Pig Decisions

It’s been a crazy busy couple of weeks on the homestead. We’ve had a birthday, both families in town for a visit, lots of outdoor fun taking kayaking and fishing trips, and of course lots of work in the garden and with the animals. We have eagerly planted all of our Spring and Summer veggies. We may have jumped the gun on Summer crops, but I have a feeling we will have tons of food like last year and a wider variety.

11117238_10152792776193994_7129713777641164806_nSince we had a visit from a couple of very helpful family members it was decided it was time to harvest a duck. We processed two. For our first duck processing day I think we did a great job. It was about two hours to do both.

We enjoyed one with a taco dinner. The duck was quartered and seared crispy then braised and it was delicious! We will probably sear off the breasts of the other and1462987_346272128904159_2218199822882081439_n enjoy those with crispy skin. The last duck we got from the farmer’s market we rendered down all of the fat and it supplied us in duck fat for nearly a year. We have the tiniest amount left and I can’t wait to have my stores replenished. We love using duck fat in the kitchen; it’s good with everything!

10269466_10152618892498994_8339796715640002491_n (2)Now we are wondering what are we going to do with these pigs? They are seven months old this week. Happy Birthday dear girls! Last week we did a preliminary weigh in using string to measure them and a simple equation we found online. We were surprised to discover they are weighing in at about 200 and 220 pounds.11152694_346270792237626_6777028383505960025_n

After a lot of discussion over how to process these girls, we have decided to do it at home with the help of an experienced friend. We debated frequently over sending them off to a local processor, but we think the cost involved with that is not worth it. The point for us of raising the pigs was to humanely and frugally get our own food from our own backyard. We have heard a lot of opinions on the cost of sending them off for processing and it seems that would really take away from our original goal.

IMG_20141115_111420We are planning on having a friend who is an avid hunter and homesteader, and who has processed many many hogs on his own, to come and help us in about two weeks time. They have grown so much since we first brought them home nearly six months ago. No doubt this will be a difficult task. It will be a sad day to lose these sweet girls, but we look at it as one hard day after a happy life.

Happy homesteading!

Going Local

Over the years that Michael and I have been together our lifestyles have changed dramatically. While always interested in good food, buying local and sustainability, we have drastically increased our support for local farmers, local businesses, and self-reliance. I don’t see ourselves as ever becoming die-hard preppers or living completely off of the land, but we have learned so much about decreasing our footprint and buying responsibly I do not see us going back to our old ways. We also both believe that people have the freedom to choose how they live their lives and get their food and basic needs, but for us it is important to do more for ourselves and limit our support of big corporations, and particularly, the industrial food complex.

I can tell you this did not happen for us overnight.  While I was working on my degrees and we were both busy working at least two jobs we were not able to do for ourselves as we do now. But now that we both have careers at great workplaces we have the luxury of getting to make decisions about how we live and shop during our time that we aren’t at work. This is a blessing that we are most certainly grateful for. So we thought we would share some of the ways we have decided to “go local” in our daily lives.

IMG_20150404_102618346Last year when we moved to the homestead I heard about a food co-op in our community which was still recruiting founding members and working to expand their mission. We proudly joined as one of 500 founding family memberships and we LOVE shopping at the co-op. We shop here for our pantry staples like nuts and seeds, dried fruit, beans and baking supplies.  They have recently moved to a new location and are greatly expanding the products available, so we are excited to add many of the supplies we buy like local milk and butter, and even more household staples. You can read more about our local food co-op, the Grain Mill of Wake Forest, here:  https://www.grainmill.coop/

A recent addition to our local purchases was joining a local Community Supported Fishery (CSF) offered by the NC operation, Locals Seafood.  We know their products are great and have visited their shop at the NC State Farmers Market in Raleigh, but are now going to try a short share, about three weeks, later this month to see if we like it and want to commit to a longer share in the future.  For $25 a week you get 2 pounds of fresh and locally caught seafood.  Whatever we do not use right away we will plan to stock our freezer with.  You can read more about Locals Seafood and their CSF here:  http://localsseafood.com/

We are blessed to live in an area and a state where there is a lot of support for local IMG_20150404_102101606_HDRfarmers and there are lots of farmers markets. We tend to visit the Wake Forest Farmers Market because it is open on Saturday mornings and is very close to the co-op so I can usually get all of our weekly shopping done at once. There are a few meat purveyors, local cheese makers, and so much beautiful fresh produce, but they also have locally made goods like pottery, soap and hand-knitted items, and even a food truck comes out sometimes. It is a fun place to spend Saturday mornings, and with the fresh air and live music it certainly makes for an enjoyable shopping experience. You can read more about our local farmers market here:  http://www.wakeforestfarmersmarket.org/

IMG_20150404_104319889_HDRNorth Carolina is a leader in the craft beer movement and has more independent local breweries than I could ever count, so we have to send a shout out to our most local brewery, White Street Brewing Company. It is a great little downtown Wake Forest brewery where you can have food delivered, fill up a growler, and watch a ball game. They get area food trucks to visit a lot and it is a great local hangout.  http://www.whitestreetbrewing.com/

We strive to constantly improve on how we ‘go local’ in our daily lives. I know we both feel better and share a sense of responsibility in supporting our local economy. Getting food from our own backyard and from other hard-working people in our community is so fulfilling and brings us joy everyday. We hope you find ways to ‘go local’ in your own community.

Happy homesteading!