R * I * P

I had high hopes for today – lots of plans and an expectation that we would get some boxes checked off on the to-do list.  The early morning was pleasant as I walked Venus and Calfie to the back forty to do a mow job in some 5 foot swamp grass.

I got the cows all set up and was making my way back to the barn when my phone rang.

“Aw, man,” I thought to myself, “… must be the emergency service”. (Hey, a modern Farmer has to have a day job, you know!) I slid my phone out of the back pocket and was glad to see the name ‘Wifey.’

I answered and she said right away, “Did you hear, did you hear?…a pig is dead!”

Gasp.

Ugh!

No!!!

I couldn’t believe it!  No way, what happened?

I quickly made my way to the pig pen and could see the same pig was still lying in the same position he had been in when I had passed him with the cows.  Only this time Poet, Comedian and Dimples were nearby.

He was dead.

How?

I gave a quick visual inspection and could see no wounds indicating a predator.

His body was still flexible and he didn’t smell any worse than normal.  The death must have been within the last few hours.

His mouth was not shut all the way and when I pried it open, I saw a long strand of fatty meat jammed in there.  I pulled it out, and out, and out, and it kept coming….for about 8”.

It had choked him.

“Oh no” I thought “the rattlesnake?”  When Helper killed the rattlesnake last weekend I figured it was a good opportunity for free protein, so I cut it up and gave it to the pigs.  They hadn’t seemed very interested in it.  Did he choke on the rattlesnake?

No, it wasn’t the rattlesnake I realized.  It was a long fatty, piece of chicken.

The night before we had thrown some raw chicken out to the pigs.  We weren’t going to eat it and knew they would like it.  It never crossed our minds that chicken could kill a pig.

Sure enough, he had choked on it.  Poor fella must have just kept jamming it in until….he couldn’t breathe.  Choked to death by poultry.  What a way to go.  What a shame.

What do you do with a dead pig of about 60 lbs? 

I didn’t know whether to try and butcher him, feed him to the chickens or just chuck him in the trash can.

I walked around in a stupor for several minutes, finishing up other chores and seriously bummed.  Homemaker did some internet searches on butchering pigs.

We decided we weren’t ready to properly butcher him for human consumption (plus my wife wasn’t too comfortable with us eating him) and besides, we didn’t know how long he had been dead.

But a dissection seemed a good use of this sad situation, so…

Thanks to our new sharp knives, this dissection was like butter.

I hung him up on the old laundry post and began cutting.

Cool intestines.

Not the day we expected or wanted.

To add insult to injury, Braver was dead too.

Death. A homestead reality.

Comedian’s rabbit that Rosy caught….he named him Braver. Well, he had died overnight too.

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

~Habakkuk 3:17-18

Yes, death is a homestead reality but we will take joy in the God of our salvation.

Posted in Challenges, Cows, Farming, Homesteading, Pigs | Leave a comment

He Was Too Fast For Me (But Not For Rosy!)

Yesterday morning as I made my way to the barn to release the cows, something caught my attention in the garden. I glanced over and there he was….

… that waskly wabbit!

What was he doing in there? Eating my veggies for sure!

I trotted over as quickly as I could and hopped the fence. I wanted to catch this little booger – both to keep him out of the garden and to give him to Comedian. He had caught some rabbits several weeks ago and was trying to raise them for meat; but they escaped when the door was left unclasped and he was left heartbroken.

I tried to corner him but he slipped past me. He was trying to jump out of the garden but the chicken wire fence blocked his escape route and bounced him back in time after time. I tried to catch him and was running around like crazed Old Mr McGregor.

We have all loved The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

But he was too fast for me.

I said to myself, “How did Comedian catch those rabbits?”

Ah…a bucket, of course! I glanced over toward the pond where two buckets stood nearby and ran over to fetch one.

I grabbed the bucket and ran back to the rabbit certain I would find success this time around! But as soon as I would get near him, he would slip by me again and again.

He was too fast for me!

Finally after we both were running around in circles going nowhere, he found the way out (which is almost surely the way he came in) – the gate!

The gate is a section of wire fence and is not covered with chicken wire.

He slipped right through the openings at the bottom, which are small but not small enough to keep a young rabbit out.

“Oh well,” I thought. “Let him go.”

But out of the corner of my eye I sensed Rosy taking off after him around the corner of the barn. I wondered if she would be fast enough to catch him?

I made my way into the barn, passed the cows and opened up the “garage” door at the far east side.

Behold, a rabbit on the ground with Rosy nearby! Had she killed him?

I quickly walked over to pick him up and as I was bending over, vroom….up he sprang and ran off to the wild land that borders our front lawn.

As quick as a momma cow moos when she can’t see her calf, Rosy sprinted off like Flo Jo and snagged the rabbit in a heartbeat. Wow! Impressive work. Sign her up for the Kitty Olympics!

This time she kept the critter in her mouth till I was nearby and plopped him down for me to pick up… which I gladly did!

I told Comedian he could either keep the rabbit or I would slaughter him and feed ‘em to the pigs.

Comedian seemed pretty excited to keep him so looks like he’s giving rabbit raising another go.

He was too fast for me, but not for Rosy!

Rosy, our star

Now, that’s what I call turning a problem into a solution!

The waskly wabbit… caught!

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Don’t Waste Your Farming

Ahhh, the good life longed for.  The rustic rooster crowing you to wake in the morning as you casually stroll out to the sweet country breeze driving you along to effortless chores performed with skill and ease…all to the tune of “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning”.

Shiny Red crowing, summoning his girls.

Children by your side laboring heartily with smiles on their faces….

And Homemaker gently calls out from the inside “Come on in y’all, breakfast is on”.

Life in the country, a taste of heaven.

NOT.

Our now crowing meaties.

This is the real world and nothing goes the way we want, when we want or how we want.  The crowing ain’t so rustic when its 20+ birds starting at 4:30 am!

Get the point?

Several years ago John Piper wrote “Don’t Waste Your Life”. I picked up a copy at Goodwill (you’ll find a lot of them there) and actually read some of it.  Good stuff but I don’t have much time for reading and tend to fall asleep when I do.

So I may not have caught all the points but I think the main point was:

Don’t waste your life primarily pursuing temporal things (i.e, you fill in the blank with whatever….food, money, vacations, cars, tractors, cows, super large families, etc).  Rather, spend yourself in relationship with God and finding your joy in knowing and serving Him.  That is the key to not “wasting” your life. (We’ve referred to this concept before.)

Here’s my take on this and how it intersects with our homesteading.

Whether what we are pursuing is good or bad it can, and often does, become an idol.  Idols are bogus and rob us of the joy that is ours when God is on the throne of our hearts.

I don’t want to waste my farming.

I don’t want it to be an idol that drives me to madness in pursuit of the awesome garden or a bountiful cow or  abundant eggs!

But I gotta confess, it’s an idol. 

Oh yeah, big time.

When I snap at the kids for stepping on my babies (veggie plants), or get irritated with the Homemaker when the meal isn’t on the table right when I get in (could have spent more time on another chore), or just get depressed because my idol isn’t satisfying me by performing as I want it to (my garden is an abject failure)…I know it’s an idol!

It has usurped the throne of the only one deserving of that throne.

And it’s my fault!  I put it there!  I did it!

Here’s the thing – you’re no better than me.  You got your own idols so don’t go feeling proud or upright like you’re squeaky clean.

My point is, I don’t want to waste my farming by bowing down to it as if it were God.

It’s only a means of knowing Him better.  It’s only a means of knowing Him better.  It’s only a means of knowing Him better.

Thrice times means for real!

Farming is simply another task that allows me to see and experience God’s goodness, wisdom, kindness, provision, mercy, generosity, faithfulness, patience, love, grace, power, mystery, creativity, wealth, dominion and ever abiding presence.

Farming will never satisfy me.

God will.  Forever.

Posted in Challenges, Daily Life, Farming, Garden, Homesteading | Leave a comment

A Month Ends

A month comes to an end.

We made our goal of posting here every day. Wahoo!

We have an increase of eggs coming in each day AND the ratio of layers to eggs being collected every day is high.

Our meaties are getting bigger and we are planning to cull half of them next weekend and the other half the following weekend. (Bigtime praise as my grocery budget will be affected for the good!!) And soon there will be no crowing at 4:15 in the morning!

Venus is continuing to show signs of edging nearer and nearer to calving. Oh how we look forward to milk again… though it will be a lot more work as well.

Calfie is eating lots of grass and getting thicker around his midsection and is just as playful and wild as can be. We sure do enjoy having him.

Bacon and Sausage are visually getting plumper and amuse us with their playful antics.

Our pullets are healthy, loving the grass and are getting into the groove of having a rooster around since we took two of our meaties and have delegated  them to be roosters for our 50+ soon-to-be hens.

Rosy is still catching mice and allowing kids to pick her up and put her in the red wagon for fun.

Farmer is thankful the kale is growing.

Kids are thankful they’ve been getting a lot of “days off” from school.

And me, I’m thankful for all of the above. And my dishwasher.

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No Breezes, Just Wind

Wind, wind, wind. Does it ever go away? Whistling through windows, bending trees, rustling leaves, and waving long grasses. It really never stops.

At least not on the Trustead.

A few days ago, in the nighttime, I was suddenly awakened by a severe gust of wind, which shook the windows and house. I had a difficult time trying to get back to sleep. You may not believe it, but, it is pretty normal for us now.

However, I wonder if I will ever get used to it.

Wind gusts rattled the windows and caused the house to tremble slightly. Rain drummed steadily in monotonous, loud tones against the roof. I was almost certain that the gale had blown down at least ONE of our trees. But, in God’s mercy, none fell.

As my family often hears me say, “It seems like we never have breezes, just wind.”

We should call where we live the “Gusty Country.” It’s true, we really do live in the gusty country. We now have found out that when you live in the open countryside there is a lot —a lot— of wind.

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Edible Pets?

Does this picture look weird to you?

Yep. That is our pregnant dairy cow IN our backyard.

And Calfie was there as well.
Who needs dogs when a cow can be this much fun?

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Farmsteading – A Poem

Our “farmstead”: the Trustead

Fun times,
Apple trees,
Rainbow rays,
Mink attacks,
Snakes in field,
Tornado warnings,
Escaping calves,
Animal chores,
Dead bunnies,
Inventing strategies,
Nests full of eggs —
GOD IN CONTROL!!!!

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Was This Really Only One Day?

There are only 24 hours in a day. We know this but today it didn’t feel like it. Here’s a glimpse at our wacky, long day.

~Mow, mow, mow. Farmer, Helper and Comedian mowed a ton of the wild area

~Helper, Comedian, and Little Guy were heading back from the field to take a break. Helper was way ahead and he saw something in the grass and walked over it without touching whatever it was. As soon as he was passed it he turned around and saw that the IT was a snake.

Not just any snake, folks, but we think it was one of the three venomous snakes in our area.

After Helper used a shovel and killed the snake, Comedian shows us how long it was.

Say hello to the Yellow Timber Rattlesnake, folks.

While the boys didn’t know that the snake was poisonous, they did react fast.

~Venus was acting super strange. All day she kept walking toward or look at the barn, like she just wanted to be in her stall. Big girl even mooed as she looked longingly at the barn.

Farmer was in the field doing his thing when the littler kids playing in the front scream, “Venus! Venus is coming!” Low and behold, Helper made it right in time to stop Venus, who was free range at that point, walk right in one door of the barn and almost out the other door! Craziness.

Later Farmer checked her out and her breathing was quite fast. And later there was a long strand of mucus dripping from her vulva. We must be getting close for her to give birth.

~Kids had a grand time playing in the water and enjoying the sunshine today. What is funny about this was we didn’t have a a pump to pump up the pools so what did Farmer use? Our shop vac! Got it done!

~Chickens were free range today and always provide entertainment.

Wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Posted in Daily Life, The Country, Uncategorized, What's Up? | Leave a comment

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Out here in big sky country beauty surrounds us.  Both the sunrise and the sunset were awesome today!  I only caught the sunset though.

But it’s not all champagne wishes and caviar dreams here at the Trustead.  We’re redeeming the land and a lot of it is blown out.  Strange items in various states of deterioration and decay abound!

 

Been trying to figure out what this is? Sort of like a gate but its attached to some super long pieces of steel. One day I’ll dig it out and do something with it.

A piece of a concrete drainage pipe. What are you doing here and where did you come from?

The first shed with a roll of old fence I pulled from the first pasture. SO BLOWN OUT! But the cows have been using the first shed since December and don’t seem to mind. I plan to use the roll of fence to fence off a portion of the third pasture. One day…

A lot of wood posts in all sorts of places. These are in one of the sheds. We used 5 posts like these to build “the men’s club”. They’re in decent shape but we have to remove the nails and fence staples/pieces of wire fence from them.

Blown out wood debris that covers a “pond” at the entrance to what would be the fourth pasture or pine tree land as the kids call it. This is the same area where we recently planted potatoes and onions. These posts are huge! I’m guessing they are a solid 12 feet tall!

More of the same. 

What mysterious event happened that resulted in such widespread destruction?

Enough of the Bad and the Ugly….here’s some of the Good!

Tonight’s sunset

Another day of blessings. Grace abounds at the Trustead!

 

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Is the Tide Changing?

How the Lord works. After only gathering a few eggs or so a day, our old birds (the ones who survived the devastating predator attacks) plus four “teenage” new hens we added, we surpassed a dozen eggs today.

FIFTEEN.

What’s better than fresh eggs from happy chickens that eat organic grain and all the bugs they want? Eating it with freshly picked produce (kale!) from your backyard.

Not much to say beyond, THANK YOU, JESUS!

We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Posted in Chickens, Eggs, Garden, In the Kitchen, Praises | Leave a comment