Archives for category: Homestead

I found out yesterday that my homestead chores are a mystery to the rest of my family, who I love dearly.

I was woman down with the nasty cold going around (fever, chills, severe headache, body aches, my eyeballs even hurt) and spent the day in bed, literally.

I woke up this morning feeling much better but still weak.

Things that feel through the cracks:
*feeding the chickens
*collecting eggs
*brewed tea was forgotten and is now 3 days strength – going to toss that
*produce brought home was left on the counter – now going to the hens

Things that happened without me:
*7 bare root trees were planted
* 4 bare root berries planted
* fence line graded and anchor posts set
* pigs relocated to allow fence work
* my family went out to dinner

Almost a fair trade!


In may last post I shared that I was a bit nervous (ok, straight up scared) about roasting a pig for friends and Family!  We share lots of bounty off the farm, but this is the first time undertaking such a large cooking effort.

New Year’s day did indeed start in the dark, and it was very cold (mid twenties).

Pre-dawn Fires

Pre-dawn Fires

It did not start smoothly – it tool took a few tries to get the beast fastened to the spit well enough. We both thought it a good idea to add some spice and cut up apples to the cavity and stitch it back up. I am not sure if this is a good or bad idea.  It may have cooked faster if the cavity was left open, and the goods on the inside discolored the inside of the ribs.  Still good and yummy but not the most attractive.

It did not come with any means of securing the feet, and the beast has a balance point so that each time the the beast turned, at the top of the cycle it would flop and twist slightly over the tipping point to climb back up the other side of the loop.  This means one side cooked faster than the other, but we took care of that in the end by manually stalling the cooler side for longer each cycle for about 40 minutes.  It was a bit creepy too, since the two ends did not turn in unison. My husbands solution for floppy ears also a bit creepy, but very functional and likely better than burned ears and eyeballs (that could have been icky!).  We kept the campfire roaring and took coals from it to the cooking fire as needed to keep the internal temp climbing.  Having a meat thermometer is critical.

Once the hide split and it was a self basting roast.  I added my biggest dutch oven to the center of the coal pile to act a s a basin to catch the drippings and those were used to baste the whole thing.  The best way to season a cast iron pot – high heat and pure lard!  That dutch oven is now nonstick in the extreme.

open fire cookin'

Company arrived mid day and after a couple our hours socializing around a campfire it was time to feast!  All agree it is delicious and everyone takes some home.  This was my first chance to try cooked skin, and I do not like it.  One of our guests has been to many a pig roast and he made the comment that this hog had a thicker hide than the others he has cooked.  I am going to give that credit to the heritage breed – hardy pigs these are.  I also feel better about pour butchery method to skin them first.

With the warmest temp of the day hitting the low forties no one wanted to stay past dark, even with a roaring campfire. No blaming my guests on that note.  I call this a major success, but will admit that I am not looking forward to doing it again anytime soon.  It is a ton of work, and hosting in general can be a bit stressful.  I will say this is a very efficient way to feed a large group of people, and it is indeed delicious!

Even the dogs got to enjoy a bit.

Down Dog

Down Dog


Wet weather is no fun, I know our water table and surface storage needs to be recharged by the rain, but it makes RV living wet on the inside too.

CONDENSATION IS NOT MY FRIEND!!!! Getting an electric blanket so we can run the propane heater less, and shopping for a dehumidifier. Waking up with a wet ceiling is just gross. No different then a tent – all that breathing all night long.

And space saving ideas are a constant pursuit.
I did have a novel solution (I thought) for doing the dishes and extending counter space – make the sink work harder. I use mini basins I got at the dollar store, and a wire rack that fits. Another way to extend counter space it to use cutting boards that span the sink.



Trying to keep a positive attitude – short days and gray weather are not helping, sharing does 🙂




#tincanliving – new rule for Tin Can Living

Just because a shirt was hung in the “closet” on a hanger, does not make it clean!

My husband pulled out a nice collared shirt and on the back was a triplex muddobbershelter – icky!

Our closet is currently a pole strung across a storage room in the barn, it does have a door. Apparently the door was open long enough at some point in time for a mud dobber to build a triplex, or for three of them to get together and build a triple wide.

Self explanatory

The KING FIRE is estimated for full containment 10/4/14 – thanks to the rain that washed the top of my camper and woke me up, the rain drops on the roof were so close in my dreams they were on my forehead!!!

Things that were “undercover” may in-fact have not been, so wet shoes and wet dinner tables and  wet papertowel rolls, and a salt shaker totally contaminated with dust/mud/rain ick…….ugh…..

Piglets are also enjoying the damp 🙂  6 learning how to root out acorns!

Enjoy  FALL!!!!!!

Smokey morning

Smokey morning

Pyrocumulus from the King Fire

Pyrocumulus from the King Fire


Drought and forestry practices collide and result in catastrophe.


#tincanliving – no way to keep the smoke out of the camper(s)

#tincanliving – dust, it gets into every compartment both interior and exterior


The sun has fallen past the horizon and the heat of the day has faded. Currently in the 80s much more comfortable than the 105 earlier.

The dogs like to sit on this high ground and watch. One of our 2 springs is there at the base of the oak trees (12 o`clock) and the wildlife will come by for a drink.

Good night to all!

Thank you to all of our buyers who bought this year’s litter!  All of the market pigs from the pig pile have gone to their freezer homes.

We selected one of the gilts from the 2013 litter to hold back to breed.  Next spring there will be 2 litters available – we are growing!

Other news on the homestead that readers may be able to relate with:
Remodeling the farm house!  This is a major event such that we are moving out of the house to complete the project.  It also means that there will be little time for tending a garden this year.  I expect I will still plant a few tomatoes and melons, but everything will be squeezed into the perimeter beds with the perennials.  It also means an experiment with “tiny” living as we will be living in a 5th wheel and cab over camper. 

I took a butchery class –  and it was taught by a woman!   I whole side of pork is no longer intimidating, I learned some great knife skills and met some wonderful ladies who are all passionate about this food movement, reclaiming our pantries and larders.  The weekend following we processed a hog of our own.  It was very hard work, but it was wonderful to create the cuts and roasts exactly the way I wanted.  Thank you to the El Dorado Meat Collective for hosting, and Heather for instructing.  There are pics available at their FB page and their info is available at:

Drought continues here and there is little rain in the forecast, near term or long range.  We do not irrigate our pasture woodlands and by June they are typically dry.  That may happen even earlier this year, meaning the purchase of hay, which I expect to go up in price at a rate exceeding the last 2 years.
😦  Sad face – as this makes it very apparent that our system is not yet self sustainable enough to be insulated from such market forces.

2014 promises to be full of LIFE!


This is not typical but does happen.  Bring in extra firewood and plan on staying on the farm!  A storm like this in 2008 knocked out the power for a week and motivated us to get off the grid.

Bundle up, extra calories for the critters, and drive safe if ya’ must go out……

The desk job is on hold this week so I get to be home as much as I like this week.  That is a trade off in many ways and not as restful as it sounds.  Blocks of time available usually are filled with chores and tasks that have been put off “until time allows” so I end up with a huge list of things to do, plus the normal cooking laundering and daily chores.

Our sow is again bred and we expect a litter in late February.  Our doe is bred again so also expect another set of twins in the first week of March.  Next year be plan to sell or otherwise remove the goats from the farm – they have done their jobs.  The fact that the buck and boar fight to blood also contributed to the decision.

The garden has been put to bed and just a few chores remain there.  One is no wood chip mulch the paths and the other is to clean out the tool shed, which is currently a disorganized mess with tools leaning on it instead of put away inside it!

The weather is always on the mind of a farmer, and we need rain.  This is usually the start of our wet season, but so far not so much.

My adventuring with granny skills has launched a fermentation experiment (kraut, pickles and kombucha) to keep my engaged in learning while trapped inside with the loss of evening daylight.

I also played with making stock from chicken feet.  I have a warning about that, and was very sad that none of the fabulous blog posts or recipes indicated how LONG IT TAKES to peel a chicken foot!  It took me 3 hours to prep them the stock pot.  There was a bit of the learning curve in play as I had to learn how long to scald them to peel them, and I may have started with too many, but pruned sore fingers made finishing an act of will.  Good thing I am a bit stubborn.

But may favorite part of the week is preparing wonderful food for those I love.  I have so much to be gracious for, thankful for, that makes me feel blessed.

Find something this week to bring you joy.

Find something this week to eat that is full of delicious goodness.

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