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The Perfect Home Gym

Optional workout equipment for rent as needed.

It works the whole body while adding a boost of Vita D.

The pond will be 40×60 and 5′ in the middle. Renting a tiller was the perfect (cheapest) solution for us.

It’s great for the entire family.

Hauling good pond dirt to the new garden on the other side of the shed in the middle. Ten loads between us 3 girls yesterday.

It’s stocked with fresh flowers all summer long.

Has some really cool mascots.

Shennen will help with the work I’m going slow with her training

And after your workout cooling off is the best part.

5 minutes from home our favorite place to cool off

Oh and dinner is always on the house.

Smoked pig leg. Low and slow for 6hrs.

Courtesy of Frank.

Guaranteed to burn enough calories to enjoy a couple of beers and dessert. Whichever suits your fancy.

My day’s workout in a nutshell.

We’re refurbishing the pond to make it year-round and deep enough to add some trout. The dirt is being hauled to a washed out pasture that’s being built up for better use. This year we’ll garden it after the pond dirt and barn compost is added.

Our growing year tends to last until November so we have plenty of time to get starts in the ground for a hefty fall harvest.

Luckily for us this summer has been cooler and wetter than usual making garden season easy even now in July. Most years we’d be watering the pastures but mother nature appears to be on our side.

Maybe I did something right because Karma has been my best friend lately.

We had to say goodbye to our helper for another week but it’s been a fun mid-week weekend working on the farm.

Today the girls and I are sitting out the heat of the day. This evening we’ll get back to it.

I hope you’re enjoying your summer and whatever happenings you’ve got going on.

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Good Monday!

Which one doesn’t belong?

It’s crazy. You walk outside each morning greeted by chickens who want breakfast then one morning there’s a couple of 6 week old baby rabbits begging for food too.

So what do you do?

Let them all out for a little free range breakfast! Opening their door was like dumping out a barrel of curious rabbits.

Yes, they will go home in the evening. Rabbits I’ve discovered (years ago) are creatures of ha Much like other animals and livestock. They even go home when they take a nap.

For the last couple of weeks each morning we’ve been letting the horses out to the house yard. We’ve got about 3/4 of an acre sectioned off for the house, garage and small garden (is 50′ x 125′ small?).

Our garden is being moved. And way behind. The realities of being a single mom is the only thing that’s on time is dinner. Ha ha I think karma is on my side though because although we’ve had lots of warm weather it’s stayed overcast which keeps everything green. Usually by now I’m back to supplementing feed because the grass is stalled out and brown.

Shennen loves when my camera comes out. She has to be center of attention.

It’s 11:30ish now and most of the bunnies have gone home to take a nap.

Time to get some inside chores done and lunch or lunch then chores. Smoked chicken salad. Leftover smoked anything is such a treat. I better find something else to put on the smoker.

Have a great lunch and a great day!

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Bringing Home the Bacon

Frank & Squeak

One of my biggest evolutionary steps of cooking on this farm was in the form of Frank and Squeak. I’d never owned or even spent much time with pigs before these two but as many of us are I was/am a believer that bacon goes with EVERYTHING.

A conversation this week has had me thinking about the journey of growing bacon from the ground up. All pork for that matter and the health benefits of growing your own food. Mainly speaking it’s a whole lot of exercise to get the bacon from the piglet to the table.

franknsqueak
Homegrown ingredients from the hoof up.

I quickly learned the fastest way to a pigs heart is a good beer. Squeak like myself loved a good porter and made it clear whenever I got out of the car with a six pack. Frank on the other hand didn’t care for the dark beer and preferred a lager (particularly Hamm’s – no pun intended).

The couple of times they got out of their pen or needed some hands on attention all I needed was a bottle of their favorite beer and they would heel like well trained retrievers. It was quite fun.

FrankGrown

Squeak was meant to be kept for breeding more pork each year but after a year of watching her grow I decided she wasn’t the best suited for the job so my search for a new pig for compounding chops and bacon continues.

Homegrown cured and smoked bacon
The true love of cooking is growing the food from the ground up and being part of every step of it’s creation.

I don’t think I’ve ever met so many disagreements as when it comes to talking about homegrown bacon being healthier than the highly processed counterpart you get at the store.

Bacon in general gets a bad rap for being unhealthy, no matter where you get it from. I always sat in content with the knowledge of how much work and time spent outside no matter the weather when it came to measuring the health benefits of growing food, even bacon.

Low and behold though bacon really doesn’t deserve such a bad rep. I borrowed a couple of screenshots to emphasize my point. I’ll provide a link below also so you can check the references like I did to make sure the article was a creditable source. You can’t just believe everything you read online. Right?

What’s even better about bacon is the quality of the fat. Yeah, who’d think it?!

Check out the entire article.

I think the hams were my favorite part of the whole experience of raising pork from the ground up.

Thanks to a couple of University websites and a couple of YouTube videos I learned the art of curing hams “country style”. This is done by rubbing the hams with salts until they can’t absorb anymore, leaving a thick layer on by wrapping the ham in brown paper and hanging them in a cool shed/spot for a couple of months. I converted what used to be my garden shed into a larder because it’s location keeps it extra cool and even temperature without much help. I used the same bags that I cover deer with it’s much like a cheese cloth to hang the hams.

After a couple of months the brown paper is taken off a new bag is used to hang it from the rafters for what’s called a “summer sweat”. The hams are very dry at this point which helps with mold and the salt keeps the pests away. It’s pretty fascinating to learn how people used to do things before refrigeration.

When it’s time for smoking, the ham is soaked for 12-36hrs to get the extra saltiness out. The below picture is a ham ready for smoking. It’s not the most beautiful thing.

After about 48hrs of low smoking the ham looks delicious!

I use a charcoal smoker which means checking on it regularly. After smoking two hams some bacon and summer sausage for Christmas I think I lost all the weight that I ended up putting back on from eating over the holidays! Nice trade off if you ask me.

A true summer sausage is left to hang for a few days to ferment before it’s smoked to perfection. I could post a chapter on pork alone so I’ll leave you here with some mouth watering pictures of bacon and summer sausage until I get another chance to sit down and share some more.

It’s 8:30am on a Saturday and after some awesome homegrown bacon and eggs it’s time to go play!

What do you think, is homegrown healthier or is it just the health benefits of exercise and being outdoors raising food which evens up the score?

Either way I can’t wait to bring home the bacon (and all the other porky parts) and start the journey again.

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Back in the saddle again…

I started this blog with the intention of treating it like a farm diary. Since then my 17yo begged for a way to make extra money so I let her take up the feeding/watering chores. It literally takes only about 30 minutes if you do the chores with a purpose.

The teen is away this week she’s volunteering as a camp counselor for the 6th graders Outdoor School. Sunday the tween and I drove her an hour into the mountains for camp.

Monday morning I let my insomnia do it’s thing. I rarely sleep past 3:30 or for more than 5hrs. Not by choice.

Last night I actually got 7hrs of sleep but I was ready to do chores 15 minutes before sunrise.

I’ve always been one to get chores done at daybreak. It’s such a peaceful time of the morning being awake before the chickens are off their rafters.

Oh and the tween is an awesome teammate. She mostly just walks along but she does it enthusiastically without complaint. Pretty cool for an 11yo.

Now we’re talking about keeping the farm chores and find a new way for the teen to make money. 😁

On the downside the newly installed bees disappeared. That was sad and $160 tossed into the wind but maybe it was a mistake getting bees that weren’t in an established 5 frame nuc. I thought I would save money just getting 3lbs of bees. I knew better. It’s never worked for me in the past.

I made the tween biscuits and gravy for breakfast. Of course I forgot to take a picture. I’ll probably make her more tomorrow so I’ll give you a recipe and picture then. Promise! I had some V8. I’ve never been much of a breakfast person.

It’s almost 7:30. I better get back to it. I need to build a couple of rabbit yards. The 5 baby buns are almost as big as the adults.

I need to work on the meat shed too. My garden is depending on it.

Have a great day!

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Just a Mom?

For about 18 years I’ve been a mom, homemaker and potentially significant to an other. Naturally, with kids I’ve gravitated towards cooking or at least learning something about it, about 14 years ago after acquiring my little piece of paradise I’ve become intrigued by the process of growing the food that I cook. This is the basis of the blog I’m attempting to set up. I would like to think that I appeal to the average housewife/husband. I watch a little too much TV, my house could use a little more attention, I could stand to lose a few pounds or at least exchange some of this fat for muscle, somewhere in the back of my mind I figure if I have a Bachelors degree I will somehow be able to achieve a higher status so I’m back in school. I have bad habits and guilty pleasures. Mostly I live vicariously through my kids and whatever is streaming through my Ruko stick. I am single which adds a bizarre twist to the whole thing. Mostly though, hopefully, I’ll share my love of growing and making food.

In the past 14 years I’ve gotten familiar with growing, processing and cooking some livestock and garden produce. I’ve yet to write about it, maybe because I was so new it was a lot of trial and error or maybe the lack of sit down time. This year I will be experimenting, practicing and perfecting a lot of rabbit, lamb, chicken and quail dishes as these are the primary livestock on my little piece of property along with garden produce. I want to add on a couple of pigs and turkey after I hang up the lambs which will give me a little more room. If ambition plays a role in all of this I hope to train my two miniature horses to pull and help out on the farm. I like the idea of avoiding buying another tractor though it would definitely make some of the heavy lifting easier.

I’m in the process of making a meat locker so I can butcher animals year round without worrying about meat spoiling. I’m moving my garden this year with the goal to build up a partially washed out pasture and improve upon it. Three small livestock barns with a winter’s worth of compost should help with that project along with digging out a fish pond that’s been on my to-do list since I moved here and an abundant garden should have that pasture looking pretty good by the end of this year. I’m also going to be selling garden “kits”, salsa garden with tomatoes, peppers and such, salad garden with a variety of lettuce, carrots and peas, so on and so forth with the hope to help fund my growing and cooking adventures and get my kitchen remodel finally finished.

With all that information coming at you I hope you will follow along my little venture, maybe I’ll teach you a few things about the kitchen and garden that you don’t know and maybe you all will teach me a thing or two. This is my last full summer before my teenager heads off to college so I guess maybe I’m hoping to teach her a few more things in the kitchen to help her avoid the college diet of ramen and mac n cheese.

Oh and I almost forgot to mention we have honey bees coming in mid-April. So much fun I’ll be sharing with you this year.