Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Hog Killing

Justin, Wyatt, and I headed over to Woodland, Georgia to the Old South Farm Museum to participate in their annual hog killing class. This is something Justin has been wanting to do for years now and we finally made time to do it. We are both very interested in learning skills that generations past had that are slowly disappearing. I have an aversion to raw meat of any kind (so much so that I use latex gloves if I have to rewrap raw meat bought in bulk) so I elected to just be an observer.
Another thing that is important to us is teaching Wyatt where our food comes from. It is valuable for him to understand the entire process. We have been very open with him in letting him know that we will be killing and eating some of our chickens this summer. One of my friends is a vegetarian because she doesn't feel comfortable eating something she isn't willing to kill herself. I can understand her train of thought, though that has never stopped me from eating a burger or a pork chop.
***These pictures are graphic. Please don't go any further if you don't want to see the process.***

After the hog was killed, participants hoisted it up on a system not unlike one that is used to clean a deer. Dr. Glenn Hill, a meat science expert and a man that has been killing and cleaning hogs for more than 60 years, went through the process step by step. Wyatt even jumped in to help scrape the hair off the hog. He explained how to check the organs for presence of parasites, how to get certain cuts of meat, and the most efficient ways of dealing with problem areas. He said in a processing plant with power tools, he can dress a hog in 12 minutes!
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After the hog was cleaned and cut, we participated in sausage making classes, smoking and curing classes, and even got our own sausage, ham, and cure to take home.
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We ate lunch (barbeque pulled pork of course) from the local church group and spent some time touring the museum. The owner has curated an amazing collection of homestead appliances, farm implements, and other odds and ends. There was the largest collection of barbed wire I have ever seen too!
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Wyatt's favorite part was getting to bottle feed the calf that was there.
The next day, Justin got out the fresh ham and applied the curing agent to start the process of making our own smoked country ham. We have to let this cure sit for 21 days and then let the ham rest for another 20 before it will be transferred into the smokehouse. I can't wait to see how it turns out!
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Friday, February 6, 2015

Winter Garden Bounty

This winter Justin and I grew broccoli, cabbage, onions, turnips, mustards, and collard greens. We had to grab all of the broccoli and put it in the freezer before we got a hard frost but we left the greens and the cabbage in the garden to grow. Wild rabbits and other pests took a hard toll on our turnips, mustards, and onions but the cabbage and collards survived nicely.
It’s almost time to plant potatoes and Justin was itching to get the garden tilled up so I had to harvest the rest of the collards and the cabbage. I was able to get ten or twelve heads of cabbage. I washed them, cut them up, and Justin and I blanched them and put them in freezer quart bags. We got 13 bags to put in the freezer. They aren’t completely full because only Wyatt and I eat cabbage, but there’s plenty in each bag for the two of us.
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I told Justin I didn’t know what the official definition of a “mess of greens” is, but that has to be at least two or three. I cut the thick stems off, washed them well, and put them in the Nesco roaster with some bacon and hog knuckles to cook. After they cooled, I bagged them up in freezer bags as well. This makes for some great meals with very little work!
Our spring and summer gardens will be very ambitious. We have big plans for corn, potatoes, flowers, luffas, pumpkins, gourds, tomatoes, and cucumbers. I also want to plant tons of herbs, especially basil for fresh pesto all summer.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Chick Update #1

Justin and I have been taking care of our 13 chicks that hatched almost a week and a half ago and the speed at which they’re growing is amazing! Justin saw a post on Facebook from the family that sold us our maran eggs that they had some Easter egger chicks that had just hatched last Wednesday. I was so excited with my dark brown eggs, but I have always wanted some blue eggs too so this was perfect. Easter eggers are chickens that are mutts—not a recognized breed—that have the blue egg gene. We traveled to Smithville last Friday night and picked up 11 more chicks (9 EEs and 2 more marans). They are only four days younger than our chicks we hatched but the size difference is amazing! That brings our grand total up to 24.
These yellow fuzzy chicks are adorable!
The next day, Saturday, Justin was working so I was on chickie single mama duty. I noticed two of the chicks seemed like they were a little slower than the others. After some quick internet research on the Backyard Chickens forum, we decided one had a spraddled leg and one had curly toes. We followed everyone’s advice and created some homemade assistance with medical tape. The spraddle leg chick is adapting to its legs being taped, but Baby Curly Toe is resisting its assistance. The toes aren’t staying straight but it doesn’t seem to be affected by them so we are letting time tell. The shiny tape was catching the other chicks’ attention and they were pecking at them so they both got their own brood box for rehabilitation.
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Monday, Justin brought home a brood box someone had given Amanda and Michael. Justin added more wood to the sides and some scrap tin to block the cold wind. We experienced 30 degree cold that night but the sides and heat lamp kept the chicks toasty and warm. He even fitted our quart jar waterer with a large half-gallon Mason jar. These chicks are eating and drinking machines and I was having to refill their water jug twice a day with the quart jar.
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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Fun in South Georgia

I had the opportunity to travel in South Georgia for work and came across this adorable store in Bainbridge called Maiden South. These women renovated an old hair salon and made it into the most unique boutique shop that features artisanal goods from makers all across the South. I snagged up this beautiful print for my Georgia gallery wall.
Last weekend, my mama and I took Wyatt and my nephew Liam to see the Cat in the Hat at the Tift Theater. I was a little weary of the timing—it was 2:00, which is prime Wyatt nap time. It was a short play and the boys loved it. Walls of Books, a local bookstore, was selling hardback copies of the Dr. Seuss book and all of the cast members signed the boys’ books in character. It was great fun!
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After the play, I went back to Mama’s house and played on her Silhouette Cameo. I abide by Reese Witherspoon’s saying, “If it’s not moving, monogram it.” Mama bought the Vine monogram font that I’m partial to so I whipped up a new gold monogram for my car and a few extras for my iPad and laptop. I can’t wait to do more projects on it! I think I’m gonna be spending a fortune on vinyl and heat transfer vinyl in the future!