Piglets leave home and Day One of the Home Grown September Challenge.

Today, Red Hat Matt,  one of the American builders who worked on The Coupe, is coming back to pick up his two piglets. He has bought the gilt (female) and one of the little barrows (castrated male) as company for her. So I am training them to like the Black Mariah that he will borrow for their trip.

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Red Hat Matt was inspired by The Farmy when he was working here. He was living in a small town with his wife and children. Every other weekend he has the children from his previous marriage to stay and all winter an idea grew amongst them until they decided to buy a wee farmy of their own.  He planted a big vegetable garden around his little house and put it on the market , and they sat in the garden and ate tomatoes with sticky fingers until he had swayed them all to the world fresh food  and country living.

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Around here the farm houses, often with outbuildings and sheds and even barns are very cheap to buy. Very cheap. Most of them are empty, they stand denuded of trees and gardens and laughter, with the crops planted to their doors and await a new beginning or the ignominious end of being burnt to the ground and then buried in their own basements. The big machines smooth the soil back over the imperceptible mounds that are the only evidence of their existence and plant another couple of rows.

But Red Hat Matt has saved one. He has saved a little white farmhouse. It needs a little attention but he is a builder. That is no problem. He has four acres, a lovely house, an old piggery (which he is going to turn into a glass house) and a solid small barn that he has prepared for his pigs. He has researched raising pigs and chickens and dug 18 inches of old manure out of the stable the pigs will live in (and put it carefully aside to mix with compost for his garden), repaired gates and made an outside run  for them.  He carries the scars and tattoos of some very hard years but I am so proud of him and his family. Taking this wondrous step to secure their own source of food and their own lifestyle. Taking control. They moved in yesterday but he cannot wait any longer.

seven-007Today he is going to borrow the Black Mariah and take his piglets home. Isn’t that grand.

The Home Grown September Challenge starts today.  My objective is to see how well I can eat using only Home grown ingredients.  For the month of September. Every meal every day will be from my own fields and gardens. Don’t worry, I am not going to knit blankets from dog hair,  or go without electricity, or grow a beard and sleep under a canvas fly in the garden.  I won’t give up my travels or my red lipstick or my heels. I am not going to start shooting rabbits  and pheasants for dinner or park up the cooking oil car for the month.  Though I could do all those things. I don’t have to lose weight or overcome some terrible health threat by only eating clean food. I just want to try it. And prove that I can.

We have all kinds of meats here and piles of vegetables. Mostly there will be little variety.  No chick peas, oatmeal, avocados, or orange juice. No raisins, or flax seed, or yeast. No chicken or fish.

But I have sourdough starter, kefir, eggplant, beans, tomatoes, capsicums, peppers, cabbages, swiss chard, celery, courgettes, potatoes, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, apples and pears and more in the garden. I have beef and lamb in the freezer. (Though the beef is almost finished) I will have milk  from down the road so I can make fresh cheeses, yoghurt and ice cream.  And wine and cider and the peach brandy  in the basement.

From my pantry I will allow flour, (for pasta, pastry, bread and pizzas), salt, coffee and Olive oil.  And I am going to find the ingredients to learn to make beer (just to jazz my days up a bit!).  Though technically this is not part of the challenge!

Thank you all for your most excellent ideas  and input yesterday.  I wil not bore you with the details but I will keep you up to date. The ingredients will be about the same most every day so maybe you can come up with some exciting new ways to prepare them.

Good morning. The hay is still laid in its rows in the field. I rolled it over again but the Hay Man and I agreed that it was still too wet after the rain. He does not work on Sundays (today). So we will bale on Monday instead. But we avoided the last rash of showers and it will be ready to go on Monday if all goes well. He said if it gets rained on again he will  swap my hay for a hay rack full of his own hay that he said is perfect. Isn’t that kind. His offer cranked down the knot in my stomach. One way or the other we will get hay in the barn.

Now off I go to feed the piglets in the Stock trailer again. Then when I load the two travellers today they will come running in without out any problems. It is getting the ones who are staying back out again that might be the problem.  I have a plan for separating them in there. Wish me luck. Have a lovely day.

your friend celi

66 Comments on “Piglets leave home and Day One of the Home Grown September Challenge.

  1. It’s a shame to see them go, but how brilliant that they are going to someone you know and that he’s starting his own farm 😉

  2. I like Red Hat Matt, he sounds like a darling.
    C, I have no doubt you will sail through Septembers challenge without a hitch and we are all here cheering you along!
    Have a beautiful week ahead.
    😉 Mandy xo

  3. Kudos to Matt and his family! How wonderful to be able to save an old farm with his own skills and labor…Best of luck on your own challenge. I know you’re up for it 😀

    • It is already creating clarity actually. To dream of something is one thing to actually do it is another! Still my breakfast of fried tomatoes and basil won’t change. c

  4. How wonderful that you and the farmy have inspired someone to take up a similar life-style! Wonderful too that Matt has rescued an old farm, such a shame that so many become lost forever. Good luck with the challenge!
    Christine

    • As well as that so many of them were built by the farmers themselves they really do need some care to keep them standing! He is the man for the job! c

  5. I can see why you’re proud of Matt and his family. I hope you’ll give us updates from time to time on their progress. I wish them well! As for the September challenge–I know you’ll do just fine. We’ve been traveling for ten days, and so we need to get back to a much saner way of eating when we get home today–not self-sustained, mind you, but very much like what you’re talking about–clean, simple, good food! So I’ll “sort of” be taking the challenge along with you! I’m off to one last hotel breakfast and then to hit the road. Ah, home. Even after spending a week with a beautiful new grandson (did I tell you? This is # 7 grandchild for me, and my husband and I now have 10 between us!), I’ll be glad to be home and settle back into my routine.

    • TEN grandchildren, how on earth do you keep up with them all! And a beautiful new grandson, how lovely.. drive safely .. it will be so good when you finally get yourself back home to your beautiful back door view and your own desk.. c

  6. In the years I have lived here I have seen many fine old farmhouses bulldozed, buried and corn and beans planted above them. But worse, I have seen many fine old farmhouses gradually disintegrate from disuse. They sag and become occupied by animals until they, too, disappear underground. Either way, it’s sad.

    • It is, and miserably they can be bought and kept alive by nice families. If only the farmers would sell them. And if only we were able to encourage our young families to come back out to the country.. It is a tough one.. c

  7. Well done Matt – oh I wish I could find me a man with that kind of dream/outlook! But after three marriages I guess I am meant to be on my own LOL
    I just know you are going to have fun this September Celi, with your imagination I can only guess at the ways you’ll come up with eating what you have on hand. You said you had plenty of tomatoes, peppers and garlic, so I am going to send you my favorite pasta sauce I make every year. Will send it via FB. Hope you make it, you wont be disappointed.
    Have a great Sunday and Labor Day (is John home an extra day?)

    • I would love your recipe, i have a big bucket of tomatoes waiting (like every day) to be cooked up. i will await your recipe! How wonderful.. c

  8. It is so sad and wasteful that these farmhouses and outbuildings are being demolished when it seems so many Americans are homeless and many are searching for a more nature-based way of living. It’s great to see someone living out their dream of such a life. The ripple-effect through his children will be tremendous too.

    • Interesting to note though that the homeless are in the cities, not the small towns.. we do not have a housing shortage out here, many are empty and for rent or for sale, in the small towns there are even more little houses for sale, some gorgeous, some terribly ugly but lots of places to live that is for sure. I heard of a fellow buying a house for 17,000 dollars the other day with a big section for his kids. And no it was not derelict. So why be homeless in the city? I don’t know. It can’t be staying for a job because they don’t have jobs either.. There would be no waste if people chose to live in the country. Its right here. Waiting.

  9. Morning, c!! Just been out picking blackberries from the field across the road. It’s next to the old Worth church, so I reckon I did the church bit too by osmosis. I don’t see blackberries on your list. Don’t you have any in your parts?

    • No i don’t, there are no areas of wild growth here, it is ALL corn and beans and sometimes wheat. along the ditches and banks is well behaved wild grasses, not one tiny corner is missed out here.. I remember when i lived in Somerset, we would go for a walk each day to the Dairy up the hill to buy fresh milk and eat the blackberries straight off the bushes on the way there and on the way back. Wonderful.. c

  10. ‘Don’t worry, I am not going to knit blankets from dog hair, or go without electricity, or grow a beard and sleep under a canvas fly in the garden.’
    Damn it, I wanted to see the homeless lady with a beard covered in dog hair 😉
    LOL thanks for the giggle

  11. Good for Red Hat Matt! Please let us know how he and his family are getting on from time to time. He is fortunate to have you as a guide and mentor, and your piglets will be the perfect start to their adventure. Also, what a nice hay man you have to trade hay if yours doesn’t dry! It seems a very generous offer.

    • It is a very generous offer, and he has a big family so i am throwing in some bacon! By next year he might bale the hay for bacon and chickens, You never know! c

  12. How wonderful for him! I am always glad to hear that people are interested in agriculture. It was a dying art but the younger (that’s me, I think) generations are getting back to it. Now, if we could just make land not so prohibitively expensive, maybe more people would scratch their own little patch of dirt.

    • buying big tracts of land is awfully expensive, but around here a house and a coupe of acres is quite literally dirt cheap. but this is not a pretty area, I can see why it would not fit peoples idea of ‘country’ living. c

  13. Glad he found a great home to move into and start his farm. I really hate the large corporate farms so it’s great to hear of a family making a go of it. Fingers crossed for him!

    • he is a very good solid builder and this is such an advantage when taking on a project like that.. have a great day, I am all into making beer now, do you have a site you visit for advice and kits? i need to start small.. Homework first though.. c

        • Thank you i shall check it out, I have never seen a store around here, it is a long way to anywhere and even then it is all walmart strip malls, you know what I mean! But I will find something! OK I am off to check your page.. many thanks, c

  14. It is really heartening to hear of someone restoring a home to its proper self and getting a garden going. And I’m looking forward to seeing how your challenge unfolds. I have a feeling it will be a real motivator for a lot of us fellowship folk!

    • I hit my first hitch this morning when putting tomatoes in jars ready for the water bath, i always add lemon juice… hmm.. what did they use to increase the acidity in canned tomatoes before they trucked lemons across the country? c

      • Possibly you could try apple cider vinegar, wine vinegar, or verjuice (the juice from unripened grapes essentially)..

  15. Yay for Red Hat Matt! That is so wonderful and what a great way to start off his own farmy with two of your piglets. Best of luck and happiness to him. And I don’t think your challenge diet sounds like little variety at all, but know this can sometimes be in the eyes of the beholder…or eater. All those fresh veggies, your own meat and fresh dairy sound wonderful to me. Happy Sunday!

    • It will not be terribly different from normal, i am just cutting out the items that would the extras and it gives me a good idea of what i should be growing next year. Tasty healthy research.. c

  16. Oh Celie, that is the most delightful story about Matt: Just think what an infectious idea you are spreading around you, nibbling away at the edges of monoculture and big business farming. Pray that more folk are inspired by your example. We always used to feed the ponies in the trailer for a week or so before we needed to transport them, and never had any trouble.

    • Morning Viv, The piglets rush into the trailer for their dinner, so i do not envisage much trouble, other than separating the girl and one other from the others, very fast. But i am sure the first time will be the learning time for this kind of thing. They are way too heavy to carry now.. c

    • Wouldn’t be a fantastic thing if the country started filling up with people again.. oh that would make all the difference in the world..

  17. What an inspiration you are, and have been to Red Hat Matt for him to make a life change for his family. Wishing them all the best on their new farmy. The hay man sounds like a dear, I like how farmy folk look out for each other.

  18. Hmm, you don’t have any grains but corn on the farmy, do you? Otherwise you could make breakfast puddings. I made a rice pudding yesterday to die for! It’s a great thing to add variety from a simple farmy lifestyle. Rice, milk, egg, sweetener (sugar). That’s it! It was delicious!

  19. Cinders, you are like the little pebble in the pond…you have touched, influenced, inspired so many people…me included! I love this story of Red Hat Matt! Would he let you show us a photo of his little farm? How about vinegar in your tomatoes instead of the lemon juice for the acidity?…did you say you had some in your basement….that could be homemade! 🙂

  20. Re missing lemons, could you plant a couple in trees in pots and keep them under glass in the coupe through the winter? I know people in the uk have all sorts of poly tunnel systems with underfloor heating (usually powered alternatively to keep costs down) so they can grow citrus in a frost free environment. There is lots of technical stuff on the internet re poly tunnel under floor heating. The hay man is a keeper, how sweet to offer you his hay. Good Luck with the beer.

  21. I doubt you could have found the piglets a better home nor a better purpose, Celi. They’ll help Flat Hat Matt realize his dream. Not bad for a couple of mischievous piggies! You picked a beautiful day to start your challenge. It’s an omen of good things to come. I’ll be leaving in a few minutes to get some jars. I’m going to put up a batch of tomato jam this afternoon. Hope you’re having a great day!

  22. Just finished reading a great book – Gaining Ground by Forrest Pritchard. It is about a young man just leaving college and decides to ‘save the family farm’. It has some hilarious bits in it – especially the section describing how he and his fathers first attempt in building a portable coup for the chickens turns out. Just a hint – he wasn’t as clever as you Celi regards putting wheels on it!
    It really speaks to what we have all said above about how great it would be if there were more people like Matt around.

  23. What a wonderful challenge for Matt and his family, Celi. I wish them great success, but most of all the happiness and serenity it seems to bring you.
    Good luck with your September challenge!

  24. How fortunate for Red Hat Matt and his family that he landed the job of building a Coupe for a Kiwi lady farmer… Life changing moments look just like any other, it’s what you do with them 🙂 You are an amazing inspiration, and Matt is a star for going for it and making a wonderful opportunity.

  25. Big challenge darling, but I’m sure you’re up for it! I was happy to read that you’re allowing flour and coffee – I was worried how you’d make bread! And all power to Red Hat Matt, may his new lifestyle be everything he hopes it to be!

  26. Good luck to Matt and good luck to you on your challenge. I’m so pleased when I can say just a portion of our meal is home grown/made. Check out this link, http://www.northernbrewer.com/ for your beer making. They have beginner/starter kits. It’s something I haven’t gotten to yet but hope to.

  27. Good for Red Hat Matt! I have a soft spot in my heart for those old lonely farmhouses that have been put out to pasture, if you will. They have such history and I imagine them as they were meant to be, filled with the laughter of family surrounded by healthy robust crops.

  28. Would a recipe for an apple or pear sorbetto help your challenge? I looked at Rodale’s website and they mention a Chicago fig for colder climates; there may be a Celi fig yet. As to the raspberries I grow the autumn variety Heritage only because it has low chilling hours 250 taste is just ok. With your chilling hours I would try Chilliwack a Canadian variety or any variety with your chilling hours I’m assuming around 1800 hours; about the same as apples.

  29. So happy Red Hat Matt has been taken with farming – and he’s saving one of the farm houses. (Those empty homesteads alway make be sad)
    Can’t wait to read of the dividing or the piggies

  30. Phew.. I was worried until I read the wine and the beer bit. All will be right with the world if you have a little bit of that to tide you over;) Seriously, though, I can foresee a month of abundance and incredible fresh meals! How exciting that you’ve created a new farm and inspired a family to imagine a wonderful life for themselves like yours! Absolutely fantastic! xx

  31. What an inspiring story about another small farm being saved. What you are doing is spreading its influence just as surely as fragrance on the wind.

  32. Ah what a shame that you’re not going to make blankets from dog hair…are you sure? I’ve got a Berner who’s blowing her undercoat right now and I’d be glad to contribute.

  33. Pingback: habits and assumptions | elladee_words

  34. Pingback: Changing Your Life One Farmers Market at a Time | Farmers Market Finds

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