KW Homestead

Pasture Raised Poultry from Our Family to Yours

Tag: homesteading (page 1 of 4)

On Catching Pigs (Almost)

We didn’t get him.

We came close, oh so close, but we didn’t get him. The pig that is.

His number has come up, and our plan was to isolate him for a few days before the deed was done, but after an exciting evening complete with blood, sweat , and tears, we didn’t get him.

silvopastured pigs

“Yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as Bacon should not be highly rated.” ~Thomas Paine

 

Morning Chores!

We put together a short video of our morning homestead chores.

Emma feeds, waters, and lets the chickens out (both the laying flock and the teenage cockerels), while Jason feeds, waters and checks on the ducklings and the pot belly pigs.

The geese are okay until the afternoon, when they get some food, fresh water, and maybe a paddock shift.

Our morning routine is going to change somewhat when our batch of heritage turkey poults arrive, and also when our ducks graduate form the brooder to their new shelter.

*Don’t forget to pre-order your GMO Free Heritage Turkey for Thanksgiving!

Birthday Reflections: Why I Love Living on a Homestead in the Country

Today is my 29th birthday, and I thought it would be a good (and fun) time to reflect on our almost 2 years in our house in the country…

These are just a few of the many reasons why I love living in the country on our homestead:

  • When the seasons change, you get to witness them in full color and bloom!
    tree

    Our blooming Bradford Pear; Bolt loves the spring too!

     

  • Where else to have our wedding except on our own land?!
    fall homestead wedding

    Our wedding.

     

  • That drive home from the city… When I leave the lighted ares of the world and finally get to the dark… Then I feel like I’m home.
  • Being able to use our land the way we want without anyone telling us otherwise. Gardens, animal fences, etc.
    garden

    Growing cucumbers in the garden.

    fence

    A yard full of chickens!

     

  • Having an entire fridge in the basement dedicated to chicken eggsduck eggs (in the future), and beer.
    fridge

    Eggs and beer!

     

  • Having an entire freezer in the basement dedicated to venison.
    meat

    Oh, meat!

     

  • Having all the animals we want without thinking about city ordinances, etc.
    geese

    Those crazy geese!

     

  • Being able to explore all of the crazy, old outbuildings we have and search for treasures inside!
    corn crib

    The awesome corn crib!

     

  • Having acres and acres of land to explore.
    woods

    Walking in the woods!

     

  • Knowing that our children will have lots of space to explore, run, play,and grow.
  • Feeling like our project ideas are endless and boundless.
  • And many, many more reasons that cannot all be stated here…

    tree and love

    Happy at home!

.:.

“On The Anatomy of Thrift”: An Inspirational Video Series from the Farmstead Meatsmith

I want to share some amazing videos that Emma and I watched the other night. It’s a mini web series from the Farmstead Meatsmith, an artisanal butcher shop that focuses on the long lost traditions of home butchery, charcuterie and real food.

On the Anatomy of Thrift is a collection of 3 informational yet inspirational videos on pork butchery. It covers (and shows in detail) every part of a hog harvest, from killing to cooking. Brandon Sheard, the farmstead meatsmith, takes the viewer on a mesmerizing trip with stops at evisceration, cooking offal (the perishable organs like hearts, livers, lungs and kidneys), identifying and parting out specific cuts, making old fashioned delicacies (pate, blood sausage, and rilletes), and preserving pork flesh by curing hams and making bacon.

If you, like me, have carnivorous tendencies (and aren’t too squeamish) than I highly suggest you check out these videos. They really are stunning. The production is great, and Brandon’s passion is extremely contagious. Emma and I immediately started day dreaming about making bacon, prosciutto, lard and pate from our future pig production.

I can assure you that we will take Brandon’s techniques and philosophies to heart, and utilize every part of every pig we butcher. To do anything else would be a disservice to the animal, a waste.

*Don’t forget to pre-order your GMO Free Heritage Turkey for Thanksgiving!

Pigs!

It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to the newest members of Kuska Wiñasun Homestead! The Pigs!

pot bellied pigs homestead

New Pigs on the homestead

This weekend we jumped on an offer to buy a breeding trio of Asian Heritage Hogs (aka Pot Bellied Pigs) and 4 piglets. The two beautiful ladies above are sisters, and they are mated to Gandalf. According to their previous owner they are proficient procreaters and have been successful at raising litters of 7-11 piglets multiple times per year.

Now, we were so excited to get these guys that we kind of underestimated what it took to load, transport and unload a passel of pigs. Our original plan was to load the big guys into our small trailer, and the little guys in the back of our pickup. Well, to keep a long story short, all hell broke lose.

At first, we tried to guide/cajole the pigs up a ramp and into the trailer. This resulted in all of the pigs escaping as they barreled through walls, and over and under the makeshift fences we tried to use as chutes.

So then after about 20 minutes of chasing down pigs, we tried again. The idea this time was to manhandle the sisters into the trailer by grabbing their back legs and walking them up wheelbarrow style.

Yeah, that didn’t work either. Instead, we were treated to the loudest most horrifying squeals of bloody-pig-murder, and when we finally got 1 onto the trailer, she immediately barreled through our lame attempts to keep her there, and again, we had to chase pigs.

I don’t know how we finally got them on the trailer. But we did. The two girls that is. Gandalf, tusks and all, was still waiting. We decided not to risk letting the other ladies out and opted to load Gandalf into the back of our enclosed pickup truck.

Yet again, we concocted a plan that involved ramps, chutes, and makeshift walls out of plywood, pallets, and bales of straw. For some reason we thought that if we let him out near the back of truck we could use wooden shields to guide him up the ramp and into the back of the truck. Ha.

This turned out to be a pretty exhilarating 5 minutes of life. I feel like I combined my years playing shortstop, with some unbeknownst to me skill as a rodeo clown, to somewhat successfully not get gored and block Gandalf’s attempted escapes. But escape he did, and after another round of chasing pigs, we eventually pinned him down, grabbed him by the legs and flipped him into the truck like a sack of potatoes.

3 down, 4 to go.

Again, not wanting to risk any escapes, we decided to transport the piglets in the back of our SUV. The plan was to catch them, one at a time, and carry them to the car to be loaded through the hatchback window. I’m sure you can guess how this turned out.

Squeals of bloody-pig-murder and chasing escaped pigs? You betcha!

permaculture pot bellied pigs

Pigs on a blanket

We finally got them all, and after 1 hurdled over the back seat and almost got loose, we headed home, all 7 pigs in tow.

We got home fine, set up a temporary pig house made out of cattle panels and chicken wire, and successfully unloaded all of the pigs with a shade less hilarity and emotion.

pot belly pigs homestead

Gandalf and his buddies

They are currently enjoying a nice patch of yard where they are helping to eradicate some poison oak and happily munching on acorns, old apples, and cull sweet potatoes while they plot their escape.

 

 

A Mushroom Log Update

Since inoculating our shiitake mushroom logs and watering them and watching them for the first few months, we’ve been pretty much ignoring those things, waiting for them to fruit.

A few months ago, we saw one mushroom rearing its head, but it never got very big and no more appeared after that. We knew that it was possible that the logs would not fruit in the fall, instead waiting for the spring thaw to begin coming out, but it was still disappointing nonetheless.

I just checked on them today while I was getting firewood, and still they look the same. Now, in the 20 degree weather, is certainly not a time they would choose to come out, but I was still curious to look!

logs

Mushrooms logs, looking the same as ever.

A few months ago we noticed that a few of the logs were growing a lichen on their bark, which could mean that the shiitake spores couldn’t/didn’t act fast enough inside the log to take it over before the lichen gained control. These logs might not fruit for us, and we didn’t want them the spread the lichen to any of the other logs, so we moved them a little but away from the bunch.We’ll see what they do!

lichens

Taken over by lichens!

As we get closer to spring, and when we get some warmer days here, I plan to hose them down a good bit to make sure the spores inside don’t totally dry out. Since we’re new at this, I’m afraid that the spores that are growing inside the logs might have already dried out too much, killing them. This could just be my worry talking, but we’ll find out in a few months, I suppose! Hopefully once the spring thaw begins, we’ll have more shiitake than we know what to do with! Eating the wild Lion’s Mane mushrooms got us so excited, and we can’t wait for some more mushrooms!

.:.

 

Bolt’s New Cattle Panel Fence!

Bolt has a new fence! We built him a cattle panel and t-post fence in the backyard so he can stretch his legs a bit and burn off some extra energy.

cattle panel dog fence

bolt enjoying his new fenced in area

We used 16 foot  welded wire cattle panels to enclose approximately 1/6 acre. We secured them to 6.5 ft. metal t posts that were pounded a few feet into the ground with a heavy duty post driver. A pair of bolt cutters helped to make three easy access gates, 1 to the garden, 1 to the corn crib/wood shed, and 1 to the side yard.

cattle panel fence

cattle panels make great fences for sloped land and small spaces

This fence also fences in our backyard food forest, and forms 1 edge of a future garden fence/chicken moat. I for one am excited to do some more fencing on the property, particularly fencing that establishes and defines permaculture zones and use areas. The fencing also can serve as a trellis for grapes, air potatoes, kiwis and even annual climbing vines.

cattle panel fence

I highly recommend cattle panel fencing to any homesteader out there needing to fence in a small area. They are easy to put up, take down, and last for decades. Stay tuned for a more in depth post on exactly how 1 person can put up a whole lot of fence in a short period of time with cattle panels.

Cattle Panels for Bolt’s Fence

We have a new batch of cattle panels at the homestead ready and waiting to be put to use. Cattle panels are a versatile farm tool and can be used for fencing, trellising, flood gates, or even greenhouses. They are 16 feet long, about 4 feet high and have rows of welded 5 gauge steel wire that make 6 or 4 inch boxes. These babies are strong, and with some t-posts, can fence in/out bulls, goats, dogs, and men.

cattle panel dog fence

16 foot cattle panels and t-posts will make up bolt’s new fence

We have used these panels as part of our movable chicken coop, and our portable goose enclosure. It’s easy to tie chicken wire or bird netting to the panels as an extra later of protection for small animals and birds. The panels are sturdy enough to stand on their own if made into a small square or circle, but light enough that 1 person can heft them from place to place.

We’re going to use these new panels to fence in a section of our backyard as a dog yard for Bolt. We’ll pound in 6.5 ft. t-posts and create an area that he can safely run around and exercise in. This will also fence in some of our food forest, and form one part of a future garden fence–a chicken moat perhaps.

These panels should last 50 years easily and are well worth the 16-20 dollar cost. They hold their value well, and used ones never seem to sell for much of a discount, so they make a good homestead investment and definitely deserve a place on small farms across the country.

adding a donkey to the family: why?

so the donkey quest has begun… through research, at least! we just got our great, new donkey book in the mail, donkeys: small-scale donkey keeping by anita gallion.

donkey

this donkey isn’t jack-jack, but he sure looks like him!

i’ve wanted a donkey ever since i volunteered at a horse rehabilitation center, about 5 years ago. the one donkey that they had there was a perfectly healthy, hilarious gelding (castrated male donkey) named jack-jack. he would stand by the fence and bray until i would come over to him and pet him or feed him, and the first few times i interacted with him he made me nervous simply because he was so pushy and snugly. he was a downright attention addict. i wasn’t sure why he was at the farm, but the owner told be that he had been brought to a horse sale, very skinny and obviously malnourished. the first owners couldn’t afford to take care of him anymore, and although the owner of the farm already had many other sick, crippled, or old animals, she decided she had to take him too (she was just that kind of animal-loving person).

after he lived at the rehabilitation farm for a while, he gained his weight back and became a thoroughly healthy, spunky fool. he quickly became the personality of the group, and even became good friends with the giant and very blind percheron draft horse named ophelia. jack-jack often led the other blind or old horses around the field and would sometimes even intervene when the socially bizarre horses were doing something crazy… usually repetitive walking or chewing behavior because of past trauma or of being locked up in a little stall all the time by their first owners.

the horse i volunteered with, marigold, an old thoroughbred racehorse, would walk in circles when she first arrived at the rehab farm since where she came from, she was used to always having just a little bit of space. jack-jack would step in when he caught her doing this, and try to get her to socialize and move around to other places.

horse

marigold, my old, blind friend!

i was also impressed by how smart and observant jack-jack was… he would try to untie ropes when he saw them tied up and he was capable of untying his lead rope from a tree or branch! sometimes he would even attempt to unlock the gate lock with his lips… though he was never successful!

he was also so loud! after spending time at the farm i learned that donkeys are fantastic at protecting their herd (including any horses or other animals they’ve adopted) through 2 basic tactics: being so damn loud that predators just want to run for it, and by being almost totally fearless with their sharp-hoofed attacks! i’ve always heard that donkeys are less skiddish than horses and are more willing to charge and kick butt.

so far, in my theory, donkeys are to horses as geese are to chickens: both donkeys and geese can almost totally survive on the grasses or scrubs that grow around them and don’t need as much nutritional supplementation as chickens or horses do, they are great animals for protecting themselves and for seeming threatening to intruders (animal or human), and they are so comical and goofy (well, at least to me)!

jason agrees that a donkey will be a great addition to our homestead, and we’re already thinking of all the new opportunities that can come from having a donkey… having a trusted creature that a kid can ride, that can pull a plow, and can haul logs or other heavy loads. we’re also excited to have a new friend that can let us know when someone comes to visit and can protect our other pets and farm animals from harm. not to mention their valuable manure and just how cute they are.

we can’t wait to get a jenny who can be the mother to other lovely donkeys who will be our friends and our children’s friends for decades to come!

.:.

the complete history of our ochre way!

this is a recording/podcast that i recorded in march of this year! it details the history of our ochre way, kuska wiñasun homestead, and the jason and emma partnership that just became a legal one!

click on the link below to hear the details!

A History of Our Ochre Way

.:.

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