Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Pigs, pigs, pigs, pigs....and what to feed them.

You'll excuse me for doing a fast 'here's a buncha links' post for today but I'm having breakfast with Frank Underwood this morning. If I really apply myself I think I can watch all 13 hours today.


One of my most searched for phrases is "what to feed pigs." Or feeding pigs. This is my most popular pig post - it's our basic guidelines for how we feed out our pigs to butcher weight. We get the pigz in the spring, feed them all summer on a combination of bagged feed/corn, our farm products (goatmilk, eggs, and veg), and pasture. In the fall/early winter we butcher them ourselves. (You can find a lot of good how-to links here.)


We're all stuck in the house dreaming of our summer projects, right? OK so who is going to start with pig this year?  Is it hard? Nope. Can you do it? Yep! What do you need?

1. Really, really, really good fencing. This is the one thing that folks try and skimp on thinking they are smarter than pigz. Nope. The problem is that pigz are very very strong. Way stronger than you - so what you might think is secure is no big deal for them. Get extremely good fencing and then put hotwire on the inside - the strongest charger you can buy.

2. Somewhere to put them. Preferably far, far, far from your house and your neighbors. Run as much hose as you can away from the house. Then buy another hose and put the pigz are the end of it. You'll thank me for it when you don't have to smell those smelly pigz on a hot day.

3. Water. Make sure your hose runs all the way out there. Hauling water for pigz is the pits. It might sound like a good idea but in the summer you'll need a wallow for them to keep cool. They need a lot more water than you think. Then there is this foolishness. Yeah, I had to dump that out and refill it.

4. A feed plan. Sure, you can feed out pigz on bagged hog chow. Many real hog farmers wonder why we bother with our farm products 'n pasture approach. Bagged food will work just fine. You'll get a pig that you can butcher...... but it's just not our bag, baby. We could just buy pork if all we wanted was a commercially raised pig. But we like to stay away from the medicated foods and mostly soy grain diet. Plus, bagged hog chow can be expensive. We are cheap. So doing it our way works out.

5. A safety plan. Pigz can be big, mean, and dangerous. There is a point at which I do not get into the pen with them alone. My hardworking Dog Horde are trained to come with me into the pig yard if I have to go in there. This works for me really well. I also never go into the pig yard without something in my hand to defend myself. I never let them get between me and an exit. And like the ocean, I never turn my back on them. Farming is the most dangerous occupation - and some of that is because you are working with big, sometimes unpredictable animals. So have a plan and work that plan.

I should note that at this point there is always someone who gets all in a fit over my emphasis on having a safety plan. They will start going on and on about "all's you gotta do is snuggle them pigz and then..." Yeah. Well. That's great. If that works or you fine.  But that does not work for me. My husband can walk into the pig yard just fine - but even he has been tumbled over a time or two. Every real hog farmer I know has a story about "that one time." The worst thing that can happen here is if I get hurt. So we are cautious on purpose and if you are not then fine - but why would you try and advise me to be less cautious?

For the record, no I am not afraid of the pigz. Yes, I am "tough" enough. I wield my Dog Horde of big tough hard working occasionally hard to train dogs like a war hammer, I can reduce a grown man to tears, you do not want to get into a name calling contest with me... but to them pigz all I am in bait. So you can go on and snuggle them pigz all you like. I will not. And honestly - I just think I smell delicious and that's why them pigz want a piece of me. So do what works for you.

Remember that you can find a lot more links here - including our step by step butcher guide. Can you raise pigz and then butcher them yourself? Yes you can!

Happy Friday everyone! And now if you will excuse me.. Mr. Underwood will see me now.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Getting back to normal. A farm update.

After all the hubbub yesterday we are getting back to normal here. Well, normal for us. What a day!

Our entire egg harvest from yesterday. Thanks, ladies.

So our cold is continuing and even tho we are getting a little bit of a break this weekend... it looks like the arctic air will be back. The weather guys say this will be the pattern for the next couple of weeks. At least I'm getting stuff done in the house?

Unfortunately the sustained cold is starting to take it's toll. The goats don't know whether to shed their undercoats - or not. Debbie and Nibbles look like old sweaters gone bad. I don't really want to comb them out.... but they are just looking ratty and tired.

The good news is that all of the goats seem to be hearty and healthy. And pregnant. Except for Nibbles who was not bred on purpose. The jury is still out on Debbie - she may or may not be pregnant. If she isn't that is almost OK... she has had a couple tough pregnancies so if her time as a goat-producer is over then that is alright with us. Dahli and Daisy, tho, look terrific and are starting to get pudgy. Once again we are so glad we waited to breed them until late in the season. Milking is sub-zero weather is not fun for anyone. 

The ducks are doing OK. However, our Miss Duck seemed to have a wound on her foot yesterday. I could not catch her to see but I'll try again today. Everyone is is just bored and tired of being locked inside. They were all out yesterday ducking around and enjoying the sunshine. It was fun to see them in a group. They all had a lot to say.

The hens have stopped laying and we gave up on the layer mash. With these cold conditions and everyone mad and stuck inside - no one is going to lay anything... except that adorable little egg shown above.

The worst is that Tractor Supply will be getting/has already gotten their chicks! And it's just too cold to get any so my creepy meat empire will have to wait. We don't have a good winter set up right now so it looks like I'll have to buy another package of chicken from the store.

The geese - the geese continue their reign of terror. OD has gotten even more aggressive which makes me wonder if Cindi has a nest somewhere - or if she is about to start laying.

That's the update here. Thanks again, everyone, for your support in my ridiculous 'the facebook' situation. We'll see what happens next.

Very truly yours,
Brunhilda Goosenstein.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

And now for something completely different...

*OFG walks out onto a darkened stage illuminated by a single spotlight. You can tell it's her because she's wearing work boots, a dirty shirt, and has a bad ponytail. Instead of a Life is Good hat, she has a duck on her head... and she is carrying a bowl of pudding. Little Mo hurries out to the stage and adjusts the microphone stand. OFG takes center stage.*

Yeah so, there I was yesterday... happy. I was about to tell everyone what a great time I had driving into town after being stuck under a Snow Emergency Level 1 and 2 all weekend. Just as I was trying to log into 'the facebook' I found out that my account was blocked.

*The crowd gasps*

I know. Can you believe it? 

*OFG takes the duck off her head and sets it down in a little box on the stage. The duck hen shuffles around happily to find a good spot in the nest. *

So I've been trying to figure out what to do and how to resurrect that account. It's touchy business. Apparently someone got a bee in their bonnet because I was using a "pen name" and not a real enough name. What's the big whoop? Honestly I do not know. But someone reported it and now I'm stuck.

I guess I posted just one too many pictures and videos of Lil Bub and that was just too much for someone with too much time on their hands. I might know who did it. If it was you then.... whatever. I've had way more important people be way more petty to me. This is my reaction to your feeble attempt to ruin my day. 

Maybe it was just some well meaning soul who had too much righteous indignation. Who knows.

Anyway.

I don't want to be "that guy"... but I think I need build a facebook business page. One of the categories that I can use is "blogger" and hopefully that will be good enough for everyone who's jot and tittles were in a twist.  You can find the new page here. It would be great if you "liked" it so I can get the conversation going again. I know you all want to know what kind of pudding I made.  *OFG holds up the bowl of pudding-y delight.*

The only thing is that it makes it kind of wonky for me to comment on friend's pages - so I'm trying to work that out.

That's the long and short of it. Let's go ahead and take some questions...

*Someone in the audience stands up* "OFG! Why... I mean.. what's this all about? Why does anyone care if you are using a pen name?"

Well, it's a sticky wicket. Mostly, tho, I think it's about money. You can read this lively and er... um... colorful... account of what happened when some performers used their stage names for their facebook ID's. 

But what that article doesn't really highlight is why some people may want to use a different name. Not because they are trying to pull something over on the rest of the users...but you can imagine that teachers or police officers - and their families -  could be at risk of certain people wanted to target them.  Or just regular people who may find themselves in harms way if ...for instance.... their stalker wanted to track them down. Who would begrudge these folks if they didn't want to use their full name?

I'm not sure why this is such a big concern for the few people that it might fall into these categories. I have an idea that 'the facebook' bigwigs would take an entirely different view of it if it was their daughter, son, brother, or sister was trying to be anonymous for a reason.

One option, of course, is just not to use it... and who knows, maybe I'll have to learn to tweet or something. I might end up with a smart phone and then I'd be all Instagraming and regramming and would be so over the facebook that they could take their rigid and stupid rules and screw right on off. Who knows? 

Next question - you there?

* A feisty redhead holding a chiweenie service dog stands up and take the mic....*
"Uh... so what is your story, OFG? Why are you using a pen name for 'the facebook'?"

Why wouldn't I? Remember that I set up this ID years ago - when I left that unnamed forum. Everyone knew me - and knows me - as OFG. Facebook went public after that - and so you can draw your own conclusions. Before they were trying to get users... now they are trying to make money from them.

Aside from my obsession with police K9's and Military Working Dogs - I only use the facebook as a way to chittychat with my friends from my blog. So... that's what it was. Would any of my friends know who I was if I showed up as Brunhilda Goosenstein? *shrugs*

And since you asked, I don't have contact with most of the people from my former life on purpose. Not all of my stories are hilarious - and the reason I'm not visible to everyone in my past is one of them.

But my big concern with all of this is that I might not be able to find all my pals. So I'll be trying to find a way to track everyone down. But mostly my friends are your friends... so if you could put the word out to check out this new page and "like" it then at least I could start finding everyone.

OK - last question? Please - there you go.

* A man who looks remarkably like Clark Kent stands up, he's wearing a press badge from Entertainment Landfill.* OFG, I think the big question we are all wondering is... why the duck?

Oh, her? It's just funnier to walk out on stage with a duck on your head.

So that's the story. I want to thank everyone who came looking for me. Really, from the bottom of my heart I appreciate it so much. And a special thank you to the folks who helped me get this worked out. I missed everyone very much. I'm hoping we can get this all worked out in the next day or two and just laugh about it later.

Onward and upwards, right?




Monday, February 23, 2015

Lather...rinse...repeat...

Another day, another record low "high" for the day (9* it already happened), windchills well below zero, everyone is stuck inside. We are supposed to be around 40* at this time of year not gripped in a Siberian cold snap. No one is happy.

*insert more complaining about cold here*

*complain about winter chores here*

*be glad only the turkey died and that it was NOT my fault here*

*include adorable picture of dogs playing in snow here*

*lamely suggest that we can make it just a little while longer here*

*resort to binging on 'the netflix' and pudding here*

The  Lather...rinse repeat.....

  Let's just think about summer.

*sigh*



Saturday, February 21, 2015

The End of The King. TurkZilla is dead.

Friends, yesterday marked the end of an era. TurkZilla, our top turkey.... is dead.

A magnificent foe.

The light in his hateful eye has faded. I will never again gaze upon his regal bearing. Hear his terrible, trumpeting gobble. No more shall mine eye behold his wrathful charge. Gone are the days that I warn visitors, "I can call the dogs back but you are on our own with that turkey." Or yell, "Dog! Get over here and get this stupid turkey off me!"

Dead.

I went out yesterday to the hen house to a quiet calm. I saw TZ on the floor, his feathers akimbo.

"Hey, little buddy....whatcha doing?" I asked hopefully but alas there was no reply.

Nervously I poked him with my boot, ready for him rise like a phoenix, fly into a blind rage, and kill me where I stood.... nothing.

Dang.

Dead.

Real dead.

He wasn't faking it.

The chickens looked at me for guidance. I shrugged.

Then it hit me. TZ is...I mean... was.... my husband's favorite piece of poultry. At one point I wanted to put TZ in a sack and haul his ornery carcass up to the auction where I could fetch a good price but I was denied - and warned - that, and I quote here, "Nothing had better happen to that turkey when I'm gone at work all day!"

There I stood with the dead turkey. My husband would never believe me that TZ just flopped over dead. I considered staging a crime scene as there was no apparent sign of struggle or illness. But I would be found out. I decided to take my chances. I determined to distract my husband with schnitzel when he got home... and then ease him into the news. It had to work.

But first I had to get a huge dead turkey out of my damn hen house.

"Dogs!"  I knew they would help.

Kai carried his head, I took the trotters, and Dog#1 and #2 each took a wing. Zander was in time out for naughtiness or I would have just hooked the huge burden up to Zander's working dog harness and had him haul it out of there.

Reverently we carried the fallen king to the empty Duck Garage. It went mostly as planned.

"Kai! Do NOT chew on his head!"

We left TZ there in a rigor-frozen heap.  Then I went inside to tighten up my story. Everyone knew I hated that stupid turkey. There is no way I wouldn't be blamed.

Later, finally, The Big Man came home. He roared down the driveway and opened the door to his truck.

"Honey!" I yelled from the porch, "The turkey is dead and it's not my fault!"  I probably shouldn't have said that.

He huffed.

Shortly thereafter we made our way up to the Duck Garage. The dogs and I tried to look as innocent as possible. The Big Man opened the door and beheld the sight of the fallen king.

"It looks like he just laid down and died...... of a broken heart because of your hatred for him." Said my husband.

And then The Big Man sighed heavily and turned and lumbered off.

The dogs and I stood there and looked at each other. Kai started to say something but I cut her off, "No, Kai you may not eat that turkey now." She huffed and trotted off after her father. As I watched my husband stalk off towards schnitzel I thought, "At last....I'm free." I could go out in the yard now without risking death by turkey.

Thusly ended the days of TurkZilla. The biggest, meanest, orneriest terror of the barnyard. Farewell now, Good Prince, think no more of the trouble of this world, and go gobble in the halls of your ancestors.

A sad day here, Friends, there will be lamentation later this afternoon, the flag will be flown at half mast, and taps will be played at sundown. Each one of you should hug your turkeys close, you never know when you might go out and find them dead of a broken heart - which was totally not my fault.

Happy Saturday everyone!




Friday, February 20, 2015

Something old, Fire, and it's way below 0*

I was going to complain about our extreme cold which is somewhere between -15* and -10*...and yeah that is without the wind. But then I thought, we need some laughs instead. Good thing I saw this list from NW Edible Life - doesn't everyone love her? You'll remember she was the one that did this landmark post on aggressive duck sex which sent us all to fits.

You will never look at adorable little ducks the same after reading this.

The "22 Signs You Are Desperate To Quit Your Office Job To Become A Homesteader" is pretty darn spot on. It got me thinking about how I flew to coop on my own corporate life.

Back then, tho, I didn't know I would end up actually farming. I just knew that my life had to change. We've been talking about this a lot lately. The Big Man and I get a lot of guff about our life and we don't get it. We are happy and we aren't hurting anyone. We know plenty of people who are living the life they "should" - but if you scratch the surface you see it isn't always that pretty.

Folks we know have waited their whole lives to retire to "do" stuff are laid up by injuries, maladies, or just don't make it that far. The worst story I knew of was a tech guy who struck it rich, cashed out, and moved to Tahoe with his family. The second day they were there he walked outside and shut the door too hard - the snow from the roof fell down and killed him. I still can't get over that one.

Or folks who are splashing around in big vats of money from their high paying jobs - but who don't have time to live their own life. They pay other people to do it. Or people on the other end of the scale who, thru bad luck and bad decisions, live in a financial ruin with no discernible way out.

So what's with all the guff? I don't think folks wish they had our life as much as they wish they had the gumption to get up and do it. So how did I do it?

I'm not sure. I think I'm just a regular person but I have never...ahem... lacked for confidence. And I have good courage - not the "here hold my beer while I do something foolish" but "good" courage. The kind you get from setting your jaw, setting your foot firmly, and making it work.  I feel the Hand of Provision on me so I have confidence that whatever happens I can make the best of it.

I'm also not one to sit around and be angry if someone else strikes it big. You can waste a lot of time and energy bemoaning why you don't have someone else's Blessing.  I don't live in a chronic state of lack where there isn't enough good stuff for everyone. I've never had an existential crisis and I don't (usually) sit around and wish I was somewhere else (altho right now I'd really love to be on Maui). Attitude really is everything.

So when the opportunity came up I took it. I jumped. Maybe it was foolish but we made the best of it. Was it perfect? No. Not by a long shot but The Big Man and I do the best we can and just keep swimming.

But what about a plan? And charts? Nope. We just knew that we could rely on ourselves to work it out.

What's my best advice for how to quit your office job and become a homesteader? Work really hard and really smart. Position yourself to be debt free. Learn skills and prepare yourself mentally. If you are a younger person then get the best education you can afford and manage your career in such a way that you can make money while you are young. Don't just let your life happen to you. Don't waste your time on foolish pursuits and folly. Turn off the TV so you are not beguiled by a competitive, consumer life.  And quit comparing yourself to your friends on facebook. Develop optimism. Concentrate on gratitude.  Do the good works that you are appointed to do. And then when you get the chance. Just jump.

So my 'something old' I wrote this a while ago. Here is my story of how I gave ran screaming from my old life and got here. Names have been changed to protect the guilty but I still laugh about that poor gal having such a hard time trying to tell me I was laid off - when in fact that's exactly what I wanted. A while ago it clicked and I figured out who was in the room with her and I still laugh about it. It was my former boss and he was too much of a coward to tell me himself. I don't miss that guy at all. I don't miss my corporate life. I do miss Maui but even now, sitting here still well below 0*, I don't think I could go back.

Happy Friday everyone! Are you sitting around in your office job? Are you working on flying the coop? What are you waiting for? Jump!
 

ps. I noticed the Amazon Fire TVis on sale again! Check it out - the price is $84 and you can read here why it is worth every penny to us. I'm adding a badge to my blog on the right side so I can keep track of the price and let you know when it's on sale. This is especially important because Vikings Season 3is now available online! I know what I'm going to be doing today. Yay!

And I'll put my official affiliate link notice here. Consider yourselves duly informed that I get a tiny portion of the sale when you click on one of the links, go to the Amazon page, and purchase something.  You can support this blog by just clicking one of these links. Or using the black Amazon search box on the right side of this page. It doesn't cost you once cent more but helps me with the "cost" of this blog. THANKS! 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

More with the snow...

Unless you've been living under a rock - or a different part of the world - you probably know that we are deep in the grip of The White Death. Snow. It's everywhere.

My beautiful Kai is happy about the snow.

I can honestly say that I've had enough. Remember when we all thought it was over? Yeah, right.

Today will probably be another inside day for the barncats and most of the flocks. They already have a windchill warning up for when this stupid snow stops - which looks to be in a couple hours. After the snow passes the cold will really settle in.

My Most Excellent Good Dog is happy too.

But Friday could be a looloo..... extremely bitter cold. The goats are still giving me fits. I'm really starting to regret not breeding Nibbles. She is in heat now and it's terrible. She and Dahli won't leave each other alone and we do not have great options for splitting them up. If the weather were milder we'd have better options. So we will just tough it out.

The good news is that all my old biddies and young hens are doing great. We haven't had any losses and everyone is hanging in there. The geese are fine.

My collection of black and white dogs.

If anything I'm thrilled with how well the hen house is holding up. It really keeps the heat in and the hennies have busied themselves with scratching around the straw bale we put in there for them. A couple ventured out into the snow but mostly they sit in the door way and look out at the world. 

One thing I am very very grateful for is not having winter pigz. They would have been a misery. But truth be told, if we had pigz we would have made an extra effort to get them butchered. Hauling water in this weather would have been futile.

My slightly derpy Fighting Uruk-hai.

That's the situation here. Snow, sloth, anger at incarceration. But we'll just keep on keepin' on.

Happy Wednesday everyone!


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