Friday, June 8, 2012

Life never stops does it?  No matter how badly you want to stop things and be able to savor a moment, halt a moment or be able to complete a project before a deadline, time never seems to cooperate.  *sigh*  Life at the Arndt farm continues on, with some additions to the roster.  2 broody hens have hatched out 4 chicks (1 and 3) another broody is setting on 6 eggs and our Bronze hen is setting on 11 (hopefully fertile) eggs.  Daisy had her second calf, a bull that is still nameless a month after birth.  I do not intend to name him as he is being sold in October to a family that will eat him next year so really, what's the point?  We have new piggies that are impatiently waiting for us to get their pasture fenced so they can get to work.  The family that I work for had a new baby on February 2nd, the same day that a dear friend of mine miscarried her 3rd baby at 8 weeks.  They have 2 sons and got pregnant again on her next cycle but still I went back to my dark place.  I am feeling better and my hopes to become an Affiliate Photographer for the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep Foundation are still alive and well.  I simply need a better camera and some practice with portrait lighting.   *double-sigh*  Okay, so on with the pictures. :-)

 Daisy's new baby when he was about an hour old.  That's not a trick, he really was silver. O_o
 Because Sweet Pea is still in the corral, she took the opportunity to steal a snack while Daisy was in labor and ended up stripping skin off all 4 of Daisy's teats.  I was livid but found out that Orajel really works as a temporary anesthetic so I could milk without getting kicked.
Daisy's calf at a month old.  He's Cody's first calf and is taking on a bit of papa's red coloring.
 Claire and two of her babies.  She has 3 but the third one is behind her.
 Brothers.  The 2 year old following his 3 year old brother at my workplace.  They were hunting for worms.
Neffy, the Egyptian Fayoumi and her interesting baby.  If it's a boy he will be my third rooster but I'm kind of hoping for a hen.  
 Two female Gold Stars that I bought to keep a chick company.  Unfortunately, the chick died a couple days later but I still have two guaranteed layers.
A nest of turkey eggs.  She laid 14 originally but I opened one to check fertility, and two were broken so she's got 11.  I hope they are all fertile and she manages to raise them all to weaning age.  She has one tom in with her and the other four are separated into their grow-out pen.

 My sweet Bonnie, due with calf #3 in a couple weeks.

Cody boy, 2 years old. 


Friday, January 20, 2012

Making Food (Part 2)

Okay, it's time for the next steps in the processing of our pigs. I'm going to concentrate on the final processing steps to render a carcass into food.

This man really gets into his butchering!

We used the last of our shrink bags on the hams. We froze them fresh and I process them into ham as I use them. Our Thanksgiving ham was brined for 4 days and roasted. It was FANTASTIC!!!

Charlie was grinding the second pig. Because we use so much ground meat we went ahead and ground most of the smaller pig. We ended up with ribs and about 50 lbs of burger. We didn't find anything wrong that we could point to to explain the unthriftiness but he's good eatin' nonetheless.

Making Bacon

Here is the Wikipedia artle about bacon

Bellies and the ingredients for the brine. I did not use any nitrate sources, just salt, sugar and spices as our forefathers did it.

I boiled 3 gallons of water and poured it over everything. It took about 3 hours for the water to cool and I put the bellies in it, suspended from a rack.

It cured for about a week and then we smoked it for a day. Dad built a smoker a few years ago and it's so great to have!

This is the set-up. These are all smoked and ready for slicing.

The bacon doesn't taste like store bacon and for that I am glad. It just cemented it more clearly in my mind that all the commercial flavor is from questionable ingredients. I prefer home-made bacon thank you!

I don't remember where we got the slicer but I sure am glad that we have it.

Making Head Cheese

Here is the Wikipedia article about headcheese. I had been looking forward to creating this incredibly nutrient-dense food for many, many months. I think I wanted to name one of the pigs Head Cheese, in fact! Now that I have done it, I look forward to creating it with a steer head too! Beware, there are pictures of pig eyes and tongues and teeth. I made no attempt to disguise the appearance of the heads.

The heads waited so patiently to be processed.

This is the bigger pig, skinned and ready to go in the pot. I even brushed the teeth and rinsed them with vinegar.

I put celery, carrots and onions in with the head and boiled it for about 4 hours.

I picked the meat off the head, including the tongue and pulled out the brain. Everything except eyeballs, went into the head cheese.

This is my 3 gallon stock pot, that was nearly when I pulled out the head. I boiled down the liquid until I was maybe 3 cups. It took on a very silken appearance and was thicker than cornstarch gravy.

I looked up a recipe and it said to roughly chop the meat, so I did. come to find out, most people mince it finely so it has more of a potted meat texture. Oh well, next time I'll do better. :P

While the first cheese was setting up I skinned the second head and got it boiling.

Each head filled a regular bread pan to the top. I was amazed that it worked out so perfectly! I poured the reduced stock over the meat and set it aside.

The first cheese, gloriously gelled!

I roasted all the bones and boiled them up into bone broth. I reduced 24 quarts of broth to half a gallon and froze it. Whenever I have need of some I just take the tub out of the freezer for 10 minutes, scoop out a spoonful and put the tub back in the freezer. It takes up much less space and is so much easier than trying to deal with all that regular broth.

I hope you enjoyed my journey into making food. I continue to experiment and create my own food and I thoroughly enjoy it. Due to dietary restrictions, I will be making butter, buttermilk, yogurt, cream cheese and cottage cheese for the next few months. I will be taking many pictures and posting those processes as well so stay tuned!


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Making Food

First, my disclaimer: The following post contains pictures of dead pigs, both whole and, gutted and skinned. If you find such things distasteful then you are welcome to leave. Otherwise, enjoy the process!

We got started around 9 am on the 25th. Charlie came down from Wasilla to help us process the pigs and I was glad that I didn't have to do any of the killing. I don't like it (what can I say, I'm a girl). Dad did the deed and I went out to help get them onto the trailer for the trip to the barn.

They decided to do Bacon first, don't ask me why. Dad made a gambrel many years ago to do moose and it has come on very handy. He set a clamp on the I-beam in the roof of the barn and used the come-along to hoist the carcass up.

The chickens were in the big, fat, middle of everything. Because we have no way to heat the water, we chose to skin them. I wasn't happy about losing all that skin and the fat that was attached but it couldn't be helped this time. When the barn is done, our butcher room will have the equipment necessary to scald and scrape. In the meantime, we skinned and the chickens were gathered around trying to peck bits of meat and fat off the hide. I had Dad carve the big chunks of fat off the skin so I could save it for lard.

I was so busy collecting fat, kidneys and liver that I forgot to get pictures of the skinning, gutting and splitting process but I'm sure you get the idea. I had to go in and make dinner while they were doing the smaller pig so I didn't get pictures of that one either. oops

Here are the feet, leaf fat and, as "luck" would have it, the missed testicle from Pork Chops. I can't believe that happened! When a boar is raised in confinement and fed a commercial ration his meat is usually so rank that it is inedible. Sped, our first pig, was this way. Mom couldn't stomach the smell of it cooking, I didn't care for it but Dad just ignored it and plowed through the entire pig by himself. Gah!
I couldn't smell anything on his fat, he was raised on pasture and was not fed a commercial food so I was hoping that he wasn't tainted.

When rendering lard (or tallow for that matter) you need to put a little water in first so the fat doesn't scorch before it starts to melt. This was the leaf fat from the bigger pig that I rendered the first night. They didn't take any fat off the second pig until it came in to be butchered. I got a little over half a gallon of rendered lard the first night. Some was leaf lard and some was regular lard.

Dad was pointing out the various cuts and asking me if I wanted them reduced a little more. Some primal cuts are fine as they are, some need to be made into final cuts. Here we have a couple roasts that were left as they were, a shank and the ribs/chops.

Part 2, coming soon...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It's Autumn Already!

And, strangely, I am so very happy! It has been a crazy-busy summer and I am ready for a break. Our hay is reserved and the money is in the bank tomorrow so I am finally going into winter with all the hay I need to see me through! Yippee!!!
I went around taking update pics of the farm today and I forgot the coolest thing. We hung a zipline off the barn, going down to Cody's pen so that I don't have to haul hay to him. I just hang a bale on the trolley and let it go. We tested it and it works great. The only issue is, Cody started banging it around with his horns before I got down there to put it in his feeder. Once I got down there he was very well behaved and waited until I got it untied and in the feeder before he started ripping big mouthfuls out of it. I think it will work great.Bonnie and her boy LeBoeuf. He is nearly 3 months old and weighs about 220 lbs. He's gaining about 70 lbs a month
Happy boy! I ♥ milk slobber. :)

Daisy slicked of very nicely and is busy growing her winter coat. Her coat isn't nearly as long as Bonnie's but it's definitely getting thick. I ordered the kit from Biotracking and we'll find out this month whether or not the girls are expecting. If Daisy is pregnant then I am drying her off at the end of November, just in case Lulu managed to impregnate her before he was butchered. I hope not because that would mean a January calf!

Sweet Pea and LeBoeuf, big sister and little brother. Sweet Pea is almost 7 months old and weighs almost 300 lbs. For those who don't know, that is not very much. I am a little worried about her being 500 lbs by July, when I want to breed her. I hope that better nutrition and being on mama's milk until she's 8 months old will help her with the weight. She is only2 inches taller than LeBoeuf, at the hip and 4 months older than he. I think shes' going to be a very petite cow.

Cody's feeder is a deli case that Dad scrounged many years ago. I used it for a hothouse for awhile, then she moved it and it just laid there. I wanted to use it (and may still) as a broody house for hens. For now, it works fantastically as a cow feeder. We almost have his pen done so for now, he is tied to the big birch, inside the pen. He shares a side with the girls so he's much happier and not so noisy.

The Bourbon Reds are growing great. It looks like we have at least 5 toms but the two younger ones may be toms as well, just behind in growth. I'm not closing them in this year, like I did last year because that much testosterone cooped up all winter is begging for catastrophe. When they are 6 months old they are going to be transitioned off the commercial grower ration and go onto sprouted grain, organic corn, suet blocks and clabbered milk.

Bacon and Pork Chops have a date with the freezer on October 25th. For some reason Bacon passed Pork Chops in growth and he will have no problem reaching 250 lbs before the 25th. Pork Chops has something wrong with him and isn't growing as fast. He may be a bit under 250 at butcher time but we can't let him grow any more because it would be too cold. All his calories would go to warmth, not growth. I can't wait to have two freezers full of yummy pork and organs to make things like, head cheese and scrapple! I'm going to make gallons and gallons of pork stock and I might make some gelatin powder so I can make my own Jell-o! Ooo yummy. I'll be documenting the processes and will be posting pics and recipes and taste reviews. :)


Friday, September 9, 2011


I don't know why it seems like such an awkward thing... My daughter is dead. Oh but wait, she isn't my daughter. I didn't carry her in my womb. I didn't share the joy of knowing I created a new life with the man that I love. I didn't lay there on the table while the tech moved the wand through the gel on my bulging stomach. I didn't know the indescribable joy watching the baby within move on the screen. I didn't push her into the world. I didn't adopt her even. I was simply her babysitter. But in my heart, she is as much mine as any child I will ever give birth to. I can't imagine my life if she had never been in it. And I miss her with the ache of a mom.
But again, it is awkward to talk about. When she died everyone was on hand to console her parents. Oh, how sad, their daughter is gone how hard it must be for them. But what about me? I was there nearly every day of her life. I fed her and changed her and bathed her and dressed her and cuddled her and took her temperature and gave her medicine and kissed her boo-boos and told her no and kissed her face and slapped her hand and snuggled during long nights of crying. I did everything that a mother does for her child, but nobody came to me and gave me the hug meant to console. Very few people called to offer a shoulder to cry on after she died. I am deeply grateful for the people who did but it was so awkward, so I didn't talk about my feelings. Instead I wrote and I cried and I stuffed and I moved forward with living.
I wanted so desperately for her parents to have another baby and I was ANGRY that they never would. Did I ever say that she called me mama? Whenever I went out of her sight she would stand in her crib/playpen and call softly, "Mama? Mama?" I playfully told her, "I'm not your mama! I'm Pam!" but it touched me that she had such a precious name for me. I know that she knew her mother and her mother was special to her, as they are to every child, but I still thrilled to hear that word.
Last month a couple that I know from an internet forum lost their twins at 14 weeks gestation. I was heartbroken for them but I can't let them know that I know the pain of losing a child because it's awkward. I know that my, "I know how you feel because..." will not be welcome. I don't know how they feel. I don't know the struggle with infertility and the hope that shoots through them when the test comes back positive. I don't know the devastation of knowing that this long and painful journey is going to end in heartbreak. But I know what it feels like to have your heart ripped from your body. I know that feeling of being underwater while the world continues on. I know the rage at the fact that the whole world isn't in mourning with you. Don't they understand that YOUR BABY IS DEAD? I know the incessant "what ifs" that plague your days and fill your dreams. I know the regrets and the questions. I know what it's like to be on your face crying out to God, asking him to take you too just so you can see the face of the child that is gone. I know what it's like to cry so hard that you throw up and still it doesn't ease the pain. I know the ache of empty arms and a shattered heart. But I can't explain that, because it's awkward.
I thought this burden had grown lighter. I thought the wound was a scar but tonight I realized it was a scab, a deep one that when peeled, allows freshets of blood to course down. It feels like the day after she died all over again. There's that familiar lump in my throat and that catch in my chest as I fight to suppress the tears because it would be awkward to have to explain them.
I know it's awkward but I miss my baby girl.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Beautiful Poem

I'm not "into" poetry but this one spoke to me. ♥♥♥

The Highlanders

by H. D. Sloan

Over from a land called Scotland
Where the natives like their meat,
Came this rugged breed of cattle
That, my friends, you cannot beat.

From the stories told on Scotsmen,
They are thrifty folk indeed.
So they naturally raised cattle
That they did not have to feed.

I see cowmen in this country
Hauling hay and freeze their nose.
If their cattle were Highlanders,
They could sit and toast their toes.

Once my neighbor raised some cattle,
But were of a different stock.
Every spring before the snow left
He would have his cows in hock.

Borrowed money to buy feed with,
Boy! Was he in a rut.
If he tried to save a dollar
Then they died from hollow-gut.

He would cry and cuss his banker
'Cause he'd pound his desk and shout,
Seems like every time he saw him
He would have his stinger out.

Told me when he met Saint Peter,
(If up there the cowmen dwell)
He would ask him if it snowed there,
If it did he'd go to Hell.

If my friend had raised Highlanders,
He would now be riding high.
And would never doubt the climate
Of that big Range in the sky.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Yay!! Pictures!!!

Our little farm has two new additions and a returned member. Earlier this month, the family that I work for wanted to buy Cody to use as a herd sire. I gave them the price and waited to hear back. Apparently, in going over the last winter's memories and crunching the numbers they decided they weren't ready for a bull... or their other two cows either. I was at the top of the list for a new home and I jumped at the chance!! Of course, right? Anyway, we had taken Cody over there to breed their cow so he had to come home and then we brought home Daisy, the Dexter cow and her daughter Sweet Pea, the Dexter/Jersey heifer. Sweet Pea is 4 months old and super chunky but also super short. LeBeouf isn't yet 3 weeks old and he is nearly as tall as she is. They are half-siblings and I hope she is a dainty little thing when she grows up.


Cody in the foreground (obviously), Daisy and Sweet Pea behind him.

Daisy still has her winter coat. I'm hoping she finds the mineral feeder soon so she can start building herself back up.

Sweet Pea, watching Jasher. The only dog she had ever seen was Hezekiah, the Akita who liked to chase her. She's polled (naturally hornless) and she's pretty friendly. I was worried but the family did a good job socializing her.

We are treating Cody like a bull now, as in, I don't move him, ever and he only gets to come in the corral whenever there's a cow in heat. Most likely we will end up keeping him as our herd bull which means he will be breeding Bonnie. It's not a big deal because we are breeding for beef anyway. Sweet Pea will be ready to breed sometime next fall and I am really excited to see what the Jersey influence does to her milk. The family wasn't milking Daisy so I'm not sure how much she is giving but I'm going to find out soon. :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

He's HERE!!!

Bonnie finally calved, 10 days late, on July 11th. He is very tall and taped at 75 pounds!! Yikes! She delivered him alone and without incident around 6 am. I'm incredibly thankful that everything was okay and now I'm holding my breath as her udder edema is slowly going away. It's very painful to let down right now and this calf is not that bright or aggressive. I managed to get some out of her left side this morning but not nearly enough. I'm going to try hot compresses tonight and see if we can get her to let down through the pain so I can get that milk out. If the calf doesn't start to nurse that side then it will dry up or it will get mastitis and end up infected and icky. Either way those quarters need milked.
In a week or so I am going to band him and in 18 months or so we'll have lovely, grass-fed beef for our freezer. :) :) :)
So, without further ado, here are the pictures of his cuteness, LeBeouf!

This is 12 hours old, nice and dry!

He's doing much better about nursing and has finally realized that there are at least 3 teats for him to choose from. Her left, rear quarter is still really swollen and the teat is not easy for him to nurse, plus he's really tall and that quarter is really low that I'm not so sure he even knows it's there.
We'll see how much I can work that quarter tonight and hopefully tomorrow will be easier on him.


About Me

We're a family that came to Alaska in shifts. We've been here since 1995 and don't plan to leave any time soon.

For Jaime

Comment from a SMART President

" The government that is big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have."

Thomas Jefferson President 1801-1809
Died on JULY 4th, 1826



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