The Best Laid Plans…
December 31, 2015, 8:40 pm
Filed under: December 2015 | Tags: , , , , , ,


December 31, 2015

The best laid plans of mice and men, oft go astray, is a quote by Robert Burns, I believe. I can say, as I look over this past year that was 2015, there were plenty of successes, but a few of my efforts went astray. This young gilt that we named “moo”, thanks to my granddaughter, was to be a great addition to our sow herd.

She was out of one of my best mothers. She was born on a sub zero night and has real survivor instinct. She has great confirmation, as well as, fourteen teats. She was a shoo in for the job of mom…or so I thought. I fed and cared for her for eleven months. I put up with her sometimes negative attitude. I tolerated her indifference to the other hogs along with her general aloofness.

She finally had her piglets three days ago. She made a nice nest, in the pattern of her awesome mom. I was so sure of her ability, that I only checked her a few times. It turns out, she is one of the worst mothers that I have raised in twenty-five years! She only had three piglets. She stepped on one and wouldn’t move despite his squealing. The other two, she laid on in the night and flattened the life out of them 😦

Her appointment for freezer camp is coming right up. She had the best of everything. She was content, well fed and happy. She just hates being a mom I guess. I watched her with her two surviving babies. She wouldn’t push them out of the way with her snout. She didn’t grunt little pig noises to them. Quite frankly, she paid them almost no attention what-so-ever.

I put up a cautionary rail to protect the little ones. I made sure they were warm, well bedded and dry. I did all that I could, but “Moo” simply was not cut out for “natural pig birth”. I don’t use farrowing crates or intense confinement pens. The sows, selected from many years of good mothering genetics, make nests then have, love and protect their babies until weaning. “Moo” failed miserably.

In times like that, I question my ability as a farmer. I rethink everything that happened. I look for places where I screwed up. In this case, it wasn’t me. She did everything right…except for nurturing. She hated that part. I have zero tolerance for this type of behavior, not to mention the negative effect to the farm’s bottom line due to her indifference.

So, on New Years day when we celebrate with sauerkraut and pork, I shall chew and swallow my pride with every bite. Ms. Moo reminded me that some pigs are destined to be sausage… I just wish that I would have culled her sooner. Hindsight really is a wonderful thing!

This experience will leave a rough spot on my year that went pretty smooth, but just one. The rest of the year goes down as a good one. We have much to celebrate and many good memories to reflect upon. So we say goodbye 2015 and Happy New year 2016.

Merry Christmas!
December 25, 2015, 7:00 pm
Filed under: December 2015 | Tags: , ,


December 25, 2015

Today is Christmas. The packages have been opened, the meal is a memory and the house is quiet. Our little ones will be in and out all weekend, so the celebration will continue. We will pause to give thanks for many things, including the birth of Christ.

We have a great grandson, who decided to come for Christmas too. He was not scheduled to arrive until February, but he had other plans. Cameron Robert Fraley was born on 12/22. He weighed 4 pounds 7 ounces and was 16 inches long. The little fellow is doing very well, but will be staying in the hospital for a while. He just needs to grow a bit more!

We all had a great Christmas. There was food a plenty and gifts galore. The animals were all given a bit more grain or a special treat. I made plans for horse work. I call it work, but it is more like play, but hey…it’s Christmas!

Waiting on Snow
December 23, 2015, 4:01 pm
Filed under: December 2015 | Tags: , ,


December 23, 2015

I have been in the midst of a stretch of work at my off farm job. It crunches my time a bit. I will say though, that with this unseasonable weather, balancing work and chores has been an easy task. Today it is over 60 degrees F. It is almost hot 🙂  They animals don’t know weather to get ready for spring or hunker down for the cold.

The days have started getting longer now. I only shoveled snow once so far this winter. The animals are wintering over in great shape and except for a few muddy places, the farm is in great shape. There are only two more days before Christmas and no snow in sight. The kid in me is sad. The adult…or shall I say older adult, in me…celebrates!

I’m pretty sure we will get winter at some point. Us maple syrup makers are counting on it. I will try not to complain when it does get here and simply remain thankful for this very long autumn and early winter.

Hanging Out
December 17, 2015, 10:19 am
Filed under: December 2015 | Tags: , , , , , , ,


December 17, 2015

Many teenagers “Hang Out”, which means goofing off, sitting around and visiting with friends. Around here it means fall butchering! I am in full swing. We are working our way through the family’s pork right now, but beef processing is on the horizon.

It is a wonderful thing to have our washhouse. Cutting meat is easy when you are in out of the weather. Clean up is a snap with running hot water and a big sink. All of our equipment is in one place and laid out for easy use. Yes, I am very fond of our little “slaughterhouse”. We call it the washhouse, because it doubles for a canning kitchen, a maple syrup filter washing and clean up stop and the home of our on farm smokehouse.

I made this seasons first bologna yesterday. I made enough to freeze for lunches later, as well as, plenty to eat now and share with friends. I enjoy the art of sausage making almost as much as the job of sausage eating :o)

I will say that I lose a little sleep, because I take this job serious. Once the sausages start to cook, I babysit the smokehouse until the job is complete. Sometimes into the wee hours of the morning, I can be found red eyed and waiting for a few more degrees on the thermometer. It’s worth it though, when I pull slab bacons, bolognas and cottage hams out of the hot smokehouse. It smells wonderful and tastes just as good.

bologna 011


Deer Me
December 9, 2015, 2:23 pm
Filed under: December 2015 | Tags: , , ,


December 9, 2015

Yesterday, I spent part of the day working up the deer that my son and I harvested during our gun season. I mixed some of the meat with our farm raised pork and made several types of sausage. In the picture above, that is a load of jerky. I switched a few years ago and now make the smoked dried treat out of ground meat. It tastes great and is easier to chew. The best part is, that the kids love it!

I also made some summer sausage. We like the taste, use it in our lunches and enjoy it with cheese and crackers.


These little chubs are great!

Today, from the pork we didn’t use with the deer. I am making smoked polish sausage and some old fashioned smoke breakfast sausage. It gets stuffed into smaller casings, smoked and cooked…Then we get to eat it!

This farm once again provides a bounty, makes me say…deer me! and thank you!


Slab bacon, Canadian bacon waiting to be brined…next weeks smoking project. It is good to be busy 🙂


Let the Machine Do It
December 7, 2015, 9:46 am
Filed under: Uncategorized


December 7, 2015

Well, here is a little work waiting for me. This is the accumulation of four large soft maple trees from a friend’s yard. The condition of the trees, made them candidates for removal. All four of them are between three and four feet thick. I am grateful for the wood, even though we have a woodlot full….you just can’t beat free!

I say free, but there was the cost of trucking. I will also have some fuel and wear and tear, not to mention sweat equity, but free none the less. I could have chased all this wood home by myself, but this time it made sense to hire a log truck to bring the logs home. He did what would have taken me almost a week, in just three trips. The machine made life very easy for me.

I am a guy who prefers real horsepower to more modern equipment, but I am not stupid :o)  I can see when a simple machine makes things better. I use my skid steer almost daily and would not want to farm without it. That machine saves me hours, even days as I move mountains of manure, cords of wood, piles of snow and even as a hoist for butchering. I love my horses, but there are plenty of times when it makes sense to let the machine do it.

Waiting for Snow
December 4, 2015, 11:30 pm
Filed under: December 2015 | Tags: ,


December 4 2015

Today marks my mother’s birthday. She has passed on, but rests here on my farm. I visited her today. As I sat and talked, I realized that we still have not had much snow. Mom liked winter when everything is covered in white. “The snow hides a lot of sin.”, she would say :o)  I couldn’t help but giggle at the thought.

Cinch and I are waiting for snow, but I don’t mind not having to shovel it yet. We are feeding hay and offering good places for the animals to sleep. The choice is theirs, sleep outside or under cover. They mostly sleep outside, unless the cold rain is falling. The hogs however pile together in a heap of straw. They, like me, enjoy a warm soft bed.

We are chasing firewood today and tomorrow. It will be used in 2017 to make maple syrup. It is almost fun getting wood when the woodshed is full. The stress is gone and the wood piles up quickly. The horses and I are dragging some in, but I scored four large maples from a city friend. He had them cut down and got a better price because I am taking the wood.

Bringing home the large amount, gave me the opportunity to connect with an old friend. He has a log truck. Tomorrow we will finish bringing it to the farm. I will have two and a half truckloads, lots of work and plenty to do….just the way I like it while I wait for the snow!