We have two different processor that we use.  We like one better for beef, and one for hogs.  But, our hog processor has contracts with a big emu farm several times a year----yes, emu.  We didn't get on his schedule in time, so we had to take our hogs to our beef guy.
The beef guy does not cure or smoke the bacon and hams.
So we were forced to learn how to do it ourselves; which could be viewed as a good thing.
We also had to purchase a slicer.
The bacon cures in a spice/salt mix for a week, flipping the bags over daily.  Then the excess is washed off, bacon is sliced, and voila!  We did not smoke it, there's just too  much going on right now.
I only cured 5 pounds, in case we did not like the spice mix.
We cooked up a pound for a mid day snack, and put the rest in the freezer.
YUM!!!!  I suppose I will be curing 5 lb slabs every few weeks.
It's very easy, but I am glad the next two piggies already have an appointment with the other processor. He will send them home cured, smoked, sliced, and ready to eat!

Den update

Last week we got about 2/3 of the corrugated metal on the ceiling.  The night before, I whitewashed the trim boards, so I wouldn't have to work around the curves.  It ended up being pointless, as our room is so very un-square, that another smaller piece of trim will have to go up on top of the first one.  Two people handling 3.5 x 8 foot pieces, above their heads is a bit of a challenge.
It took an hour just to figure out spacing, where to put seams, and screws.  
DH is much better at this type of math than I am.  ALL of the holes had to be pre-drilled--that was  144 holes for the 2/3 that we hung.
One wall bowed out, and the metal piece had to be sanded accordingly--see those sparks flying!
Just when we got in the swing of things, we had to tackle the attic access.  It's only the access for the den, not the whole house.   The wiring, and insulation are new, so we really do not anticipate having to get up there anytime soon.  We decided to patch the hole, and cover over it; then later, DH can cut a new access hole in the storage room that is to his right.

Here is the 2/3 that we completed, it looks fantastic!
Although it took longer than expected, and we still have 1 row left to do, once we are done, NOTHING will ever have to be done to it ever again!
And by the time the farmhouse look goes out of style, I'll be to old to care =)
We were told gourds must be up by the 1st week in February for the Martins to come--so everything came to a screeching halt to replace about 20 broken gourds.

Then we got to work on the cedar.
AJ was so proud to have a job besides "clean up crew".
We still have quite a bit to do, but we're thrilled with the cedar!  With 10 houses under our belts, we have never had cedar.  It's more than double the price of hardie-plank, so I was was worried if we would be glad we spent the extra $, but I think it looks great.  I can't wait to replace the mudroom siding with it!

Tuft and Needle

Here is what I wrote November 2015, but never posted:
Crazy, I know....we bought a bed in a box.  Actually just a mattress.  We have been meaning to get a new one for some time (our 5th in 28 years).  I kept seeing the Casper mattress on Pinterest, and decided to do some research.
We ended up getting a Tuft and Needle brand instead.  In all the research, it said both brands were equally firm, but the Casper had more "hug", meaning you would sink down a little more into their top layer.
Since we are big people, we opted to not sink down that extra bit=).

It came in a box about 4' tall, and 2' square.  It was folded in half down the middle, then rolled up.  Of course all the air was sucked out of the package, so it would fit in the box.  
It immediately started expanding after we unrolled it, and was full size in a matter of minutes.  The first night was wonderful, I think because we were so exhausted.  The nights since have been an improvement over our old mattress (with 2 large oval impressions in it), but almost too firm.  For the price, the lack of having to go to stores and fry my brain with choices, I'd say it's a pretty good deal.....I'll let you know if my opinion changes as time goes on .

My opinion now:  After 15 months we still love it!  Absolutely no sign of indentations where we sleep.  Less expensive than what we paid for the last mattress, plus easy online shopping and delivered to the door.

Pig 1 and pig 2

but not from the Richard Scary book.
These guys went to the butcher a couple of weeks ago, 
and their friends are going on April 4th.

 These pigs were Berkshires, last year's pigs were Large Black.
  In the future, we will go back to Large Black, as they produce more bacon.
These guys made 37 lbs of bacon, last year we got 49 lbs. from 2 pigs that were very close to the same size.
 Here's the breakdown:
Two of these freezers are now stuffed with homegrown goodness!
(And a 7 cf, and 3 refrigerator freezers.)  We're very thankful!

The pigs filled up 7 of these very large boxes.
Our small 7 cf freezer would not quite hold one whole hog.  I would guess the pigs took up 18 cf of freezer space.
A note on freezers...chest types are more efficient, and supposedly keep the food better.  A 7 cf can be bought for about $200, doubling that; a 14 cf for $400, but to get a  21+ cf, the price jumps way up.  We have two 21+ cf uprights.  We decided to buy the 7 cf now, and another in a few months for several reasons:
 1)  price
 2)  We can fill one freezer with all beef, the other all pork, or all vegis, etc.  This will hopefully keep things better organized.
 3)  We won't be paying to chill space that is not being used.  When a 7 cf freezer is emptied, it can be unplugged, instead of running a 21 cf freezer that is only 1/3 full.

Cuteness and Cruella

Waid drew some very nice pictures this week.
Waid is legally blind, and mentally challenged. 
He uses a CCTV to magnify schoolwork and artwork.
More goat cuteness....
And more, although I told Wes he did not need to let the goat lick his mouth.
And about Cruella de Vil; I've had this grey streak for many years.
I didn't color my hair until I was 40, and I started coloring mainly because of this grey streak.
DH teased me about it resembling Cruella's hair (an exaggeration of course).
I haven't colored my hair for several years, after learning the dangers of the chemicals.  So here is my grey streak all grown out, and showing proudly.
I have no idea why I'm telling you this, I just particularly noticed it today.

William is back home

Actually, he has been for several weeks, but I'm behind.
William's hanging weight was 374 lbs., small, but we knew that.
He made 139 lbs. of ground beef!

The roasts are amazing!

William was born here and raised by us, grass fed, with no drugs, and no chemicals on the pasture.  We are so thankful for our first cow in the freezer!

Here is the info sheet DH printed out for our customers.  This gives an idea of what cuts, and how many pounds to expect when they buy a whole or 1/2 cow.

                                 I'll post the pig info soon.

Busy week

We've been to Birmingham 3 times in 5 days--exhausting.  A place on Avery's braces broke....twice.
Emmi invented fudge balls.  
The pig feed looks like sawdust, and is called fudge for some unknown reason.

When dumped over the fence, some blows away, so Emmi was determined to solve the problem.  She mixes the fudge with whey, buttermilk, or whatever we have.  The pigs love it.
Another baby goat!  He's huge.
The one on the left is less than an hour old, 
the one on the right is five days old.
Happy is such  a good dog!
Here are the four brothers, in the neighboring stall.

It took the four brothers several days to leave the stall (door threshold is about a foot high), this guy got out on day one!
Flowers on Jan. 31st.
Den wall progress was made,and the interior wall has the tongue and groove up.
New (to us) farm equipment was purchased.
Waid the builder was hard at work this week too!


Three kids and I went to Birmingham Monday for an orthodontic appointment.
DH texted me a picture about 11am, and another, and another.....
Millie had FOUR kids!!
I did not tell Emmi, because we had some errands to run, and I knew she would drive me crazy begging to get home ASAP, if I told her.
When we got home DH told her to put on farm clothes and meet him in the barn.
She was soooo surprised!
We could not believe this little Dwarf Nigerian had 4 babies!!
We had a crazy week, not much was done on the den.  
DH was called in to work night shift on 2 of his "on call" days.  He had to take hogs to the butcher on Monday.  We drew blood for pregnancy test on three
Jerseys (all negative).  Another day he had to pick up our corrugated metal order, for the den ceiling, and awnings.  A trip to Lowe's, chiropractor appointments, and 3 new milk customers kept us busy, too. DH also had to go pick up his new-to-us truck.
We've debated for some time whether to get a truck just for farm use, or one he could also drive to work.   He got the latter....and now has a Honda Accord for sale.
Monday I will be picking up the pork, and starting the bacon curing process.  
Happy Weekend!