excerpted from an email to farmers in CO:
Dear C and S,
I would like to say that our slow response time is a function of the holiday season, but honesty compels me to admit that I (Beth) am frequently slow to respond, although Shawn is usually a prompt correspondent. Maybe it just takes me a while to process; my family would say I have time-management challenges. Any farm wife/homeschool mom/dairywoman/gardener/etc who has no time-management challenges must be superwoman, and I’m emphatically not superwoman.
Your porcine endeavors sound a good deal like ours. We used to keep buckets at two restaurants in the village down the hill. We went to daily mass (church service) in the village, and we picked up buckets every day. Than when we butchered hogs we would take a pound or so of bacon to our benefactors as a thank you. The meat restriction (note: pigs are not supposed to be fed table scraps including meat) is overcome by cooking the scraps into swill, which the pigs like much better than a jumble of scraps anyhow (see Dirk Van Loon, Small Scale Pig Raising, or just take our word for it!).
Most restaurants will tell you the health inspector would disapprove of the buckets in the kitchen, but the two that saved food for us were just glad to have the extra weight out of the trash cans when they had to empty them. Around here you couldn’t pick up just once a week, though — things would start to smell, or attract vermin. Now that we attend an earlier daily mass at the Franciscan monastery a mile up the hill, we don’t drive down into the village very often, but we get scraps from the monastery kitchen (meager, as Franciscans take a vow of poverty), as well as old bread (about a trash bag once a week when one of their benefactors brings it from the city) and sometimes waste produce. All this goes pretty far with a pair of breeding pigs, not so far if you are trying to fatten porkers. It helps if you keep the feeders over the spring-summer-fall, and only breeding stock in the winter. Sounds like we are pretty much on the same page, doesn’t it?
I spent much of yesterday and today with the garden records working on my layouts, preparatory to seeing what I have put back in the way of seed, and sending off my seed orders. I’ve been using Territorial for years — I like their catalogue — but would rather be supporting a smaller seedsman. Territorial doesn’t carry mangels, which I can order instead from Berlin Seeds, but I think I am going to see first if sustainableseedsco has everything I need. Feeding the pigs in the garden last fall was a big money-saver and great way to keep the pigs off corn and soy, so we plan to fill as much of the garden as possible with late vegs for the pigs to forage on: mangels, OP field corn, and pintos mostly. Biggest q: can we continue to foil the deer? The road kill rate in this part of the Ohio River valley is enough to make us wonder if the population density of the white-tails here doesn’t exceed that of the human beings (which is ‘way too high for a bunch of Texans). There are deer everywhere, even the urban backyards. Last summer we made a labyrinth of polywire through the monastery garden and didn’t suffer too much from the deer, but it is, we hear, just a matter of time before they find us and put us on their nightly beat.
I am jealous of your goats! Shawn, after years of experience, has sworn off goats, saying what we all know is true: it’s not a question of whether they will get your fruit trees, but when. I know this is true, but your observation on the advantages of being able to teach homesteading students to milk on the animal they are most likely to be able to afford/manage is meaningful. I’m hoping to use it as a bargaining chip. We love our Jerseys, and after looking around at some other breeds/crosses, I am happy to stay with them and their generous but not overwhelming production and high fat/protein content; but I love chevre too, and there is no question but that it is easier to start your home dairy with goats than with Jerseys. Wish me luck. Cary, are there no convincing masculine arguments I could employ?
Our temps are going above 32F during the day and the ground, only frozen to a depth of a few inches, will soon be mushy again. Now that the cows are getting their hay in the barn I am less worried about the damage they will do to the pasture, and they waste far less hay than outside, so we will be looking to acquire another 2-3 Jerseys in the next few weeks. There is a man two hours away with a pretty Angus/Jersey cross eight months old we could run with the steers at the monastery and breed next year, too. We really pray for God’s guidance as our increasing skills and confidence coincide with the decline in our nation’s moral character and economic/agricultural health. Anyway, we do love to farm!
It is good to hear from other people with similar operations and goals. God bless your new year. Talk to you soon —
two One-cow Revolutionaries