Yesterday was our first Saturday off since my surgery back in mid-September. We spent the day cleaning, working on various projects, and knitting. This week, we also gave some retired trees to the sheep and goats. I think they mostly enjoyed them. What do you think?
Just a couple days ago, I posted on Instagram saying we are officially “On Vacation” until the new year. What I meant was that we don’t have any farmers markets until January 9. There is nothing even close to resembling a vacation happening in our lives right now, however, I didn’t expect to get right back into it the next day!
We placed our first order for meat birds yesterday. The plan right now is 600 chickens on pasture this year, and we didn’t want to leave things to chance with getting all the birds we need. We are hammering out the details with our brooding and tractor setups, so we don’t have to scramble to find them toasty places to grow. We will also be ordering 150 turkeys for meat, and at least 50 ducks. In addition, we will be adding 50 ducks to our laying flock, and 100 to 150 laying hens. Who knows, some little goslings might find themselves joining the farm as well.
Limerick is probably done his job with his girlfriends. Initially, I thought we would put him back with the boys this past weekend, but that wasn’t a high priority. So that will happen this upcoming weekend. Lamb Watch starts April 7! We also have to contact our shearer to get everyone their haircuts before then. And then this summer, we will be adding at least one more sheep to the flock. More on that later on. There are so many fun things with the sheep happening in 2021.
We haven’t made any concrete plans as far as pork is concerned. Our only decision made so far is that we absolutely will be raising them again. We have heard tons of positive feedback from our friends and customers who have tried the pork, and that is always nice to hear. As soon as we make that decision, we will update everyone.
In 2021, we are going to make a greater effort to keep in touch with y’all. This may include more email newsletters, and will definitely include more blog posts. If you would like to stay up to date, sign up for our mailing list here. I promise we won’t send out a million emails, and annoy you! We hope you enjoy these last few days of 2020, and we look forward to feeding you and your family in 2021!
It’s taken some time for me to figure out what I wanted to cover with this blog post, but I finally decided I should just start writing and see where it takes me. Many of our friends, family members, and customers have asked us how it feels to have raised our own pork. The question isn’t always phrased in that way, but that’s the information most folks are seeking when they ask. This blog post will hopefully answer that question, and a whole lot more.
Back in March, we decided pigs were something we needed on the farm. Bob installed a hot wire around the perimeter of what would become the pig pasture, and we started picking up the supplies we’d need.
At the end of April, Christian, Kate, and Luca from Ham Sweet Farm delivered our first three American Guinea Hog bacon bits, with the intention of us picking up two more from another litter once they were ready. As we thought about it, we decided to get some pink pigs to raise alongside the heritage breed, so that we could have pork ready sooner. We also wanted some pigs that weren’t as lardy for the customers who would not be interested in a super thick fat cap.
The pink pigs struggled at first. Going from being raised in a barn to being out on pasture was definitely an adjustment. They all ended up with “dippity pig”, despite our best efforts to avoid it (shade, mud wallows, and lots of fresh cool water to drink). Dippity pig is a weird thing that happens when pigs get sun burnt. Generally, the darker breeds don’t deal with it as often or as severely. It took a little while for them to heal up, but they got better and their skin got tougher. Once they got through that, they didn’t have any other issues being raised outdoors. We did learn that we want to stick with pigs that were born outside, as opposed to pigs that were destined for life in a barn. Some individual lines of pigs just end up doing better raised outdoors.
Shortly after bringing them home, we built them a nipple drinker to make watering them a little easier. Many people have issues with water barrels, but we were quite lucky that the pigs chose not to destroy it. They did however really enjoy carting around their feed pans, and hiding them from us. This is one BIG change we are going to make for next year. No feed pans, and instead we will use a feed trough, or a more standard style hog feeder.
In addition to their regular feed ration, we picked up extra food for them on an almost weekly basis. Bread, apples, pears, sweet corn, pumpkins, tomatoes, and walnuts made up a big part of their diet. We are so grateful to our friends and farm customers for helping us acquire all these snackies! Several market vendors were giving us bags and boxes of food after the market, and none of it went to waste. We are hoping that with our next batch of pigs, we can actually manage to decrease our overall feed costs per hog with all this food. Some of the items are very seasonal, but some can be stored for a few weeks before being fed out, so we are going to figure out how to make the most of the abundance we get.
Our farm vet took a look at them on the few farm visits she made for other animals. We are very lucky to have an awesome working relationship with our vets, and they have become good friends of ours. Any time any of our animals has an issue, I can text her pictures and whatever questions I have, and she is always so helpful. The hogs stayed healthy the entire time they were here, other than the four that got dippity pig. We made sure they got extra care while they weren’t feeling their best, but overall, they did very well. We know that this isn’t always the case, and some people have not so good luck with pigs, and we know that will probably happen to us one day as well.
Leading into the final weeks of raising the pigs, I was sure to give some extra scritches and extra snacks to all of them. We wanted them to have a happy life until the last possible moment. We borrowed a stock trailer from our friends Rita and Tess, and got up dark and early on a Friday morning for the pigs final day. Since we spent time with them daily, it was really easy to get them to follow us where we wanted them. Until they realized it was somewhere completely new. Once they got past the small fence we took down, all bets were off. They wanted nothing to do with us. Except for the first two who loaded up, ready for anything! After some cussing, and sweating, and having to lift little fatty Warthog onto the trailer by hand (she had short legs…), we got them all loaded up with a little time to spare.
We got changed into less sweaty clothes, and hit the road, with Gunthorp Farms as our final destination. We were VERY lucky to get in with them for processing. They are just over an hour from us, USDA certified, and just generally pleasant, helpful folks. We chatted with Greg in the road before Evan came with the trailer to move our pigs into. The pigs gave us just as much of a fight to unload them as they did to load them up. We’ve learned… And we know how to do it better next time.
A week after dropping them off, it was time to pick them back up. In a slightly different shape. We loaded up over 1200 pounds of meat and brought it home. Then a week after that, we brought home another few hundred pounds of bacon, ham, and other smoked parts. Let me tell you, their smoked products are incredible. Many of our customers have already made a second trip to pick up more bacon, ham, and hocks. We have already sold a ton of pork, and we are so excited to share it with everyone.
Overall, raising pigs was relatively uneventful, and simple. In the end, we decided to get all nine pigs processed at the same time, just to simplify our lives a little. When we do this next year, I think we might stagger our processing dates, and get two batches of pigs done. This may make our precariously over-full freezer situation slightly less scary. We both thoroughly enjoyed raising hogs. Our customers have been enjoying the meat. And our soil will see the benefit from their natural rooting and tilling action. We are looking forward to raising more next year!
There is more information about pork coming soon, but this is just our quick price list so folks know what they’re getting into! Keep in mind, this is the 2020 pork price list, and may change in the future. Future price lists will make this one invalid. So, here goes!
|Item||Price per pound|
|Bacon (uncured, smoked)||$12.00|
|Bratwurst (four per pack)||$8.50|
|Breakfast Sausage (bulk ground)||$7.50|
|Chops (regular or T-bone)||$10.00|
|Ground (plain, bulk)||$7.50|
|Ham (~2lb, uncured, smoked)||$10.00|
|Ham Steak (not smoked)||$10.00|
|Hock (uncured, smoked)||$6.00|
|Jowl Bacon (whole, uncured, smoked)||$10.00|
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Sauerkraut is one of our favorite condiments for so many of our meals, and we love making it ourselves. It’s really easy, less expensive than store-bought, tastes so much better, and can be made in any flavor combo. Here are some tools that make our lives easier when we make our kraut!
Kai Wasabi Black Nakiri Knife
This is our most used knife in the kitchen. The handle style fits both of us, and the shape of the knife works well with our cutting style. We can get through an entire head of cabbage in no time, and this is our tool of choice for making small amounts of kraut. It’s also the first knife we both reach for if we are chopping onions, carrots, or any other kind of veggie. Before buying any knives, we definitely suggest you hold them in your hand and make sure they work for you.
Cuisinart 8 Cup Food Processor
A food processor is easily the FASTEST way to chop up a bunch of veggies quickly. When making large quantities of kraut, we quarter and core our cabbage with the Nakiri knife, and then drop it through the feeder tube. (Occasionally, we have to trim down those quarters if we have massive heads of cabbage.) There is a specific plate included with this processor that is designed to slice the veggies, and it works so well. We also use a food processor to slice cucumbers for pickles, and blending our spice mixes. If this one ever dies on us, we are splurging for a 14 cup version!
GreaterGoods Digital Food Kitchen Scale
One of the important parts of making kraut is having the correct ratio of salt to vegetables. You can only accomplish this with a food scale. Guessing will get you nothing but sadness and rotten cabbage. (Please note that rotten cabbage smells terrible, and we want to avoid that at all costs. Unless you like the smell of farts and dead vegetables.) Weigh the cabbage, being sure to remove the weight of the vessel it’s in, and add 1.5%-2% of that weight in sea salt.
SaltWorks Pure Ocean Sea Salt, Medium Grain, 5 Pound Bulk Bag
Which brings us to the salt! The second most important part of kraut making, after the veggies! It’s important to choose a salt that does not contain iodine, or other additives. They can mess with the fermentation, and you’ll end up with sad cabbage. We like the medium grain because they dissolve in the cabbage juices faster than the large grain, but they are a good size for using in the kitchen. This brand also has a nice crisp taste.
Easy Fermenter Wide Mouth Lid Kit
Now we get into the fermentation. If you are doing small batches, or you want to make several different varieties at once, we suggest the Easy Fermenter from Nourished Essentials. It’s super easy to use, easy to clean, and comes with lots of information on making fermented food. It’s a great way to get started and not be forced to make a massive amount like a crock would hold. You just pop these airlock lids onto a clean, wide mouth canning jar, and you’re ready to go!
Crazy Korean Cooking Premium Sauerkraut Fermentation and Storage Container
If you DO want to make a massive amount of kraut, this is what you need in your life. We have two crocks from Crazy Korean Cooking, and they’re both super easy to use. (This is the smaller one we have)
The 5.8 gallon crock is not the largest size they offer, but it fits on the shelf we have designated for it. It’s dishwasher safe, which is super nice, and makes cleanup much quicker!
This are our personal must-haves for anything fermented. Eating sauerkraut is so good for your health, and home made is just so so good. Let us know what your favorite type of sauerkraut is!
Frontière Farm House is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. When you click on one of our affiliate links, we earn a small commission, which we use to help the farm grow!
Many of our friends and farm fans have participated in our Custom Ink shirt campaigns. We have finally had the time to sit down and start up a shirt shop that will be available all the time! There are only a couple print options, but there are a TON of style options. We have onesies, tees, crew necks, AND DOG HOODIES!!! Please bring your dog to the market while they are wearing one of our hoodies, and I will love on that dog SO HARD! If you head to our shop, and use the code FARMFRIEND you will get free shipping until the end of September!
We are so appreciative of all your support! Purchasing these items helps us cover the costs of some upcoming BIG projects!
Most posts on the blog are written by Nicole. Bob will be writing about his project truck as he works on it.
Farming is a lot of work. Every single day from early March to the end of November, we are caring for the hundreds of animals that either permanently or temporarily call our farm home. We also have many projects that make their and our lives better, so “free” time is almost unheard of. But as the seasons change and fall turns into winter our schedule slows down and we have time to relax and do things that aren’t directly related to the farm that bring us joy.
Growing up, I was never really all that interested in cars or trucks and when it came time for routine maintenance, I would go to a mechanic. I knew the fundamentals of how an automobile worked but when it came to opening the hood, I couldn’t tell you which part did what or what the names of most of the components were. After we bought our farm and I learned how much I enjoyed working with my hands and repairing things myself, I began doing most of the maintenance on our vehicles. Fortunately not much work is needed on our car and truck but that also means there was only so much I could learn on two vehicles we rely on and are in overall great condition.
I began watching videos online of other people working on and restoring vehicles and I found the variety of work and skills needed to be very interesting. After a while I found myself thinking about buying a project vehicle and began casually browsing Facebook Marketplace looking at cheap old vehicles. Very quickly I knew exactly what I wanted but it seemed that most of the listings had already been worked on and were out of my price range or were in such bad condition that the possibility of getting them to run again seemed outside of my budget and skills.
As luck would have it someone posted what I was looking for and due to a couple minor issues the vehicle did not run so the price was right. I did some research and found out that parts were not only available but also reasonably priced. I have a habit of losing interest in things after a while so I hesitated to buy something that would require a lot of time, energy, and money to complete. After a month spent reading repair manuals, watching videos, and learning as much information about this truck as I possibly could between my day job and working around the farm I realized how disappointed I would be if someone bought the truck I had almost begun to think of as mine. I reached out to the seller and found out that someone had planned on picking it up the night before but had ghosted him so the truck was all mine if I could come and get it. After picking up a flatbed trailer from our neighbors who are nice enough to let us use it when needed we drove the hour and a half there and picked up my winter project truck. (Added by Nicole: The previous owner was ecstatic that someone was purchasing the truck with plans to restore it. He didn’t want to see the truck parted out, because he had some sentimental attachment to it. He was happy to help us load it up on the trailer, sign the title transfer paperwork, and send us on our way.)
I plan on recording all the work that I end up doing on the truck, which will be plenty, and upload the progress to our YouTube channel. I have uploaded the first video for that series which is just an introduction and reveal of the truck that I purchased. I don’t know when I will be able to get started working on this truck with our busy farm schedule but I hope you follow along with my progress.
Since the start of Covid and social distancing, we have obviously been spending much more time on the farm. This has given us the opportunity to record many of our day to day tasks, and we’ve started sharing them on our YouTube channel. Some of our recent videos have been peeks into what it’s like with as many birds as we have.
We currently have about 60 ducklings in a tractor, growing big and strong before they head out on pasture. This is what it looked like when we first moved them out of their brooder and onto grass.
A few days later, we gave them a “pool” for the first time. When ducklings are covered in their baby “feathers” they are NOT waterproof! They can easily become waterlogged and possibly drown. In the wild, momma ducks preen them with her own oil to allow them to float. For this reason, we don’t allow our tiny baby ducks to have access to any containers of water that they can climb into, unless we are supervising them directly.
You can see how much larger they are in the second video! Within a couple weeks, we will be moving them into a pen surrounded by Electronet, and they will have access to two or three swimming pools. This group will grow up on pasture, eating locally grown grain from our local mill, and some will be processed for meat. We may keep some of the females to add to our egg laying flock, but we are still undecided on that at this time. Until then, we will enjoy watching them grow.
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Last week, we spent a few hours in the Albion Food Hub making some sauerkraut for ourselves, and to swap with friends. Fifty three pounds of sauerkraut, to be exact. The cabbage was grown by Green Gardens, and was absolutely delicious! Starting with good ingredients is so important, especially when there are only two in the finished product.
Here are the tools and supplies we used in the video
E-Jen Crock: https://amzn.to/2WQBSUS
Mason Jars: https://amzn.to/3js5IZo
Fermentation Kit: https://amzn.to/3eTNrkc
When we decided to skip the garden entirely this year, we knew we would need to acquire veggies from other farms to preserve for ourselves. Last weekend, we picked up a basket of pickling cucumbers from our friends at Willow Garden. We have been buy vegetables from Jason and Seraina since before we bought the farm. They are certified organic growers, and grow a great variety of veggies for the market. We also got some Walla Walla onions from them, and those are the other major component of this recipe.
I don’t make pickles often, but I do really enjoy having a mandolin slicer when I do. This model specifically is really easy to use and clean. It cuts two different thicknesses, and has the option for a julienne cut. We have made our own french fries with this, and it does a great job at decreasing the workload involved.
One note: When using salt in fermenting, pickling and canning, even if it’s just a fridge pickle, it’s important to use un-iodized salt. We love this sea salt. It has a really crisp taste, and won’t mess with the pickling or fermenting process.
Now, onto the recipe!
- 4 or 5 pickling cucumbers (I usually slice extra, and snack on them)
- 2 Tbsp pickling salt
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 whole cloves
- 2 peppercorns
- 2 tsp mustard seed
- 1 tsp celery seed
- 1 or 2 walla walla onions
To get started, rinse your cucumbers. Then, slice them on the thicker setting of the mandolin into a medium bowl. Sprinkle with salt, and toss for 20-30 seconds. Stick the bowl in the fridge for an hour or so to allow the salt to draw some of the moisture out of the cucumbers.
While your cukes sweat, start on the brine. In a pot over medium heat, add the vinegars, sugars, crushed garlic, cloves, peppercorns, mustard seed, and celery seed. Allow to heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and mixture is fragrant. Set aside to cool.
Remove cucumbers from fridge and drain. I also rinse them to remove most of the salt. Cut the onions in half, and slice on the thin setting of the mandolin. Add to bowl of cucumbers and toss. Add cucumbers and onions to a clean quart jar. Pack them in there pretty firmly, but without totally smashing the slices. Top with prepared brine. You will have to tip the jar in different directions to get the air bubbles out. I usually put a sealing lid on the jar, and shake it around for a couple seconds. Keep filling the jar until it’s totally full. Stick the jar in the fridge and let it sit for 24 hours minimum. Taste the next day, and enjoy!
This recipe is NOT meant for water bath or pressure canning. It will last in the fridge up to 6 weeks. Feel free to modify the ratios of white to brown sugar, or white vinegar to apple cider vinegar. Add more spices if you like a little more flavor. Add a half teaspoon of turmeric for more flavor and color. Add some red pepper flakes if you want a sweet and spicy pickle. There are many ways to change this up, and with a small batch like this, it’s easy to make a bunch of varieties and see what you like best! Enjoy!
This post was sponsored by our Patreon supporter Giles. Find her on Facebook, Instagram, and Etsy!
Frontière Farm House is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to products on Amazon. If you click a link in this post, we may earn a small commission. This does not cost you anything, and helps us cover the costs associated with farming.