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Who, me? Plan? Not I.....

*feigns a shocked expression*

Ok, ok. I give, I was born a planner. It's in my genes. It's how God created me and I have "stewarded" and "cultivated" this skill to an art-form--much to Dan's chagrin. Not that Dan doesn't like to plan....Dan just, umm...well, he has a more take-it-as-it comes approach to life. We're opposites in every meaning of the word when it comes to this that's for sure.

Well, I have been scouring the internet for about the past week for any and all things farming, homesteading, do-it-yourself, and agrarian. As soon as I finish one thing, I stumble across another....my week (ok, maybe week-and-a-half or two-week) tour has had me on the following topics.

Paige's Top 10 Topics

1. Apple Cider producing by Herrick Kimball, The Deliberate Agrarian. Not only am I highly interested and asked Dan if we could buy a plan book as opposed to a "date night" dinner out, I've also had a bit of a chat with Mr. Kimball. I figured that you could probably also use the cider press and grinder to process grape juice, though I believe that you'll probably have to double the pressing material or use actual cheesecloth, as opposed to the nylon netting that Herrick thriftily employs for cider (it's natural to have a bit of sediment in your cider). He says it's been on his to-try list, but will have to wait for next years as this year's grapes didn't produce well.

2. Pig Breeds. Now, Dan and I are thinking that we'll likely just raise two pigs at a time (Three Fold Cord said that they are happier critters that way), but we want to forage raise them and I'd like to provide a market for some of the heritage breeds. I think that I'd like to raise either Red Wattles or Gloucestershire Old Spots--our good friends, Farmers at Heart have experience with GOS and say that they need no additional feed! For other endangered heritage breeds check out the American Livestock Breed Conservancy. GREAT and they have little vignettes on each breed. I need to work through the poultry section and find teh birds for our farm. I'd really like to stay away from the Cornish X. What's the point of raising more expensive (but MUCH better food) if it's not also interesting!

3. Cow Breeds. Personally, I had my heart positively SET on Dexters as a dual-purpose cow, but Dan also likes the Dutch Belted Cattle. They're also a dual purpose breed and they're in more need of some breeders. Again, we're still awhile away from having any animals, so this can wait a bit on a decision and further research.

4. The Whizbang Chicken Plucker, Scalder, and How to Butcher a Chicken.com. Yes, that's right. That's where all this started...and I'm still going. This of course got me on how to raise turkeys and ducks and what to feed them and all that loveliness...see #5 below.

5. Alternate fodder choices--comfrey and mangel beets. I've found that they both have protein levels to rival soy (gross soy. You don't want to hears Dan's thought on soy...tmi, imo.). Aaaaand, mangel beets (or fodder beets) have a pretty high carb content, too. I'm trying to figure out how much as compared to corn (again, gross corn), but that's eluding me. *sigh* As of yet, I haven't found definitive data comparing fodder beets to more "standard" fodder like corn, especially for chickens and cows. I'd love to NOT feed our animals beyong what we can grow and want to be sure that we're still providing our animals with good, well-balanced food. Not only is feed becoming ever-more expensive, I'd like to feel like I'm doing it for "free" (I consider gardening "free" since I enjoy it so much.) and I like a challenge. Not to mention, I'd rather not be dependent on anyone but the One who controls the weather. :) Oh yeah, did I mention making sure that our butters, milk, eggs, meat, and manures don't get tainted by all those unnecessary medicines and preservatives? C'mon...I've been in medicine long enough to know that we're overmedicating everyone and creating tons of drug-resistant super bugs--including our animals. Nothing a good immune system and actually healthy, sanitary (not the same thing as sterile) living conditions won't do for you. :) Heirloom acres has a nice Mangel Beet variety. And Mother Earth news has a great article on Comfrey. Apparently, the Bocking No. 4 variety is the best...it's hard to find!

6. Turkey and Duck breeds--heritage breeds, please! I really need to look around more on the ALBC more, so I guess this one is more of a personal to-do list! Theyr'e going to have tons of comfrey and mangel beets--and I'm pretty sure that they'll be plenty big enough to free range during the day. MMm....I can just smell them in the oven, roasting away for Thanksgiving! Two years, just two years....one if we're REALLY lucky!

7. Cherry Pitting. All this food production got me to thinking more about the cider press and how could I figure out a better way to more efficiently produce my own food--things that are laborious to complete I'm not as likely to do. One thing that I LOVE but had to work very hard for was home-made cherry pie filling. I will always remember that pie, but the work to pit the cherries, was ridiculous. I found several little gadgets that would cost you between $5 and $35, but I remember that we had one and it didn't work so well. Here's an idea using just a plastic drinking straw--I want to test it out! And, when the edge gets dull, just re-cut it! I'd like to try cutting it flush and cutting it on an angle, too, to see which works better!

8. Chicken Tractor Ideas--What I had been wanting to build is most epitomized by the one by Herrick Kimball's. We've tried the more boxy ones as kids and they were HEAVY! Not lending itself to frequent moving, which is the whole point. Dan and I wandered around Home Depot and Lowe's to compare costs. He said that it would be better to use the grey plastic piping, conduit pipe, since it's sun-resistant and won't break down like PVC will--who knew! And, it's about the same price or a smidgen cheaper! Also, I was looking into nest box designs, and found that a heritage chicken will do well in one 12"x12"x9" since it keeps them from scratching through the straw or using it for a bathroom. This works great with the tractor dimensions (6'x11.5'), so we'd put four in a row and attach it to the solid end of the tractor. That should be enough for a cage, figuring that we'd probably have about 12 or 15 layers in there. (Though I would like to let them free range a bit more, if hawks aren't as bad a problem in KY as they were in OH.) Also I did find a REALLY nice gravity fed, bell-shaped Plasson waterer (or equivalent) for around $35. Use a big 5-gallon bucket for the reservoir and the waterer goes inside the tractor. Plenty of water for the birds, no climbing inside to fill it, and it stays REALLY clean!

9. Wood Ashes = Dust baths for the birds--again, using what the farm produces in "waste" to good use. It's a wonderful bath for the chickens, to keep their feathers in good condition and mite-free. I've seen multiple places say that wood ashes plus sand is a good mix! Now, the extra--for the garden and making lye. I feel like we're going to run out!

10. Rendering Lard. Ok, a weird one, but it goes with the lye making (#9) and soap-making. Plus, I found several sources that said that said that lard was BETTER for you than butter. Here's what Wikipedia said about it.
Toward the late 20th century, lard began to be regarded as less healthy than vegetable oils (such as olive and sunflower oil) because of its high saturated fatty acid and cholesterol content. However, despite its reputation, lard has less saturated fat, more unsaturated fat, and less cholesterol than an equal amount of butter by weight.[2] Unlike many margarines and vegetable shortenings, unhydrogenated lard contains no trans fat.
For me, the "proof was in the pudding" so I also compared their nutrition tables. They weren't lying.... wikipedia on Lard vs. wikipedia on Butter. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not going to quit eating butter anytime soon--so I'm definitely going to be giving lard another go around. Also, I've seen quite a few places where people have just canned their lard and it keeps quite nicely! Way to save that fridge/freezer space! :) Again, I'm wondering just how much lard will come from a pig or two--enough for all my soap and cooking needs for year? We'll have to see...

* please note, here is where my OCD nature falls flat. If I were truly OCD, I would have put links in to all of these things on this post as well. As it is, I already did (for future reference), so if you'd like to join me in my quest for knowledge, please see my links under "Paige's Favorites." Those pages have links to nearly everything that I've talked about. :)

Comments

  1. I have some slightly sad news... the chicken bell-waterers don't stay spotlessly clean... at all. We rinse ours out every time we check on the chickens. it seems, though, that the higher they are off the ground, the cleaner they stay (still start going algae or something, though). BUT it doesn't get NEARLY as dirty as a waterer sat on the ground :)

    I love the cherry pitting idea!!

    I also love this amazing organizational part of your personality. i am tooootttallly lacking in this department! (hence we've been living off peanut butter toast for days now!)

    You rock!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Haha, yeah......I'm a bit OCD when it comes to organizing, lol. Good to know about the waterers. At least it's a slight improvement! And I like the part where you can hook it up to a WHOLE 5-gallon bucket so you have a longer water supply--especially on hot days, when it's more likely that a smaller waterer will run dry--or more dangerous that it get knocked over!

    Yes! I can't wait to try the cherry pitting! mmm...cherry pie--all for me, though. Dan doesn't like them. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oops...that earlier comment is by Paige, haha.

    ReplyDelete

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