Monday, November 11, 2013


Thoughts about mulch.

There are two large piles of mulch, made from the tree trimmings the power company created, sitting around. I  noticed this morning were giving off steam in the cold. To my mind that means that they are decomposing. Now no addition of biomass to the farm is a real loss but it does seem like a waste to have it rot away to nothing.

I am not sure what to do with it other than just spread it around. It seems like it would make an surface for paths etc in the short term but I don't want it near buildings because I don't want to attract termites.

I read that Thomas Jefferson used woodchips and manure to create "hot beds that he used to start early peas during the cold of winter. Anyone uot there experimented with this? Have any thoughts or tips?


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Butchering and bunnies.

This afternoon we went to our friends Matt and Rhiannon Hogan's where we helped butcher 4 chickens and took possession of a rex rabbit.

Butchering the chickens was a chance to try a "power plucker" first hand. The power plucker is a small 30 dollar device that attaches to an ordinary power drill and is designed to speed up the plucking process. It did speed up the process but still left quite a bit of hand plucking.

The four chicken were an experimental breed called "freedom-rangers". This breed, which originated in Burgundy, France, is supposed to produce excellent broilers on pasture and free range diets. The birds were large and heavy breasted with a good amount of fat. I think that we will order some in the spring.

We took the rabbit because it's temperment didn't make it a good pet. Rex rabbits were developed in Paris in 1919 for the velvety texture of their fur. I would like rabbits for meat. The Rex breed is not a meat breed but they are hardy and can live outside. We will see if Bun-bun will make a good sire.



During the summer we had a storm that bought down a large Cherry Tree across the driveway. I thought that the timber seemed too good to waste and after some consultation I arranged to have it milled.

I am not sure how many board feet it amounted to but it seems like it is enough to do something substantial with. It is a rich red-pink color and smells interesting too.

What I learned from this experiance is that is probably worthwhile to have timber milled and at only 60 dollars a tree I will do it again soon.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


The newest and most exciting thing to happen recently is that we went over to the Mounts farm last Sunday and purchase 3 Duroc pigs. Fall is usually the time for butchering pigs but we will be purchasing ours and doing the difficult thing of raising them though the cold winter months.

Wikipedia says of the Duroc that it "is an older breed of American domestic pig that forms the basis for many mixed-breed commercial hogs. Duroc pigs are red, large-framed, medium length, and muscular, with partially drooping ears, and tend to be one of the least aggressive of all the swine breeds. They also have an excellent rate of gain."

The 3 we are getting are barrows or castrated male feeder pigs for fattening up and butchering.We visited the pigs last week just after they had been castrated and the females of the litter had had their ears snipped as part of their registration process. (I joked with Moshe about snipping his ears so everyone knew when his birthday was.) Despite this it was a great visit and left us all feeling a little more enthusiastic about farming.

The boys an I worked on cleaning up the rooms where we had kept our pig from last year, Sausage Suzie. We are keen to make it a cleaner, safer and more secure space. The bigger challenge will be to create outdoor pens of grazing and training them to follow us to forage for mast in the woods and not run away and get lost. Sausage Suzie spent a couple of nights in the wild and survived but it is not a gamble we want to take again.