The First Sunday of the New Year

We continue to enjoy beautiful mild weather. We haven’t had a harsh winter day yet.

We’re preparing for our annual year-end thorough review of the farm and we’ll be making important decisions about next year and the future over the next week. That kept me inside more than I would’ve preferred yesterday.

But I made time to harvest some broccoli and cabbage.

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Cherie is making a couple of cabbage lasagnas (one with venison and one without) and the broccoli will be turned into soup, broccoli salad or both. As I often say, meal time is the best part of this life.

Before supper we went on a long walk down the pond road.

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A pleasant way to end the first weekend of the new year.

 

Books Read in 2015

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m a fan of year-end lists. A few years ago, after reading several bloggers’ lists of the books they’d read the previous year, and realizing how much I enjoyed the posts, I decided to start keeping track of my own reading and posting about it at the end of the year. Other than the fact that I like seeing such lists, I can’t think of any good reason people would want to know what books I read last year. Nevertheless, here’s the books I finished in 2015, in the order I read them.

Fight Club—Chuck Palahniuk

Pylon—William Faulkner

Zero db and Other Stories—Madison Smartt Bell

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek—Annie Dillard

Great Art Treasures in America’s Smaller Museums—Michael Dineen, ed.

Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith and Love—Dava Sobel

Fall to Grace: A Revolution of God, Self, and Society—Jay Bakker

Ulysses—James Joyce

Restoration Agriculture—Mark Shepherd

A History of the Keesee Family—Vincent A. Keesee

The President’s Devotional—Joshua Dubois

The Jazz and Blues Lover’s Guide to the U.S.—Christiane Bird

The Bush Devil Ate Sam…and other tales of a Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia, West Africa—Curtis Mekemson

The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach—Ben Falk

We the Eaters: If We Change Dinner, We Can Change the World—Ellen Gustafson

Jesus, Bread and Chocolate: Crafting a Handmade Faith in a Mass-Market World—John J. Thompson

Passionate Nomad: The Life of Freya Stark—Jane Fletcher Geniesse

Full Moon: The Amazing Rock & Roll Life of Keith Moon—Dougal Butler

The Berlitz Self-Teacher: French

Lords of Poverty: The Power, Prestige, and Corruption of the International Aid Business—Graham Hancock

Deerland: America’s Hunt for Ecological Balance and the Essence of Wildness—Al Cambronne

Saints are Now: Eight Portraits of Modern Sanctity—John J. Delaney, ed.

2nd Virginia Cavalry—Robert J. Driver, Jr.

The Simple Life: The Pleasures and Rewards of Getting Back to the Basics—Rhonda Hetzel

Organic Wesley: A Christian Perspective on Food, Farming and Faith—William C. Guerrant, Jr.

Unsuitable For Ladies: An Anthology of Women Travelers—Jane Robinson

The Emma Caites Way—A.V. Waters

The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry—Norman Wirzba, ed.

The Man Who Moved a Mountain—Richard C. Davids

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption—Bryan Stevenson

Uncertainty: Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr, and the Struggle for the Soul of Science—David Lindley

Raising Less Corn, More Hell: The Case for the Independent Farm and Against Industrial Food—George Pyle

Pittsylvania County Virginia: A Brief History—Larry G. Aaron

A Revolution Down on the Farm: The Transformation of American Agriculture Since 1929—Paul K. Conkin

Saint Patrick’s Battalion—James Alexander Thom

The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast—Ira Wallace

Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future—Bill McKibben

Gilead—Marilynne Robinson

The Spell of the Sensuous—David Abram

What in God’s Name Are You Eating?– How Can Christians Live and Eat Responsibly in Today’s Global Village—Andrew Francis

Planetwise: Dare to Care for God’s World—Dave Bookless

The Reivers—William Faulkner

Funny Cide: How a Horse, a Trainer, a Jockey, and a Bunch of High School Buddies Took on the Sheiks and Bluebloods…and Won—Sally Jenkins

Search Me

Being a fan of year-end lists, I can’t resist the temptation to participate in the fun. So every year I do posts listing the most viewed posts of the previous year, the books I read that year, and a list of the hits and misses in the garden for the year. If those topics sound thrilling to you, then you’re in luck, because those posts will be coming soon.

But I’m beginning this year with something new–a list of some of the most interesting search terms that led net-surfers to Practicing Resurrection last year. Here goes (in no particular order).

what to do when my pig drinks motor oil
Hmm. Good question.

turkey meat comes from which animal
Is this a trick question?

Groundhog is mocking me
Don’t you hate it when that happens?

is Haitians related to Satan
Only by marriage, I think.

photos of live pork
Live pork? More evidence I suppose that we’ve become disconnected from our food sources

alpaca poop shovel
Sounds like a handy device, even if there is no need for one here

video of people learning about the resurrection on cell phones
I’m going to go out on a limb and say this search was fruitless

why is there always slobber on my pig
Could be that live pork thing I reckon

vegetarianism is unchristian
So there. Heathens.

can haitian hougans really hex people
Probably only if they’re blood kin to the bad guy

is the suit symbolic of cannibalism in greek culture
Note to self–get to the bottom of this before attending a Greek wedding.

Happy New Year! In 2016, may we all find what we’re looking for.

 

 

 

Annie’s in the Infirmary

Just as I was returning from the processor with our pork a few days ago, a neighbor came over to tell us that we had a dead goat in the front pasture. And just as he drove away I got a text from another neighbor sending the same information: “I think you have a dead goat in your pasture.”

Sadly, it happens. Sometimes goats die and often we really don’t know why.

Once we had all the meat put away I went up to the front pasture to see what had happened. From the gate I could see a goat in the distance lying flat on the ground with no other goats around. I sighed and walked out to retrieve the body. But fortunately when I got to her I could see that she was weak and sick, but her eyes were telling me “I’m not dead yet.”

 

But seriously, it was Annie, the 9 month old daughter of Bianca. She’s been undersized and sickly her whole short life, which is why we held her back from sale this year. I carried her to the tractor and let her ride in my lap back to the barn. There I closed off a stall, which will serve as a temporary infirmary. I gave her a wormer and some red cell, along with her own personal bale of hay and bowl of sweet feed. A clever animal would fake illness to get that kind of treatment.

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She seems much better now. I’m not ready to let her out into the pasture yet, but I did bring her cousin Fannie down to keep her company.

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Hopefully in a few days she’ll be strong enough to go back out with the herd.

Goats. It’s always something.

Happy New Year y’all!

Kale and White Bean Soup

Speaking of kale soup (we were speaking of kale soup, weren’t we?), here’s the recipe I’ve mentioned before (from HERE).

Quick Kale and White Bean Soup

Prep time:  20 minutes
Makes:  4 servings
1 bunch kale, stems removed
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus additional, for serving, optional
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 (15.5 ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
Pinch red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil, optional
Finely grated Parmesan cheese, for serving, optional
1.  Lay some of the kale leaves one on top of the other to make a small stack.  Roll them up into a cigar and slice crosswise into strips.  Repeat with remaining kale.
2.  In a large pot heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and garlic and saute until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the beans, kale, chicken or vegetable stock, red pepper flakes, and black pepper to taste.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the kale is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
3.  Using a potato masher or wooden spoon, mash the beans slightly in the pot and serve.  For a richer flavor, continue to simmer until the soup thickens and becomes more stew-like.  Divide into serving bowls and top with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of grated cheese, if any.

 

I can vouch for the yumminess of this. This year our white beans were a fail so we substituted October beans and the result was equally delicious.

The Freezers are Full

Yesterday I brought home the pork from the last four pigs we took to the processor. Once again our freezers are full.

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We’re pleased to be able to offer our community the highest-quality pork available, from animals raised humanely and naturally, on pasture. Our pigs live rich happy lives. They’re allowed to do the things pigs love to do, like wallow in the mud and eat clover and acorns. We supplement their natural foraging with chemical-free veggies from our gardens and a Virginia-grown GMO-free feed. In turn they reward us with delicious healthy pork.

We raised seven feeder pigs this year. We grew three of them to approximately 250 pounds and from them we got chops and roasts, along with bacon, sausage, tenderloin and ribs. (We always get the neck bones too–but those are for me). The last four we had processed into whole-hog sausage, after growing them to about 400 pounds each. Their sausage contains the shoulders and hams and is especially delicious. We also got more tenderloins, bacon and ribs.

It costs a lot of money to raise hogs and get them to market. We paid the processor over $1200 yesterday and our feed costs were over $100/week for much of the year. We have to front all that before we ever see anything in sales. Of course that’s peanuts at the industrial scale, but real money for small farmers. We should recapture our costs and a modest profit by the end of next year (we don’t factor in labor or capital expense in those calculations), but the upfront expense and the time required to get to market is one of the reasons I think small farms like ours tend to prefer raising meat chickens to pigs.

Once the pigs were gone we opened their pasture up to the goats, who are enjoying lots of forage there. I didn’t mow that pasture all year and with the great weather we’ve been having, it is lush with the kind of “browse” that goats love. We haven’t had to feed any hay yet this year.

In the spring we’ll get some feeder pigs and start the process all over again. Although I do enjoy having pigs on the farm, it’s nice to have a break from the daily routine of feeding them.

Now we just need to concentrate on emptying the freezers.