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Feb 2 / Michael

Our first “Spring” lambs

It’s a little early, but our first pair of spring lambs were born to our ewe, Frances. The boy and girl lambs were born a little before 5am this morning. Jamie woke and had the maternal instinct to go out early and check on them and there they were.

Spring Lambs

Luckily we’re in the middle of an unseasonably warm spell — our high temps were close to 60° today. It feels like Spring already.

Frances is such a good momma. She let the little lambs latch right on for nursing this morning and is so protective of them.

Jan 3 / Michael

New Rabbit Hutches

Happy New Year visitor!  Our existing rabbit hutches were pretty worn down and in massive need of refurbishment.  They are “outdoor” hutches that we’ve moved into the grow tunnel each winter for the last several years.  This year, I decided to build a set of “indoor” hutches to put in the grow tunnel so we won’t have to move them back and forth each year.  In the spring, I’ll refurbish the outdoor hutches.

Rabbit Hutches 001

Laying out the materials (2x3s) for the hutches

Rabbit Hutches 002

After assembly, attaching the wire mesh

Rabbit Hutches 003

Transporting the hutches to the grow tunnel

Rabbit Hutches 004

Hutches in place. I decided to just use saw horses for legs, seemed very convenient.

Rabbit Hutches 005

Rabbits happy and cozy in their new hutches

This was pretty easy to build. I may actually build a two-cage version if we need a couple more openings for rabbits, but this frees up a lot of space for other purposes, too, like chicken/duck brooding.

We wish the greatest happiness on everyone for the New Year!

Dec 24 / Michael

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas?

Actually, it’s not.  It’s been rainy and very warm.  Temps today may approach 70° F, which is pretty remarkable.

Foggy Farm Christmas

Our animals have enjoyed the warmer weather and the green shoots that are staying around for longer.  We’ve also not needed to burn nearly as much wood yet this season, so hopefully we’ll have plenty to stay warm through the early Spring.

Foggy Farm Christmas Cows

At least it’s looking like Christmas inside the house. The children were thrilled to find some presents under the tree.

Presents under the tree

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all! See you in the New Year.

Dec 13 / Michael

Bull to the Butcher

We took our 1½ year-old bull to the butcher today. Our friendly farm neighbor helped transport. He’s an angus-belted-galloway-dexter cross and had a white face and black body. Here he is in his stall with his momma waiting to be loaded.

Bull to Butcher

And on the trailer.

Bull to Butcher

At the butcher.

Bull to Butcher

Bull to Butcher

We’ve enjoyed his company for the last year and a half. We’ll be picking up the meat right before Christmas.

Dec 1 / Michael

O Christmas Tree

We have a tradition in our family to get our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday!). We’ve been doing it for as long as I can recall, and it probably originated from when we were traveling for Christmas more than we do now. We’d want to get a tree up early and enjoy it before leaving for a week around Christmas. In the last several years we’ve been staying home for Christmas, which has been nice, but we haven’t given up our post-Thanksgiving tradition.

Christmas Tree 2015

Since we’ve been in Canterbury, we’ve gotten our trees from Ingall’s Tree Farm in Brooklyn. Sadly, when we got our tree from them last year they told us it would be their last year in business — no one in the family to take over, or something like that. This year, I was in a panic on Thanksgiving because I didn’t know where we’d be getting our tree.

As it so happens, I’d learned online the the Post family purchased the original farm (60 acres plus another 40 they lease) and now operate Laurel View Farm from the same location. When we were there, I spoke to Gary and told him how happy I was that they’d take over and that our family tradition could continue.  They’ve built a new shed and parking area and seem to really be enthusiastic and know what they’re doing.  We’re wishing them all the luck running the business for the future.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all!

Nov 11 / Michael

“That one was definitely alive”: An undercover video at one of the nation’s biggest pork processors

This is simply horrible. As reported by the Washington Post today:

The pigs are not all right.

An undercover video taken at one of the nation’s largest pork producers shows pigs being dragged across the floor, beaten with paddles, and sick to the point of immobility. By law, pigs are supposed to be rendered unconscious before being killed, but many are shown writhing in apparent pain while bleeding out, suggesting that they weren’t properly stunned. “That one was definitely alive,” a worker says.

The video also appears to show pigs with puss-filled abscesses being sent down the line. Others are covered in feces.

“If the USDA is around, they could shut us down,” says a worker, wearing a bright yellow apron, standing over the production line.

The accompanying video is horrific.  Please watch only if you must see what’s going on first hand.  I imagine the workers in this factory suffer through these abuses, too.  In this particular case, the issues appear to be driven by a desire to run the lines faster and faster and process animals more quickly.  Maybe we should be slowing things down instead.

Pigs are highly sociable and probably the smartest animals that humans raise for meat.  For the last several years we’ve been raising a pair of pigs over summer, bonding with them during the process, and having them processed at our local butcher.  We honor and respect the sacrifice they make to feed us and work to ensure they suffer as little as possible, like we do all the animals we raise for meat.

Pigs

What can you do? Because the factory farm system is so opaque it’s really hard to know. You may want to start by supporting local producers where possible or just by eating less meat.

If any creature deserves better, it’s them.

Oct 24 / Michael

First Chestnut Harvest

We planted two chestnut trees in early Spring 2009: a Colossal Chestnut and a Seedling Polinator.  This is their sixth growing year and the first we had a decent harvest (though we had one or two chestnuts last year).  Both varieties ripen in late September, so we began collecting the fallen chestnuts during our waits for the school bus in the morning.

Chestnut harvest

Chestnut harvest

Most of the chestnuts were ripe and the husk could be pulled off easily, but some of them were a little underripe and needed assistance with some pliers.  Still others were not ripe enough to be used.

Chestnut harvest

If you’ve never seen a chestnut husk in real life, it’s got the most painful arrangement of sharp spikes on a protective husk.  That husk must be removed to expose the nuts — usually two or three per husk.

Chestnut harvest

Our next project will be to do something delicious with our harvest.

Chestnut harvest

Sep 29 / Michael

Poor ducks

Due to lack of rain and drought conditions in Connecticut (not nearly as bad as elsewhere), our pond is at the lowest point we’ve ever seen it.  It’s pretty much a muddy wet spot.  Our ducks aren’t so happy at the moment.  There’s a storm forecast, along with several days of rain, so hopefully the situation will begin to reverse.

Nearly Dry Pond

Sep 3 / Michael

Finished Goat Skulls

After a couple of weeks in the hydrogen peroxide solution, the goat skulls, horns and random smaller bones were basically finished.  They’re looking pretty good.

Goat Skulls

Goat Skulls

Goat Skulls

Goat Skulls

Goat Skulls

The next step will be to finish the cow skulls, but those needed longer in the water to let the bugs and microbes do their work.  We’ll post that as soon as they’re ready.

Aug 20 / Michael

Finishing Cow and Goat Skulls

Almost two years ago we got a bull to breed our girls.  Turned out that one of our girls (“Bossy Mama”) was mean to him and nearly ran him off, so she ended up at the butcher that very week.  (You can read more about that in our Where’s the Beef? post.)  When we got her skull back, we hung it in the woods with a couple of goat skulls.

First, a bit of eye bleach, some recent spoils of the garden.

Spoils of the Garden

We realize that some of these images may be disturbing to our visitors, so we’re making the “worst” of them hidden by default, click to reveal if you wish…


This is the fresh skull, with skin removed.

Hanging in a tree.

The rest of the images aren’t too bad, so we’ll go ahead and show them.

After two years it looked like this and we needed to figure out something to do with the skulls.  We decided to clean and whiten them.  We’d thought about using chlorine bleach, but then after some research decided to use hydrogen peroxide, as described on BoneLust.

Cow skull after 2 years

Cow skull after 2 years

Here’s the cow skull with the three goat skulls we were also processing.

Cow and goat skulls

Jamie sorted through the random bones (jaws, etc).

Sorting the cow and goat bones

And M helped with the water.

Filling the bucket

We’re going to leave them to fester in a bucket of water for at least a couple of weeks. Then we’ll finish them in a hydrogen peroxide bath to whiten them.

Random cow and goat bones

The whole skulls are in a big blue bucket, with the top sealed by a garbage bag. I can only imagine the foulness in there.

Cow and goat heads stewing

Check back in a couple weeks where we hope to show the finished skulls.

Here’s another “cute” image, our resident garden spider.

Spider in the Garden