Category Archives: News, etc.

Applepalooza. 7 1/2 bushels of apples turned into various products.

This weekend we finished the season with one of our farm vendors who was down to the last of his apples. A few negotiations back and forth and we agreed I would take the last of his stock, 7 1/2 bushels of apples, all varieties.

7 1/2 bushels of apples
7 1/2 bushels of apples

So what in the world do you do with 7 1/2 bushels? Why you open a bottle of wine and fire up the grill. Then you invite all of your friends and neighbors over and you have an apple peeling party complete with authentic ninja pig on the grill cooked by jet setting grill superstar Bar-B-Jew.

Panoramic shot of the kitchen in full on apple mode.
Panoramic shot of the kitchen in full on apple mode.

Here you can see the kitchen in full production. Wine glasses, apple peels, the football game on, the grill going just outside, and everybody working till bed time.
The results of about 3-4 hours of work. 21 quarts of apple sauce, plus another 14 gallons of wine in the fermenter. That left us with ONLY 3 bushels of apples (minus the bushel we made the Goldbergs take).

First few batches of canned apple sauce
First few batches of canned apple sauce

Today SWMBO worked diligently between school and laundry and got another bushel ready for apple sauce plus reduced another 6 quarts of apple sauce so it would be ready for me to can tonight. She has been a trooper with all these apples.
Btw, apples and grilled pork are a perfect match.

Pasture raised, non GMO pork chops, home made apple sauce, and broccoli.
Pasture raised, non GMO pork chops, home made apple sauce, and broccoli.

Ederville tractor show

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Today Spork and The Princess and I travelled to Carthage, NC to see Ken Eders amazing collection of antique tractors, including many steam tractors. Here is the Princess before we even made it into the show posing in front of a pink tractor.

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This was also before you get inside. The Pokey Smokey railroad was a free ride on a kid sized real steam locomotive. It was coal fired and we were lucky enough to get the last seat on the train so we had a great view as we went around.

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There were many exhibitors there selling lots of neat wares. Here we were touring a chainsaw art vendor.

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A few minutes in the clink and the kids were ready for candy from the 1800s era general store.

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Here the Princess tours a doll collection. There were two rooms filled floor to ceiling with dolls.

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Here an 1800s era reenactor demonstrates that eras woodworking techniques. Everything by hand of course.

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One if the many buildings filled to capacity with one of a kind restorations.

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Besides the tractor show itself there was an auction and a tractor pull. The Princess watched this 10 year old boy compete and wanted to know if she could come back next year and compete!

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Is it a bad sign that our old tractor is now in a museum? Maybe its time to upgrade. That’s the sister to our tractor on the far left.

One reason why farming is so vibrant in NC

Local Governments and the Special Status of Bona Fide Farms

I posted a picture of the new sign we hung on our farm that is required by NC law for liability protection. We had some good conversation in the comments section. Well any comments is a good amount for our little blog but it seemed people were interested in the government and how it has an effect on farming. I personally am a libertarian so my view of the government isn’t too rosy in most regards however when it comes to farming in NC, I have a somewhat different view. Compared to all other forms of business, I think farming is one of the sweet spots when it comes to government involvement (I’m referring to state government here, the Feds, ugh.) We have many support programs like extension agents, soil and water, etc. We have lots of grant and cost share programs. We get special exemptions from the NC DOT for weights and CDL requirements. But more importantly to me we have a lot of the protections under Bona Fide farms, some of which are relatively new. The article in the link above does a great job of detailing all these protections and giving some back story to each. This is my go to article for people I talk to who are interested in farming or getting into farming in NC. When I was reading the comments to the earlier post it occurred to me that while I would have shared this info with you in an individual conversation, I hadn’t shared it to everyone on the blog. Shame on me. I guess I just assumed nobody would want to read boring old law stuff.

Sunrise

With the time change coming everybody gets an extra hour of sleep. However I carefully inspected the cows this morning and not a single one was wearing a watch. The cows are tied to nature and not to an artificial reference called time. Therefor as winter approaches my mornings have been getting later and later as I try to move the cows before the sun comes up. Sometimes they cooperate but black cows in the black of night isn’t the best combination. Plus if it is too early they just won’t get out of bed.

With the time change, I am not looking forward to sleeping in because I get up before the sun. I am looking forward to not being late for everything. I guess l feel like the world is finally adjusting for me and the cows which is bueno.

From bang to bacon class offered

From Bang to Bacon

In response to customer requests, we are conducting our first ever open event. On December 7th 2013 come out to our family farm and participate in an old fashioned hog killing. We are located 15 minutes from downtown Raleigh on 84 acres of dedicated farmland. Weather permitting we are going to host our first ever public class for aspiring homesteaders and foodies to learn how to go from a live pig to finished products such as bacon, ham, ground pork, jowl bacon, and even liver pate and scrapple. This will be a true nose to tail event and participants will be able to roll up their sleeves and get involved to whatever level they desire.

This will be a one-day event, focusing on traditional methods of harvesting and processing a single pig raised on our homestead. The day will start at 7:30am where everyone will be greeted and given a quick tour of our farm. Afterwards we will process the pig humanely, then wash, bleed, gut, scald, and scrape the pig to get it ready to go into the walk-in cooler. Once the pig is in the cooler, we’ll remove another pig, previously processed and properly cooled and go to work on butchering the carcass into its usable pieces. At the same time, we will take the organ meats from the first pig and conduct a simultaneous session in our kitchen on how to make pate and/or scrapple, along with other traditional hog killing day staples of yesteryear.

Lastly, we will traditionally process the bacon, hams, etc in our on farm smoke house.

In addition to myself, we will be assisted by:

Brent Miller and Brian Reeves who will be handling the Charcuterie, smoking, and salting portion of the class.

And of course our hard working farm interns who will be doing all sorts of things to make this event one you will enjoy.

There will be an excellent ratio of students to instructors so everyone should have time and opportunity to ask questions and get involved in each aspect of processing. Some of what we’ll be doing will be going on simultaneously so you will need to decide what parts interest you the most. I need to note that we are not professional butchers, chefs, or culinary experts. We are simply farmers opening our farm and sharing our experience. This is a wide ranging beginner level class designed to give you full immersion into farm life.

This is an aggressive schedule and will be a long day going from dawn till dark with plenty of opportunities for everyone to get involved to a level they are comfortable with.

Costs will be $95 per person and we will limit attendance to 20 people.

This will be an outside event, with time spent inside in some small portions. Be prepared to be outdoors. Heat is available during the outdoor portion so you can warm up if you get cold but wear layers so you are prepared. A bathroom is available as well.

Reservations required, payment up front will be required to hold your position.

Learn more about our farm at www.ninjacowfarm.com or at www.facebook.com/ninjacowfarm

For reservations, please email dan@ninjacowfarm.com

Anyone committing and safety violations or causing undue stress to our animals or other students will be asked to leave. This will be a fun day of learning and we intend to keep everyone safe and enjoying the day.

We will not be selling any of the meat that is being processed the day of our class. It is for use on our farm by my family only. We do have USDA inspected pork previously processed that will be available if someone desires to purchase however this will not be a sales event.

 

Concrete

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The form awaiting concrete this morning. This is the form over the new well. After this sets we will build a well house and install the well pump, lines, pressure tank, charge controller, batteries, and solar panels. With all that, we should have water.

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Here we have just finished, almost, the pour for the cistern. I say almost because somehow we came up a yard short and are now awaiting the truck to come back with more concrete.

A new well

Well drilling number 1
Yesterday we had an old well redrilled as part of our pasture recovery plan. I already mentioned the needs of cows and their drinking requirements. This is a lot of water to produce each day, combined with the water needs of four families all drinking off of one well that supplies the entire farm. So with all that in mind we hired NW Poole Well Company to come onsite and recommission an old well that was abandoned before We moved here in 1980. In looking at the well it looked like the last pump installed was in 1975 but who knows how old the well itself was.

well drilling – 2

Ryan with NW Poole thought it would be no big deal to drill out some obstructions and get this old well up to the 10 gallons per minute that we wanted. Turns out that wasn’t quite the way it went. The old well had some sort of flexible plastic pipe that was still intact from about 15 feet down to the bottom of the 150 foot well. It was seriously tough stuff and took FOREVER.
well drilling – 3

This is about 6 hours late, still drilling out the pipe. The well itself was wide open. At 30 gallons per hour for diesel burn that’s a lot of diesel just to remove plastic.

Well drilling – 4

And the end result. At 150 feet, the well was producing about 2 gallons per minute. Ahh yes, now I see why they abandoned it. Duh! Nothing to do but to keep drilling. We went to 205 feet and still only had 7 gallons per minute. But 7 gallons per minute gives us 3900 gallons in a 10 hour solar day which is plenty for winter and we get much more sun in the summer when we might need more water. Plus I am going to install a 1500 gallon cistern inline so that will give us reserve capacity. That’s not part of the engineered plan but it works for the system and is an enhancement to the overall project so I think it should be ok.