State of the Homestead: September

The garden is pretty much spent. Only the okra continues to bloom and produce. Some of my Roma tomato plants are producing, but that’s about it.

It’s time to scale back and put most of the garden to bed. I’ll probably plant a few broccoli, spinach, and Swiss chard but not much else.

Production wise, we got a lot of tomatoes—but all at one time. Next year I might try to stagger them more to see if I can stretch our harvest. Peppers were a bust due to my putting them near the squash. The vines overgrew and smothered the pepper plants.

Once again the squash bugs struck. This time I got a few watermelon and squash before they had a firm hold, but in the end they always win.

Goats: The girls have been segregated from the boys. Captain Jack got out once and started sniffing around the baby. My only hope is that she wasn’t in season. My guess is nothing happened, but goats can be tricksey. You never know.

I am fairly certain all the adult females have been bred to their proper mates. In a few months I’ll know for sure.

One funny thing is that all the girls were much more interested in Ray Charles. He’s a massive buck and impressive. Poor Captain Jack looks puny by comparison. I didn’t give the girls a choice.

Chickens: Now that the garden is fairly done, I’ve been letting the chickens forage for bugs. They’ve been doing a good job though some of my herbs are taking a beating.

The few chicks I hatched to show my little niece are slowly being introduced to the established hens. In time I’ll move them all to the same coop. Less work for me if I can feed them all in one pen.

Funny thing. We have two roosters, a Maran and an Australorp. The Australorp is a total loner. He doesn’t want to guard his hens or have anything to do with anyone. The Maran has essentially taken over all the hens. I guess they worked things out, though I noticed the Australorp is very submissive to the Maran.

 

Tilly, the pig: And finally the Pork Report. Tilly has gone to hog heaven. In death as in life, she was a lot of work. She was too big to fit on the bar we use to process animals. We had to rig up additional chain to hoist her up. What should’ve taken only a couple minutes dragged on for over half an hour.

We could’ve really used another pair of hands. If we do a pig again, we’ll definitely harvest it earlier.

This pig had very little fat which is normal for today’s standard. Unlike the old heritage breeds that were bred to produce fat, most commercial hogs are leaner.

Originally we had planned to scald the hide so we could take off the hair, (and get cracklins out of the hide) but there was no way to dip the pig in a drum without extra help. In the end, I opted to skin the pig.

I did manage to scrape a little fat which I plan to use for sausage.

That porker was a lot of work, but we got it done and packaged. I wish I had weighed each of the packages to see how many pounds of meat we had gotten from her, but by the time it was over I was too tired to care.

Judging by how full the freezer is though, I’m pleased. We raised her pretty frugally. In the end, we bought six bags of feed, garden extras, weeds, and older canned goods we’d rather not eat. If I rounded up to the nearest dollar, counting the cost of the pig, we raised enough pork to last us all year for just a little over a $120 dollars. Not bad.

I packaged the meat much smaller than what we get from the market. Since it’s just the two of us, I divided roasts in half or thirds.

Every time I have to process an animal I stand in awe of professional butchers. It’s a hard job and to do it beautifully is an art.

We agreed almost immediately that the pig added a lot of stress to our workload and to the animals around her. She destroyed fences and water pipe (that we had to repair) and created havoc wherever she went. Now that she’s gone, all the animals (and us) are much calmer.

That’s the way to start the fall—calmly. It’s time to assess, harvest, and put up.

Meanwhile, the Texas coast, Florida and even South Carolina is having to clean up before they get a rest. If you were anywhere near the paths of these hurricanes, I hope you’ll let us know you’re all right.

It’s been a rough few weeks. Let’s hope the waters will chill enough to prevent any more hurricanes from forming. Some years, we get them one after another. Other years we get zilch—and glad for it.

It was a while back, but I remember one time there were five hurricanes/tropical storms heading our way. Two of them got us, but the others mercifully petered out.

Are you ready for autumn? Has the weather cooled down for you yet?

Greg was window shopping for a boat when we found this bear. Of course, Greg had to ham it up.

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12 Comments

  1. Stacy: Artichokes (at least here) take two years to produce. We lost 3 of the original 9, but the rest look good. They’re in an out of the way spot so I always forget to take pictures of them.

    PS I should be sending you something today. I’m finding lots of pretty blonde models but the male models are kind of pathetic–or they’re paired with raunchy looking female models. What are those photographers thinking?

  2. If Tilly’s contribution after all of her shenanigans is to feed you all for the next year, then I suppose that’s a fair trade…maybe? lol!

    Glad you were able to get some good stuff from the garden. Be interesting to see how things go for next planting season.By the way, what did you decide to do with the surplus tomatoes?

  3. Cute picture of Greg! So no more pigs in your future? It does sound like lots of hard work indeed! Cooling down a bit here; we have a few days ahead in double digits instead of triple digits. Acclimating though and getting used to the hot weather. Not a fan though of the humidity during monsoon times.

    Great homestead report for you!

    betty

  4. Betty: Time will tell if we do another pig. We’ll be another couple of years older, so who knows.
    My sister recently moved to Arizona. She hasn’t complained about the heat yet, but I don’t think the novelty has worn off yet. 🙂

  5. A passing thought – how did you actually kill your pig – so much fuss over here over the merits and demerits ref stunning or halal. I do remember going to an abattoir as a trainee chef. The pigs were killed more ‘humanely’ than the other animals – not out of compassion so much as the fact that a terrorfied pig released amino acids that tainted the meat. They were stunned and dropped in very hot water. This was some time ago

    • Mike: Greg shoots the animal. I forget what caliber he used. There’s a spot on the pig’s forehead just left of middle which will drop the animal straight down to instant death. It’s true of all animals that the quicker you can dispatch them, the better the meat tastes. For us it’s more an issue of humaneness. We don’t want anyone to suffer any more than necessary. It is their sacrifice that feeds us and that’s the least we can do.

      When I was very young, we were visiting my grandparents in Mexico. Whenever company from far away visits it’s a reason for a fiesta. My grandfather ordered a pig and hired men to build an enclosed wood pen where the pig could be killed and then dunked into a vat of boiling water. They then hoisted it to a table where they scraped and cleaned it.

      As usual, my mother wouldn’t let me watch, but I tried to sneak as long a peek as I could. Even at a young age I was fascinated with homesteading skills.

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