Upcoming Farm School!

If you’ve made it this far on this blog, you deserve a pat on the back… it took real patience and perseverance to make that happen! The reality is that I don’t blog anymore, I simply don’t have the time to dedicate to it these days. Maybe I will again someday… But hey, while you’re here I wanted to take the opportunity to personally invite you to consider attending our upcoming Farm School on April 29-30. You are obviously dedicated to sustainable, pasture-based, humane livestock farming… exactly the kind of people we hope to draw to our phenomenal (if I don’t say so myself) event! Click here to be lifted from the world of “what once was” to the the world of “what could be”!

DIY – Rendering Lard

Despite the crazy looks we get sometimes, we remain committed to the concept of using the entire animal after its life on earth comes to an end. Call it sentimental, humane, or just plain efficient, we whole-heartedly endorse the idea of minimizing what goes in the rendering barrel by utilizing minor cuts of meat, fat, organs, etc. As with all things, there is a wide array of commitment levels in this regard, from the discerning eater who still can’t stand the sight/smell/texture of liver and onions, to some customers who encouraged us to package and sell chicken feet to make an unbelievably rich and hearty broth! By the way, we still have a package of chicken feet left in the freezer if anyone is interested. Wherever you find yourself on that scale, I’m here to encourage you to get on board with one underutilized portion of our animals: their fat. Once … Continue reading

DIY: Apple Cidering

Apple cider has a special place in my heart thanks to fond childhood memories of pressing apples, and I haven’t done a DIY post in a while, so I thought it would be the perfect subject to dive into. Let’s start by defining what we’re discussing, since many people are confused with the subtle difference between apple cider and apple juice. Cider is made by crushing apples and squeezing the fluid out, juice is made by taking cider and clarifying/filtering it to make it clear, as well as sweetening it. Cider contains a fair amount of sediment and is cloudy, juice usually is not. Juice is made from cider, and cider is the original juice… got it? Great! Making apple cider is incredibly easy, gratifying, and delicious. The biggest investment is in the press, of course, but there are plenty of DIY options to get around buying a full-up press. … Continue reading

DIY: Backyard Composting

If you are going to have raised garden beds (or any type of garden for that matter), you need to be able to deal with the extra refuse that comes from all those delicious vegetables and return nutrients to your soil that have been depleted. To complete the circle of life… compost! I will cover three different types of composting in this post but it is worth some internet research, as there are many varying and innovative ways to accomplish this task. The methods we’ll talk about here are aerobic, anaerobic (trench) and vermiculture.    When most people think of composting, the image that pops into their mind is some variation of the aerobic method. Think piling up your scraps, mixing in some carbonaceous material and turning it over periodically. Generally speaking, you want an approximate 50:50 ratio between kitchen scraps (typically nitrogen heavy) and shredded paper, leaves, dried grass … Continue reading

DIY: Restoring A Farmall Cub Tractor

I’ve always secretly considered myself a “man’s man”, capable and learned in the craft of all things manly. I’m equally comfortable around woodworking, plumbing, laying tile & brick, electrical work, general tinkering, and around-the-house upkeep… but one (of several) chinks in my man armor was the fact that I knew next to nothing about engines. I’ve always changed my own oil, and have bumbled my way through minor maintenance on my vehicles in the past, but I didn’t grow up learning much in the way of a mechanic’s trade. So more than 2 years ago, I decided that I wanted to make myself a better man, a more manly man. I wanted to increase my knowledge of all things vehicle-related from squat to superfluous, from insufficient to impressive, from… well, you get the picture! Originally I was thinking of restoring an old Chevy pickup, but in the spirit of the decision … Continue reading

DIY: Rain Barrels

My wife loves me. How can I tell, you ask? Lots of reasons really, but one specific way is that she buys me nice things. Not expensive, rare, or the latest cultural rage, but things that she knows I will enjoy, use and cherish because she knows me inside and out. She puts a lot of effort into gift giving, a perfect example of which was my birthday two years ago. At the end of a treasure hunt, complete with clues to follow, was the subject of this DIY post: A “Raincatcher 6000” rain barrel (I assume the 6000 means how many ounces of water it will hold), which features a screen to remove debris and keep mosquitoes from laying eggs, an overflow pipe to route water through when it is full, and stubs that you can cut off and connect to other barrels to set up a series of them … Continue reading

DIY: Raised-Bed Gardening

For the past 5 years or so, we have attempted to provide a little food for ourselves through a garden. We’ve learned some things, had some wonderful successes (us and cucumbers, we REALLY get along) and some abject failures. Unfortunately, once we feel like we’re getting one place really squared away, it seems like it’s been time to move to our next assignment and start over. One of the (many) things we’re really looking forward to on our new farm is the ability to have a much larger homesteading garden that we can nurture and put some effort in to for the long haul. So far we’ve grown lettuce, spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, onions, shell peas, green beans, carrots, cucumbers (regular & pickling), tomatoes, yellow squash, and bell peppers.     Here in Mississippi, we made our first attempt at raised-bed gardening. There are several benefits to this approach: … Continue reading