Pigs Foot Soup – Mending Fence

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.

Knuckle Bones

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.

Pen Wall

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.

Brain Surgery

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

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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14 Responses to Pigs Foot Soup – Mending Fence

  1. Brian says:

    was the sow responsible for producing all females or was it the boar? I thought the males of the species had the deciding chromasone.

  2. karl says:

    that is some pile of compost!!!! our fencing standards are considerably higher than when we first moved here. we just got the first of our pork back. we love pigs.

  3. Tis an interesting question. King Henry VII was said to have blamed his wives for producing all girls and kept remarrying. For a long time it was taught that the male controls the sex because he has X and Y sperm. But recently it was recognized that the situation is a bit more complicated with the acidity of the vagina and other factors like timing having an effect on sexual selection due to the differing longevity and swim rates of X vs Y sperm. The father was Franklin, a fine looking pig but too much of an escape artist who would wander back and forth between the north and south herds so he went to meet his disassemble.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Snow! Snow! Walter you are toooo high up! Down here in the valley we have green grass.

  5. Ellen says:

    Hi Walter – Try having Hope use a cold frame to start some cold hardy seeds. I started some bibb lettuce, mizuna early greens and some arugula rocket in a cold frame 3/28 and they are up already. You can build a simple one from an old window pane.

  6. Aye, that’s how we’ll start. But the soil temperature is still too low. I was surprised when she and I measured it. We still have a lot of ice and snow. Another week or two and the cold frames will have thawed. We have four that are wooden and stone frames with double glazed thermopane patio doors I found in junk piles. They do work great for extending the season.

  7. It looks like your weather and fields are the same as ours. Right now it’s dusting down with a little snow.

    Man I like that compost pile! I could use about half of it in my tire garden. Pretty impressive. This year we are going to try something similar just a lot smaller.

  8. Evelyn says:

    Too cool about the brain surgery. I take out my hard drive anytime I have to send my PC in for work. It's just a couple exterior screws, or a clip in some, never open the computer itself. PC is ahead in 1 thing at least!!! :)

    Too funny about the X/Y & vaginal pH thing. It certainly is recent compared to Henry, but women have been using this since the 1950's that I know of.

    And, lastly food! I have totally got to try this soup! I haven't had a clue what to do w/ the feet before this! GREAT!!! Thank YOU!!! A question that I've been wondering since we decided to get pigs… I know that it's (suposed to be at least) bad to give commercial pork to dogs. That doesn't go w/ well raised pigs? That's good to know. You've been dealing w/ pigs & dogs long enough to know if it was going to hurt your dogs… I'll take your word for it!


  9. Long ago I asked a vet about the pork and dogs. He said it is a myth. I asked the dogs and they said the same thing. One thing to beware of is little rib bones that have been bandsaw cut, e.g., pork chops, and then dried are rather sharp. I do not feed our dogs things like that in a competitive situation where they’ll just wolf it down but instead tell them to eat and chew their food. Molly, who is new to us, has not got this idea yet. The only thing that comes out the back end is paste and hairs. I figure the hairs act like intestinal scrub brushes – a mechanical dewormer. :)

  10. Rosalyn Price English says:

    I’m soooo jealous of your compost pile… :)

    Has anyone tried a hotframe? I have directions to make one with manure on the bottom, then hot compost, then dirt… Supposidly, the temp stays up because of the active composting…

  11. Yes, the manure hot frame works very well. I haven’t done one in a few years but did in the past. I built insulated walls and then bermed them. The inside was about 2′ deep. I put in a layer of hay, then manure, then hay then dirt. We grew stuff right through the winters in that. The biggest problem was keeping the top clear of snow. Where my cold frames are located right now the old farm house roof dumps.

    I am planning to do growing frames all the way around our tiny cottage, a project for another year. This will also buffer the cottage from the elements in the winter. Since the tiny cottage roof is designed to retain the snow rather than dump it won’t have that problem.

  12. A Bay Horse says:

    Soup looks delicious. Nice idea to use parts from the whole animal. Were I there I would have to try it!

    Our snow is all melted down here now…

  13. Sean Govan says:

    I remember reading about a study that suggested some men have an allele that makes them produce more x sperm and some have an allele that makes them produce more y sperm. It also would seem there’s a third allele that produces equal numbers of each. This would explain why some families have hugely disproportionate numbers of one sex or the other.

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