Here it is… fall in full-swing and I haven’t found the time to write in this-here-blog! It has been a bit busy for us this summer. I actually don’t know of any summers where we haven’t been busy!
The homestead can keep our focus… well… outside! I feel a compelling need to get things caught up for my blog/postings, not sure why but I guess I will anyway! 🙂 Since the realm of our current reality is working on establishing and/or maintaining the self-sufficiency we desire – I’ll just hit some bullet-points of what’s happening around the property as of late.
A brief summary:
*Chickens/meat-birds (for this year): a success! We had two over-lapping (large/head-count) batches out on pasture for the spring and summer. The small ‘production’ we do of these pasture birds is getting easier and more efficient – raising to processed – each passing year. As we build our ‘system’ for the raising, caring, growing, processing of this poultry; so too does the speed and efficiency for… well, getting them into their final destination(s) – the freezer or canner.
*Chickens that are our egg-layers: we have an older set of ladies who are solid producers (Buff Orpingtons) and we have a newer, younger set of layers that have come into their full potential just this year (last year they were young/new). So, this is nice. A solid stream of eggs, currently. We don’t do any artificial light systems for our hens in the winter. So, if they don’t want to lay an egg all winter – then, they don’t! We like to give our birds their natural seasonal cycles.
*We experienced the turkey this year. Sure, we have wild turkey’s all over our property but it’s not the same as raising your own. So, we gave these guys a go. Since pasture raised turkey was new to us we spent the time getting the set-up for them. Their fence, shelter, roost, etc. Once that was established – they practically raise themselves! hahaha… ya, I thought that was funny. 🙂 Anyway, the only time period of truly high maintenance is their first couple of weeks of life. They really have to be looked after as they can die so easily in that stage. They are a bit haphazard as babes; not to mention, not that smart. We become their over-attentive mothers! We had 11, because of this potential early-stage death percentage, if we lost a couple, we would still be in the clear. They all survived! Wow! We must have some good-lovin’-vibes around here. We don’t lose as many animals as other people seem to report. Maybe we are just naturals with birds! They do seem to multiply around here very easily!
So, the turkey raising was all summer. And I will admit – I thought these guys were kind-of fun. They have personalities and their goofy disposition was entertaining. They are quite the characters as they develop, they know us and who we are, and the wild turkeys would try and hangout next to their fence. Entertainment is what was gained!
The processing times of them was varied. When they got to weight, it’s ‘time’. This might be the part about raising turkeys that we discovered we weren’t a fan of. It can put a crimp on any other plans, weekends, or whatever is going on! You gotta squeeze in the time to processes a bird or two. Setting up and cleaning up, alone, can be the bulk of a day! So, that would be the con, I guess. Not like the meat birds where they all get processed at the same time, regardless of their weight.
We finished them all out earlier this month. Processed; they are all now in the hands of those that bought one. Wrapped and ready for turkey-day. For ourselves – we decided to also do the ground-turkey option as well. Which, by the way, we have already had for dinner a-time-or-two. I made turkey meatballs and they were fab! 🙂
*The pigs: still putting on weight. It is their last couple of weeks before they, too, are butchered and processed. They get to eat apples (right now) for a few weeks which sweetens the meat. We live where the apples are abundant! Makes this an easy choice. We’ve been finishing our pigs/pork with apples like this (for several years) and it makes a difference. I will say, though, that I am actually not a huge pork fan. It is not a meat I gravitate towards. I like the occasional bacon, maybe sausage, or maybe a loin for a dinner every once and a while – but it’s rare. We mostly utilize our pork for mixing with other meats, game meat/venison, etc. Our pork/pigs are always sold before we even bring them home and raise them. In actuality – most of our animals are always sold before we take them on. Chicken – we do extra – because we can sell a random bird or two later on.
*Honeybees: Alive and well. We didn’t take any of their honey this season. Since this was a swarm we caught – it was all about establishing this colony and providing them with an awesome environment. Getting healthy and strong – and staying that way was our number one priority this year. Most beekeepers in this area struggle to keep hives past the brutal months of Jan/Feb. We tend to have to longest, deepest, freezing then. And this is when bees struggle to make it. We are currently trying to decide if we should/want to move them to a more southern-location and let them have a milder winter.
*Cats and dog: why not? 🙂 They are all doing good and are the little fur-ball-loves that brings smiles to our faces.
*The garden: As I write this – it is almost completely ‘put to bed‘ for the impending winter. Last year at this very time – we got hit with snow and it stuck around! Things were left all over the place and the closing-up of stuff was a little chaotic – or… didn’t even get done. Left, frozen in time! 🙂 Fingers are crossed that I can get at least one more week to finish a few things. But… if it does snow – these things aren’t deal breakers if caught under and left until next year.
*And part of gardening and summer-to-fall plant life/harvesting is all the fun preserving that happens around here! I am the gatherer and hubby is the hunter. Together and individually we are doing what we love and filling our freezers, the canner, the dehydrator, and cupboards with what we can, when we can (haha, pun!) Anyway, I am really making a lot of different fun ferments, tinctures and infusions this year. I have way more stuff brewing right now than I have in the past. I think it’s a comfort-level of just doing it at this point. With practice, experiments and experience develops that go-attitude about it. If I mess something up – oh well. I’ll try again. The intimidation-factor of ‘brewing something’ in my kitchen-lab has definitely disappeared the last few of years. So many plants, so little time! 🙂 I just keep adding to my apothecary. And… of course I would! I love the holistic, natural, organic way of health, wellness and healing. Making tinctures is super easy and can get a little addictive! 🙂 I am also currently obsessed with growing my own ‘tea’/herb/medicinal garden – so that I can harvest all the lovely plants right in my back yard! I’ve always grown herbs and started really introducing the medicinal’s about 2+ years ago; all these lovelies are really taking off and becoming established! I make sure I am adding in one, or two (or three) 🙂 new plants every season.
*As for me: well, I am going to be brutally honest – I am having the summer and fall of transitioning towards that good-ole menopause! And geesh… WTF?! 🙂 hahaha, I do say that with humor and with a calm-heart. I have been patiently waiting for this to arrive in my life; flat out asking for it to ‘get going already‘, and now it IS here. I am going through the shift right now. And it has been… interesting. I feel like I could and will chat about this later, in a separate posting. Something more geared towards the over-all health and wellness of my current-now-moments. Seems kind-of funny to just pop it in the discussions while talking about all our farm animals! hahaha… but, on the same token – it is my reality! Homestead life and menopause! Ahhhh, that does sound like a good-read to me tho!