SLIPPERY MORNING

December 30, 2010

Thursday

Linda

I got up this morning at six o’clock hoping to get out of the house by nine to go do the shopping I didn’t do yesterday.  As you all already know living off grid means going out no matter what the weather to start the generator when there is no sun in the forecast.

Icy car window

Ruby and Moby went out of the door ahead me.  Ruby’s feet hit the brick walkway and slid, Moby stepped on it as if he was stepping on egg shells.  I gingerly stepped out and walked like a penguin all the way to the generator.  I tried to keep off the packed down snow trails we have been walking on because they were the most slick.

The top of the generator had an icy cap covering the hood.  I opened it with no problems and pressed the start button.  It started right up without any hesitation.  Sometimes when it is very cold out it likes to kind of wheeze a little before it kicks in and starts up.  The temperature wasn’t all that cold though.  I guess we had an icy rain all night, but it should turn into a regular rain by early afternoon.  I gave the brick walkway a dose of deicer so none of us will break a leg trying to ice skate across it.

We have been using our back up gas generator for a few days.  It’s a good idea to use it once in a while to make sure its still in working order.  I knew it was going to rain last night so I covered it with a tarp and switched everything over to the propane generator we usually use.  Changing over generators is just a flip of a switch in the battery cabinet.  Sonny wired up a plug there for the spare generator and the switch turns the power on to it when we want to use it. The spare generator is stored in the battery cabinet.  I can drag it out, but it’s too heavy for me to lift back in.  Sonny will have to do that job when he gets home today.

Covered Generator


MAKIN’ BACON

December 29, 2010

Wednesday

Linda

I had planned to go shopping today and was almost ready to head into town when Carol called and said that it was time to soak our bacon slabs.  The shopping trip will have to be put on hold until tomorrow.  I didn’t have anything so important on my list that it couldn’t wait anyway.

Sugar cure for bacon with smoke flavor

It’s been a week now since we put the sugar cure on our bacon slabs from the hog we had processed.  The directions said to cover the bacon with the cure and then let it set in the refrigerator for about a week.

Today we removed our slabs from the refrigerator and soaked them in lukewarm water for two hours to rinse away some of the salt in the curing rub.  Then we cut them into smaller slabs and put them into ziplock bags.  The last step of the curing process is to put them back in the refrigerator for two more days.  Once that is finished we can put them in the freezer and thaw the bacon as we need it. Hopefully this curing rub will have a good flavor.

Soaking Bacon

This is another new experience so we will have to see how it all turns out.  I will let you know what it tastes like as soon as we try some with our farm fresh eggs.

 


GOOD CHRISTMAS

December 27, 2010

Monday

Linda

The house is quiet and a little empty today.  It’s just me the dog and two cats again.  Sonny left this morning to take his parents back to Delaware after a nice Christmas visit.  They left me with a profusion of leftover pie and cookies along with an assortment of chocolate and mint candies.  There are enough leftovers in the fridge to feed an army and now I have a belly ache.

Ruby and my in-laws dog Miley had a great time together.  Miley is about a year and a half old and lives with a cranky twelve year old cocker spaniel named Casey who could care less about playing.  Ruby gave Miley plenty of play time and taught her some new games.

Frozen Dog Toy

The two dogs had a grand time kicking up the snow as they played chase.  Ruby’s ball and rope toy was ice covered and stiff as a board but it didn’t stop her from teaching Miley how to play tug of war and keep away.  Hours of good play and bellies full of dog cookies and Christmas leftovers made for two sleepy, contented dogs.

We adults enjoyed Christmas Eve at John and Carol’s which of course involved plenty of food and conversation.  They came to our house for Christmas dinner and everyones mantra afterwards was, “I’m full as a tick” and “I feel like I’m going to pop.”  It’s no wonder our New Years resolutions always involve a diet that unfortunately we never keep.

As always this Christmas was filled with good times and memories that will be tucked away in our hearts and remembered throughout our lives.  Those are the best gift we can receive and will cherish the most.  We can’t always have all of our family members with us as so many are spread across the States and overseas, but they will remain and will always be in our thoughts and hearts.

Sonny and I hope your Christmas bag of memories is filled to the brim and overflowing.  Blessings to all.

 


MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM POT HOLE FARM

December 24, 2010

Friday

Linda

Merry Christmas From Pot Hole Farm

All is quiet here at Pot Hole Farm on this snowy Christmas Eve.

The house is decorated in fine array and the lights are lit on the tree.

Sonny’s work socks are hung by the fire to dry,

And he’s hoping St. Nick doesn’t put a lump of coal inside.

Ruby’s waiting patiently to receive a new ball or bone.

Annie’s hoping Santa will regift Moby to another home.

The chickens are tucked in all snug in their coop,

They’ll be happy with some corn scratch and a clean place to poop.

Linda’s sipping coffee and updating the daily blog,

Sonny will join her with a cup, once he’s brought in a load of logs.

Ruby’s ears are perked, she hears sleigh bells,

Good night too all and and have a blessed Noel.

Remember the star above a little manger with hay,

Where our King and Savior so sweetly lay.

Merry Christmas and a Happy Happy New Year to you all!


NOTHING LIKE A GOOD DUSTBATH

December 22, 2010

Wednesday

Linda

The weather today is actually pretty mild although I believe more snow is on the way.  I opened the coop hatch today to at least give the chickens a little fresh air and the chance to get out and stretch if they felt like it.

There’s nothing like a good dust bath to freshen your feathers after days of being locked up in the coop.  Two of my hens found a nice little spot in the corner of the pole barn.  They were happier than two hogs in a mud hole, rolling themselves in the dirt and then shaking out their feathers.

Mabel, your feathers are looking just fabulous.

It wasn’t long before the rest of the girls found them and joined in.  The Rooster stood around watching his ladies like a husband patiently waiting for his wife at the beauty shop.  I think he was glad they were happy.  Could you imagine being stuck in a coop with a bunch of crabby hens because they’re having a bad feather day?

Hey let us get in there too!

With the chickens out for the day I decided to do a little sprucing up in the coop.  I scooped out some of the fresh poop out and put down some fresh straw.  The girls should feel better today.  A fresh coop and a day at the dust spa is just what they needed on a dreary winter day.


LAST WEEK WINTER ARRIVED

December 20, 2010

Cold has arrived.


LIVESTOCK AUCTION

December 19, 2010

Sunday

Linda

At 6:00 a.m. yesterday morning the alarm clock screamed at us, its blaring bell cutting through our dreams like a sharp sword. Sonny and I arose and with wisps of sleep still clinging to our brains managed to make coffee and get morning chores done. We left the house by eight o’clock or so to have breakfast at John and Carols and then headed over to Weston to attend a livestock auction.

Our intention was to buy a good sized hog, have it slaughtered and split the meat between us. None of us has ever done this before and weren’t really sure what to expect. When we arrived at the market we walked through the stock area. Actually you walk on wooden passage ways that are raised above the paddock area. From there you have a view of all the stalls. There were a few calves, a pregnant cow and a goat but, no pigs.

We decided to go the cafeteria and have a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. There were still livestock trailers pulling into the snowy parking lot and the auction didn’t start until 1:30 anyway. There was still plenty of time for a some hogs to show up.

The cafeteria was crowded with groups of men dressed in coveralls, Carhart coats and work boots. Their faces had the look of seasoned bidders or sellers of livestock as they talked amongst themselves. Fathers had brought along young sons and daughters to teach them the ropes and there were a few women as well, but it definitely looked more like a mans world.

We took another look at the paddock area and saw that about five hogs had arrived while we were in the cafeteria. Round paper stickers with numbers were stuck to their backs and we all agreed on a hog that we wanted to bid on.

The auction arena had rows of cement bleachers placed in a semicircle around a small show ring with doors that opened out to the stockade. Above the ring was a balcony where the auctioneer would sit. I have to say those benches were the coldest seats I had ever sat on. It was like something out of the Flintstones except there weren’t any animal skins to keep your bum warm. Luckily the hogs were the first to come out to be bid on.

None of us were sure how this all worked and we agreed that my cousin John would do the bidding. It was a good thing, because neither Sonny nor I could understand a word the auctioneer said. One other man bid against John on the hog we had chosen but we won out. It all went very quickly.

We had picked a 195 lb. hog and paid 62 cents per pound which comes to 120.90 total. Not bad. Apparently you don’t want to get a hog that is overly heavy because then you are getting a lot of fat and less lean. We went to the office and paid our bill then off to the butcher next door to set up to have the hog processed. I believe it will cost 55 cents per pound. Still cheaper than what you would pay at the grocery store.

It was definitely a new experience and when you think about it we have just purchased a hog from a local farmer that had a decent life. It did not live in over crowded conditions or was over stuffed on corn. These animals tend to come from small farms like our own and are well treated. There is something to be said about choosing your own food source. The hog looked clean and healthy and of course they are all USDA inspected.

Sorry there are no pictures. Sonny and I both forgot to take our iPhones with us. Hopefully I have given you a good enough description to imagine what the auction was like. Next year we may raise our own hog and have it slaughtered in Fall.


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