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Nov 25 / Jamie

End to Another Growing Season

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We have wrapped up our harvest for 2014.  In every aspect, this was the most productive year we have ever had.  The garden was incredible, we got a ton of fruit from the orchard, and our meat yields were the best yet.  We finished up with all of the vegetable and fruit harvest by the end of September and then turned to getting the animals culled, processed, and put in the freezer.  Here is where things stand.

We currently have four cows.  The two mothers (Sweet One and her daughter Buttermilk) and the two calves.  They are getting really big and the female will go to the butcher around this time next year.  We will keep the male and let him breed back to the two mothers and then he will go to the butcher the next year.  We still have plenty of beef in the freezer from last year, so we should be set.

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We are down to six sheep which is the fewest we have had in a while.  Back in August we lost one of our lambs to a predator (probably a large cat, not exactly sure).  A few weeks ago we took three sheep to the butcher.  We culled our Leicester Longwool ewe Clementine.  She was six years old and has had some minor hoof problems that have been around for a while despite our efforts to treat them.  She was also our only sheep left that needed to be shorn twice/year.  We kept one of her daughters to replace her (a LL and CVM cross) and took her other daughter in to the butcher as well for lamb.  We also took our wether Barnie.  They all dressed out beautifully and we will be sending the pelts out for tanning.  So, we have our two CVM ewes, Francis and Cameo; our CVM rams Rorschach and Francis’ son; Dash, our wether who was orphaned and slept in our house; and the little ewe lamb who we haven’t named yet.  Both rams are very sweet and we are hoping that at least the CVM ewes are bred.

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We took both pigs to the butcher.  Their hanging weights were 238lbs and 255lbs which is the heaviest pigs we have had.  Usually we keep a little less than one pig’s worth of meat and do shares of the rest.  Since we didn’t do pigs last year, we keep almost all of the pork.  I am making stock right now from the heads and feet which will be perfect for making bean soups all winter.  We will definitely raise pigs again next summer.

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We have zero turkeys.  We ended up with three this year, after starting with six poults.  Friends came over last weekend with their two turkeys and we had a butchering day party (they then took two sheep back with them to use as lawn mowers and for fiber and meat).  We had two toms, each weighing in at 29lbs and a hen that was 18lbs and will be our Thanksgiving dinner.  I pieced both males and froze the meat and made stock from the bones.  It was the thickest stock I have ever made, they had a lot of good fat.

We have about 16 chickens.  We lost a few to some sort of predator.  Elsa has them well trained to stay in the bush right next to the coop.  She actually gets really agitated if they leave it and will round them back up.  It is funny to watch.

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We have five rabbits.  Two American Chincilla does and a buck and two Silver Fox does.  We put a good 15+ rabbits in the freezer this fall and likely won’t breed them again until very late winter.

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We still have a thriving hive of bees but didn’t get enough honey in the supers to make it worth the trouble of collecting.  We still have plenty of honey from last year.

There are still pockets of green in the garden.  Some kale, chard, parsley, etc.  At this point I will probably just give it to the animals as treats.

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What an incredible year 2014 has been.  We are excited for the holidays and a chance to take a break from producing and processing food to eating and enjoying time with friends and family.

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One Comment

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  1. 1
    Kelly S / Nov 25 2014

    You need to change the wire under the rabbits, you are going to get sore feet sooner rather than later with chicken wire and /or sagging wire.

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