legumes, and nuts?

As we celebrate this holiday season, we rejoice with thanksgiving for a wonderful year on the farm which included meeting new friends and customers. May your celebrations be abundantly blessed as well!

 

Comment box malfunction

Friends, for some unknown reason, all of the comment boxes on our website malfunctioned last week. We have reset them all so that they appear to be working properly now. If you have tried to contact us or place an order, we apologize for the inconvenience, but we will need you to submit that again as we did not receive your communication. We will include a contact for with this post for your convenience.

Thank you to the dear friend who alerted us to the problem!

 

The Big Weekend

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Despite the attempt at intimidation by the above rooster, yes, we did brave the weather yesterday (30 degree temps) and process our last batch of broilers. What a healthy batch they were, too. Not a single loss in this batch. They didn’t dress out quite as pretty as a white chicken, but quite frankly a healthy, tasty, pastured chicken is far superior to a perfect factory farm bird.

We chose to begin our day a bit later due to the falling snow in the early morning. Maybe that was a good decision–or maybe not. The wind chill strengthened as the day lengthened. By the end of processing, the weather reportedly “felt like 27.” Really it was still in the 30s. Some numb fingers and toes were remedied with hot soup, cornbread and cookies at lunch and stuffed shells and apple pie at dinner. I told the family Friday as we were prepping the food, “We may be cold tomorrow, but we’ll eat well.”

Not liking the cold weather, the chicken plucker decided to function at partial speed just like the rest of us which added to a long day. We’ll have to figure out whether we need a new motor or whether we just have a Southern plucker that doesn’t want to come out and play in 30 degree temps.

All in all, the team did well. Some customers have high quality meat in their freezers or crock pots, and we have two jammed freezers….a definite blessing indeed!

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