RicelandMeadows


Farm to Fork

fork2table

July 17, 2018

Several years ago, a young man stopped to visit with me. He was full of excitement about living a homesteading lifestyle. We had many talks about farming, gardening and family. He was a well read man, who knew what he wanted. It was easy for me to expand his knowledge. At the time, he was very interested in trying to raise his own pork.

I talked with him, showed him and encouraged him to try raising pigs. I explained what I believe to be the best methods. Buy young pigs at weaning called feeder pigs. Keep the pigs in a pen on full feed and water ration. Give them treats like apples, garden leftovers even weeds. Keep their pen clean and keep the pigs comfortable, shade for summer, deep bedding and a warm hut for cool fall days.

The young man, Mark, went home to try and convince his wife that they could grow their own hogs. Sure enough, he wore her down and pigs soon graced the landscape at their farmstead. I went over that autumn and taught him how to humanely butcher his pigs. He learned well and was a quick study. They have raised their own pork now for seven years.

Mark has a young family. He is teaching his children all about gardening and animal husbandry. Mark’s wife too has a hand in teaching. She cans and freezes their food. They make cider, raise chickens for eggs and meat, and produce lots of vegetables in their raised bed gardens.

After using a makeshift yet sturdy pen for a number of years, Mark built this nice permanent pen. At the gate where the pigs enter the pen, he set a stainless steel fork into the concrete. The pigs pass this fork twice. Once when they enter the pen and the last time as they are slaughtered for food.

The fork keeps everyone grounded. The children know that the pigs are not pets. Sure, pet them, scratch their ears and rub them down, but keep in mind the purpose of the pig is to sustain the farmer and his family. The fork also signifies that the pork will be going into their mouths, so the pigs will be only fed wholesome grain, vegetables and other gleaned produce from the farm like apples and pumpkins.

I am pleased to have helped this young man out. He is paying it forward by helping others return to the land. This makes me very happy. We must teach the young ones where our food comes from. They learn kindness, responsibility, nurturing and become self-reliant. They learn patience and tolerance. They learn many things about “farm to fork”. Congratulations on your homestead Mark. Thanks for being such a good student, but most of all, thanks for helping others.



A.I. for Breeding Hogs Does Work

AIsow

May 25, 2017

Our red sow was bred last time using artificial insemination. I was a bit skeptical at first but my son and his friend convinced me that it would work good. We had recently sold our boar and had not replaced him yet. Jake and Brian, told me what to do, where to order the boar “seed” and reassured me saying they would take care of making it happen. That was about 4 months ago. Today, 10 little piglets are nursing on a very good mother.

Now, for the “inside and very funny”…rest of the story.

The UPS driver rolled into our drive with a package. I asked him if it was corn seed or boar seed. He thought a minute and handed me the package with two fingers and said, “I don’t think it’s corn.” I took the package to our basement, in keeping with the directions included with the boar seed. There were also plastic “corkscrews” inside the package. I knew right then, that this was going to be an interesting project.

Our little red sow, is not little by any means. She weighs over five hundred pounds and measures over six feet long. She is over waist high when she stands up. She is tame…and that turned out to be a good thing. The first attempt to see if the sow was ready for a male visitor, lead to some unpleasant grunts and squeals from her. We tried for a whole day, over several hours to no avail.

Brian shows up with a can of “boar spray” ( no crap..it smells like a male pig!) He sprayed a little near the flirtatious sow and shazam… she was in a standing heat and ready to breed. The corkscrew thing that came with the boar seed was inserted and actually screwed into place. The semen came in a soft plastic bottle and was squirted into the corkscrew tube. Deed done, but to make the sow relax, Brian sat on the sow backwards to imitate the weight of the boar.

That was a sight…tall sow, short man…he looked more like a one legged kangaroo hopping around the pen saying kind words and squeezing the bottle! Remember, he was seated backwards, so this too made for a funny thing to watch. I was grateful to Brian then and now… A.I  works, but I believe that I will continue to keep a boar! I’m just not good at hopping one legged and backwards to boot!



Home Butchering

sowcarcas

December 15, 2016

Home butchering is best done on a cold day. Using nature’s refrigeration only makes sense! This sow was a bad mother, who killed her babies.(It happens sometimes when farrowing in nests) I have no need for a mother such as her, but we needed sausage. I dressed her out before the storm yesterday.

Today, inside our farm’s little slaughterhouse, we deboned her and turned her into sausage for our family. The sausage was very nice, with just the right fat to lean ratio. We will enjoy it in the coming year. It is a wonderful thing to have the knowledge and the where-with-all to be self sufficient. It is even better to be able to share those skills with friends and family.

Perhaps I should make a photo story of the butchering process step by step? I will wait for comments and proceed from there. I would leave out the “yukiest” photos, and simply show my viewers how to dress a hog from start to finish. I skin our pigs. It is much easier to do them that way. Plus we don’t eat the pig’s feet, tail or snout,so there is no reason to scald and scrape the animal.

I confess that having been a butcher as a younger man, sure comes in handy here on the homestead. We will soon be doing beef and a few more hogs before winter is over and maple syrup season starts. Winter is for relaxing, resting and butchering. We make is a social event spending time with family and friends. The youngest people in our family learn early where our food comes from. They also learn to take very good care of those animals and treat them with respect. It’s the cycle of life for us carnivores.



Hickory Nuts and Ear Corn
October 15, 2014, 7:04 pm
Filed under: October 2014, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , ,
One of our gilts enjoying her pasture

One of our gilts enjoying her pasture

October 15, 2014

Our gilts are out on a wooded pasture with a boar. They are enjoying freedom, hickory nuts and ear corn. I guess they must be enjoying each other too, because I see the incriminating hoof marks on their backs…and that is a very good thing!

The pasture measures about four acres. This is much more area than they need, but there is plenty to eat, so this breeding season is costing me almost nothing. I am picking the ear corn on the ends and edges of the field, The pigs get a big helping every night. They usually have it cleaned up by morning, but don’t come running for it due to all the fallen hickory nuts.

Sunday’s frost along with Tuesdays wind has loosened the bounty in the hickory trees. The squirrels are even shaking their little fists at the hogs, as the hogs gobble up the nuts. The pigs are in great shape and eating less than half a normal ration, thanks to the pasture and all of feed it provides.

Each sow will get her own pen and recess for 40 minutes a day, once they return to the barn. The pasture is a better place, but I lack the time to make a place for them to spend the winter on pasture. I do have a portable pen for late autumn so they can glean the picked corn field, but litters will arrive in late December. I like to have the mommas and babies close where I can watch and care as needed….but for now it’s hickory nuts and ear corn!