When the Cow Sold

I took the cow in the end down to Producers located at Theurer’s Meats in Lewiston, Utah.  They in turn took the cow up to Jerome, Idaho, and sorted out the brand inspection, some feed, transportation, and a 2% commission on the sale price for about $54.  That netted us $904 on the sale.  The cow weighed in at 1,355 pounds at the auction.  When I brought the cow down to the man to take delivery on him, the man at Producer’s said he could sure tell the cow was grass fed by the lack of back fat on him.  He figured the cow would be ground down to hamburger. 

Of the money I got for him, I bought two sows for $200 each, which was a pretty good price.  The sows have farrowed 12 to 15 babies at a time!  I just need to get them sorted out when I have the facilities together to deal with little ones.  I would like them to deliver closer to spring, so I am not taking care of babies in the cold.  For now the pigs, Bacon and Sausage, are in the vegetable patch, making sure it is good and clear for use in the springtime. 

I also got the fencing up for our goats and chickens and have them neatly penned in the back yard now.  I wanted to diversify expenditures so everything got service off of the cow. 

The Rainbow

How do you make a rainbow?  Well, it takes sunshine and rain.  It takes a bright spot and a cloud.  You put them together under one sky, and somewhere between them, you find a thing of beauty.  You find an arc wherein the colors of light from the sun refract, and bend apart so that the human eye can see the different colors.  They are all there, all the time, in the light.  It just takes a little rain to separate them apart, so they reveal their beautiful hues.

The metaphors for life is all to obvious.  We are the light, and when we get bent by the rain, all of our colors shine.  Whatever your rain, remember, you are the light.  And you’re going to make a rainbow, and show the  world your colors.  And you are a thing of beauty.  

Dispatches From The Farm

I have realized that there are really two parts to this blog site.  One is what you are seeing now, and is about frugal living and doing things ourselves.  That bit will be maintained here.  It is the place where I will post how I have gone about my latest adventure, or should I say misadventure, in our quest to try to save a few bucks, learn a few things, and maybe raise a few animals along the way. 

The other part is a pet project I am adding on as of today, and it is a second blog.  Called Dispatches From The Farm, I want to have a place where I can tell our Laura Engels Wilder story, using a bit more artistic freedom, and keeping it down to earth, and real.  Where the main blog, here, is where I will tell about buying pigs, what they cost, and how much they grow, this new site is going to tell about raising them along with my children, describing the dirt under our fingernails, and falling face first into what I can only hope is mud!  Dispatches From The Farm will look completely different to this site, and will be focused around our story in an easy to read layout.  It’s still part of this site, and has a link back to the main page so you can find your way back. 

http://www.theprosperingpeasant.com/farm

Or you can go to your address bar and take the word “farm” off the end, and hit enter, and you will come right back to the main blog.  Conversely, you now know how to go right to the new site, and are welcome to subscribe to the RSS feed, or leave a comment politely telling what you think of each dispatch.  All comments will be moderated. 

So come on in from time to time, and bring a cup of hot chocolate or a glass of iced tea, and in the mean time, check back here to find ideas of things you can try at home.  Either way, Enjoy!  And we are glad to have you!


The Prospering Peasant

Floating Eggs

Today I floated the eggs.  We had two baskets full, and I can’t remember how long ago we started filling the first basket, so the solution is to fill a sink full of water and put the eggs in!  This will help me to sort out fresh eggs from old ones, and decide what to do with them. 

As an egg ages, an air pocket builds up inside it through the permeable shell.  The air is meant to supply egg to a baby chick, but, as the egg is unfertilized, the air can be used to help determine the age of the egg.  When there is enough air in the egg, the egg will float in water.  This usually takes a few weeks.  We keep our eggs on the counter because they have never been washed, so they will stay fresh longer than washed eggs.  A cuticle remains on an unwashed egg which allows it to stay fresher longer, but if an eggshell is washed, the cuticle will wash off, allowing more air and contaminants through the permeable shell.  Washed eggs, such as store bought, have to be kept in the fridge.  Now you know why Americans refridgerate their eggs, and Europeans don’t.

When an egg is floated, if it drops right to the bottom it is very fresh.  If it floats more than the size of a dime above the water level, it is a good time to get rid of it.  Any eggs that float at all are good to boil.  Older eggs such as these will peel more easily than fresh eggs will.  We will use oir boiked eggs for Scotch Eggs, Deviled Eggs, pickling, or even sliced on a salad.  Fresh eggs are better for frying and using in other cooking applications.  Those are the eggs at the bottom of our sink full of water.  Things like homemade ice cream, merengue, fried eggs, poached, scrambled, omlettes, and baking comes to mind. 

image

The egg is one of the most versitle items in the kitchen.  And Chickens stop laying for a lot of reasons, but oversupply isn’t one of them.  When you have too many eggs, amd you need to figure out what to do with them, the first step is to sort the fresh eggs from the old ones.  Floating the eggs will help you find which are fresh, which are old, amd which ones can still be used, but shoild be boiled, or otherwise used soo .

The Prospering Peasant.

The Chimney Sweep

It still seems as though every week I tackle some new chore that ends with my throwing my hands in the air and saying, “Well, first time!”  That’s not exasperation talking, but the feeling of having never done something before, and the thought that if it all goes wrong, well, it was my first time, after all. 

Today I went out and bought a chimney sweep broom, and a length of rope, and a couple of small pipe fittings, of which I only used one.  I put the T shaped pipe fitting on the broom, and then used a clip to fasten a heavy adjustable wrench to the other side of the broom.  I pushed a rope end through the T, then tied it off.  It took two ladders to reach the peak of the steep metal roof, but I got there.  Then I had to shimmy my way to the chimney, about 20 feet, and reach over my head to unscrew the spark arrester, and drop the broom down till it reached the flue.  I lifted and lowered the broom over small lengths of the chimney till it was all cleaned out, and happily got back down again! 

It was dangerous, and I would like to add a few bits up there to make the job a lot easier in the future, and a whole lot safer!  It wouldn’t take much, but it could penetrate the otherwise well sealed roof.  Anyway, as always, First Time! 

Lastly, and this bit took a while, I cleaned up the soot in the fireplace and on the hearth.  There was a fair amount of it, although not as much as I expected given how much has been burned since the last clean-up. 

I got some repair caulking at the shop today too, and put that into the cracks of the fire bricks at the back of the fireplace. 

The reason for all of this is that the temperatures are going to drop a bit over the next three days, including some cold nights, and we are going to have rain.  I had to do today’s work between rainfalls as is.  I certainly didn’t want to burn without doing it, which is what would have happened had I not got up there.  I put a new filter in the blower intake, and the fireplace is set for the year, and is set to light as soon as the caulking has dried for 24 hours, which will be tomorrow at about 3PM.  It won’t get too cold between now and then, so everything should be fine. 

I also look forward to cooking on the fire. 

This fireplace is all we have for heat downstairs, and it is not very good.  It is especially poor because most, probably 85% or more, of the heat goes right up the chimney!  I am still working on getting the funds for a much better source of heat, but that is going to be tough to do before winter cold sets in. 

Here’s the link if you would like to help out!  It would be greatly appreciated! 

gofund.me/jb2s5xc8

The thing is, if we don’t get this sorted out soon, we will risk frozen pipes because the heaters we have for down stairs are electric, and don’t put out much heat.  The basement gets cold, and the pipes are down there.  We need a much hotter heat source, and one we can afford to run.  That’s where the wood stove comes in. 

This year is meant to be very cold due to the El Nino effect in the Pacific Ocean.  It does look like it is shaping up to be a cold one!  The temps are dropping, and the predictions are dire all around.  It should not be looking like it does right now till late October.  This could be a long winter!  I need to go get more firewood! 

Well, I will leave this here for now. 


The Prospering Peasant

The Truck Is Running Again!

With Sherman running again, I took him out to the dump this morning and dumped out the stuff that was in it.  Then I called the Hayman, who I call, “Hay man!”  He sorts us out hay at $5 a bale, so we are really lucky there!  I drove down to his fields and picked up hay from the shed there.  I bought 24 bales so we can get ahead for winter when the heating bills are high. 

I also moved the young llamas out of the pen and into the pasture tonight, after sorting the gate out so they won’t try to get to their moms.  I should not have to feed them anymore, so that will cut our hay usage down to maybe three and a half bales of per week on the mother llamas. 

I am going to admit too, I love driving that old truck!  It is loud and pulls to the one side, and it has no rubber gaskets on the rusty old doors, and I am constantly afraid that the rotten old tires are going to blow out, but yeah, it is so fun to drive that old thing! 

Woodstove Fund

http://www.gofundme.com/jb2s5xc8

That link is to a GoFundMe fund to try to help raise $3,500 to get an inexpensive wood stove to heat our house this winter.  The prices of Propane are, as I have mentioned on this blog before, out of our reach.  I want to achieve self-reliance as much as is possible.  However, it is totally impossibly to be completely self reliant.  After all, even if I had the money for the stove, I would be buying it from someone who knows how to make it.  The same applies to everything. 

We are looking to get this sorted out in time for winter to set in, and snow to start falling.  But there is the issue of money.  I need to add parts to the existing chimney, put in a hearth, and buy a stove.  Our county does non require permits for any of this, however, will provide a safely inspection for about $40 if I want one, and I do, for the insurance company to be satisfied.  We are getting the wood for our inefficient fireplace in the living room.  But I would much rather put it in a stove in the dining room where it is centralized in the house in will heat much more, if not all of it. 

In previous years, we have had winters where the temperatures have dropped to –20F, and the cost of keeping 68 to 70 in the house in the daytimes reached $1,200 a month in Propane.  Last year was exceptionally mild and we used the fireplace and quartz heaters, which cost $300 to $455 a month in electric alone.  Cords of wood cost $150 and last about 6 weeks.  This year we bought wood permits for the National Forest, and are doing our part to remove dry wood there, and keep it from catching fire so easily.  Permits cost $50 for 8 cords, so is much cheaper, even with the cost of going up, getting the wood, and cutting it up.  I am getting in shape with the axe! 

I hate the idea of asking for help with this, as I think most people would.  It is especially hard when we are trying to be as self reliant as possible.  But sometimes in life, we just can’t do it alone.  So, any help would be very much appreciated!  And thank you  in advance! 


Kelsey J Bacon

The Prospering Peasant

Late Summer Report

This summer has not quite gone the way we have wanted it to at all.  We had hoped to get a bigger foothold in home food production, but found that the home part needed a lot of work.  This old house needs a lot done to it to make it livable.  We found too that with cold winters and high heating bills, we have a lot to do in the summers to prepare for it.  Learning to workloads and expectations is a part of it, and so is methodology, of course.  It is one thing to say, “Well, I want to go chop firewood in the mountains and warm the house with it all winter.”  It is another thing to go and do it, with getting permits being just about the easiest part.  Then there is arranging to go with willing parties to help, and following all of the rules around harvesting, then splitting, and bringing it home.  Do you split wood up in the mountains so it stacks better for transport?  Or do you chop logs and bring them down to split at home, knowing you will be shorting yourself on the measurements for what is allowed to come?  There are many other factors involved in the seemingly simple declaration that you will get the wood from the mountains.  It has been just such things that have interfered with our plans for this summer. 

Missus could not decide if she wanted to plant a garden in a garden patch, which we knew would grow over with grass by the end of the season, or in raised beds, which we could not afford to build to any good standard.  That really shorted us on our planned garden. 

We had some unplanned expenses come up that shot the whole animal purchases thing in the foot too.  One was actually foreseeable, new tires on the car.  Winter roads are not passable on slick treads.  So I knew that was coming, but when one of the tires tore a couple of weeks ago on a road where we were exploring wood cutting areas, that forced us to get the tires earlier than planned!  Another high cost item was the tree that was too close to the house, and suffered a hard hit from a microburst.  I could not have taken that tree down safely on my own if I wanted to, so we had to hire out. 

This year has also been a good year to see how the pasture grows without any irrigation on it.  Every penny saved is one less we have to earn. 

Then there is the house itself.  It had not been maintained well for over a decade before we came to it.  And the decorating was pretty dire.  So we have been deferring for that.  House expenses began in January with a new water heater, then went on to replacing the leach field on the septic system.  The actual redecorating has suffered because we had no clear goal or plan for what we wanted.  So that is still in the works, and often gets pushed back because it is lower priority than many other things. 

Another high expense this year was a chainsaw purchase.  We cannot afford the cost of propane in the winters here.  With the potential cost as high as $1,200 a month based on past experience, and even with the lower costs of around $600 a month for heating, it is too much.  Wood costs around $150 a cord, and a cord can last about six weeks, so that is a much less expensive heating method right there.  But a permit for firewood costs $50 for 8 cords worth of wood from the forest.  The best parts about that include the clearing I am doing of dead trees that raise the risk of a fire, and the workout I am getting while cutting and splitting.  And next time I large tree needs to come down on our land, I will have an idea of how to do it myself!  So there are cost cutting methods in this adventure.  And I have an excuse to spend a day or a night in the mountains with some of the kids! 

We still need to work out a high cost in order to really make this wood cutting thing work out for us.  We have an inefficient fireplace.  We also have a perfect spot for a wood stove.  The wood stove would work much better for whole house heating.  We just need to figure out how to finance such a thing.  If we can, then the heating fuel is already paid for, and just about half supplied. 

A lot of thought has been put into what we are going to do in the future where we are.  We know what we want to do.  We just need to keep our feet in motion in that direction! 

Scouting For Firewood

Today I took the girls and a teenage boy who is learning to drive, and went up into the National Forrest to scout out where I will be heading on Saturday to start cutting this winter’s firewood supply.  We are allowed to clear dead trees there, so they should already be drying, and we are allowed only soft wood, pine, so it should not be too hard to get a saw through.  The trip also netted us a flat tire, and a picnic, as well as a look at a cave north of where we live. 

I had our 17 year old drive the whole day.  To get to where we cut, we drove over to the Montpellier side of the forest, then cut back into it on a dirt road.  The road was in pretty good shape till we got back to Franklin County, then it was a bit more than I would want to do with a loaded truck and trailer full of wood.  So, we know where to turn back!  I plotted campsites with the GPS in case we need emergency help up there. 

This will be my first firewood trip!  Our 19 year old is going to be with me, and he helped his girlfriend’s family last year, so his second trip.  For safety, I will prefer to take trees that are already down, and there are quite a few. 

Like everything else we are doing here on the farm, the goal is to cut the cost of living.  Of course, for our heating bill, we stand to save a lot of money with firewood.  The only thing left is to get a wood stove installed for much better heat distribution in the house.  The fireplace just doesn’t cut it!  But at the cost of propane in the winters, we could afford a wood stove over one winter.  The next would be the free year, even on only moderately cold winters. 

Saturday is going to be one hellish day!  No doubt about that.  If we can muster a second trip, we will have one more set of hands available from our 17 year old.  If we could possibly hurry and cut and load, we could, maybe, given I don’t know the time frames involved in the work, get four cords of wood on Saturday.  But that would require working really fast, and minimizing cutting as much as possible till the wood is down from the mountains. 

At least, after Saturday, I will be able to calculate this sort of thing better, having gained some experience at it!  I might dull the chain too fast, or worse, and have a slow and miserable day!  We will see! 


The Prospering Peasant