Grit Blogs > Biggers Farm

Canning, Milking the Dexter and Sun Room Windows Plus Funny Farm Stories

Samantha BiggersHarvest season is always a very busy time on the farm. It can be hard to keep up with the canning and everything else up at the same time. We have also started on the journey of keeping a family cow. Actually I suppose it started when we first went to visit Linda Lou when she was 8 weeks old. Now she is a grown cow and just had her first calf. He will be our first Dexter steer that is raised for beef. He is a very beautiful calf and would make a good herd sire but there is only so much demand for Dexter bulls.  We need to get some better pictures of him.

Walking Linda Lou Back from Being Milked 

New Dexter Bull Calf 

Just out walking the cow 

Linda Lou in her milk stock 

We have been canning a lot. I have used about every jar I can find at my house and my father's. So far we have done 41 quarts of pickles, 60 quarts of green beans, and 65 pints of jam all from the farm! We also have about 100 pints of pasture pork canned back in April. I still have to can tomatoes, apples, and chicken and broth this year. Thankfully those can all be done at different times. Tomatoes take me the longest because of the process I use. I take 100 lbs of tomatoes and Matt and I cut them up and run them through a food strainer to make sauce. We then cook this down for about 24 hours before canning it. That means each pint of marinara sauce contains about 3 ¼ lbs of tomatoes. I like to cook the water out because it takes less canning jars and less pressure canning plus you don't wind up with a big puddle of water at the bottom of your plate when eating pasta. Tomatoes are good sources of antioxidants and vitamins so I think it is good for Matt and I do consume the equivalent of 1 ½ lbs of tomatoes each at a meal in the winter. I get about 26 pints out of 100 lbs of tomatoes.

The dairy steers we have been raising are growing. We are going to send them to market in November so all we will have left are Dexters to overwinter. We have all our hay in for the year but we are going to pick up another few rolls in case we acquire more cows over the winter. I plan on purchasing several Jersey steers or heifers, a Dexter heifer, and possibly a Dexter steer or two in the Spring. We just want to be prepared for more cattle at anytime as we are not sure of availability. Some of the money we get from the dairy steers will go towards property taxes and growing our cattle herd a bit. We simply need more Dexters cows as now we only have two, one of which is currently pregnant and the other is Linda Lou who is not ready to breed back quite yet.

This week we are getting started on our house again. Unfortunately we are going to have to tear down our stair case and rebuild it so we can underpin our house. Never hire anyone to work on your house that is not a licensed contractor no matter how much experience. All the major mistakes on our cabin that have set us back in time and money were done by someone else whom we paid good money. No one cares about your house like you. Lesson learned. No one is ever going to work on our cabin but us ever again except for the licensed gutter installer and the septic installer. The good news about our house is that we got the windows in the sunroom and will begin putting the wood up on the inside walls within the next week or so. I can't wait to everything is done and I can grow vanilla orchids in the sunroom. Matt has went through and added a bunch of 12 volt outlets to the house. All of our lights are running off of solar power and we are using LED light bulbs. The cost of LED light bulbs has come down a lot. When all the lights in our house are turned on at once ( which they never will be) we can completely power them with one 110 watt solar panel! We are going to have more solar panels than that though. When we buy a LCD TV we are getting a 12 volt model. They are only about $20 more than a 110 volt model and one with a 22” screen burns 35 watts compared to our 17 inch 110 volt version that burns 150 watts. The solar hot water system might not get completed to later in the winter or very early Spring. The whole solar system is going to be much cheaper than what one would think when reading a lot of the literature on solar. Our whole darn house furnished is only going to be about $45,000 when totally completed with the solar systems and all.

Inside the Sun RoomWindows Up in the Sunroom 

 Side view of the  sunroom and front of the house Got to get the accent siding up this week 

Last blog post I asked folks to send me their funny farm stories for a chance to win a Flip 4 GB Video camera courtesy of Purina. Folks must have been busy because I didn't get a lot of entries. The winners of the cameras were chosen by random drawing. The winners are David Bentz (Nebraska Dave) and Mary Carton. Below are the funny farm stories that I received. Thanks to all who entered. I wish I had prizes for everyone. Hope ya'll enjoy their stories as much as I did.

Mary Carton 
http://rosedalegardens.wordpress.com/
Some days you should roll back over and get 20 winks more

Today was one of those days I shouldn’t have gotten up. First thing this morning I put on a cup of coffee on my cup at a time coffee maker and when I came back I had a cup of hot water with some grounds that missed the filter Friday. The oriental lilies and the late blooming day lilies and the re-bloomers are in bloom.  Allison and her husband were due to come after some day lilies I was eliminating from my inventory. I told her I was going to dig them now and she said that they would be out in an hour. I got sidetrack taking pictures, especially of a yellow swallowtail butterfly, that the plants were still in the ground when they came. I lost my camera lens cover again and later I found it. I got the tractor out and plowed up the garden area where I plan to transplant iris and daylilies from the driveway. Then it was down along the creek to dig up an area for oak leaf hydrangea. I thought the under ground fence and water line were up against a blue bird box. As I put the tiller down I looked back and there was a piece of hose sticking out. The underground fence wire is in the same trench tied to the water pipe, so I knew its fate.

I promised Mom Friday night I would pick up her grass clipping from her lawn today. My Mom is the type of person that when she wants something done, she wanted it yesterday.  As I walked back to the house for another piece of wire I could feel her asking when are you going to pick up my grass? The garden area is like a dust bowl, so after patching the wire, I had to wash off the John Deere. It wasn’t green any longer. Finally to pick up the grass clippings and worked at weeding the beds in front of the house. Weeds sure can grow after a good rain. After cleaning I’ll get some newspaper and mulch down topped with pine needles. The water line repair will need to wait for another day.

P.S. – The rescue I adopted my 3 hooligans Border collies from started me on ProPlan. It's a great food.

Nebraska Dave 

Every farm worth anything had to have a few pigs when I grew up.  Now back then pigs were not confined in buildings until they were market ready. They had the run of the pig yard and pasture.  We were raising organic pigs and didn't even know it.  I was a bit of an adventurer in my early years and always tried to imitate the bigger kids.  It so happens that every hog yard usually had a big waller hole that was filled with water, mud, and whatever pigs like to waller in.  This one was about 10 feet in diameter and maybe one to two feet deep of stinky pig waller.  The pigs absolutely loved it on a hot day.  One the big kids of the neighbor's family where this story takes place, decided to hop up on top of a wooden fence to survey the pigs in their cool waller pool.  I suspect maybe I was about 4 years old at the time.  Climbing up the fence provided a challenge but I made it up to the top of the fence and felt quite proud of myself.  The owner of the farm and father of the kid I was trying imitate said, "Dave you be careful up there and don't fall in the pig pen."  As I turned to respond to that comment, I slipped and fell backwards head first into the pig waller pool.  I not sure about what happened next but my next memory was being washed down in the horse watering tank.  I'm not sure what the horses thought about that.  The clothes I had on, ah, well, I think they burned them out back in the burn barrel and gave me some old clothes from the bigger kids of the family to get home.  I don't think they ever let me climb that fence again.

Barbara Burg
Serendipity Farm

My favorite, and "queen" of the flock chicken, Thelma, has trained me well. She runs to my car whenever I come home to check for any raisins I might have found on my journey. Often I have 'found' some and as I open the box for her she is so happy to gobble them from my hand. If I happen to leave the car door open, she is eager to jump in to check to be sure any possible raisins are found.

One afternoon I left the back hatch open when I was unloading items from the car. When I realized this later in the day, I closed it and proceeded to go inside after evening chores.

In the morning I had the two dogs with me to ride in the car to run errands. As I opened the side door to let them in there was a great squawk-squawking from inside the car! There was Thelma ... she must have been in the car when I closed the back yesterday and had been inside all night. Oh great, what was I going to find ... yes, there was poop on the back passenger seat where Jake, my golden, was about to jump. Oh boy ... what was my seat to look like? I let dear Thelma out ... to her great pleasure, and Jake jumped in. Then I opened the driver's door to see what I would have to clean up before we left. There, right in the middle of my seat, was one great big brown chicken egg waiting ... a beauty, for sure. Such a relief! And such a nice gift from my girl Thelma.