Pigs Foot Soup
That is the start of pig’s foot soup. Actually, it was more of a stew than a soup. One can start with fresh pigs feet but in this case we had some smoked pigs feet which adds a bit of bacon flavor to the stew. The feet simmered in the pot of water for roughly two hours.
Those are the knuckle bones, primarily the metatarsals, along with some bits of meat and skin still to be picked before going to the dogs. They thought the left overs from making soup were just dandy.
To the stock we then added sliced carrots, diced potatoes, lightly burnt onions and garlic plus other vegetables and one can of tomato sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. After simmering and setting for a day it became a delightful pork stew served with toast for our still somewhat cold spring days.
In other news:
The old farm house is still very cold, running around freezing or just above that. This is surprising since it has warmed up considerably. Hope and I took a temperature of the soil which is up to 38°F. Hope had wanted to start planting a garden outdoors and I was explaining that our soil is still too cold. If we plant now the seeds will likely rot in the soil.
North Field Snows Vanishing
Our pastures are about 1/2 uncovered from snow and the snow that remains is only about 6″ deep. The pigs and sheep are exploring out almost to the far ends of the north and south pastures. I’ve been working on getting the fences backup – winter is hard on them with the dense snow and ice pulling weak fences like polywire, aluminum and netting down to the ground. The high tensile steel wire fencing fares far better. In time we plan to fence more and more with the higher quality fencing. It’s a process.
This is a divider that keeps the big pigs in the herd out of the atrium but lets the atrium piglets and growers out to the field area and the waterer. During the winter it was buried up to the upper yellow insulators and the pigs tunneled through the snow. It is amazing how we get used to the winter height of the ground. It gets to feeling like normal. Now the ground, er, snow, has dropped three feet to dirt. It’s a whole new world.
Piglets are heading off to new homes. In a big surprise, Torn’s litter turned out to be entirely females. I’ve never seen that happen before. I didn’t realize it until I went to check them thinking about weaning – normally I don’t see all their little behinds at one time so I hadn’t noticed they were all females before. The odds are 2^9 or one in 512 or about 0.19% probability! That’s pretty long odds but eventually the improbable is likely to happen somewhere. Having a sow that reliably produced mostly gilts (females) would be a market advantage as that would avoid the whole castration issue. One would still want some boars (males) produced. Years ago we had a litter of puppies that was seven females and one male (0.78% probability). These things happen.
On Wednesday I testified before USDA Secretary Vilsack regarding the USDA’s proposed National Animal Identification System (NAIS). You can read my speech over here on my other blog. If you don’t know about NAIS then please get informed. Fortunately I did not have to travel to Washington to testify as they were able to do what they call an “Audio Bridge” to allow for people who can’t fly in. That’s a good use of resources. It seems insane to me to have everyone flying and driving all over the place for meetings. Teleconferencing, email, etc are the tools to use. Saves time, money, gas and cuts pollution – what a deal. I’m not fond of traveling.
Compost Pile Flipped
Today I flipped the bigger compost pile. I’m not of the religious order of compost makers, I take a pretty laissez faire approach – it works. I build the pile in layers of material and then let it sit for a couple of months just keeping an eye on the temperature and moisture. Once a pile is set up right it tends to take care of itself pretty well. By the time I get around to flipping it the material is mostly composted. This pile is pretty big, about 60′ long by 20′ wide at the base by 6′ to 8′ tall along the ridge. It is truly amazing how well the composting process works. Wood chips and a whole lot of stuff goes in. Rich, black, fertile, fine smelling garden fertilizer comes out. It gets quite hot in such a large pile. Once it is done I’ll mix it with sand and dirt. I want to put in a large strawberry bed and some of this will go to that. Other material will go to new fruit trees. The pumpkin’s grow something fantastic in this stuff. Hope wants to grow some giant pumpkins. I saved seeds from last years. We’ll see how they crossed.
It is highly recommended that if opportunity ever arises to try doing brain surgery on yourself. Just kidding! This is what the inside of my PowerBook G4 looks like, after I disassembled it to swap in a new higher capacity hard drive. There were a ridiculous number of screws involved in this process. Things really need to be designed for manufacturing, maintenance, upgrading and disposal. It should be simple to slip out the old hard drive and in a new one. My old Pismo PowerBook was a dream in this regard.
Outdoors: 49°F/29°F Overcast after a string of sunny days
Farm House: 33°F/32°F
Tiny Cottage: 67°F/59°F Windows open during day