Thursday, July 18, 2013


Sometimes "farm life" really sucks.  Yesterday was a shitty day.  We did the best we could but... this time it just wasn't good enough.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

This Little Piggy...

Last night we had our first on-farm kill... we had planned to take our young boar, Melvin, up to the processor today.  In this extreme heat wave we've been under, he was very stressed— we worried what effect the trailer ride and overnight in a strange facility would have.  We didn't want to lose the meat, nor did we want him to suffer... so C and I waited for him to lay down last night as the evening cooled, and lured the other pigs away with grain, then took the shot.

In many ways, but particularly when it comes to things of this matter, I feel so lucky to have C as my partner.  Even the most merciful of shots is so difficult for me.  C took the perfect shot and Melvin was gone instantly.  The other pigs calmly eating on the other side of their shelter didn't notice a thing, not even the involuntary muscle spasms that accompany death [just not in the movies].  I cried and put my hand on his still-warm cheek, said thank you, what a good boy you were.

We carried him out of the pen and hoisted him on the tractor to bleed him out.  In these moments I always remember the words of Temple Grandin.  "It was here; now it's meat.  Where did it go?"  The Melvin we knew and took care of was gone, and now we had our upcoming pig roast to look forward to.  The chickens and dogs got some of the odd bits, and everything else went into the compost.  We hosed him inside and out, both cleaning and cooling the carcass.  For now, Melvin rests in our refrigerator.  This weekend, we will celebrate with friends his life and the land that sustains us.

His boisterous spirit and silly straw-burrowing will be missed on the farm, but we will eat him so that one less pig is raised in a confinement operation for a miserable dark 6 months of "life."  If you think I did it without the help of a shot of bourbon you'd be sorely mistaken.

Many people find it strange that we name the animals we intend to eat.  But knowing the animal is about more than the name— even without one we would find some moniker by which to talk about that once-living piece of pork versus the other four that we woke up this morning to feed.  In the end, we should all be so lucky as to spend our last day wallowing in silky black mud, playing in straw and eating cold melon, the dappled sun shining through trees.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Words to Live By

"Trying to breed the fat out of pigs 
is like making a yolkless egg."

                    — Brian Polcyn [interview here]

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

First Harvest!

Oh my gosh, I grew something!!  Even after a few years of concerted efforts toward gardening, the feeling of harvesting something from YOUR own garden is still miraculous.  We've gotten great rain so far this summer so I've only watered once... After living in Colorado, the fact that anything you plant can be studiously ignored until you're ready to eat it is a gift.  Rich black earth, forgiving skies and humidity that plants just soak in to produce sweet, tender leaves...

So, what do we have?  3 kinds of basil, collards, cilantro, and the best damn broccoli I have ever had.  It's so sweet and tender, worlds away from what comes from the supermarket.  We also have various herbs that are ready to be picked and dried or used fresh, tomatoes that are quickly growing into trees, eggplant, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, tomatillos, zucchini, a few types of peppers, onions, garlic...  we're also trying sweet corn, which I have had terrible luck with in the past, but it's growing!

We turned up a new section of the garden in what used to be lawn, and the plan was to leave that fallow this year and let the old grass decompose.  But then we bought some carving pumpkin seeds, and decided to sow them directly into the overturned sod.  The pumpkin vines are strong, vigorous and starting to flower.  Looks like we'll have lots of decorating to do for Halloween this year, and plenty of good eats for the animals as well.

Oh, and our hens laid their first eggs.  Two of them.  Dinner!

Here's to the joy that bounty brings.