Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The end of another season around the corner

It has been a little while since I have posted. Things have been so crazy here. We have gotten 6 cows now! Our sows are having more babies and we finished the new barn for the pigs and cows. It is also harvesting and canning season. Here is a little of what we have been doing on the crazy rapidly growing homestead! Some of these pictures will be graphic with afterbirth.

Petunia just had her 13 piglets! The one I am pointing at is just fine. He was tuckered out after being the first born and got his fill of milk! He needed a nap. :)

Here they are at 2 weeks old.

Here they are at 4 weeks old. (This week) They grow pretty fast!

Here is Daisy, our heifer, enjoying her new pasture and new home.

Here are the 4 jersey bull calves we have gotten. The largest, with the orange collar is Daisy future husband, Humpfrey. The others are Chuck, Rib Eye, and Porterhouse....we call him Porter for short. Yes, we did name most of them after beef! Well we do that on purpose so the kids always know they are being raised to be eaten. 

Here is our other bull  calf, a Holstein, T-bone.

Here is my lovely machine making applesauce! I LOVE this contraption! Best Christmas/Birthday present ever! LOL

Some of our eggs. We do barter with local farmers and one approached us and wanted to buy a weaned piglet off of us. He offered 12 laying hens and a male and female Pheasant. We got 2 Easter Eggers in that mix and they lay blue eggs. These are my favorite eggs! I think it is amazing the God made chickens that naturally lay colored eggs. There are other Easter Eggers that lay pink and green too! I told Mr. Smith I want to get more of them! They are so neat and such a beautiful bird. Very well mannered as well. These are supposed to be some of the best eggs for you as well! :)

Here is chicken stock being made.
1 whole chicken carcass. (the bones left over after the meat is taken off after butchering)
2 stalks of celery with leaves, roughly chopped
2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
2 medium onions, quartered
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp thyme
10 whole black peppercorns
2 quarts cold water

Put in a stock pot, bring to a boil and then simmer for 2 hours.
I put the spices in a coffee filter and tie it closed. It helps to strain out everything when done simmering.

Here is what it looks like after you strain it. I let it cool overnight, so that is a little fat that congealed floating at the top.

Then I put it into jars and pressure canned it. You can only pressure can it! You cannot hot water bath can it. 10lbs of pressure for 20 minutes with pints and 25 minutes with quarts. Now since we are a larger family I use the quarts and it is equal to 3 1/2 cups. My husband saves all the chicken bones for me after butchering and I do all the stock I can in one day. I will also be making a few into chicken noodle soup to can and save for over the winter for a quick meal with some grilled cheese! Nothing is better then homemade chicken noodle soup and grilled cheese on a really cold snowy day....reminds you a little of the fall when we do most of our butchering so we don't have so many animals to feed over the winter. It gets expensive!

Oh, our corn field. We really went all out with our corn field this year and I am so glad we did. We got so much more corn! This is my youngest son(Smith kid #5) running through the corn in his cloth cow diaper! It was so cute!

Here is my middle daughter (Smith kid #4) helping us pick corn. The kids are so good with helping and enjoy some of the work! Love this smile!

Here was one of many harvests from the corn field. we had 5 altogether like this. A whole tote full! This was our final harvest as we were ripping the stalks out to prepare the field for some Fall crops. That's why the corn is smaller and some are missing spots of kernels. Still so tasty!

Here is my little trick to the fastest and safest way to dekernel corn on the cob. Take a bunt cake pan and put the cob in the middle and just shave on down! Here you can see me starting that final harvest out with the first cob. We froze the really good cobs that were large and full. The rest was canned.

Here is our new canning room. Not done yet, but it is a start and now even more full of cans! We are trying to stay away from the freezer and freezing our harvests. We are trying to use less power and do things a little more old fashioned. This is our grocery store! Peaches, pickles, marinara, spaghetti sauce, corn, green beans, green beans with potatoes, applesauce, peach cobbler filling, apple pie filling, apple diced pieces, ketchup, bbq sauce, strawberry jam and refried beans. Soon the stock will be in as well. Now everything I just named is not in this picture...but is in the canning room as of yesterday. I was not able to run the stock that was just canned over there. It is late and I need to get some sleep for another busy busy day! 

Piggy is due in a week and we are currently looking into a new boar. We are looking into expanding our feeder pigs so we can have more meat and sell more to bring more money onto the farm. We are also expanding our chicken flock so we can sell more eggs and we can have more meat. In a few months Daisy's husband shall be large enough to get her pregnant and we shall be rolling in the milk! LOL ok not literally, that would be a little weird. ;) So many more things happening and lots more to tell coming up! Stay tuned!

Mrs. Smith

Friday, August 9, 2013

Busy bees!

We are about to start planting our Fall crops! Crazy to even think we are there already! :)

Well we have had quite a few large projects going on. Here is one:
We needed a room to put all of our canning jars! It has much more then that now. We were given almost 6 1/2 bushels of peach seconds and I used what I could to can and the rest went to our pigs! Oh my gosh they do love peaches! These peaches were from a local fruit farm I used to work at as a kid. Their peaches are out of this world! LOL (Stoudt's Fruit...just in case anyone local reads this and wants some yummy peaches ;) HA HA HA)

We have also been working on the new pig barn and it is turning out gorgeous. I will post pictures later. 

We were given quite a few new animals as well! We now have peacocks and a guinea! We are starting to hear some unusual sounds in the morning! HA HA HA We plan to breed and sell them. 

Here is something else we are doing new this year, pressure canning! Opens up a whole new world of canning! Kind of scary to get started, but worth it once you figure it out. There is some water bath canning you can do, but things that have a low acidity level, like these green beans, need a pressure canner. I was not sure of the reason why at first, but now I know! It's the internal temperature of the water inside the jar when canning to make sure there is no harmful bacteria. For a water bath canner it only gets up to 180 degrees (I believe) and for tomatoes, pickles, peaches, jams & jellies it is good. For most of the remainder of the garden it needs a pressure canner that can get the internal temperature up to 240 degrees. They are an expensive investment at first and we were very lucky to be given one as a present, but it is well worth it so far. We have so many green beans and pumpkin to do and not enough freezer space. Yes, the jars also do cost money and are quite an investment as well at first, but again well worth it. Not having to run an extra freezer or 2 for an entire year makes it worth my while, plus we have pork we need to butcher in the next 5-6 weeks! We will need the freezers for that. So far I have canned green beans and refried beans in it. I am about to do hummus! Yes, we do make our own hummus as well. 

We are also about a week from Petunia giving birth to her next litter and 8 weeks away from Piggy. We are also talking about getting a new boar and keeping 2 gilts from Petunias litter. We have had such a demand for our feeder pigs that we haven't been able to keep up. Which is a good thing! Our current boar, Hammy, is also starting to get less friendly. We were warned that by 3 years he would probably start to get aggressive towards us. Well we don't need 2 boars anyway, waste of feed. 

We also haven't been able to keep up with our egg demand. So, things are going really well and we are also talking about expanding into some new avenues, other then the nontraditional farm fowl we have acquired! :)

As for our Fall crops, we are done with green beans and cucumbers. We are close to harvesting our corn field and potato fields as well. We will be planting hull peas in place of the corn field. We will be planting more potatoes, along with spinach, broccoli and carrots. 

We will also be marking more maple trees this Summer/Fall to boil down more sap. I did start baking with syrup vs sugar as well. Ok, it was only 1 thing so far, pumpkin bread. Our family devours it! I made it with honey and it was good, but the honey took over part of the taste of the bread. The syrup on the other hand just enhanced the flavor! So, I will be experimenting with that more as we get out of canning season. 

Happy dog days of summer!
Mrs. Smith

Monday, June 24, 2013

Spring veggies are almost done!

We have been really busy here on the farm. We are out growing pens and houses and its GREAT! We have taken over our old feed shed to put cement done and make into 3 farrowing pens and then a boar pen and a cow pen with still enough room for feed storage. We just can't store our tillers or tractors in there anymore. Which is fine by me! The 3 farrowing pens are for the 2 current sows we have and we are talking about getting a just weaned gilt this summer so next year she can be our 3rd sow. We are doing pretty good with selling our pigs. I am hoping it picks up more, that would be nice.....but out of 2 litters we only have 2 piglets left to sell that are not for meat for our family. There were 14 piglets on the farm so farm....that's quite a few piglets! :) We got an offer from another pig farmer that is looking for a pure bred Yorkshire gilt just weaned. Hammy our boar and Petunia our one sow are both Yorkshires. Petunia is due middle of August and I am hoping she has a girl this time. The other pig farmer is going to barter with us. His Duroc gilt for our Yorkshire gilt and that's where our 3rd sow would come in...well next summer anyway. She would need to be a year old before she can breed. Anyways we are building the girl's pens into farrowing pens right away so they have their own space whether they are having babies or not. They get more outside space and so do the piglets and its wonderful! I love giving them more freedom! Yea, it does take longer for them to fatten up....but the point is to raise happy healthy pigs for meat that is healthy and lean, not real fatty...even though they are pigs! LOL

We have been able to sell our eggs finally. We actually have a larger demand then we do eggs! So we ordered more chicks offline and I am praying there will be enough to cover the demand! It's not a bad thing, I just wish we had more eggs!

The Spring veggies/fruit are just about done. We have gotten quite a bit of strawberries this year! Which is great for the strawberry jam. We also planted more shelling peas this year and WOW they are so delicious! I LOVE peas! They are not flowering as much, there are like 4-8 plants yet that are still flowering, but other then that looks like Spring season is over and we are moving right into Summer season. Green beans are about to flower, the peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes and corn are loving this weather. Our little corn field we did this year is doing amazing! Our fruit trees are struggling. I think the weird frost we had after everything started to flower killed them off. We only have 1 apple tree with a few apples on it and our peach tree is doing wonderful. The blueberries are doing better then last year as well. They have not grown in size, plant wise....which worries me a little, but we shall see how it goes the rest of the summer.

We are also about to venture into making our own fridge incubator. We have got an old broken fridge here and we need more chicks for eggs and meat, so we are going to see if we can do this! We found some pretty easy instructions online with nice pictures and when the busy season of the farm slows down, then we will try our hand at building this thing!

We are also due to have baby #6 in about a week, so I do not know when I will get to post next! Have a happy summer!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Starting to get warm out!

I am sorry, no pictures today. We have ancient technology here and it doesn't seem to always want to work on my side! LOL 

Well almost all of the first batch of piglets from Petunia are sold. We kept one for ourselves and wow he is a big guy already! He is about 11 weeks old and has to be a good 90lbs! The 2nd batch of piglets from Miss Piggy aren't far behind...they are about 3 weeks old now as well. It seems Petunia is pregnant again and due beginning of August. That couple is a little showy so they let us know when it actually happens and it is nice in one way because it takes all the guessing out of the due date! :)

I know I said I would let you know how the homemade laundry soap is doing and I realized that I forgot to post how it is going! We have been using it for quite a bit now and it is going great! With how crazy these Smith kiddos get in the mud, grass stains, explosapoos from the youngest, bloody stains, potty training and cloth diapers...no issues! Works just as well as the store bought stuff and soooo much cheaper! 

The bread I posted about last time that we were just getting into is still working out wonderfully! We use all 3 loaves within 24 hours from the dough, but every once in awhile the dough does get to sit for a few days and get more of a sourdough taste and it also is pretty good! :D

Corn field is going to be planted this weekend, potatoes are sprouting, peas are looking gorgeous! Really need to put the fence in for those to climb on...they are getting pretty big! Fruit trees are in bloom and looking gorgeous. I am pretty hopeful for this season. 

Our turkey hens had 12 babies! They are with the baby chicks and growing! We plan to sell a few and keep the rest :) YUM YUM Thanksgiving dinner! 

We have decided to change up the breed of our chickens, the rooster we have is making smaller then we wanted full grown chickens, which make smaller eggs and smaller birds, so less meat. We have decided to order a bunch of Cuckoo Marans 1 rooster and 20 hens. It will take a bit for them to get of age to breed and lay, but it will help with a more desirable dual purpose bird.

I have not gotten a chance to make the cheese again yet. Our thermometer broke and I had to order a new one, of course the one we picked was on back order....well it came today in the mail! So hopefully next time I post I will be able to say the cheese was a success! 

That's it for now! 
Mrs. Smith

Monday, April 22, 2013

Moving quickly into a new season!

Well we are well underway into a new season here on the farm and WOW have we been busy! We have gotten the potatoes, onions, peas, carrots and broccoli into the garden. Hoping to get the spinach in this week. The peas are already sprouting and doing wonderful! Some of the onions have already started as well. We had to expand our garden again. We had to find larger plots of land to put our corn field and our peanut field. We are sticking with the white corn, we had really good luck with that last year and this year we are going with the Texas Red & White peanuts....they do better in clay soil. We are also going to be starting them in May, they definetly needed that extra month to mature and I would rather plant them directly in soil then transplant. We were talking about doing wheat on trial basis this year....but I think we are going to wait till next year, we still need to figure out where everything is going this year.
We have also been able to start selling our chicken eggs! We finally have enough to feed our big family and sell more! We are also being given another 30 baby chicks this week. White Leghorns again, but free is free! They also produce a lot of eggs! Our last batch that was given to us is getting pretty close to laying age and unfortunately a little over 50% of them were roosters. This breed does not do well for meat, but again, free is free and we take what we can get and am beyond grateful!
Here is a picture of the 1st set of piglets we had on the farm. 9 weeks now and up for sale. We will be keeping one for us to raise for meat, the other 4 will be sold privately or auctioned off. We have decided to keep one per litter for our own meat. Each sow can have 2 litters a year, so that would be 4 pigs a year for our own consumption. Soon to be a family of 8 here....we eat a lot of meat! LOL :D
We had to expand the chicken run for all the hens we were getting and we would like to get more.
We also got 3 turkeys. Here is the Tom he is a Black Spanish, there is a white hen behind him, she is a Royal Palm and the blurry one in front of him, the black hen is also a Black Spanish.

Here is another picture of the turkey hens. The hens have been laying lots of eggs. The 1st 9 we tried to incubate with no success, we let nature take its course and made nests for the ladies and the Royal Palm (white hen) has been diligent and we should hopefully be seeing baby pullets any day now! The Black Spanish (black hen) has also been sitting on her eggs, not as much as the other hen, so we shall see! I am pretty excited about maybe having our own turkey for Thanksgiving! If these eggs hatch and they grow into full grown turkeys....we shall have a tasty turkey dinner! YUM YUM!

We have also added a Holstein heifer! We were really not expecting to be adding cows this year, but as I was checking the craigslist for other farm items we did need, I saw her and it was something we had to do. It was a good deal and I did not want to pass it up. She was bullied by the other cows on a larger farm, so they had to sell her before she got really hurt. We don't mind! It will only be her! So she is a little skittish and needs to get used to us. We have not named her yet, she just arrived yesterday. She is in a temporary housing situation so she can be handled more, get used to electric fencing and also be harness trained. We were planning on getting a bull calf, but are still debating between artificial insemination and the all natural way. She is able to bred in late June/early July and for the 1st round we are going to go with AI. After that is what we are still debating on. Mr. Smith is leaning more towards AI till we can get more land. I am always for the all natural way of doing things and having the animals as much as possible do what God made them for. He does have a point though. Safety is always first for us and the animals and making sure we can provide a happy home for them, so we may just do AI till we can rent or buy more land. We are not ready for that just yet.....but I also said that about the cow! LOL We are talking about fixing up an old shed with a pasture right next door to put her into for a permanent home.

Last but not least! Here is the other new addition to the farm! 9 beautiful baby piglets! Born yesterday, this picture was taken hours after birth. They are all healthy and eating and Miss Piggy is a wonderful Mommy so far! :) These are Berkshire/Yorkshire mixes and some have these adorable little black spots on them! I LOVE IT!
I have also been trying to make our own bread full time again. I did find a new recipe that seems to be working out so far and it is not a lot of work, which is wonderful! Here is a link:
We are into our 2nd day of it, so we haven't gotten very far yet. I premade the loaves last night and then cooked them this morning and we are already down 1.5 loaves and its only Noon! I made them into peanut butter and jelly sammies for the kiddos for lunch. They did alright, but they will get used to it. Kids need time to adjust from store bought to homemade and I have come to realize that I cannot reproduce the stuff we buy from the store, like pop tarts and it takes so much work and they don't taste as good...so I just stopped and the kids have stopped asking for them! I also stopped buying snack foods, like goldfish, granola bars and crackers and I have been leaving out veggies or fruit for snacking and they don't seem to mind and haven't been asking for any of those items. Which is easier on me and healthier for them! So its a win, win.
Weather has been nicer so since about the middle of March I have been hanging the laundry outside once again and I am able to do more then 1 load a day, which is amazing and yesterday I was able to do 8 loads! I love being able to do laundry outside...its good for the soul.
The 2nd weekend of March we also pulled the taps of the sap and we have been checking on our trees and the holes where we tapped the trees seem to be healing nicely and the trees are blooming like every year, which is nice to know we did not over tap them. I have not tried to cook with it yet, but I should. We have been pretty busy with other things.
I also plan to give making my own cheese another try. I will be trying tomorrow. I am going to use the citric acid and get used to making it this way 1st then try to go with all natural ingredients. I figured I better get used to making my own cheese now before a year from now we are getting 6-8 gallons of milk a day. We drink a lot of milk, but not that much! :) Starting with mozzarella again and then ricotta with the left over whey. We have been making our own butter for a little bit now as well and its wonderful! So much more flavor then store bought, we haven't tried flavored butter yet...but that's where we are going next and if you add a little olive oil to the butter it makes it easier to spread on toast.
Well that's all I have for now. Need to go check on the crock pot.
Happy Earth Day and happy planting!
Mrs. Smith

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cheese, maple syrup, butter and piglets!

Lots to catch up on, quite a bit has happened since I last posted!
Ok lets start with my 1st attempt at making homemade mozzarella cheese.
I used 2 gallons whole milk (that I always get from the local farm store)

I used 1 whole tablet of junket. You dissolve in water and add to milk after it is heated from anywhere to 88-90 degrees F

Here is what it looked like after the 2 gallons went in.

Here is where we made the curds.

This is our end product. It did not go as well as I had hoped. We wanted to make it with natural products not citric acid (not that a junket rennet tablet is natural??) Not sure on that one. I could not find how to make curds without citric acid. We were watching you tube videos and asking friends and looking up blogs and forums and so on and basically this is patch work quilt of things we patched together. Not a successful first try. :( I am not going to give the full recipe till I can master it myself.

Left over whey from mozz cheese. We let it sit out overnight covered. Then boiled it and let it cool till I could put my hand in the water and took out the curds and put in a cheese towel and it said to let it drip overnight again. I wanted to use it for dinner that night to make ravioli so I squeezed it to death in my cheese towel and it did just fine.

Here is what it ended up as and it was wonderful! I loved making ricotta cheese it was so easy!
Now to the Maple Syrup.

The PVC taps did not end up working so we ordered a 4 pack of metal spiels and since the PVC was larger then the spiel Mr. Smith actually flipped the spiels for those 2 backwards and it is working! We just put the elbow of the PVC tube to the back end of the spiel and it is doing beautiful! The one with the Gatorade jug is the spiel in the right way and we didn't order the buckets with the spiels so we had to improvise. We did not have enough money to order those as well and when you are working on little money, you just make the best of what you have! :)

Things got interesting at the end. Here is the 21 gallons of sap we collected.....ok maybe they are empty now...but they were all full! LOL

Here is where we started. Outside. Bad idea that day it started to get so windy and then drop in temp so fast and add snow on top of that! The wind ended up blowing the flame out so we moved it into our shed.

We forgot to defrost! HA HA  HA HA I know....it took longer because of this....but I honestly did not think of it till we were about ready to boil! So I ended up using my crock pot to heat up a lot of the milk jugs to get it liquid again.

Here is 1/2 way through.

Here is adding the last liquid we had before the last HUGE ice chunk.

Here is what it looked like when we finally got it inside to finish it up.

We do not have a vent so we covered it and it actually heated up much faster and boiled down pretty quick.

At the end!

Well we ended up boiling it down too far! LOL Oh well! Its like a caramel sauce here.

Here we made maple cream! You just let the syrup cool for like an hour and then stir for 1/2 and hour and this is what you get! Sooooo good! A little too sweet for me....but the kids LOVE it! Cannot believe that something that has NOTHING added to it can be soooo sweet! Its insane!
Started boiling down frozen sap at 12:30pm on February 17, 2013. There is 21 gallons total of sap that we need to boil down. Tapped trees on January 25th. Had a week of bitter cold weather, so we got nothing and we ran into problems with the PVC taps and switched to the metal spiels. 5 quarts frozen and 2 quarts non went into the pot at 12:30 we have been slowly adding the sap that is defrosted in as we get it as long as the pot stays at a boil. Otherwise no point to trying to boil it down! It is snowing a lot and quite windy. At 2:00pm we had to move it into our shed because it kept being blown out by the wind. The wind is going at 20-30mph right now….makes me want to rethink boiling down today…..but don’t have a choice! I can see why they made sugar houses now! LOL We are using propane for this season since we won’t be getting a huge amount of sap since we only have 4 taps. We plan to over the summer make an evaporator and build something outside for it…but after today we may have to rethink that! We are also planning on tapping every maple, birch or walnut tree on our property next season and we have an old fridge that was given to us that was for a keg. We have never used it and hopefully if it still works we can put a food grade drum in there to add our daily sap from all the trees and then just boil down every Sunday when Mr. Smith is home and we can baby sit it together and watch all the kiddos! LOL We also plan to use buckets…not sure on the the size yet but at least 2 gallons so I can limit my time to 2 times a day to checking on the sap. Need to think of how I am going to transport the sap as I go from tree to tree. Maybe I can find an old 4 wheeler! Ooo that would be nice J There is a lot going on our little farm right now. We started incubating eggs again and have 27 in the incubator right now. Crossing my fingers most are fertilized and going to hatch! We put a camera up in our farrowing pen to keep an eye on our pregnant gilt so we can see when she is nesting and giving birth so we ca run up there and help her out! Its already saving me a lot of leg work from running up and down the hill all the time…..freaking out that she is giving birth and I am not there to make sure everything goes ok. Heat lamps and LOTS and LOTS of straw are in there. Just waiting on her…not a huge fan of the waiting game!
January 29th 2 inches in a 2 liter soda bottle
January 30th filled 2 liter soda bottle….which is 2 quarts or a ½ gallon
After weirdly cold weather and trouble with spiels
February 10th 2 liter soda bottle
February 12th up to 8 gallons and 1 qt in the freezer
February 13th 12 gallons 2 qts
February 14th 15 gallons
February 15th 19 gallons
February 16th 20 gallons 2 qts
February 17th 21 gallons and BOIL DOWN
10:30pm we stopped the process (10 hours into the boil down)
7am 2/18/13 we started it again
8:00pm we added the last of the frozen sap (a huge chunk of ice that just would NOT defrost!)
8:30pm propane ran out so we will start again in the morning when we switch tanks. 14 hours that day plus the 10 the previous day is 23 hours so far and not done!
9am we put the sap back on….we got a little side tracked Petunia our pregnant sow gave birth early this morning!
1:30 we brought the sap inside it could fit into a big pot in here….we do not have ventilation in our house and it worries me a little with the droplets that were forming on the ceiling in the shed we moved into. Tasted it already and it is sweet! Have my candy thermometer already in to get to our temp of 220 degrees.
4pm we hit 220 degrees F and we are now putting into quart jars, 6 hours that day...for a total of 30 hours for the boil down.
We got 1 quart and 1 pint of syrup….I think we boiled it down too far it was like caramel. So it is going to be an awesome candy or syrup for ice cream. Out of the pint I already made maple butter and oh my goodness it is beyond good! It is less in calories and fat then sugar and its ALL NATURAL! Plus it has so many vitamins and nutrients its crazy! I cannot believe something sooooo good comes from the inside of a tree! It has been too cold to get anything from out maple trees, which I guess is somewhat of a blessing because we had enough on our plate with the boil down and the birthing of the piglets.
Now to Butter!

Here is a quart of heavy cream from the local farm store.

It made close to 1lb of butter plus 1/3 of a quart of buttermilk!
Thinking of adding a little of maple cream to a small amount of butter! YUM YUM Maple butter!

Here is our pregnant sow about 1 week before birth.

Here is what I saw when I got to the barn. Mr.Smith was already up there with Mr. Heyer.

Close up!!! They are soooo cute! Do not like to be snuggled though! I tried! HA HA HA

In labor after giving birth to the 1st 2.

Mr. Heyer catching #3.

Here they are running around under the heat lamp! Oh it was so neat!

Here they are nursing and Mr. Smith trying to get the runt (we named him Pita) to drink. He was not interested. Mr. Smith ended up taking him inside and nursing him from the bottle. He perked up and is a great addition to the bunch! So feisty! There are 5 total and it seems all are boys!
Petunia our pregnant sow was nesting all day on 2/18/2013 she was breathing heavy, not eating, restless and at 5am she had her first piglet. We had gotten a camera to put into the farrowing pen and watched her 24/7 till we knew she was close. We had a motion detector on that beeped when she would move so it kept us up for 2 nights and when we knew she was close Mr. Smith stayed up all night to watch her and he got to deliver the 1st 2 piglets with Mr. Heyer and before I could get out there! Mr. Heyer walked away to stretch his legs for a moment and there was another that came out and I got to catch it and clean it off. It was one of the most glorious feelings you can have. Almost as glorious as when you have your own child! :D There was 9 altogether 4 were so healthy that we knew they were fine and there was a runt that at first we thought wasn’t going to make it. He wasn’t energetic or trying to eat so Mr. Smith took him inside warmed him up and bottle fed him. He perked up and is definitely acting like his brothers now. We did have 4 still borns that look like they never fully developed and were only 1-2 months along. So it’s a mixed emotion kind of day. Lost some, but there are now 5 healthy baby pigs on the farm! Piggy is also starting to show again and is due April 4th…we think….its hard to tell sometimes. She went into heat around there but we did not see Hammy the boar service her. We will see.

Something I am realizing more and more as I get further and further into this homesteading is take baby steps. Don’t try to do everything all at once the old fashioned way. Like the maple syrup. I really wanted to do it over a wood fire to be cheaper and to more self sufficient, but after we got into the process with the propane I realized that I needed to get the hang of just boiling it down the easier way before I made things more difficult on myself. It was my first time boiling down so while I am learning how to do that, why make it harder on myself and possibly set myself up to fail? That would discourage me and make me want to walk away from doing it the rest of the season!

Something else I have heard is that we are living a “crunchy” or new age hippie lifestyle. While that may be true because we are coming one more with life and the earth and I like to respect all living things like trees, plants, animals and bugs…it is more because I value what God has made for us and I see the beauty of his work. He has made those pesky ants and those gosh darn annoying wasps and he did it for a reason. So, I do not mess with them and let them go on their way unless they will harm my family. We also home school, try to eat all locally organic foods we cannot grow ourselves, cloth diaper, and try to use products that are naturally made or that I can learn to make myself with things that are grown on our property. I like to be in tune with nature and the more simple things in life and enjoy the beauty God has given us everywhere! So, if that makes us crunchy or a hippie then so be it…..I like to call it homesteading or living in God’s beauty…or better yet….being a Smith! LOL

When we first started this journey is was because we needed to save money and we wanted to continue to have more children (which is where God was first telling us to go, add to out family) Then after we learned to grow a garden, we were told to get chickens, then later on pigs and then to breed all of them….to be self sufficient and to save money….as we kept going along we fell more and more in love with this journey and know it’s the path God has for us. We will continue to do this journey for as long as He tells us to. Who knows what is in the future for us. I am hoping more land and cows and more animals and Mr. Smith staying home full time with us….but I guess we shall see where this takes us J

Ok I think that is it. Sorry if there is a little bit of repetitiveness in this post I was trying to write down things as they happened so I would remember...brain is a little slow right now! 20 weeks into pregnancy with Smith baby #6 and the ultrasound shows it to be another girl! I know as I keep getting further along that I will forget things more and more, so please bear with me! :D Well We are approaching planting season and this weekend we are going to start with the planting the seeds in the seed starter stuff we have to get a jump start on the season....here we go on season 2013!!! SO excited!