I woke up this morning to ground covered in snow! This is the first time in the 18 years I have lived in SC (4 in college and the last 16 years) that I have seen snow cover the ground twice in one winter! The kids are just getting up. I am sure I will be victim again to vicious snowball attacks!
Whew! It has been busy since I last reported in. Beside paying work, which is keeping me hopping (Deo gratias!), we have been doing quite a few things around here. Last week we slaughtered and butchered two pigs. Wilbur and Cissy were brother and sister. They were almost the same size when I purchased them at 10 weeks old. But Cissy out grew her brother by quite a bit. At slaughter Cissy was ~275 lbs and Wilbur ~180 lbs. We took W first on Thursday and made whole hog sausage out of half of the carcass. Fortunately we had some friends down to help us. Mrs. Curley had a friend in the kitchen (she also held a leg during the stick!). Friends of our boys also came to help. One skinned with me; one helped tend the fire; and one helped dress the head. We started at 9:30 AM and finished cleaning up the kitchen at 11:30 PM. A looooooong day, as Mrs. Curley can attest. But it would have been much longer without the help of these hardworking young men.
Friday, the Dorchaks came down to help with Cissy. Slaughter on Friday, butcher on Saturday. We're getting to be old pros at this. Things went very smoothly and quickly.
I remember our first slaughter in July. We worked on skinning for some 5 hours. At one point, I was alone in the little red barn. It was mid-July. The air conditioner pulled from my office and the blocks of ice on the ground could barely keep this 8X8 room under 70 F, even at 10:00 PM. As one of my friends was in the house dressing the head and the other tending a cut, I was left alone skinning the fore legs and then sawing the carcass in half. Almost near despair at the daunting task which still lay before me, I wondered what I had gotten myself into. But an hour or two later as we drank a few beers and relived the day, I realized something greater was going on.
Now I look forward to these slaughters with more pleasure than may be I should. It is not the meat in the freezer (although this is a very, very, good thing), but the camaraderie, community/family prayer, and good friendships forged over a day of hard labor.
Next slaughter ... March.
Speaking of pigs .... don't we always ..... we built a new pen this past week and moved the three little ones on Monday. They were overdue to move to a new area. Now we have 4 empty pens which we can rest and grow back greenery on. It is fun to watch pigs explore and dig up a new area. We have a few more pens to build to ensure we don't tire out any ground and keep a good rotation. We have a little breathing room now.
Plans for the spring: Our turnips are gone, mostly to the pigs. Our collards are all but gone. So it is time to think about spring gardens. I have laid manure on the garden areas in December, so they will be ready to plant on in March.
We need to get some more meat birds and some more laying hens. (Our Rhode Island Reds are starting to lay slowly. The Buff Orpingtons are laying at 30% efficiency.) We have a few which will be ready to lay in a June or so, but we need another flock to ensure year round egg availability. Golden Comets are the ticket. We expect to get some soon.
We also want to try our hand at Turkeys this years. You have to keep them very separate from the chickens, but I hear that while they may be a pain, there is nothing like a home-raised turkey for eating. I am hoping to raise enough to have a few for ourselves and a few to sell.
I had some thoughts about current events (Super Bowl ads and CBS' new reality show), but decided against wasting my time commenting. But a letter to both the NFL and NBC on the former is definitely called for.
On the economy, as this stimulus package goes forward, I am struck by how both parties see solutions to problems in terms of expanding government. They quibble over emphasis and details, but the end result is the same. There is no real change. And so the same things happen over and over, they just get worse. We lose our freedom to determine how and where we make a living. We become simply tools serving the economy (as most of us are already considered.) Once our financial freedom is totally under control of the government, the stifling of our other freedoms will accelerate.
I have begun to notice SC Senator Jim DeMint becoming more and more prominent nationally in resisting bailouts and stimulus packages. I must keep an eye on him.
Well, life and work is calling. Til next time, May the Lord grant us strength in temptation, endurance in trial, and gratitude in prosperity! Oremus pro invicem!