Firewood

The smell of fall is in the air. Nights are getting cooler, leaves are turning colors, and the buzz of chainsaws fill my ears. It must be time to start cutting firewood and Lucian is super excited.

I like heating our house with wood because:

chainsaw equipment machine tool

Photo by Matej on Pexels.com

  • Wood is a renewable resource.
  • The house stays warmer.
  • It is less expensive than propane or natural gas.
  • I have to go outside.
  • You are heated twice with wood heat. Once while you cut, split, and haul it and twice when you burn the wood.

I prefer wood heat to other heat sources but there are a few disadvantages to using wood heat.

  • I have to go outside.
  • I have to cut, split, haul, and stack the wood.

You will notice that I have these items on both of my lists. We have an outdoor wood boiler which is a stove that heats water outside then pumps it into the house. The house is heated by the hot water and it is insurable because the wood stove is not inside the house. Insurance companies hate wood stoves inside your house, unfortunately. I both like and dislike having to go outside. It depends on the weather, fussiness of the kids, and if I just want to go to sleep rather than bundling up to fill the fire before bed. If it has been sleeting and is icy I try to convince Trenton to fill the wood stove before he goes to bed but usually we take turns.

Also there are days where I enjoy the process of cutting, splitting, hauling, and stacking firewood but there are other days where I want the job to complete itself. If it is sunny, cool and the kids are cooperative I enjoy being outside working but if it’s hot, cold or if the kids are fussy butts I just don’t feel like doing firewood that day. I guess it depends on the mood of the weather, the kids, and me.

Overall I enjoy using firewood for heat and we have already started working on our pile for the winter. I have a few blisters to show for it too. Last year I was pregnant with Penelope so Trenton did most of the work himself but I’m ready to help this year. Trenton cut a few logs for the kids and I to work on splitting and stacking during the week. After Lucian is done with school we go out there and work on it and Fiona, who is 2, likes to help load the wagon with smaller pieces of wood.

This may be a bit weird but working on firewood is Lucian’s favorite thing to do. He asks to work on firewood before and after school. He is planning to use his four wheeler to haul firewood and Trenton obligingly welded a hitch to it so he can pull the wagon. Fiona likes to help too but she does not have his enthusiasm for the work. She likes horses and wants to ride them all the time. Thank goodness our horse, Jack, is great with kids.

We have also had our first firewood related accident for the year. Lucian was putting tools away and dropped a splitting wedge on his toe. A splitting wedge is a heavy triangular shaped piece of metal used to pound into big, stubborn pieces of wood to split them. It warranted a trip to the ER but he did not need stitches and the toe is not broken. He did have to wear a medical boot for about a week so he did not bump his little toe on anything. Lucian was a bit animated about it because it was just like the one Grandma Linda is wearing. He will, hopefully, remember forever now that he has to have real shoes on when he is out working with wood. We have invested in a nice pair of workbooks for his little feet.

Advertisements

Pig Roast

Each of our children have been baptized  the summer after they were born. After the church service we have a big lunch with family and friends outside in the yard. For Penelope’s baptismal lunch we decided to raise a pig for a pig roast. Neither Trenton or I have ever roasted or butchered a pig ourselves so it was an experience.

dirty animal farm farmer

Photo by mali maeder on Pexels.com

We have been attempting to be a little more self-sufficient and a large part of that is raising and processing our own food. In the garden it is growing, pickling, and freezing vegetables. With the animals it means collecting eggs and deciding when an animal is ready to be harvested. The pigs are ready to be harvested.

The shear amount of time that goes into the process of roasting a pig is amazing. If the pork wasn’t so delicious we would  never roast another pig.

Initial steps before roasting:

  1. Shoot the pig (I’m throwing in this obvious first step just because I can!)
  2. Hang the pig to drain the blood.
  3. Gut the pig.
  4. Remove the lower legs at the knees.
  5. Decide if you want the skin and the head on. (Penned pigs are not the cleanest animals so the thought of leaving the skin on grosses me out a little.)
  6. We decided to remove the skin and head.
  7. Let the pig hang for a few hours. (Meat needs to hang for a while to be safe to eat. We put bags of ice into the cavity of the pig to help it cool and wrapped it in a sheet to keep the meat clean.)
  8. While the meat is hanging collect herbs, spices, and juices you want to use on the pig.
barbecue bbq beef brown

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I was at work for the first 6 steps and Grandma Linda watched the kids. My Dad, Darin, came out to help Trenton which was great because we had never done anything like it before. Dad has been handling various livestock for my whole life so he has 30+ years of experience in processing different animals. To give an example of the amount of time it takes to prep a pig for slow roasting he came out to the house at 3ish and we got the pig on the roaster at about 9:30. When the kids and I got home Lucian was fascinated to find a pig carcass hanging from the skid steer and had a million questions for his papa.

The hanging weight of our pig was 150 Ibs which we soon discovered was too big for the roaster we borrowed. We removed the hams and Dad took home. If we decide to cook another pig it will be smaller.

After the pig hung for a few hours it was time to heat up the roaster and spice the pig. We spiced the pig by:

  • Applying a rub of brown sugar and various spices
  • Slicing holes in the meat and inserting pickled garlic cloves and onions.
  • Placing onions, apples, and garlic in the center of the pig.
  • Filling the dripping pans with apple juice to sweeten the meat and add extra flavor.

Trenton stayed up all night watching the pig and adding charcoal every hour or so. Halfway through the night he flipped it somehow. Penelope and I were sleeping so I haven’t a clue how he managed it. He woke me up at about 5 and I took over so he could sleep for a couple hours before we had to go to the church. Penelope woke up shortly after so she was outside with me in the stroller. We divided our time between getting morning chores done and checking on the pig. At about 8:30 it temped out so we let it pitter out while we were in church.

It was amazingly delicious and quiet a few family members snitched meat before it even made it into the roaster pans. I know I had my fair share before lunch started. My thoughtful sisters provided gallon sized bags for people to take pork home and we still had almost a full roaster full afterward for ourselves.

Overall, I think it went well and it was definitely a learning experience that we may repeat with a smaller pig.

Fresh Goat Cheese

Fresh goat cheese adds flavor to many recipes that would not be the same without it. The main problem is that fresh goat cheese is expensive and how fresh is it really?

Making fresh goat cheese is a great way to use your goat milk and to turn your raw milk into a great product. I thought I would share my recipe for fresh goat cheese.

This recipe needs to be started at night because the cheese making process is a long one.

  1. Heat 1 gallon of fresh goat milk to 70 degreeskimg0410
  2. Dissolve 1/4 tablet WalcoRen in 1 cup water
  3. Add 1 1/2 cups yo-goat. (See Yo-Goat post)
  4. Stir well
  5. Add rennet/water mixture to warmed milk
  6. Stir until curds form
  7. Place in an insulated box for 12 hours

I usually make cheese at night after Lucian and Fiona go to sleep. Penelope has been my helper the last few times I have made cheese but since she is 6 months old now and starting to grab at things it is a little hazardous holding her while stirring. Soon she will be banished to her bouncy seat when stirring is necessary.

In the morning:

  1. Use a cheese clothe or butter muslin to drain whey from curd.

    bread with cream on top

    Photo by Aistė Sveikataitė on Pexels.com

  2. Hang curd in cheese clothe for 4-6 hours.
  3. Form into molds. I use muffin tins double lined with paper cups.
  4. Turn every hour or so.
  5. After 2-4 hours cheese is ready.

I like to sprinkle a little cheese on a salad or pizza. There are many uses for goat cheese and finding what works best for your taste buds is the fun part!

Meet Melody

We bought our hobby farm in May of 2013 and brought my horse, Jack, home to it in July of that year after we had fences up. Since that time he has been the only horse on the property. He gets a little company from the goats but honestly he ignores their presence and barely tolerates them most days. He can be a bit grouchy and not just because he is now 22. He has always been a bit cranky and set in his ways. I do believe stubbornness is an Appaloosa trait.

We finally decided it was time for Jack to have company. For the last year we have been keeping our ears and eyes open for a good fit for our hobby farm and last week we finally found one.

Her name is Melody and she is a 15 year old Haflinger. MelodyWe picked her up from Bridget the neighbor girl who has done chores for us while we were on vacation. She is going to be going to college this week and of the kids in her family she was the only one interested in keeping the horses. So her family made the decision to rehome their three horses. Of the three Melody was the healthiest and the most rideable.

It may sound a little hard-hearted of me but even if all the horses were free I really only wanted the one that I could ride and that wouldn’t need a large vet bill to maintain. I honestly cannot afford an animal I can’t use in some way. Many people believe horses are just hay burners but I enjoy going out on long rides with Jack so he is worth every penny I spend on hay. We picked her up Wednesday evening and started introducing her to Jack.

A few things to keep in mind when introducing a new animal:

  1. First, keep the new animal in a separate pen so they can see, hear, and smell each other without being able to touch. This allows the animals to become accustomed to the sight, sound, and scent of the other animal without fighting.
  2. Secondly, they are going to fight. Even after letting the animals become accustomed to each other from afar they will fight when put together. There is no getting around this fact. Dominance needs to be established, personalities need to be discovered, and boundaries need to be set but if they are put together right away they will fight more than if they become accustomed to each other from a distance.
  3. Lastly, remember that new animals do not know where the fences are so it is a good idea to walk them around the perimeter or remark the fence lines with fencing tape so the wires are clearly visible.

I have been present for horse introductions many times and I will say that introducing Melody to Jack was very easy. They didn’t fight very much and they seemed interested in each other in a good way and were willing to make friends. On Jack’s side of things Melody is a girl so of course he wants to be friends.

Melody is a Haflinger which is a smaller horse but not quite classified as a pony. She is small and stocky with big feet but because of her size she is not suitable for Trenton to ride. We decided when we were still thinking of getting her that she would be a family kid’s horse which means all the kids are welcome to be part of riding her, feeding her, and generally taking care of her if they wish to enjoy going out for rides. My niece, Aurora, is super excited about it and Fiona wants to ride her so bad. I have not gotten a chance to take her out yet to see how she does so the kids are not allowed on her until then. We did tie both horses to the hitching post to brush them, clean feet, and fit Melody to a saddle. She did well considering we had extra kids around that day so the session also worked to desensitizing Melody to having kids run around. Jack looked as if he could fall asleep while Melody watched everything intently but kept herself calm.

I think it will work nicely having another horse to keep Jack company and for the kids to ride out with me. The only reservation I have is that it may be difficult to ride out with only one horse. I believe the other will throw a fit, well, Jack will anyway. He is a notorious fit thrower.