This has been, and will be, an especially busy week for us. We had intentions of continuing the Food Preservation series with posts on root cellaring, fermentation, and cheesemaking, but those will have to wait. Here’s a brief look at this ultra-busy early winter week on the farm.
The week’s forecast clearly showed perfect butchering weather, a set of stable days with highs in the low 40s and lows around freezing. Time to slaughter the pig. We spent much of this day setting up the infrastructure and plans for this complex task: set up killing pen, prepare scalding tank & fire site, set up processing tables/knives/soap/etc, prepare gut buckets & other containers, prepare hanging location in barn, set up tractor for carcass transport, clean kitchen, etc.
Pig slaughter: Start the fire to heat the scalding water (and to keep us warm), kill the pig when the water is ready, scald & scrape the carcass, remove & process guts (separating useful organs like heart, liver, small intestine for casings, etc.), begin processing head, etc. Got the carcass hung and all the infrastructure cleaned up as dark fell. Spent evening cleaning & scraping small intestines for sausage casings. Below right, carcass hanging in barn with cattle panels to keep dogs/coyotes away. Sans head and guts, this still weighed in around 210 lb.
Pig processing & cold snap preparation. Morning, worked on cutting up and freezing pork, such as this slab above left. Processing includes skinning sections we don’t want hide-on (we leave hide on bacon & ham), scraping fat from hide for lard rendering & sausage making, cleaning up head for head-cheese, separating cuts for immediate freezing (ribs, shoulder, sausage scrap) and those for curing (ham, bacon, jowl). Afternoon, did necessary farm work for seriously cold Tuesday night (low 20s forecast), including covering spinach beds, harvesting remaining daikon radishes, harvesting lettuce, greens mix, & beet greens, bringing in hoses & other plastic items, moving all unfinished pork sections into coolers for cold protection (both hams & one side). Evening, make leberkaese (German liver loaf), continue processing meat, especially starting cuts curing for planned Saturday smoking session. Cleanup takes a long time each night, as we have to wash everything including tables and counters.
Planned work: return our visiting breeding buck to his home farm after a month’s sojourn with our ladies, transitioning the rest of the herd from their pasture shelter to their winter barn (below left) with new paddocks set up. Continue processing pork (hopefully finish, including getting hams curing), other farm work if time allows. Likely work on putting together first CSA email & member survey to begin direct prep for January distribution; we’re rebuilding our website to make it more CSA-centric and are testing some new programming and content. May start rendering lard.
Expected to be a reasonably warm day (50ish), so harvest & wash some root crops (carrots, parsnips), try to finish building the new chicken shed (below right) to be done by Friday evening given weekend plans. Collect bedding pile from final goat pasture shelter & start new compost pile. Continue work on CSA needs, lard rendering, etc.
Finish chicken shed if not done, fill gaps with lots of other winter farm cleanup (mulching overwintering crops, compost pile maintenance). Given forecast for extremely cold weather coming Monday, with weekend pretty much shot for work (see below), there will be plenty of prep work to get done.
Spend morning smoking pork & bacon, cooking, baking, housecleaning, and otherwise preparing for exciting overnight visit from long-unseen friends. Afternoon arrival stops all work, then host dinner for visitors & several local mutual friends, doubling as birthday celebration for Joanna.
See off visitors in morning, then host more friends for lunch who are moving to Wyoming and leaving us 16 laying hens, hence the need to finish new chicken shed by Friday. See off those friends mid-afternoon and get ready to host local author Emma Marris & family for dinner, in honor of her fantastic new book Rambunctious Garden.
Collapse and enjoy a cold day with a warm fire after one wildly busy week.