Category Archives: WWOOFing

April – The Arrival of Tiny Bacon

The rabbit condo I built a few posts back is fully occupied in April.  We learn before the end of the month why rabbit wire is thicker than chicken wire.  We used chicken wire to build a perimeter fence around their condo so we could move them around the gardens and allow them to “graze”.  The rabbits managed to chew holes in the wire and escape into the gardens.  We usually manage to catch them and put them back in the pen, but a few of them were “Caught” by the resident bird dog on the farm, and a few of them were caught by my 12 gauge.  We were raising meat rabbits anyway, some of them chose their own day to jump in the crock pot.  We also happened to have a huge bloom of wisteria around the farm this month.  The waves of perfume in the air that float past as you are working on the farm were amazing.

We also had a few spring animals showing up during the month of April.  A good sized turtle showed up one day when we were riding around on the Kubota RTV.  We also were visited by a screech owl one cool rainy day, it sat under the shed roof to keep dry for a few minutes and Thomas managed to see it.

We had our first asparagus shoots popping up out of the ground.  I also discovered a sustainable method for topping the curly mustard plants to keep them from flowering.  A few carrots managed to grow, they are an heirloom variety that are super sweet but don’t get very large.  Some spring sweet onions were harvested, and Laini made a great model for the curly mustard.  Smoothies made with garlic, mustard greens, and kale are good at waking you up, and keeping you moving… rapidly to the bathroom.

Some friends stopped by to work on the farm with us for a while, and they brought the tiny bacon with them.  These little piggies were cute, but I couldn’t help wondering what they would look like on the grill.  I managed to find out what miniature bacon would do if it were introduced to eggs, it friggin eats them… Watch the video, you will be amazed.  I had to include the breakfast picture for a little clarity, unless there was an amazing spider involved I would probably eat them, but they rode away when our friends left.


Icy February Into Flaming March

March on the farm required a lot of ice storm clean up and prepping of the gardens for spring planting.  We also fired up the drip torch and managed some controlled burns.  The burns are necessary to remove the undergrowth before it gets so dense that an accidental fire would be too intense and kill the trees.  It also removes the dense briars and invasive vining plants and allows more native plants to thrive, creating habitat and food for the wildlife.  All of the intentional forrest fires were tiring, napping with a narcoleptic bunny appeared to help.


Another project we worked on at the farm during March was making Mushroom Logs.  We drilled holes in the logs, injected spawn (mushroom mycelium filled sawdust), and covered the holes with wax to prevent wild spores from getting into the logs.  These logs were set aside on concrete for a few months to allow our magic to take hold.  Later in the season, we will place the logs in an appropriate environment to allow the mushrooms to fruit.  The spawn we used was for Shiitake mushrooms.  The girls had fun with the wax and the spawn injectors.

A friend visited the farm, and brought a playful Lab Mix with him named Bridgett.  She was great on the farm, she didn’t even chase the ducks.  One evening, when we arrived back at the farm house from a day out on the town, she went outside to take care of business.  It was dark outside, and the girls were in the farmhouse living room with the light on.  Bridgett got so excited when she saw the girls, she ran through the glass door.  She was terrified, and bleeding really bad from three major cuts on her legs and one across her nose.  She was in shock, and got aggressive with her owner, who was very nervous about the situation and she could probably sense that.  She actually let me pick her up and load her into Boober for a saturday night ride to the Vet.  Since it was after hours, the Vet needed someone to assist so I jumped in.  We weren’t really looking for another dog, but she really did pick me.  She trusted me when she wouldn’t trust anyone else.  I knew if it were an option, she would be our dog as she sat on the seat with her head in my lap all the way to the vet.

Since we decided to set up SC as a home base for a while, we also purchased a 5th wheel trailer to park at the farm.  Here are a few pictures of the trailer we purchased.  Our plan was to lease a lot from the farm to park the trailer on.  This gave the girls someplace to stay when I went to the Sugar Beet Harvest later in the year.

March also included a free workshop on different fermented foods, offered by Fermentation On Wheels, in Charleston.  We quickly made friends with the teacher, Tara Whitsitt, and took her to one of the many restaurants in Charleston for lunch.  We learned a lot from her, and quickly made some kimchi and kraut to enjoy.  The kimchi was great on breakfast taters…  The fancy spread on the table in front of the girls has an even fancier french name, Charcuterie.  Basically, it is a smoked and preserved meat tray with out of this world flavors.  The girls loved it, and I wanted more for sure…

 

February on the Farm

NOTE:  This post contains images of animals that were hunted, killed, and consumed.  Viewer Take Note…

As I said in the previous post, I took the Farm Manager position at Halve Ewe Herd in South Carolina.  It was an unexpected change of plans, but we have learned to roll with those in the past couple of years.  This farm, at around 1,000 acres, quickly turned into a vast area to explore and experience for our whole family.  The swamp seemed to be calling to all of us, the peaceful sound of birds and other wildlife at the edge of the swamp is very relaxing.  Here are a few pictures from another spring that feeds the swamp.  These pictures were taken very early one morning, the fog hanging over the swamp gave it an erie cold feel.  I tried to imagine soldiers during the Civil War filling their canteens in these springs, as well as the workers that built the railroad just out of view in the mid 1800’s.

After working in the gardens for a few days, we came to realize one of the reasons our crops were not growing very well happened to be a very healthy population of wild rabbits.  A ride on the Kubota just after dusk revealed the massive herd we were dealing with.  I decided to build a rabbit trap using some of the materials we recovered from the old tenant house we demolished.  This trap worked pretty good, but we never managed to catch a rabbit in it.  My old 12 gauge shotgun was a much more effective tool, and Thomas the chef made some great rabbit dishes.  We also found a great spot looking out over the swamp from the railroad tracks to watch the sunset.

A few days into the month, we had our 2nd ice storm.  This storm came with much more ice and damage than the first, our power was out for almost a week.  Our summer in Oregon without electricity brought out the Dutch Oven skills, so we ate in style despite the power shortage.  The ice was beautiful, but very destructive.  The Live Oak and Magnolia trees, that keep their leaves all winter, were hit very hard.


The previous included the beginning stages of the rabbit chalet I started to build from wood salvaged from the house demolition.  Here are the girls painting the roof (covered by tin that was removed from the house) and doing a good job of it.

The wild rabbits mentioned earlier put me in hunting mode, here are the first two I managed to bag.  I also utilized the “on farm” bird dog, and scored a couple woodcocks (not on the same day).  These critters were utilized to the best of my ability, the rabbits were made into rabbit salad (think chicken salad) by Chef Thomas.  He made an awesome dish with the woodcocks too.  The skins of the rabbits were saved to be tanned at a later date, and the feathers from the birds were saved to be used by the girls in craft and jewelry making.  The cuts of meat I managed to use from the birds were the breasts (dark meat), livers, hearts, and leg quarters.

The farm prides itself on impacting the environment in a positive way.  The land is home to a huge variety of wildlife, and they are nurtured by the intentional planting of wildlife feed plots.  The feed plots are providing food for deer, turkey, rabbits, squirrel, various birds, and wild hogs.  In turn, the property is peppered by various tree stands that are used by hunters both living on the property and family friends.  The deer sausage that filled the freezer at the farm house was a great perk for working there.  The girls helped me replace some bad boards on the ladder of this tree stand, they had to be the first to check it out.

Halve Ewe Herd - Feb 2014

Come back to check out what we managed to get into during the month of March on the farm…