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Getting the Farm Ready for Winter

Getting the Farm Ready for Winter

Sometimes winter hits unannounced. That’s what happened here last week. Saturday was a beautiful T-shirt weather day, and by afternoon on Sunday old man Winter was rearing his ugly head. Don’t get me wrong, I love winter… snowball fights, hot cocoa, sledding and cozying up 

Fried Rabbit

Fried Rabbit

Do you like fried chicken? Try a fried rabbit for a delicious dinner using an alternate meat source. Rabbits are easy to keep and are a great meat option for small scale farms and homesteaders.

Rabbit: The New Chicken

Rabbit: The New Chicken

Prepare yourself for some harsh news… Rabbit is DELICIOUS! There I said it. I know they are cute and cuddly and oh so soft… but also…. oh so delicious!

We raise rabbits for meat. They are an easy to care for inexpensive meat source that reproduces very quickly. We started out with rabbits somewhat by surprise. You can find that story in my post entitled “A Gift from the Farm.”

On our little farm we have a couple of rules about keeping animals:

They cannot be mean! If they are mean in any way, they are not permitted to stay.

They need to serve a purpose.

Lets focus on that second rule right now. We ended up with rabbits due to feral rabbits in the neighborhood. We caught them to keep them from eating all of our crops that year. They destroyed the spring garden and I was not going to sacrifice the plot of land that I had tilled up and fertilized by choosing a new spot on our 1 acre to plant a garden.

So now we had 6 rabbits. We either needed to get rid of them or make them serve a purpose. At first they were just fun and the kids loved climbing in the cage with them to play, but to us it didn’t make good sense to have the cost of feeding 6 bunnies if we were getting no return from our investment. So we gave the rabbits a purpose. They are breeding stock for a meat source.

A bunch of cute babies!

Rabbits begin breeding by 6 months, are pregnant for approximately 30 days, and grow to a good butcher weight at around 4 months. Its not a bad turn around time.

We started with our 6 rabbits. We have recently inherited a few more, and currently have 4 breeding does and 2 bucks. With rabbits, unless you are worried about keeping pure bloodlines. it is fine to line breed. We have been breeding the buck from our first litter to his litter mates for a year now with no problems. Some say you will end up with stupid rabbits, but if they are a food source they don’t have too have superb intelligence.

We have two other young does that we are keeping for their beautiful colors because we also sell a few as pets every so often. By selling a rabbit here and there it offsets the cost of their feed and lowers the cost of their meat for us.

So how do you use rabbit meat? I am still very new to rabbit. I had never eaten one until I butchered our extra buck last February. I use it like chicken. So far, the easiest way I have found to cook it is whole, in the crock pot. I put it on low for about 8 hours until the meat begins to fall off the bones and is easy to shred.

Once it has reached the shredding stage, I take it out of the crock pot and just shred the whole thing to use in various recipes that usually call for chicken. This week we had green chili chicken (rabbit) enchiladas and Chicken (rabbit) and dumplings. When its used in recipes like this its very hard to tell the difference between the two meats.

Roasted rabbit is good too. Much like a large tinfoil dinner for the whole family. And I am still finding new ways to use it.

The rabbits now have multiple purposes. They are a source of fun and amusement for my children, a great source of fertilizer since their manure is an excellent source of nitrogen, and lastly a low cost source of meat that can be very prolific and delicious!

Our No Dig No Weed Potato Garden

Our No Dig No Weed Potato Garden

This year we went a little crazy and decided to try and plant a potato garden. It turned into more of a potato field, but it turned out pretty good! So we have been really getting into the whole farming and homesteading thing for about 

Is She Pregnant or Just Fat?

Is She Pregnant or Just Fat?

Getting our cow preg checked was an interesting adventure. She had been with a bull some time in the beginning of March which was a couple of months before we bought her. However, we didn’t know for certain if she was pregnant. She has had 

Our First Cow

Our First Cow

We brought home our first cow in the beginning of May. Neither Dave nor I have ever owned a cow before. Honestly, except for running into cows grazing out on public lands and seeing them on farms, I have never really been around cows. Its been a bit of a learning curve… this seems to be a theme with our little farm. Lots to learn about everything!

After reading about different kinds of cows, Dave really got to liking the idea of raising Dexter cows. Dexter cows are considered a miniature cow. They are smaller than most breeds but are not always as small as you would expect.

We found our cow, Sequoia, on a local classified add online and decided she would make a nice start for our future herd. She had been in with a bull in March, so she is supposedly pregnant.

When we went to get her I was very surprised at her size. For a Dexter she was very big, and oh so fat! It was very apparent that you can overfeed a cow on hay cubes! She looks a lot like an Angus cow that has been sawed off at the knees.

After a short rodeo, we got her loaded into our stock trailer and we drove home. She seemed to handle the 45 minute drive without a problem, but after we unloaded her into our pasture, she started hollering! She bellowed for 3 days! She liked to go to the corner of the pasture and stare at the neighbor’s horse and bellow. Mooooooo!!!!! as loud as possible.

That first night we were certain the neighbors were going to be pounding down our door with torches and pitchforks! She was so loud and would not give it up! The next morning I was awoke by a text from a neighbor who lived two streets away. Her little boys had heard our cow and had to go on a hunt to find it! They were so excited to see that the neighbors had gotten a cow!

At church that afternoon some of the neighborhood was chatting about the new sound they had been hearing. I overheard a conversation between two ladies, “Did you hear all of that noise this morning? What was that?! Did someone inherit a dragon?!”

Luckily no one confronted us about our noise-ordinance defiling bovine. And a few days later she settled down. She began to make friends with the goats and even began to get comfortable with us.

Each day I would give her a feed pan with a scoop of sweet mix in it. After a day or two she would come up to me when she saw that I had the pan. After about a week I could pet her head and down her neck.

By the end of two weeks she would allow me to touch her just about anywhere, her feet her rear and under her belly. But she would only let me touch her so long as her face was still in the feed pan. As soon as she was finished with her treat, she wouldn’t let me near her. Not to sure she will make for a good milk cow.

Also, by the end of two weeks, she had already eaten down our 1/4 acre pasture to the point that we needed to move her off of it. We knew she would eat a lot, but seeing how fast 1 small cow could eat down that amount of space was a real eye opener.

Since that time she has been the travelling cow. We have moved her between our pasture and friend’s and relatives pastures to mow down their extra grass and to allow ours to grow back. Currently she is enjoying a lush pasture on my uncle’s farm in Beaver, UT. We plan to bring her home later this fall so she can calve out on our little homestead.

Blanching and Freezing Corn

Blanching and Freezing Corn

Want fresh corn in the middle of January? Preserve it now to have it then!

Easy Cherry Cheesecake Topping and Pie Filling

Easy Cherry Cheesecake Topping and Pie Filling

Cherry season is upon us! And guys! We got our first crop of cherries off of the little sapling we planted this year. Yup! We got… drum roll please….. 4 cherries! But all joking aside, it is cherry season so it’s time for my all-time 

Victorio Cherry Pitter Product Review

Victorio Cherry Pitter Product Review

So many cherries! I picked so many cherries. Seriously, close to 100 lbs of cherries. By day 3 of processing them I was wondering what possessed me to bring home quite so many. It was at this point I began to give some away to the neighbors.

Cherries are a delight in early summer. They are one of the first fruits to come on and they just make me relive all of the many hours spent as a kid climbing in the cherry tree picking cherries and spitting out the pits onto my sisters who were picking on lower limbs.

So many cherries!

But when you aren’t just picking a few do eat, pitting cherries can really be the pits! This is where a cherry pitter comes in handy. When I got home from picking cherries with that many cherries, Dave said, “If you don’t buy yourself a cherry pitter, I am getting you one!” And I am so glad we bought one.

I picked it up at the local IFA farm store, although they can be found in many locations, even off Amazon. My cherries needed processing asap so I wasn’t going to wait around to have one shipped to me. It was worth the $25 and the extra trip into town.

The pitter was easy to assemble and the directions were easy to follow. Once I got it put together I tried out the suction bottom that makes it stay put on the counter. It stuck well!

On the box it claims that the pitter can handle several pounds of cherries an hour. Depending on how many you have and the kind of stamina your arm has this is very true. I timed myself while pitting and was able to hit a top speed of 75 cherries a minute. I cannot keep that up for very long!

The Victorio Cherry Pitter comes with a little pit catcher cup that slides in the bottom. I found it necessary to dump this cup after about each set of 100 cherries pitted. If I forgot the pitter still worked, but when I went to dump the pit cup, there would be cherry pits falling out everywhere and stuck in every cranny of the machine.

The pitter worked great, and saved soooo much time, but it was messy! After just a minute or two there was a puddle of cherry juice on my counter top that continued to grow with each cherry. It has quite the splash zone as well. My walls and microwave were spattered in cherry juice as were my apron and glasses. Against one wall there is still some cherry juice I need to wash off 4 feet above the counter height.

Only slightly messy in this picture.

The Victorio Cherry Pitter was also difficult to clean. The cherries left a redish brown residue on the white plastic that would come off when scrubbed with warm soapy water, but there is a lot of area up inside the pitter that is hard to reach and clean. The cherry pieces and pits rinse out pretty easy but to actually scrub the residue out of there is difficult. I used a toothbrush and baby bottle brush and it came pretty clean but not quite as clean and I would want.

Canning can be messy!!!

Overall I am very pleased with the product. It cut time like nobody’s business even if it was quite messy. Pitting cherries is a time consuming task even with a pitter to speed up the process. It took me 5 days to finally be finished processing the cherries. I can’t imagine the amount of time if I had pitted them with a knife!

The Billy Goat not so Gruff

The Billy Goat not so Gruff

We have had goats for a year now. We got 3 Nigerian Dwarf doelings in June of last year. At the time 2 of them were only 10 weeks and the other was 4 months. We named them Salt, Pepper and Oreo. This week they