Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pigs! We have pigs!

Monday night, we got our two new pigs. Hmmmm, odd that my last post was about beef and now, I'm moving onto pork, "The other white meat." Which isn't true, but great marketing.
Sunday night, Dustin and I put up the pig pen fences and Monday night, a red and white hog appeared. Ian is having a blast with Orville and Stan.
I realize that naming them is a dangerous thing because they could become pets in Ian's mind, but he loves to feed them and he wanted them to have names. I am not sure when it comes time to take them to the butcher how much we will tell him. Probably not a lot. He may be over them by then, they will no longer be cute pigs and instead will be ugly hogs. It's possible.
I may tell him what I told him when one of the calves that he named Dolly was taken to the sale barn. (For the record, if you have kids, get them attached to a good looking heifer that would make a good replacement and therefore, won't be leaving.)  Anyway, when he asked about Dolly, I told him simply that Dolly had to go to a new home. I just didn't tell him the the home was someones freezer.
I don't want to shelter my kids from the truth of ranching and growing our own food, but I do think we have to be careful not to traumatize them in the process. There is plenty of time for them to understand the whole process.
Dustin was raised with this and it's a process of understanding. And as you get older, you start to understand what is involved.  I don't want to scare my kids, but I do want them to understand that this is where their food comes from.
Of course, I love the idea of our own bacon, pork chops, and roasts and I will know exactly what went into them.  So, let the new adventure begin. We have pigs.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Silver is on his way to Streeter!

This morning my MIL and FIL agreed to take Silver the steer to streeter to the meat processor. Silver is a steer that from the beginning hasn't been afraid of people and he looks really good. When I say that, I mean he's fattened up nicely, was finished the last few weeks on oats and looks delicious!  So, he made his way down the road. Silver was almost getting tooo familier with people. He didn't know how big he was so it was almost aggressive.  I'm excited to see how the meat is. I know the meat cutting will be wonderful, they do a fantastic job, just want to see what he's like.
We've kept back about 5 steers for butchering. Some of them have been spoken for by friends who are buying the meat. I'm sure one will be for us. There is something very comforting about knowing where your food comes from and how it was taken care of and raised.
I also have a connection to the food. I helped raise it. I bedded his barn. I helped feed once in awhile. I named him. Okay, the fact that I named him might be a bit morbid for some. You name pets, but it was a great way to identify him beyond, #84. But, while I'm invested, from the beginning, I've understood the investment. I am taking care of you so you can be eaten. I'm very proud of that. I like being part of that process and chain.
I'm pretty careful with the kids though. I try to only get them attached to heifers because we have been keeping a few for replacements. So, they'll stick around awhile. But, I also know that my kids will be raised with the reality of having cattle. We have them to eat, to sell so other's will eat, and while I didn't grow up with cows, I was raised knowing this and it was just part of the process of life. We take care of animals, so they can take care of us, and in this case, we take care of them for food.  It's a very cool tradition to be a part of in North Dakota or anywhere.
We are actually going to get a couple pigs this summer too. We'll fatten them up and slaughter them as well. It's hard to find people with market pigs, so getting our hands on them has been harder than we thought. I'm glad I'll know where they are coming from.
Eventually, I hope to have chickens again, but I'll only raise for eggs, not for meat. I admit, I have raised for meat and I hated the day we have to pluck and butcher. It was a pain. I just don't have it in me to do it all. I realize I'm being a big baby, I don't care. I hate butchering chicken, so I won't do it.
We've cut our own beef in the past, but it's a lot faster for someone who knows what they are doing and has the correct equipment and facility.
In addition to the garden, I'm excited to see how much food that we won't have to depend on a grocery store for this fall and winter. The amount of money I saved because I canned all my own tomatoes last year has got to be pretty high. We canned close to 200 pints and I use about 2-4 per week. Add that my MIL and my mom also use from the stock and I gave 20 to my neice and I should still make it until I get more tomatoes from the garden. Very cool.
Well, I have work to do, so I better get at it. The house needs a serious go over...It's not dirty, but the toy clutter has got to go.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Spring and Plateaus

Dustin's started seeding soybeans. Corn is done, except for a little silage corn (35 acres) left, but the planter had a breakdown and parts aren't in until today. Silage corn won't be a big deal. So, life is beans, beans and more beans.
It's very different not being out in the field as much as I use to be. It's not a bad different, just strange. I also have found that I can stay busy even without doing field work. There's plenty that I need to do in order to keep things moving.  Bookwork, field lunches, and the normal stuff. Laundry, kids, house...And now gardening. I am excited that I am enjoying gardening. It has always been something that I need to do after I have a long day in the field and the truth is that I've just wanted to go to bed by then...When I have the time to be out there and keep up with it, it's quite relaxing for me. I'm having fun showing Ian the things that are coming up. I've also yelled more than usual because he tends to walks on the plants, but hey, mother of the year I am not. It's getting better and the older the kids get, the better. Ella prefers to just find a spot with a shovel and dig, so that works too.

I've hit a weightloss plateau, which sucks. So, I'm hoping to start getting up at 5:30, then I could walk and get home and showered and dressed before the kids get up and if they did get up, Dustin would be around.  I am hoping that helps. I've been stuck at the same weight or losing and gaining the same half pound for about 6 weeks. So, with gardening and walking, it should go better.

So, there's the news...Beans...we live, eat and sleep beans.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Seeding, Farm Safety, the Garden and Why I Can't Wait until June

I know I have been missing for awhile. As soon as seeding starts, I have things to do. Although this year is a bit strange, I'm not planting corn. This year brought us to a new place as a family. We now have a hired man. My father-in-law is not able to really do much on the farm any more and truthfully, he shouldn't. With two kids, it was getting hard for Dustin and I to do it all on our own. I'm not as available as I use to be and it was going to be too much for Dustin on his own. Having extra help is wonderful and B has become just another member of the family. He's also doing a great job planting corn, the rows look straight and he's getting the planter figured out. But, I admit, I'm not use to sitting on the sidelines in the sping.  I still have plenty of things to do at home and I'm hoping this may be the best garden I've ever planted and that I will be able to keep up with it, so that has been fun. All I have left to get out is one more row of carrots and then get the vines planted. Cukes, sqash, zuchinni, and pumpkins.  I also have to get somewhere to get asparagus roots, raspberry bushes and stawberry plants to put in another bed. I'm so excited to have space to put some of those things in permanently!

If I can keep up with a vegetable garden this year and we get the deck this summer, I'm looking forward to starting to add flowerbeds this fall (at least get them ready with a few perennials for the spring). I want to take it a little bit at a time so I can keep up with everything. There's a lot to keep up with in the vegetables alone this year because it's new breaking and to get grass and weeds under control is a chore.

In the realm of farm safety...everyone is fine! That's good news. Dustin and I were also given the oppotunity to speak at an event sponsored by our local John Deere dealership. The topic this time was farm safety and it was an event for women, which was supposed to be taught by women. I wanted Dustin there to do some of it and it worked really well. I was happy with how it went. It's amazing and sad how much we know because of our own accidents, but they happen.

There is only one day left of corn, so hopefully, baring a breakdown, by tonight, we will have all the corn in. We'll start beans the day after tomorrow. Tomorrow we'll get the alfalpha  in and some orchard grass for hay. Then...beans, beans, beans.  The adjusters came to look at the winter wheat yesterday and said it looked really good. We are happy with it, so glad they thought so too. We'll have that sprayed by air as soon as the wind goes down. The rest of our spraying we'll do ourselves, but want to keep seeding and avoid tracks in the wheat. We'd like to get the rest of the crops sprayed before they come up.

So, then we should be into June...and then time for some fun.  We go to Ron White in Fargo. Then we will be going on a Farmer's Union trip to MSP for a few days. I'm so excited to get a few days away with Dustin. It will be fun, a chance to get to know people on the TAG team, and a fun get away. I'm so excited. I can't wait...

Now to plan a little family vacation. I'm thinking Medora and/or the Black Hills. We'll see what we can figure out.