Captain’s Log – Day 17

Captain’s Log Day 17

Transported large pig to freezer camp a few days ago.  In retrospect, should have researched  “getting a pig into a trailer” prior to transport day.  After a long hour, and much sweat, the captain’s father and myself managed to get the pig onto transport.  Drove an hour and a half to processing facility.  Managed not to cry, but was still pretty sad the rest of the day.

Had ARD meeting for middle offspring at school.  (He has been in a speech program.)  Stressed big time over this meeting because I don’t like confrontation.  Put on my big girl makeup, real pants, and ass kicking boots, and pretended I wasn’t an anxiety ridden mess.  Am okay with outcome, and with prospective action, but not 100% happy with how it went.  However, I feel like I did a damn good job advocating for my child, and I think moving forward he will get the aid he needs.

Expensive show pig still doesn’t trust us.  It is hard to touch her without her running off.  Called in reinforcement from FFA expertise.  She came over and gave us a lot of tips for new mission “Win over show pig”.  End goal being a hearty pig belly rub.

Day after FFA expertise came by, I began belly rub mission while youngest offspring was napping.  Noticed some sores and dry skin on her back that weren’t there before.  Texted FFA expertise for advise on treatment (lotion?) along with pictures.  Diagnosis – Strep.  Immediately google pig strep and assume complete freak out and overwhelming guilt mode.  Just before I am a puddle of goo on the floor, FFA expertise reassures me that this is common and will come by with a shot for the pig.

Planted willow trees that co-captain ordered weeks ago and finally came in.  They were basically sticks.  Unsure if they will remain sticks in the ground, or eventually become trees.  Only time will tell.  Previous record with plants is not reassuring.

Remodeling of master bathroom continues.  I have now been 3 weeks without a bathroom of my own.  I reassure myself this will all be worth it.  Though I greatly fear tripping over toys in the children’s bathtub while trying to shave my legs will result in my untimely demise.

Have agreed to go build a castle out of boxes for preschool class tomorrow morning with both younger offspring in tow.  This is a sure sign my mind is slipping.

4 more sleeps until the co captain returns.  I fear I may not make it.

Captain’s Log – Day 8

Captain’s log – Day 8

One week down.

Week has been fraught with activity and I have not had much time to dedicate to the log.

Have researched freezer camp facilities for ginormous pig and made appointment for Halloween. Procured trailer to transport said pig, and bribed wifeless- for- the- week father with homemade dinner in exchange for his muscles and truck.

Expensive show pig got out once again, this time due to the captain’s negectful gate watching. I’d like to say my pig wrangling skills are improving, but alas I Chased pig no less than three times around the pig pen before she got tired and gave up.

Took children to small town Halloween festival. It was full of adorableness as was expected. Adorableness was slightly offset by youngest offspring’s multiple tantrums and refusal to hold the captain’s hand.

Had award ceremony for middle offspring where he won an award for knowing his abc’s. Tried to facetime the co-captain but had no reception. The captain may or may not have been very distraught about this predicament, but maintained composure. Captain’s parentals were in attendence and provided crucial help looking after smallest offspring, so the captain could watch the ceremony.

Procured supplies for master bathroom retile project. Am unsure of design choices but ready to have gaping ceiling in bathroom remedied, as it has been cold as *€^{ outside. 

Wine supply remains barren. 

Captain’s Log Day #1

(Preface: My husband had to leave to go to Seattle for work for 3 weeks.  I’m blogging about this after the fact, because I don’t like to let the world know when/ if I’m home alone.  Cause serial killers.  And clowns.)

 

Husband left for work this morning.  I will be solo farm hand for 3 whole weeks.  This is a log to chronicle the events going forward, should it need to be used as evidence.

 

Captains Log Day 1.

Plan to keep chickens in coop for a few days so that they relearn where to go to sleep has failed.  Chickens escaped coop because of windy day blowing swaying the barn door open.  Operation “DON’T CHASE CHICKENS EVERY DAMN NIGHT” has now been put back into the think tank for better execution.

Master bath renovation continues.  All demo work finished today.  Copious amounts of mold found because previous owners thought they could DIY the bathroom.  Superfluous amount of bleach used.  Gaping hole in attic is troubling because mice.  Cats assigned overtime duty.

Large pig is now biting and charging expensive show pig through the fence.  Large pig was measured previously and deemed ready to ship out for his final mission.  Researching meat processing and transport is actively in progress.

Made dinner for children.  2 out of 3 ate.  These are successful numbers, and the I am content.

After said dinner, I  looked out our front door to behold expensive show pig wandering outside the pen.  Grabbed scraps, even though it is not in acceptable expensive show pig rations, and boots and hauled ass outside with eldest offspring.  Managed to herd pig back into pen and reinstall the gate she had broken.  Must purchase proper equipment while out tomorrow to fix. Somehow.  Have made makeshift barriers using large pole and extra water trough.  Hoping this is adequate.

Offspring in bed late because of expensive show pig escape.  However,  all offspring still living and in relatively good health and spirits.

One cat has returned for the night from its outdoor endeavors.  2 remain in the elements.  I’m not f&#^ing chasing them in the pitch dark night.  I will wait for them to return of their own volition, or they can find other quarters for the night besides the captains king size bed.

Wine stock was woefully neglected in preparations.  Please send supplies.

The New Homestead “appliance”

Part of our “journey” living country life is to become more self-sufficient.  We aren’t crazy doomsday preppers.  I don’t have an entire closet full of MRE’s and ammunition or anything.  I’m not busy building an underground bunker.  But, being able to rely less on modern practices is really what we are aiming toward.

Growing food.  Raising livestock. Reducing our energy consumption.

Some of my subdivision friends may think I’ve gone off my rocker with this next little bit of news, especially the fact that I’m giddy with excitement over it.

We purchased a clothesline!  EEEEEPPP!!!

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Wait, where ya going?  Come back here!  I know I have 3 kids and dirty clothes bursting from every laundry basket!  It’s okay!  I WANTED this!  😉

Partly, because of the overflowing laundry baskets is why I wanted a clothesline.  Did you know that apart from your water heater (if electric) and air conditioner (if you have one), your dryer is the next biggest energy sucker?  Yup.  Not to mention that it exudes heat in the summertime.  In Texas, this is no joke, y’all.  That right there is enough reason for me to want to hang out my clothes.  Lets USE the FREE dryer, the sun!

But aside from that….. don’t call the men in white coats please… I enjoy it.  That’s right.  I ENJOY hanging out clothes.  Probably because it is one of the few times no one will bother me.  For some reason, no one is jumping out there to help me!  I’m standing in the warm sunshine, smelling the fresh laundry, and its a wonderful time to clear my head.  When I was first married, we lived in London.  It’s not common practice to have a dryer there, so hanging was all we could do.  There was literally no space in our small kitchen to put one.  We lived in several different places since then.  When we bought our first home, I was excited to get to put a clothes line up in our back yard, but found out I couldn’t due to HOA restrictions.  Ugh.  Don’t get me started on HOA.  So my next house, I vowed wouldn’t be in an HOA and I’d get my dang clothesline.

I know it’s probably a pretty silly thing to get excited over, especially as I’m sure most would be WAY more excited about a new electric dryer!  What can I say, I’m a simple girl.  Sort of.

 

 

(For anyone wondering, I purchased this clothesline from Sunshine Flagpole.  They are not in any way affiliated with this post.  I do recommend them though!)

Chicken Processing (Don’t worry, no graphic pictures)

***DISCLAIMER: There are NO graphic/gory pictures in this post.  There is a picture of the finished chickens at the end, in plastic bags, but they don’t look any different from what you would get at the grocery store.  HOWEVER, I will go into some detail about my experience and what the process was.  So, if you’re not down for that, please just skip this post.***

 

Chicken processing. Chicken harvesting.  Chicken killing.

However you say it, it means you have taken the life of a chicken in order to eat it.  That’s what I did on Saturday for the first time.

(I know not everyone will agree with doing this, or even eating meat in general.  I understand that and respect that.  I hope you will do the same for me as I explain my experience through this process. )

My friend, Misti, and I had been planning on doing this for weeks.  Neither of us have ever done anything like this before, so we were both understandably nervous.  But we set the day and time.  Saturday. 1 o’clock.  Her house.

As I’ve mentioned before, my neighbors have their house up for sale, so I wasn’t comfortable processing them here, in case they had a showing.  (Trying to be a good neighbor here, guys.)  She had also already gathered the equipment we would need, so it made sense to do it at her place.  We hauled the birds over to her house a couple of weeks ago in preparation for Saturday.

What equipment do you need to process chickens?  We decided on the “killing cone” method, so she purchased one of those.  A killing cone is a large metal cone device you attach to a wall or a try by screws.  This is where you put the bird to end its life and let it bleed out. You also need a big pot of hot water, and so a heat source as well.  Then you just need a very sharp knife.  That’s it.  Simple enough right?  I mean, this is what we learned from YouTube.  Where basically you can learn to do ANYTHING.  That includes killing and processing a chicken.  Who knew??

So I arrive at Misti’s house and she has quite a bit already set up.  The killing cone was attached to a tree.  (By the way, her kids thought it was be HILARIOUS to write things on the cone.  Such as “Chicken Killer 5000” and “Murder your pet chicken with ease!”…. thanks kids.)  We started simmering the water, and then, I’ll be real with you, we downed a beer.  Because this type of thing takes liquid courage, y’all.

Misti went to the coop and grabbed the first chicken.  She held it on its back to calm it, and we both blubbered baby talk to it, petting it.  It was looking like this wasn’t going to be something we could do.  After a few minutes of this, we finally put the chicken into the cone and stretched its neck to pop out the bottom.  The chicken was perfectly calm.

We were a damn wreck.  I was holding the knife at this point, and COMPLETELY WIMPED OUT.  I shoved it to Misti and was like “I can’t do the first one, you’re going to have to do it, dude.”  She, being probably the nicest person in the whole freaking world, was like, “Okay that’s fine”.  She was trying to buck up the courage to do the deed and was struggling.  I kept trying to be a good cheerleader and say “You can do this Misti!  It’s okay, it will be quick.  You can do it!”.  After what seemed like hours (it was probably less than two minutes), I finally found my grit again, and said, “Okay, if you hold it, I’ll cut.”

So before I could wimp out again, I did it.  I slit a chicken’s throat.  I killed it.  It wasn’t as horrible as I thought.  I mean, it was gruesome, but it was also peaceful.   The chicken was dead within a second or two, and bled out completely within a minute.

The next step was to take the chicken and dunk it for several seconds in very hot water to loosen the feathers.   Once the feathers loosened from the hot water, we plucked it.  Next, it was time to do the actual processing. Honestly, at this point, it didn’t bother me anymore.  It was just meat.  It looked like any other chicken from the grocery store.

We really relied on our YouTube education at this point.  We knew where to cut, what to be careful NOT to cut, and how to remove the internal organs.  The most disturbing part about this part was when you had to reach in and pull them out, because it was still warm.  Yeah, that part was pretty disturbing.  We didn’t bother keeping things like the liver, heart, and gizzards, because frankly, we don’t personally eat those.  You can use them for stock, but at this point we just wanted to get this done.  The first bird took about an hour from start to finish.

The next 5 birds went much quicker, and it was easier each time.  Though still very unpleasant.  Plus we had a couple of birds that flapped out of the cone (this was after they were already dead.  It was just muscle jerks), and sent us running and yelling.  I’m sure that was actually pretty comical to watch, though was pretty damn traumatic in the moment.

At the end of it all, we each took three birds.  They are resting in my fridge now, and one will be on our plate tomorrow.  The rest are going in the freezer.  I definitely couldn’t have done this without a partner in crime, and it was really good to have someone there who was as nervous as I was, and who took the gravity of the situation as serious as I did.

My take away from the experience:

I take no joy in killing a living creature.  However, I’m proud of myself for rising to a challenge, and for learning a new skill.  I’m happy these birds had a fulfilling life, and lived as chickens are meant to live.  They free ranged, scratched around in the dirt, and had a pretty happy existence.  I’m happy to know that the food I’m going to eat has fared better than any grocery store chicken.  I understand the gravity of the decision to eat meat, and have gained more respect for my food.

Will I do this again?  Yes.  I may not choose this breed again (Cornish Cross).  Well, not that I actually CHOSE it in the first place, considering I was told they weren’t meat birds at purchase.  :/  I may choose a slower growing bird next time.  Honestly, I can’t say for certain at this point in time.  I’ll be putting more research into it through the winter before I reach a final decision.  But I WILL absolutely raise and process meat birds, at least for our own family’s consumption, next year.

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Whirlwind

Whirlwind.  That’s really the only way to describe the last 6 weeks or so.  When people say living on land/farm/acreage (whatever you want to call it, it still feels weird to say “farm” to me) is work, they aren’t kidding around.  But, its the best kind of work.

Needless to say, blogging about the experience so far has been put on the back burner!  We have been working to get things unpacked, planning fence lines, researching animals, and even getting a few along the way.

We picked up a couple of kittens who will eventually be our barn cats a couple of weeks ago.  (I keep telling myself YES THEY WILL BE BARN CATS over and over again… to convince myself it will happen when I have a lap full of purring sweeties.)

Their names are “Cya” and “Later”.  (Our other cat  is named “Howdy”, and the greeting names all started with my first cat, “Hello”.)

It turns out the previous owners left two chickens on the property.  Charl (my oldest) has named them “Henny” and “Petunia”.  No clue where he got those names, but they are pretty darn adorable.  After finding an entire HOARD of eggs (19!) they had been hiding, and clearing that out, much to their dismay, they are now regularly laying in their hen boxes.  We get 1-2 eggs a day!  It’s the boys job to go collect the eggs every morning, and so far, they seem to really like their new chore.

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We also got some 3 day old chicks to add to our flock!  They are Leghorns and should be really good layers when they mature! (Did you know Leghorn is actually pronounced “Leggern”?  I always assumed it was pronounced like Foghorn Leghorn! Ha ha!  Learnign new things every day!)  Right now we are enjoying watching them grow.  Its baffling how quickly they grow!

We also found a good deal on a used tractor.  And you know whats crazy?  I learned how to operate it!  Auger and all!  Ha ha!  Had you asked me at the beginning of this year if I would know how to operate a tractor by the end of the summer I’d have laughed right in your face.

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(Full disclosure.  That hanging plant is now dead.  My gardening skills need some serious work.)

Our dogs are still at their “grandparents” house most of the time, until we get our fence up.  But when they are out of town, they get to come home to us for a few days.  These city dogs have taken to country life like fish to water.  Watching them run full speed and splash in the pond is really heart warming.  I wonder if they think they hit the dog jackpot?

 

While Gerhard has been busy outside fence building, fishing, and tractoring, I’ve been busy inside trying to get things unpacked, furniture placed, and rooms painted.  So far, I’ve managed to get my sewing room and Lillian’s room painted and mostly set up.  (Because, lets face it, those are the funnest rooms!)  I’ll do a specific post for sure on my sewing room when I have it all finished and organized.  Here’s a progress pic for now!

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And Lillian’s room, which is mostly done.  I have a large wall I still need to figure out decor for, and would like to eventually get a little rug to put in there at some point.

 

Our fencing is coming along slowly but surely.  Rain, a broken spring pin or two in the auger, and a housewarming party have slowed things down.  We have all the posts set, and started working on setting tposts today.  Still a long way to go, but hopefully there won’t be too many more setbacks.  Fingers crossed!

Well, my coffee is gone, and its time to start getting to work!  If you’d like to follow us on Instagram, click here!  I post very often over there.  🙂

New Beginnings

Hi there.

Well, it looks like we bought a farm.  So I thought I’d start a little blog, to record our adventures, mishaps, and just general goings on.

I’ll start with the beginning.  Because that’s where we are at.  😉

A few weeks ago, my parents moved 15 minutes away from us.  This is a BIG deal, because my entire adult life, I’ve lived no closer than a 3 hour drive from them, and as far as a 12 hour plane flight.  We are a close knit family, so when they announced they would be moving from their hometown (where they’d lived practically their entire life) to the town over from us, we were ecstatic to say the least.  We went through the typical ups and downs of real estate purchasing as they looked.  (Here in north Texas, its a HOT market, so its kind of stressful.)  They found a beautiful home, and then finally moved here.  Yay!  Roller coaster over!!

Or not.

A couple of days after they moved, we happened to see a property pop up online.  (My husband looks periodically at land prices, etc.)  It was gorgeous.  Perfect.  Except on the high side of our price point.  Ugh.  Well, my parents encouraged us to make an appointment to go view it.  “Just to see”.  So the next morning, we left the kiddos at their house and drove to the property.  Inside and out it was perfect.  PERFECT.  Literally my dream home, and my husband’s dream property.  Almost 12 acres.  A large shed.  2 ponds.  A pig pen and small barn already set up.  Inside the home, it had wood floors, a larger kitchen than I have now, 3 bedrooms, and an “office” space.  Lets also talk about the wrap around porch??  DREAMY.

We fell in love.  We schemed.  We crunched numbers.  We discussed.  We said no.  We said yes.  We said we were crazy.  We put in an offer.

The next day, we negotiated back and forth with the sellers.  They ended up meeting us halfway (which is what we hoped).  BAM.  We were in option period.  I scheduled the inspection.  I KNEW it would fall through.  I just knew it.  Something was going to be horribly wrong.  Multiple leaks.  Falling into a sinkhole.  Sewage draining into the master bedroom.  Something.

The inspection came back.  VERY good.  A few things we requested to be fixed or have an allowance to be fixed.  They agreed to it all.  We couldn’t believe it.  It’s happening!!  We were going to buy our dream home!!

Fast forward to closing a couple of weeks later.  Simple. Easy.  Done.

Now we just wait to move in.  I am insanely busy setting up utilities, packing up a house of 5 people, and trying to help my parents, who are still UNPACKING.  I basically help them empty boxes, then take them home to fill them back up again.  It’s kind of an insane environment around here right now.  It still doesn’t seem real.  We are going to LIVE there.  Its OURS.  We take possession on July 1st.  Then movers come July 2nd to move everything.  Maybe then it will feel real?

If you’ve made it this far, thanks.  🙂  If you’d like to follow what we are doing at our farm, feel free to subscribe to this blog.  Hopefully I will find the time to write here.  I hope you’ll join in on our journey.

Welcome to Hatch End Homestead.  🙂