What a view

The view of cows off of the porch
The view off of the porch

I don’t talk about our leased farm that much. Other than stopping by to check on things or go catch an errant cow, we don’t have to go over there that often anymore. We used to have our entire herd over there but now with just the brood cows and babies, it’s pretty quiet.

But at least once per year, I’m fortunate to get to go over and visit with the owners and talk about the upcoming year, visit with the kids, and pay the annual lease.

The picture above was taken from their back porch as we talked about the upcoming year and some fencing projects we need to work on. The picture doesn’t do the view justice. It was absolutely gorgeous as the sun was setting. In the medium distance, you can just see the cows and calves grazing in the fading light.

It was about this time that I told them we’d be coming to get the cows before too long, to take them to our farm for the winter. Lips were poked out all around. Nobody was happy to see the cute and cuddly cows leave. Oops, I thought they’d be happy to know we’d have them at our place over winter giving their farm a rest. I guess I don’t have to worry anymore that the cows have been misbehaving and wearing out their welcome.

But truth be told, I miss them. I’d spent some time before our meeting just hanging out with the girls and their new babies in the pasture. They came right up to me and started asking where I’d been, complaining loudly that I didn’t come visit often enough. You know how moms are. I’d committed to them they’d be coming home before long and you never go back on your word to a mom. They have a memory like a steel trap!

A funny video and a good song, especially for kids in school.

First off, full disclosure. This is not a farming related post. On our farm we do home school our children so I guess you could say this is a home school related post instead.

Second, this video is done by Weird Al Yankovic, not one of my favorite artist. He’s had a few flash in the pan successes but frankly I didn’t even know the guy was still alive. And to see he looks exactly like he did from the 90s, including the long hair, doesn’t make me feel like he’s progressed any. However for some reason I clicked on the link for his new song and I have to say I’m glad I did. Like all of Al’s music, it’s a parody of a famous song, this time Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines which became famous apparently for being a video where the models were partially naked. Don’t worry, that’s not the version I linked above.

Weird Al’s version is “Word Crimes” and has a clever video that mocks the current generation’s inability to write appropriately. You know, “C U LTR” and the like. Sorry, I had to hunt for something as an example, I don’t even know how to write like that. SWMBO and I both are sticklers for proper grammar in your writing. Not to say that I don’t play fast and loose with the words and sentence structure on occasion and goodness knows, I make enough typos to flunk English, but we do have the knowledge and the habit of writing clearly and properly. In fact what I hear often when I meet someone who has followed our blog for some time is a compliment on my writing style which always baffles me because I don’t have a style, I just write.

Anyway, I think we may have found our theme song for discussions with our kids when they start texting; which based on my current feelings should be when they hit 30 or so. Maybe 40 for the girls, or after I’m dead. Whichever comes first.

Really cool video by the kids showing a day on the farm

I’ve mentioned before that I really like it when kids do the filming, photography, etc. It’s really neat to see their perspective on things and with our modern electronics it’s pretty surprising how good the quality can be.

We had some friends over Saturday and left the kids with supervision (that’s Bombshell in the video). The kids took it upon themselves to make an entire film all over the farm and we came home so it edited and completed. The only thing I had to do was to cut out their names (they used their actual names in the credits) and add in our normal kids names we use on the site.

I uploaded the video to Youtube but I’m not sure where the kids got the music that is playing in the background so Youtube might yank it. Also the Youtube version doesn’t have credits whereas the one on our site has the credits. Also the version on our site is a high resolution version. Here is the version on our site. Farm kids video


Pigs aren’t having sex anymore.

I read this article to Lamont, our boar, recently. He seemed mildly interested, sort of like when you hear that kids are starving on the other side of the world. It’s touching but it’s not right in front of your nose so it doesn’t seem real. He then sauntered over to Penelope and continued his courtship, immediately forgetting the plight of “normal” pigs destined for our traditional food system.

Lucky for Lamont, I’m not getting that personal with Penelope. She’s already bitten me once, and tried more than once. The idea of trying AI with her just isn’t appealing for more than the normal reasons.

Sow with piglets
Penelope, with piglets made the old-fashioned way.

Recap of the 4th of July weekend. Lots of pictures!

The Princess bakes a 4th of July cake
The Princess, post cake creation and prior to gobbling it up

Having The Princess bake an independence day cake is becoming a tradition at our house. Fluffy cake, whipped cream, and fruit stars and stripes all put together by her Highness. This is a tradition I can get behind!

Loading watermelons for our cows
Spork taking a well deserved break while Miguel loads the last pallet of watermelons

Every day we go to two farmer’s markets to collect all the fresh produce that they cannot sell due to damage. We collect about 2500 pounds per day by my rough guess. That’s 365 days a year or over 900,000 pounds of produce a year to feed our animals which is pretty much their only feed besides what already grows on the farm. Here we are loading on the 4th. Yes that is three pallets of watermelons. This doesn’t show the heaping full truck bed already loaded with other produce. The next day we put FOUR pallets on the trailer and still had the truck full. That was a personal best for me for one day. Cows LOVE watermelons, as do pigs, and chickens, and kids for that matter. The cows are starting to figure out how to break open watermelons and it’s funny to watch them chase the round melons around the pasture. While all the rest of us (animals both in the house and out) still love watermelon, SWMBO is getting a bit tired of watermelon juice covering her counters. Looks like its time to switch to peaches.

Feeding cows fresh vegetables
Feeding the cows a pallet of food. This is one of three that day.

This pallet was full of sweet corn husks, watermelons, squash, zucchini, and I don’t know what else. By the time the cows were done with it, it was just a pallet and some cardboard. By the end of the weekend, I noted that the cows were looking mighty portly. A few are showing some signs that they may need to be culled but the rest are looking fat and happy with slick coats and not a lot of signs of parasites. Right now #23, #14, and #3 (all brood cows) all look like candidates for culling, along with #28 and #40 (steers) who both had bloat but are doing better now.

Spork shooting a 22 rifle
Spork shooting his sister’s 22. He went through about 30 rounds and never missed!

The beauty of a longer weekend is even on the farm it’s not all work and no play. I took a little while to take SWMBO, The Princess, and Spork down to the shooting range to get in some practice. Spork was phenomenal, knocking down every target with boring regularity. Since he did so well, we decided to put him to work on our squirrel menace. Every year we have squirrels strip our fruit trees of all of our fruit before it has a chance to be harvested. With Spork doing so well in his shooting, it was time to introduce him to hunting. Between Spork, myself, and Alice, we accounted for 4 of the little fluffy tailed rats this weekend, with more to come.

The Princess shooting a 22 rifle
The Princess trying her hand at shooting.

The gun is still just a bit big for the Princess but she stepped up there and took some shots. She was nervous at first but very excited after shooting. I believe we’ll have her back again this fall when the weather is nice. By then the gun should just about fit her.

Father and daughter preparing to process chickens
Dad and The Princess off to process chickens.

This weekend we processed our 25 freedom ranger chickens. We process on farm and despite being able to sell these chickens pretty much anywhere we want with such a high demand, in the end we are simply going to put them in the freezer and eat them ourselves which was the original plan. There is a difference between home raised chickens and store-bought chickens and we have another 50 on the way for another batch. The Princess was everywhere for processing and did every single job on the line.

Catching chickens
The Princess did every job at least once, but this job she did all of the chickens, all by herself.

You never know when catching chickens will be a skill you need to list on your resume.

Killing cone for chickens
Miguel using our new killing cone. Miguel made the cones and they worked perfectly.

A quick bleed and the worst part of the job is over. Nobody likes killing animals but these chickens lived a good life on our farm and never had a bad day till this day. I believe you should know where you food comes from and all chicken ends up on the plate somehow. These chickens went from their home to the cone, with no scary truck ride or meat factory in between.

Whiz bang chicken plucker in use
The chicken plucker in action. This is a home made version of the whiz bang chicken plucker.

Note the blood on the face of The Princess. For a minute that morning she said she didn’t want to be around chicken processing, but then she reverted back to her old blood loving self and was in the middle of the fray. Playing with all the blood is her favorite part, unless you count identifying all the organs, which she is quite good at.

The Princess, killing chickens.
Did I mention she’s quite ok with blood?

She’ll probably grow up to be a vegan, but she’ll know where food comes from and how it gets to the plate.

An overview of the process. Chicken butchering on farm.
An overview of the process.

Concrete floors, bleach for cleaning, and plenty of water to work with. A pretty good setup. We need to switch to food grade water hoses and tweak a few other things but overall the processing setup is working nicely.

Chicken puppet
The Princess’s chicken puppet.

When we couldn’t keep enough work for her to do, she reverted to pulling a whole chicken from the ice bath and plopping it on her hand then proceeding to run around acting out scenes with her “chicken puppet.” It was very cute, and quite twisted which at least for me and Miguel was funny. I’m sure someone would say that she’ll have emotional scars from seeing chickens killed or any of the other things she chooses to do on the farm. Folks, playing with a recently deceased chicken couldn’t be more normal. Scarring comes from having the world hidden from children and then they learn reality when they are adults.

Chicken on the counter, ready to be cooked.
Chicken on the counter, ready to be cooked.

For those of you who were put off by the previous images, this probably looks more familiar. Our chicken, grocery store ready, cut into traditional cuts and ready for SWMBO’s magic act of turning this chicken golden brown and yummy.

Fried chicken, straight off the farm.
Fried chicken, straight off the farm.

This chicken was walking and clucking this morning, now it’s our dinner. Thanks to SWMBO’s efforts in the kitchen we sat down to a healthy and hearty meal. Yes it was as good as it looks.

SWMBO vacuum sealing our chickens, getting them ready for the freezer.
SWMBO vacuum sealing our chickens, getting them ready for the freezer.

And don’t think she’s a one trick pony, just working in the kitchen. Here is SWMBO, still in her workout clothes after having worked out for two hours, bailing us out on the processing line by taking the quality control and packaging station. She saved us because we were getting backed up with not enough hands to do the work. Thanks Honey!

This was just a small part of our weekend. Yesterday evening Spork was excited telling SWMBO about what he and dad were going to do tomorrow. She had to break the news to him that dad had to go to work tomorrow, that he would have to wait for the next weekend to spend the day with dad again. Broke my heart to hear that I was letting him down for today but I guess that means he had a good 4th of July weekend. I know that I did.

The Ninja Cow, immortalized in song.

I know we don’t have the only “Ninja Cow” in existence. There have been ones before, and there will be ones again (that’s sort of a zen/Battle Star Galactica thing). However, I do believe we are the only farm to take it on as our moniker. With that being said, I’m glad to see that the Ninja Cow has been written to song so we have a sound track to go with our little farming adventure. You can see the video of the song here.

I think I’ll reach out to the guys and see if we can adopt this song as our own.

Spring is here?

I have in my closet an automatic weather station which does a fantastic job of giving me the days and the weeks weather at a glance. For today, there is a description of the conditions as well. Things like “windy and cooler” or “sunny and beautiful.”

I’m not really sure what “swofy” is, but after the winter we’ve had I’m looking forward to it!