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 or at

For reservations, please email

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.




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.


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.

Grazing update and a new well being drilled


The grass continues to look great. Here you can see today’s paddock on the left, yesterday’s on the right. Its obvious where the cows have grazed as it’s very brown vs todays paddock which is as green as spring grass. In fact the poop from the cows is getting somewhat runny like it does in the spring which is interesting since there is a fall flush of grass much like there is a spring flush. I read about the fall flush but with our old grazing methods you never saw it. One more thing that is working just like the grazing experts said it would. The brown would be bad in your suburban yard (homeowners associations would be unhappy) but for our pastures its gold. This is dried organic matter which is matting down and decomposing. This brown grass will be next years healthy soil.

Today we are meeting Ryan with NW Poole Well company to redrill an old well that was out of service when we moved on the farm. We are going to hopefully hit good water and then combine this well with a solar based pump that will now water all of our cows from solar pumped water from a separate well than our main farm well. As we grow our herd they are going to drink more and more water so we are planning ahead for that growth. An adult cow can drink as much as 30 gallons of water per day and lactating cows can double that need. Since we have a lot of lactating cows we have pretty sizeable water needs that will only grow. Thank goodness the cows don’t take showers. 🙂

This project is in partnership again with Wake County Soil and Water and Teresa Hice from that office who continues to help us on the farm. I met Teresa at a Keeping the Farm” workshop some years ago and she has been working with us ever since helping with our erosion issues, land retention, etc. The next keeping the farm workshop is January 29th and if you farm or want to farm I highly recommend you attending. It’s well worth the day.

New sign

I am not sure where people get the signs they need for their farms. NC law states that in order to be protected by liability protection laws you have to post a sign or signs stating the law. The agri tourism association has their law available as a sign when you join, which I did. However the new law states it must be posted as well. All I could do was go have one made. I guess the good news is its a really nice sign mounted on a metal board so it should last a long time. Also fortunately for us there is only one way on and off the farm so its easy to post a sign that everyone sees which makes life simpler.

Seems like there is a business opportunity for someone to sell ready made signs for farmers.