Farm Life

Whole Hog Cut Order Example

Buying a whole or half a hog can be a daunting task. I’ve put together a couple of examples of cut orders I typically use. With these examples and tips I’m hoping to help you feel more confidant when ordering your hog. When you call in your cut order, this is what the processor is looking at and filling in.

Package Size/Cuts: Think about the volume of food your family typically eats at a meal. You can have your meat packaged accordingly. For example, if you have five people in your family, you may want to package 5 pork chops per package. For something like pork steaks or ham steaks keep in mind these are a huge cuts of meat. In my family we will usually split a steak between 2 people. Roast size is important to consider, especially if you are keeping your hams (cured or uncured). Hams are usually around 20 lbs in size so, unless you plan on having a ham at a large family gathering, you will want that ham broken down into smaller roasts. I personally request 4 lbs roasts. How much sausage do you want? If you are a big sausage lover but hate pork chops you may want to consider just having that cut of meat ground up (or any other cut you dislike). Note that some cuts of meat or sausages have an additional cost associated with them. The extra charge is in parenthesis next to the cut. For example any large linked sausage like brats or german rope sausage is an additional $1.99 per pound. When I give an estimate of processing costs I include regular things in that cost like bacon, ham and a normal amount of breakfast sausage. So just keep in mind that if you go crazy on the speciality sausages your processing costs will be higher.

Offal: There are certain things that you will not get back unless you request it. This includes fat, organs and bones. So be sure to give instructions to keep those items if you want them. For fat, I always request to have it coarse ground. This makes rendering much easier and efficient. When requesting to keep the organs you will only get back the heart and liver. Other organs require special cleaning and the processor does not have the resources or equipment to clean them. Some people like to have their organ meats added in with all their other ground meat. From personal experience I have found that you cannot keep absolutly everything. For example I cannot get back my pigs feet. The processor would need to buy an expensive piece of equipment to properly clean the pig feet so they do not offer that service at this time. Don’t get too disappointed if you request something and cannot get it back. It’s often not the fault of the processor. You wouldn’t believe the amount of government bureaucracy processors have to deal with!

Extras: There are a couple of things that I regularly request that are not on the cut order. That is Italian sausage and cutlets. Italian Sausage can be made into large links (like the size of brats) or bulk packages. Cutlets are made from uncured hams. They are sliced off the ham and ran through a meat tenderizer. With this mind, if there are cuts of meat that you like that you do not see on the cut order, ask about it. Usually the processor can help you out. But also keep in mind that sometimes when you get a certain cut of meat that means that you cannot get another. For example if your request the tenderloin, you cannot get pork chops. They are from the same part of the animal.

Bringing your meat home: Figure on needing one 150 qt cooler per half. If you live within an hour of the processor and you don’t have a cooler, don’t worry. The meat comes in big cardboard trays so just pile the trays of meat in the back seat or trunk of your car and cover with some heavy blankets. The meat will stay frozen until you get home.

Above is an example of a cut sheet I would fill out if I wanted ham and bacon.

Above is an example of a cut sheet I would fill out if I wanted ham and bacon.

Above is an example of a cut sheet that I would fill out if I wanted no cured meats. Uncured meat is referred to as “fresh”. So for example, Fresh Side is just uncured bacon. Fresh Ham is just an uncured roast .

Above is an example of a cut sheet that I would fill out if I wanted no cured meats. Uncured meat is referred to as “fresh”. So for example, Fresh Side is just uncured bacon. Fresh Ham is just an uncured roast.

Winter Pastured Hogs

I just got back in from feeding hogs.  It's windy and 18 degrees outside.  It's supposed to get into the single digits with high wind tonight.  When it's cold like this we haul warm water to all the hogs and poultry.  (I guess it's not too big of a deal in Kansas but in Wisconsin we had to worry about dehydration in livestock during prolonged periods of bitter cold weather.  Old habits die hard.)  The warm water enables them to get a big drink of water without getting chilled or develope a huge brain freeze.  The cattle have insulated waterers so we don't worry too much about them.        

The hogs are still out in their 6 acre pasture paddock.  We made a U shaped line of round bales for the hogs to burrow into for warmth and protection from the wind.  Pigs are herd animals and like to sleep in groups.  20 big hogs can generate quite a bit of heat.  Hogs are also masters at composting.  They will pee in their nest of hay.  This sounds gross but the combination of moisture and organic matter will start up the composting process.  This generates a lot of additional heat in the pig nest.

Since the pasture is dead and brown right now, we'll feed the hogs alfalfa until things green up again.  This is fed in addition to a grain based hog feed and any extra/skimmed milk from the dairy.  

   

Cow Families

While venturing out to the mobile hen house this morning, I noticed a couple of different cow families hanging out together. 

 

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This is Red and two of her daughters. The white heifer is Red's 2013 calf and the larger heifer was her 2012 calf. Red is due to calve again in December  I'm hoping for another girl! Her older daughter will calve this spring. 

 

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These two heifers are sisters. I didn't get a picture, but I also have a mother/daughter pair that always enter the parlor together during milking. I love having a small enough milk herd to be able to see the different cow families. Of course I have my favorites! 

Winter Hay

Fall is here and we're transitioning the cows to their winter diet. During the winter we like to feed the cows all the prairie hay they want. We also supplement their diets with alfalfa and a little bit of ground milo. I'm happy to say that our alfalfa supplier has NOT jumped on the GMO band wagon. Alfalfa is a crucial component to producing lots of sweet milk when there is no fresh grass. During the grazing season we can eliminate feeding grain. In the winter a little bit of grain is necessary so the cows can maintain a healthy body weight. 

Fresh load of alfalfa. 

Fresh load of alfalfa. 

Lawn Mowing Delay

So I haven't mowed the lawn yet this spring.  It's entirely too long so I decided I needed to get the job done.  (In my defense, the young pullets in the chicken tractors are really enjoying eating all the long grass and weeds in the yard.)  I went out to the garage to get the mower and this is what I found!

Needless to say, I didn't get the lawn mowed.  I guess I'll wait a couple of days to see if the rest of her eggs hatch.        

It's alive!

Last fall I had a bit of an incidence.  I was putting out round bales with the big tractor.  I had just opened up the gate so I could drive the tractor into the pasture with a big hay bale.  Before I had a chance to scoot through, the cows had stampeded the gate and got into the yard.  The yard with all the baby fruit trees!  My poor apple tree didn't fair so well.  Before I could get out of the tractor, a cow had chomped on some branches and then commenced to rub on the tree until it snapped.  Before she was done with it, it was laying flat on the ground.  I had spent so much time and effort to make sure my apple trees were happy that I was heart broke that the cow had destroyed it.  When I investigated a bit further I could see that the tree wasn't 100% broke off.  There was still about 1/4 of the tree trunk that was still intact.  I thought there was a tiny chance I could save my tree so after I was done chasing cows back into the pasture and feeding hay I grabbed my roll of duct tape.  I jammed the tree trunk back together as best as I could and then duct taped around the wound.  Mark later drove a t-post and bungied the tree to it for further support.  I got online and googled my predicament.  Asked for advice on Facebook too.  After consulting and research I figured I handled my tree situation the best I could.  

Jump forward to this spring.  My tree never shriveled up last fall and it greened up beautifully this spring.  I recently took off the duct tape I had put on last fall and it's healed!  It's a bit rough looking and I'm sure I will have to continue to baby along this tree but at least I'm not buying a new one. 

 

Cheep, Cheep, Quack

All the poultry have gone broody!  We're having fun seeing what hatches and stuffing eggs under anyone who will set on them.  

A day ago, two hens and a turkey hatched a whole bunch of baby chicks.  The turkey hen had been laying her eggs in the egg boxes in the coop.  We kept on picking her eggs with the other chicken eggs.  I didn't think the turkey would go broody so I didn't keep her eggs.  When she did go broody I put a whole bunch of hen eggs under her.  She seems to be happy with her odd brood.       

I have four more hens setting on eggs.  They should be hatching around the first weekend in June.  I also have another turkey hen that I stuffed a bunch of hen eggs under.  I even found a peacock egg and put that under her as well!  This second turkey had hatched some turkey poults but since she was fighting over a nest with a little banty hen they goofed up the eggs and got a bad hatch.  Out of a big clutch of turkey eggs, five hatched. Three out of the five died from different reasons.  I grabbed the last two and put them in the brooder with the meat chicks.  The turkey hen still wanted to set on a nest so that is why I put the hen and peacock eggs under her.

A few weeks ago we went to our first swap meet.  We couldn't pass up these pretty little girls.  These are Indian Runner ducks.  They are an upright standing duck.  They have the special privilege of being lawn ornaments because they make us smile.

The dark spot in the middle of the plants.  Mamma duck is brooding a clutch of eggs!  Hopefully we'll get a good batch of baby Cayuga ducks.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Comes Naturally

Since it is the slow season here on the farm I was having fun perusing the internet.  I came across this article on the use of gestation crates.  I would like know.  Who looked at a tiny metal cage and thought it would be a good idea to lock a pregnant pig in it?  Who thought that this pig would produce better and be healthier never seeing the light of day?  I would like to know, how did this person become so removed from what comes naturally?

Sometimes I get caught up in my own little world and forget what's going on about me.  This was just one of those things that jolted me back to reality.  Luckily it's not my reality!

 

Steam, Don't Boil

I learned a great cooking trick from one of my Udall neighbors recently.  Being born and raised on a farm I can't believe I had never heard of this trick.  For years I had been plagued with the problem of peeling FRESH hard boiled eggs.  It's impossible!  Here's the trick my neighbor told me- Steam fresh eggs, don't boil them.  Here's the reasoning behind it.  Store bought eggs always peel well because they are old.  Those eggs sit around for weeks before they ever hit a store shelf.  Those eggs have had a chance for moisture to evaporate out of them.  This pulls the membrane away from the shell of the egg making them easy to peel.  Fresh eggs have not had a chance for any moisture to evaporate out.  This is where steaming a fresh egg comes in.  When you steam a fresh egg moisture can leave the egg during the cooking process.  Boiling doesn't accomplish this because the egg is surrounded by water.    

Chicks

We have added to the chicken flock!  I only have around 70 hens right now and that is hopelessly inadequate to supply all my customers with eggs.  To make matters worse my hens have just gone through a molt so there has really been an egg shortage at the farm.  So 6 weeks ago I had some Rhode Island Red chicks shipped to me through the mail.  I have never raised this breed before but I figured many of the hybrid laying hens come from RIR foundation stock so they must be really good birds.  So far the chicks are proving to be very hearty, fast growing little birds.  They are already almost all feathered out.  They soon will be outgrowing their brooder (a.k.a old stock tank) and will have to be moved to their own special room in the chicken coop.  I always take joy in watching little baby chicks. They have very comical antics.  From what I have read RIR's start laying when they are 5 months old.  So that would put the first eggs coming from this group sometime in March.  

I'm also seriously considering starting another batch of chicks once this group is moved out of the brooder.  It is much easier for me to raise chicks in the winter.  Every spring I try to hatch out as many of my own chicks as I can but it is always a challenge.  You see, the snakes come out in full force right about the same time that all my hens decide to go broody.  The snakes are very smart about their dining practices as well.  They leave a nest of eggs alone until they are just about to hatch.  It's very frustrating to check on a clutch of eggs, get excited because the chicks are peeping in the eggs, and then come back the next morning to find them all gone!  Right now all the snakes are hibernating so I don't have to worry about my chicks getting eaten.  

Another thing that I have figured out is that hybrid laying hens just don't work in our particular situation.  When we moved down here I bought a huge batch of chicks.  Half were Black Australorps and half were a hybrid called Golden Stars.  After a year and half I only have a handful of the Golden Stars left.  It seems like all the sense was bred out of them.  They were all picked off by predators.  The Black Australorps had sense enough to keep themselves safe.  So I will continue to try the different heritage breeds of chickens to find what works best on our farm and stick with those.  These birds take a bit longer to mature and may not lay as many eggs but a live bird will give me a lot more eggs than a dead bird.  Not to mention, the heritage breeds make for nice stewing birds when their egg laying careers are done.  

 

Fencing and Family

I really think that October and November got flip-flopped.  So much of October was cold and wet.  November has started off so sunny and warm.  It's absolutely glorious outside!  During these beautiful days we have been busy working on fencing.  We finally got enough of our 40 across the road fenced that we put our dry cows and heifers over there.  Mark and I have such a sense of accomplishment watching our cows graze across the road.  For the first two summers that we spent on this farm we had hired someone to cut and bale this 40.  This just drove me nuts!  Why waste all that fuel to do a job that the cows were perfectly capable of doing.  But of course there was no fence so we had to bale it.  We never baled this 40 this summer so there is lots of stockpiled Brome and Prairie Grass for the cows to eat.  We still have more work to do on fencing.  We eventually want the entire 40 fenced with a permanent 5 strand barbed wire fence.  We recently got a big chunk of this done but still need to fence the front half of this 40.  This section won't be as easy though since we have to tear out the old barbed wire fence.  We have a hot wire on this section for now.  What I love so much about a small family farm is that there are so many projects that we can involve the kids in.  We had the kids out with us building a great deal of this fence.  They did plenty of nail pounding, attaching fence clips, and making sure the wire wasn't snagged on grass when being tightened.  They did their fair share of playing as well.  We even had the family dog, Prairie, out with us.  I think she appreciated spending quality family time as much as we did.

13 acres of our 40 is native Prairie Grass.  This is what the buffalo used to live off of.  It looks brown and dead but still has lots of nutritional value.  When we put the cows in this section of Prairie Grass we noticed that the first thing they did was to eat the seed tops off of the tall grasses.    

 

 

 

What's Up?

Whoahhh!  What happened to September?  It sure was a busy month for us here at the farm.  I spent my time finishing up the farmer's market season and getting our new sales area ready here on the farm.  Mark has been busy with work at Joe Self in Wichita.  In his spare time, he has been working on painting the milk house, a.k.a, our new sales area.  It's looking really nice now.  While it's nothing fancy, we are happy with the results.  We have moved our fridge and freezer from the garage into the milk house.  It is much more accessible for customers and is easier for me to keep clean and tidy. The biggest reason for the move across the driveway is that I did not want to be carrying jars of raw milk across the yard.  Now I can just jar up the milk and quickly pop it in the fridge without a hassle.

I have one more farmer's market to do before I am totally done for the season.  This is the VA Hospital market in Wichita.  It is on Thursday October 22 from 2:00-5:00.  I certainly hope this wet drizzly weather is done by then!  I would like to remind our customers that just because the farmer's market season is over does not mean that you cannot keep on purchasing soap, eggs, and meat from us.  If you are in the area just drop on by.  If you are making a special trip out to the farm you may want to give us a call or drop us an email to make sure we have available what you want.    

 

Keep Clean

I ran accross this quote that made me smile.

 

What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul.  ~Yiddish Proverb

My Tree Frog

I thought I would take some time to share my little tree frog.  I think he lives in the milking parlor.  He is there to greet me every morning when I come in to milk.  He's a friendly little fella.  He even lets me pet him a bit.  I mostly just say good morning to him and go about my chores.  He doesn't particularly like it when Henry finds him though.

 

Homemade Laundry Soap

I've always told my customers how great my soap is for cleaning their bodies but I've never really thought about telling them what else I do with my soaps.  Today one of my customers from the farmer's market spurred me into thinking I should.    This customer informed me that she thought my soap was great in her homemade laundry detergent.  She bought of big pile of soaps from my bargain basket to shred up into laundry soap.  I thought this was great!  I've been making homemade laundry soap myself for quite a while but never thought about telling others about this.  As you can imagine with 3 boys and a farm the laundry certainly piles up.  I also use microfiber clothes to wash the udders of my cows.  I use one clothe per cow so that adds a big load a day to go into the wash machine.  Buying laundry detergent for 2-3 loads of laundry per day gets to be pretty expensive, so I make up my own laundry soap, 5 gallons at a time!  The recipe I personally like to use uses equal parts of washing soda, Borax, and shredded soap.  Here is a recipe for approximatley 2 gallons of liquid/gelled laundry soap.

1 quart boiling water

2 cups finely shredded soap

2 cups Borax (20 Mule Team brand is readily available in the Wichita area.)

2 cups washing soda

(Now I have not been able to find washing soda locally but when I have the time I take baking soda and put it in the oven for 1/2 an hour at 350 degrees.  This produces a chemical reaction which changes the baking soda into washing soda.  When I'm feeling crunched for time I will just throw in plain old baking soda.  This produces acceptable results but I do believe that washing soda cleans better.  If you know where to purchase washing soda locally, please let me know.)

Directions:  Take your boiling water and add the shredded soap.  Stir the soap shreds around until they are melted.  You can keep your soap shreds and water on low heat to speed up the melting process or you can do what I do and just add the shreds, stir, and then leave it alone.  I'll come back and give it a stir now and then but I don't fret over it.  After the soap shreds are melted, add the borax and washing soda.  Stir until dissolved.  Then add 2 gallons of warm water and stir until fully blended.  I'll use 1/4 cup of this mixture for normal laundry loads and 1/2 cup for heavily soiled loads.  I usually give it a good stir or shake before measuring out some for a load.  

When making your own laundry soap there is a huge amount of experimenting you can do to get the results that you are happy with.  Just google "homemade laundry soap" and you will be presented with tons of options.  So there you have it.  Laundry soap that is cheap, cleans well, and you know exactly what the ingredients are.     

 

Meet Me At the Market

What a month so far!  Summer is in full swing here and we have been very busy.  This summer I am attending 2 farmers markets.  My tried and true market in Winfield and the up and coming market in Andover.  I was reluctant to make much mention of my market schedule.  I really didn't know if I would be able to handle attending market this year.  Last year I was lucky enough to have Mark milk for me on Saturdays.  This year, since the commercial milk market has tanked along with the economy, Mark has had to take a town job.  That leaves me with all the milkings.  I've given it a few weeks though and things are going well.  I am really enjoying this market season so far.  My 2 youngest boys are also getting a taste of business off the farm.  They are selling lemonade and tea right alongside me.  Learning many lessons along the way.  They are saving up for some Legos.  All though they still have to practice on the saving part of it a bit.  I am selling lots of my beautiful soaps as well as tasty farm fresh eggs at this time.  I'm hoping to add ground beef and pork again later in the season.  

If you live near the Andover area I strongly suggest checking out the Andover farmers market.  It is a newer market so still on the small side but it has a well rounded selection of goods for sale.  Of course I'm there with my soap and eggs but there is also an excellent baker who makes delicious cakes, cookies, and breads.  There are local made salsas and jellies.  Another vendor has excellent BBQ sauces and spices (I highly suggest the Apricot Cajun BBQ sauce).  There are fresh cut flowers and lots of vegetables as well.  We have some talented craftsmen at the market who make unique lawn furniture, lawn ornaments and wooden puzzles.  Of course every market is not complete without a jewelry maker.  One week a vendor had gorgeous orchids for sale. I can't forget about the wide selection of pasta and sauces to please your palate.  All in all a great little market that I think is really going to take off.  I'm really excited to be a part of things.  The Andover market is on Wednesday afternoons from 3:30 to 6:30 at the beautiful Central Park.  After the market be sure to check out the new playground or library.  Then of course I will be at the Winfield farmer's market on Saturday mornings from 7:30 to 11:00.  Winfield's market is turning into quite the event with over 25 vendors to choose from!  

So meet me at the market.  I'll have my boys save a glass of lemonade for you!

  

Happenings

Yesterday certainly was a nice day and very productive.  Besides all the regular day to day chores we did a bunch of other projects.  We started off by giving the garden some much needed TLC.  I got all of the tomatoes in the yard fence heavily mulched.  I gave them a much need watering as well.  I think I have around 60 tomato plants.  I am hoping to have extras to sell.  I have many beautiful heirloom varieties in just about all the colors of the rainbow.  Mark and the boys planted more corn and beans.  They also put some melons in the ground.  I have high hopes for one variety in particular.  It is called the "Kansas Melon".  It is a heirloom variety of cantaloupe.  We planted this variety last year and they produced very well.  Especially since we had no sprinkler system so they did not get watered as much as I would of liked.  This melon is absolute heaven!  They are so sweet and juicy with the most amazing flavor.  I can't wait to sink my teeth into one of these this year!  

I moved around some hens and chicks yesterday.  My hens are doing a fine job of hatching out babies.  I think I'm up to 30 chicks now.  When I checked the coop this evening I had another clutch of eggs that were hatching.  So far all the chicks are doing wonderfully.   I also had a couple more hens go broody so I moved them to my broody hen area.  It works much better to let them set on eggs where the other hens cannot get to them.  If I don't separate them, then the other hens just keep laying eggs in the nest.  When this happens all I end up with is this nest of eggs with all these different hatch dates.  That never works out very well.   I usually just end up with a bunch of rotten eggs.  I've had to keep a very close eye on the broody hen area.  The rat snakes are out and about.  One of their favorite meals is chicks or chicks in the egg that are just about to hatch.  I have caught 3 snakes in the last two days in the broody area.  I hate to admit this but I had to kill these snakes.  They were huge!  At least 6 feet long each.  It was a struggle for me to try and decide what to do.  I would much rather let the snakes live on the farm.  Snakes in general do not bother me at all.  I actually had a pet snake when I was a kid.  Snakes are great for rodent control.  However, I just couldn't let them eat all my chicks and hatching eggs either.  I really do hope I don't find anymore snakes by my hens that are hatching.  

Last but not least I wrapped a whole bunch of soap.  I didn't realize just how much naked soap I had curing on my soap shelf.  I printed off labels and wrapped 4 different batches of soap.  I still have about 5 more batches to finish up.  I need to get these done by Wednesday.  I plan on selling at the farmers market in Andover this year.  It is on Wednesdays from 3:30-6:30.  My last project of the day was to start working on the labels for a custom soap order.  I have been having fun on this project.  I am designing a gift set for a horse lover. I even ordered some new fragrance oils for these soaps.  I can't wait to soap them!  So all in all, a good day. 

It's All About The Right Tools

Right now I am fencing off a days worth of grass at a time for my herd of cows.  This is called strip grazing.  It is a much more efficient way of utilizing your grazing ground.  By strip grazing, it forces the cows to eat everything in their little strip of grass for the day.  (Most traditional farms just turn their cattle out into a big field for the entire grazing season.  Allowing the cattle access to the entire field.)  To explain this a bit better, think of a strip of grass as a buffet.  What would the typical kid do if you turned them loose at a buffet?  They would run straight to the dessert area and stuff themselves silly.  Of course ignoring all of the healthy, boring food.  Cows do much the same thing if turned out into a big pasture area.  They eat all the sweet, tender, young grasses while leaving behind all sorts of other forages that are perfectly good to eat, just not as tasty. Strip grazing eliminates this. 

Well, I ran into a problem with strip grazing.  My cows had figured out that the hot wire was turned off when I was moving the fence for a new strip of grass.  Those stinkers would just walk right over the fence.  Or course, snagging their feet on the wire and dragging it all over the field.  It was a big hassle to chase them back where I wanted them and get the fence put back up.  Our friend from Oklahoma just happened to be visiting yesterday when I headed off to the field.  I was flustered because I knew the battle I was up against.  As I was walking out to the pasture I told my friend I wish I had a pair of big rubber gloves.  Then I wouldn't have to turn off the hot wire to move it.  Low and behold, my friend pulls out a pair!  This pair of gloves was certified to be able to handle 1000 volts of electricity.  I bit of overkill just to handle a tiny hot wire but boy did it work slick!  I was able to move the hot wire quickly and efficiently and my cows stayed where I wanted them.  So that's why I'm saying, "It's all about the right tools".      

The "Flower Zoo"

Everybody needs a day off from time to time.  Now a farmer never really truly gets a day off unless they hire someone to handle all the chores, but for Mark and I a day off is a day where we do the bare minimum of chores. That is usually enough to give us a little breather.  Last week I was able to go to Botanica in Wichita a.k.a the "Flower Zoo".  I went with my 4 year old, Henry, and my sister-in-law Mary (who was here for a short visit).  Everybody had a big chuckle when they listened to Henry's account of the Flower Zoo.  You have to love the perspective of a child.  It was a very enjoyable way to spend the afternoon.  I would recommend a visit to the garden to anyone. I now have all sorts of ideas for plants I would like to use in my own garden.  

 

One thing I never realized about Botanica, until I went there, is that it is an outdoor garden.  Most of the Botanical Gardens I have been to in other cities have been indoor gardens.  It is a little over 9 acres but a person can easily see the entire garden in a little over an hour.  I saw many people there cozied up in a little spot reading a book.    

 

Rain, Rain, Rain, and yes, more Rain....

While I appreciate the fact that we are not experiencing drought conditions.  All this rain is getting a bit on my nerves.  Sloshing and slogging through the mud.  Getting my feet stuck or slipping around as I'm trying to walk.  I've had way too many showers on behalf of mother nature this week than I care to think about.  I'm sure there have been more than a few passersby on the highway wondering what that fool is doing out in the middle of the field during a rain storm.  As much as I would love to cozy up on the couch and watch a good movie during this inclement weather,  the animals still need to be fed and the cows milked no matter what mother nature's plans are.  With 3 young boys you can only imagine the mountain of muddy clothes I have to wash as well.  Along with the pigs, the boys have been in their glory digging in the mud.

Here's a picture of my garden just waiting to be planted.  Ideally I would like to till it again so I have a fine seed bed but it hasn't gotten dry enough to get good results all spring.  I think one of the next dryer days we get I will just poke the seeds in the ground and be done with it.  The hens are happy though.  I have not fenced off the garden area yet so the spot is a good place to dig for worms.

My meat chickens are wondering what in the world happened.  One day they were in their dry and warm brooder and the next day they were amid the weather of a tornado warning.  Luckily I was more stressed about the scenario than the chickens were.  I covered their pen with a big tarp during the worst of the weather.  I was very happy to wake a couple of mornings with my chickens still present and accounted for.  

Well, as much as this rain is getting on my nerves I will be very grateful when the sun comes out and the temps rise above 70.  That is the magical time when you can almost see the grass grow!  Grass is life for this farm.