The Omnivore’s Farm

Things are starting to wind down on the farmy in some ways.

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And wind up in others. The bulk of the apples and tomatoes and vegetables are in jars and in the cellar. The pears and apples are next in the crusher, not quite yet though. I have a lot of picking to do yet.

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Seeds are being collected and dried.

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Last night we had Lamb rissoles. I mixed ground up left over roasted lamb, mashed potato, an egg, an onion and whatever green herbs are hanging about. Grandma always added parsley. Here is the recipe exactly as she wrote it in a blog post I wrote two years ago about Daisy getting lost in the field. We had corn that year too.

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I always make a few extra jars of apple crumble for John’s and the old Codger’s lunches. These ones have plenty of room for the Old Codger to add his favourite vanilla  ice cream.

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The meat side of my farm is  winding Up. We are on an ominivores diet and so I raise grass fed meat to go with our vegetables. The Bobby and Charlotte went to the locker early last week.   Both animals loaded easily and took their early morning trips to the abbatoir without fuss.  It was sad to see Charlotte go but she left a trail of destruction in her wake. Not the least of it being: breaking the fence between her and the ram  – letting him in with Minty and Meadow and completely demolishing the chooks run over and over again.  Feeding her was a very chancy operation. Poor old thing could only have lived in an indestructible concrete stall and that is not how I keep my animals.  But I am going to name my new line of soap after her so she is not forgotton. Although she was a nervous bad tempered mother she did help me learn an awful lot and for that I am thankful.

I am lucky that the man down the road, an ex Vietnam War Vet on a pension, does all my truck driving for me. He is a gentle man and he and his wife are paid in meat for helping me which pleases them greatly as the army pension is not very much to live on.

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I spoke to the man at the abattoir and he has some lard I can have to start making soap. It is a small family run outfit and when I go to pick up the lard on Saturday I will show you.  It is absolutely nothing like the big terrifying slaughter houses. This wee country abattoir only does a few animals a day, it is quiet, efficient and personal. They know my animals are grass fed for maximum nutrition and gently grown and like all their charges they move them swiftly through their last moments with gentleness and dignity. It is one of those tiny businesses that help keep a tiny town open and I am comfortable sending my animals there and being part of this old fashioned country cycle.

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This weekend I am going to try and make soap for the first time. If any of you have made soap I would be grateful for any tips. I want to make lavender soap.

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The Black Mariah is parked up again for a while though. The broiler chickens (who go in two weeks) will be taken to their special organic meat bird abbatoir in a covered truck bed. And the piglets who are no longer piglets have a few more months on the farm yet.

Good morning. Today I am making a pound cake for John to take to Georgia tomorrow. He is going to visit his son who is still in basic training down there. I promised The Tall Teenager I would send him a cake. But we are not allowed to send food to the camp now.  So he can eat it when they leave the base.  I am going to put a fork in the tin with the cake. Otherwise he might pick the whole cake up and take a bite right there outside the gates.

I hope you all have a lovely day. It is 6.30 am and still dark. Starting to work at sunrise is not as early as it was.

You all have a lovely day.

Your friend on the farm, celi

85 Comments on “The Omnivore’s Farm

  1. All that lovely meat to look forward to! You mentioned that you’re going to try curing this time. Is there a ham on the menu? Perfect for Christmas!
    Christine

    • The hams will come later, but John does want to do a salt cured ham. Finding salt in those quantities at a reasonable cost is our first task. However before that I hope to work with SMOKE! Johns other birthday present may have something to do with that! c

  2. I sympathise with you – and I expect all the farmy’s friends will be missing Charlotte and the Bobby.

    Soap: the only think I know about making soap is that wood ash comes into it somewhere. If the Farmy community doesn’t know, I’m sure Google will be a mine of information.

    Have a great day, love ViV

    • wood ash is used to make an old fashioned lye (or caustic soda) . We tried and tried and failed. So I have bought some! I have found a google recipe that fits, but having never done this before I bet there are a few tips I would appreciate.. c

  3. Morning darling, you’re up early! I think it’s wonderful that you’ve been able to give your animals so much dignity and respect during both their lifetimes and at the abattoir. It can’t be easy sending them off, but that’s the tough reality of farming and self-sufficiency – we only make a pretense of it here in the city, and depend on folks in the country to prop us up by supplying our meat and at least some of our vegetable requirements. I think you’re very brave, and I’m so glad you’re my friend. x

    Re making soap, lovely Linda our permaculture guru wrote a detailed post about how she makes soap some years ago. She and I trade – soap for chocolate – and I haven’t bought hand soap now for over a year! Here’s her post:

    http://witcheskitchen.com.au/making-soap-in-time-for-christmas/

    • I think Linda makes her with oils, which out here are unbelievably expensive. But I shall pop over and see if she has any tips and info.. Morning Celia darling, i shall pop over soon and see what is in your kitchen.. c

  4. The light in your images today is exquisite.

    I love how you are supporting the local economy, bartering occasionally and carrying on old-time traditions like soap making. A woman from my church has made soap for decades, but I have no clue how she does so.

    • Those old ladies have so much know-how in their heads, I would love to have mentor like that.. but like everything else I think I will learn by trial and error, there is so much we have had to relearn. c

  5. I’ve never made soap, but my sister has. She says the most common mistake beginners make is not letting it cure/dry out enough before trying to use it. It has to harden up – think cheese! A lot of people down here make soaps using goat’s milk, which is really kind on the hands but doesn’t last well. I like the idea of using every last bit of pig and making yours from lard. It should harden well. Be sure to tell us how you get on, and if it works well, the recipe you end up with. KC

    • I will have you with me every step of the way and thank you for your sisters advice, I have heard I should let it sit for three weeks, is that about right?.. c

      • The longer the better, I’m told. And I think you’re doing it at the right time of year; warm weather makes it stay soft longer. You almost shame me into wanting to try it for myself – I make the excuse I have no time, but I do of course. I want to try a version using lemon-scented geranium leaves. And I have the climate to grow lemongrass and vetiver, both of which I love for soap. Be sure to let us know how you go. KC

  6. Poor Charlotte…with her naughty ways and her trail of destruction. I love that wayward Pig, and am happy that she’s going to go with dignity and care. It’s lovely the way you handle the arc of their lives, Celi…that they live so happily and go so gracefully. Lotta love in that. Good luck with your soap making. And what a lovely line of products to inherit her name ; ). Have a beautiful day on the farm. —Charlotte

    • Good Morning Charlotte, I am glad to hear you say that. The other wonderful thing about making soap is that i can wrap it in tissue and MAIL it all over the world, even to Italy. Though first one needs to make ones soap.. c

  7. Thank you for letting us know about Charlotte and the Bobby. I’ve been wondering about them. I think it is important for us to be frank about the realities of life on the farm. They had a good life, as it is supposed to be. We eat meat, and I think your way is the best possible way to do things. I am also happy to hear that you have a small abattoir nearby. We have held back from raising meat animals for not having anyone who does that nearby. Recently we learned of a young man our son went to school with who is starting up a business in the next town so we may reconsider.
    You’re making soap! Clever girl. And lavender is my most favorite scent for soap! I found this article about making your own lye water out of hardwood ash. http://journeytoforever.org/biodiesel_ashlye.html
    Sounds very time consuming and complicated… A science experiment!
    I am now at that interesting place of still doing the farm, and adding my Jewelry teaching classes on top for the next few weeks. Makes for a busy month, but I am excited to be back at it. I have a new class of 10 eager students, a really good group, including one adorable young man with an earring. It’s going to be a fun semester! I made a most wonderful ring last week! (hee hee! oh, the joy of being back at the bench!!) We’ll be making bangles by November!
    But first, I am leaving on a trip next Wednesday to Idaho, where my sister and her husband live. A 10-day break! Ahhh!

  8. I loved your pictures today and am glad that you found the perfect quiet and gentle place for The Bobby and Charlotte. How lovely that your soap will be named after Charlotte. What you experienced is not unusual from what others have told me who keep hogs. I have a friend here who makes lovely soy candles, lotion and beautiful soaps. I don’t really use her soaps but they are lovely to look at. I am sure you will find the perfect recipe from the farmy friends!

    • Sometimes I buy those expensive hand made soaps so they can sit in my drawers and scent everything.. I hate to use them up! have a lovely day Beth Ann.. c

  9. Home-made Lavender soap – how divine.

    I buy it from the organic store occasionally, but it’s so damn expensive.

    I am looking forward to both hearing about, & seeing, your finished product. As a trained Aromotherapist, Lavender has to be one of the essential oils I couldn’t possibly do without in my everyday life. I have made tinctures, creams & ointments many years ago, but never soap. I do remember doing a Google search on the internet once trying to find a good recipe, but decided it was too messy and tedious in the end.

    I hope one of your many blog followers can give you a good recipe.

  10. I make goat milk soap, though with oils, not with lard. Make sure you add the lye to the liquid (in my case milk), not the other way around unless you want a volcanic eruption, and add it slowly, stirring the whole while. We do this with the milk sitting in an ice bath so it doesn’t heat up too fast. Try to have your lye and oil temperatures within 10 degrees of each other when you combine. A stick blender is your best friend for blending your soap. Let it cure at least 3 weeks. Milk soap lasts a long time when properly cured. Lard will make a nice, hard bar of soap. Good luck!

    • Thank you, good tip about the temperatures, that makes sense.. I am looking forward to having a go. i love handmade soap.. c

  11. Add your lavender at the very end. Otherwise it will be eaten by the lye. It takes a very long time, stirring it constantly. We used the kids as cheap labor, they would take turns with the wooden spoon. (You have to keep the lard and lye moving together so they can make the change chemically.). Have fun with it!

    • Thank you Pat. Do you mean add the lavender after you have done the stirring? I have seen many utubes where they use stick blender so i am going to try using that too, it goes much faster they say. c

      • Yes, once the changes start is the best time to do any adding. Milk for face soap, is a good one.

  12. 🙂 Sending admiration and love in your gentle easterly direction. 🙂 I don’t know a thing about making soap, (only ever made fizzy bath bombs and scented bath salts…easy as pie), but have a favourite girl blogger who make exquisite soaps and candles and also the most beautiful floral arrangements I’ve ever seen. (And has a crazy blue healer). Thought maybe you might get some ideas from her site: http://saipua.blogspot.ca/

    • Oh she is wonderful though I am yet to find the soap. Her pictures are gorgeous. And the flowers! Eva at the risk of sounding completely clueless, how do i join these sites so that i can keep up with their posts, it was the same with the huntress one you sent me yesterday, I do not see the follow button. c

      • I don’t know Celi. I don’t think these two gals have that option on their sites. Actually, now that I had a look, there doesn’t seem to be a follow option. What I do is pull the favourite sites down on to my favourites bar and then, when I have a chance, go have a look. Sarah’s soap is on the right upper corner under Saipua. World’s End is her flower farm, a newer venture, and the Little Flower school is her flower school.

  13. I love the name “abattoir”! Sounds so much softer. When we do our pigs and poultry (meat chickens, layers, ducks, geese and turkeys) it was quick and they never suffered. I am quite adept at the whole process now and no one can beat your own home grown and farm raised poultry!
    We also hunt and a clean shot is the goal. If you can’t get a clean shot you should not be hunting.
    I am interested in raising Nigerian Dwarf goats. They eat less and give more milk than the larger breeds. I love goat milk and cheese and the meat. Goat milk is the universal donor…my bottle fed kitties thrived on it! Chevre! Mmmmm…..Trying to talk hubby into it! Wish me luck!!!! LOL
    He used to raise sheep and it is not an easy job unless you have a few. There are a lot of particulars that I am glad I didn’t have to be a part of. Yikes! He is not excited about goats…sigh…
    A friend of mine will give me a milking contraption that is an old time one from his grandparents farm way back when! I really want to do this! 😀
    Have never made soap! I do buy mine from someone local and I have a fondness for emu oil! I love lavender! So soothing! I have to replant it every year here…too cold (mine is dried). But it is lovely so I replant it every year, along with my rosemary! Can’t wait to hear about your soap venture!
    Right now my Autumn Sedum is in full glory and is covered with ever kind of bee and the Monarchs also adore it! They are covering all of them now! I have them in a huge circle. My fairy circle! 😀
    Still harvesting the soybeans out here. Expecting rain …slows us down. Sure would like to get it done so we can finish the field work. Then the garden work.
    Pumpkins are looking beautiful! Soon Cinderellie!!! 😀 Picking grapes soon for another wine in a few days! Still picking garden lovelies, so work won’t be finished for a while. Wonder when that frost will hit! Yes…I get teased all the time!
    Have a great day Ceci! Loved all the photos! Tonight I will enjoying the Northern Lights! Hope it isn’t overcast!

    p.s. I see you also love hollyhocks! 😉

    • Don’t tell your husband but those delightful Nigerian Dwarf Goats are the best jumping goats in the business. My son wants me to have some desperately. They do give a lot of milk though and eat way way less that our Daisy. Like you it is the goats cheese that i would LOVE! have a gorgeous day mere. and yes I adore hollyhocks, c

  14. I so admire you for walking the talk with your animals, despite how difficult it is! C, can you keep the pelts, can’t help thinking how lovely the Bobbies pelt would look on the Coupe verandah – but you would need the know how on tanning it properly first. Laura

    • I would love to learn how to do that, but calf pelts have always irritated me because they curl up What I would like is the lambs skins, the wool helps them lie flat and they are excellent under the back and heels of a bedridden person. c

      • Could you ask the guys at the abattoir if they send the pelts off somewhere to be processed. We have lovely Nguni skins that are the decorators favourite. The Nguni is a long horned short legged breed of cattle. Laura

  15. Suzanne McMinn at the Chickens in the Road blog has a great post on making soap from lard. Also a post about rendereing your own lard too, if you are so inclined. You might find them helpful. Good luck to you!

    I really enjoy my daily visits, although I’ve never commented.

  16. I admire you being able to raise your animals and truly understand how to live a life where you raise your own food…I don’t believe I would be very good at it…I can raise the vegetables, but the animals would be something I would find difficult…but I realize it is the way is should be, to provide them with a good home where they can roam….and grass fed..we do purchase our meat when we can from local farmers to support them in our area:-)

    • There is a lot to raising animals, you cannot give them a good water then go away for a few days!! But supporting local farmers is a wonderful thing to do. And is a direct hit against factory farming.. c

      • Really good — using it now
        Also made hand lotion bars just 2 weeks ago — nice and portable

  17. I wish we had a cellar for storing fruit and veg, it would make dealing with the gluts so much easier, we are having to buy a 2nd freezer (you know the smaller ones) to deal with the goodies, but even so I’d still like a cool dark store. I guess I’d have to move to make that happen.
    As ever always interesting to read about your life on the farm, the way the animals are dealt with, and all in your small community. It’s a positive.

  18. The first picture is wonderful and fitting of the season.
    Have you looked to see if the Williamsburg or Jamestown websites offer any direction about soap? Perhaps if you emailed someone there could head you in a productive direction.Smallfarm seems to have the process down.
    You’ve picked the perfect name for your soap.
    I think it’s nice they way you barter with your neighbors. Years ago, we had an older neighbor who owned a small grocery store – his end of the barter was always some of his farm raised meat! So appreciated by a young couple.
    Hope the day goes well

  19. For sure…when you have livestock or any animal and farm and ranch it is not a 9-5 job. It is lots of work, takes most of your time, and is a labor of love. Dairy farmers have it the worst I think. But calving is hard work too! I pulled one calf in the middle of the night in the cold and mud. Not fun. Even though it was the cutest little thing in the world…in the end…I was covered in mud and freezing cold!!!!!! Yikes! LOL
    My hubby told me that I had to think in terms of how much “you know what” I was willing to deal with “DAILY”! 😉 I still want those goats! 🙂 Cattle, sheep, dairy cows? No no no! LOL

  20. Maybe you can try a hot process soap sometime. I plan to as it doesn’t have to sit and “cure” when you cook it. It just has to harden but you can pretty much use it right away.

    • This is what my research is telling me. I might make both one after the other, the cold process is faster, and then see what the difference is, other than curing time.. But you are right, waiting 4 – 6 weeks is an awfully long time, However you could use a bar early while the others are properly curing!.. c

  21. You’re doing your little camera proud, c. Your photos today are magnificent. Made more applesauce today – had to go out and buy more jars and containers for freezing. Bumper crop this year. Oddly I can’t even give away apples to the neighbours. One of them actually said she didn’t eat fruit because of the acid and its effect on her teeth. I nearly snorted with laughter. Nearly. Happy Tuesday. No, wait, it’s Wednesday, right? Flipping builders are here again, knocked a hole through the ceiling, and gave me a fright. Thought the ‘boys’ were going straight through the ceiling toward the kitchen. I just pointed upwards, and said “You’re gonna fix that, right?”

    • Oh merciful heaven, you poor darling..will it ever END! apples are madly growing here also, how can that be!?.. c

      • Plasterers arrive tomorrow morning, whereby holes should be plugged and skimmed over. Painter on Tuesday and Wednesday. Plumber and electrician return mid-week. But there’s still, according to Andy, a few weeks left of “disruption”. And then we’re done. Oh, except that Peder thinks he’d like to make bookcases for my office. I won’t belly-ache about that too much. 😉

  22. Congrats on completing the september challenge, sounds like you learnt a lot and ate some good food along the way. Your animals couldn’t be treated better, they have a fantastic life and a respectful death, so many of us only want to eat meat that is raised this way and you and other small farmers are giving us this option. I look forward to reading about your experiences with curing and smoking. I would love to make salami but there is no where cool enough to hang it here. The folks from River Cottage have an amazing DVD called “Pig in a Day” that teaches home butchering and how to make cured products.

    • They say (in my reading) that you can air condition a room for the salami, but that sounds a little too far for me, over the winter I am hoping to hang them in the cellar.. SO much to do!! c

  23. I’m finishing my preserving with just one more batch to go, once Zia or I find the recipe. It’s great not having bags of fruit on the counter or sacks of vegetables in the fridge and I cannot wait to put away that canning kettle. On the other hand, I haven’t needed to turn on the heat yet since there always seems to be a big kettle of boiling water heating up the kitchen. I’m interested in seeing how your soap making efforts go. I’ve considered rendering pork fat to make my own lard but soap-making is something else completely and I know very little about it.
    Have a great night!

    • I know what you mean! My canner is a fixture in my kitchen!!!! LOL Will be nice to put it up! Pressure cooker too!

    • John, rendering pork fat sounds like a massive job, luckily they do that at the abattoir. I don’t know much about soap making either but i WANT THAT SOAP! I will learn.. c

  24. Oh Misky! I am so jealous! This was our off year for apples…sigh…good thing we have friends who share! Will work for cider! Our good friends have a press and it is a fantastic piece of equipment! The hubby has a apple cruncher too! He built them both!!! Engineering background… 🙂
    So we will be helping them. Wish we had a good crop this year!!! I have applesauce canned and some in the freezer still. One of our trees died from old age…we planted two to replace it two years ago. Think I will put in a couple of Zestars. Enjoy! 🙂 Apples are good for your teeth!

  25. I am so glad to read about your bartering systems: not just the exchanges but the warm friendships those generate. I believe we all relish being able to walk along and learn! And more than one family will be grateful for the extra meat in the winter freezer, even if some was not preplanned! Wonder whether they do the cutting up and packaging at the abattoir also or does the neighbouring butcher take over or does it become your task? Great about your soap venture: have never nade but have been given handmade cakes and, uniformly, they have been lovely to use . . . Handsome ‘piggy photo’ ~ that is one of the young brood methinks? Hate to tell you the light is bright by just after five here . . . .when yours truly still tries to be in the land of Nod . . .

    • The very nice men at the local abattoir do all the cutting and packaging but sadly they are not butchers, (John calls them meat cutters) but year by year we discuss something new and they do their best. Mostly I am training them NOT to cut the fat off! This is taking a bit of training as they are not used to grass fed animals where every oz of fat is hard won they are used to corn fed where the fat is just too much. But thats ok. All part and parcel of working in a small community and learning new things.. c

  26. Be sure and wear protective glasses and gloves when stirring the lye with the water. It gets very VERY hot and when adding oils the lye mixture and oil mixture have to be around the same temperature. This can be a little tricky too. When mixing the two together, I bought a immersion blender, just keep your gloves on because the mixture can still burn your hands. Never made soap with lavender so I’m not sure when would be a good time to add it. I usually make some with cornmeal for scrubbiness for garden hands and add it near the end. Also, after you pour it up, you need to wrap it. I lay a big wool blanket over the box for about a day. When you uncover you should be able to cut into bars and then let dry on screens for about a month. The soap will still be caustic until it has cured. Hope this helps.
    brenda

    • That does help brenda, thank you, esp the tip about drying on screens! i have a few old ones too.. Promise to use gloves! c

  27. I read this post and then went back for Grandma’s lamb rissoles, and got quite lost in the story of Daisy in the corn… I’m making them next time we have lamb roast. The G.O. will love them 🙂
    Life gives us choices, and it’s how we make them that counts. You’ve explained the omnivores diet and farm practices beautifully.
    I love the dynamics of rural communities. They worked so well for so long, and I’m truly happy people are starting to see things that way again.

    • There is a definite resurgence out here, people are coming back to the land, slowly, but I think it will hold. It is hard to fight against the big growers though.. the rissoles are lovely, so simple! c

  28. A note to Mere, I have two Nigerian Dwarf wethers and they have never jumped ever. They really don’t attempt to climb much unless there’s a handy fence to stand against to reach a tree branch. I admire yo Celi in raising your own meat animals. I don’t think I could do it, I had to rehome a horse once because he had some training issues and it put me in a blue funk for weeks. Normally any animal that comes here lives out its life here and I felt terribly guilty that I might have failed Jack, even though he went to a very good home.
    Good luck on your soap making, my all time favorite scents for soap are lemon grass (so fresh and clean) and peppermint (especially on a hot sweaty day).

    • Sherry .. what good news, i have put off even thinking further about these goats because of the jumping and escaping issues. I have just discovered that i might be able to find some locally too! Hope mere finds some, she is such a darling… I understand about your horse.. life is not always kind, but nice that he went to a good home.. c

  29. Admire your honesty and the care you show your animals. Love homemade soap (I keep it in my drawers too!); such a beautiful way to remember Charlotte. I’ll second The Blonde Gardener: be sure to wear protective goggles to prevent lye from splashing into your eye (it can cause blindness very quickly). Have fun and stay safe!

  30. How fantastic to have a small local abattoir. I admire the way you are producing the meat you need, all done with care but without sentimentality. Soap-making sounds like a nice thing to do. Good luck with it – I see you are gathering in plenty of tips from the fellowship.

  31. The days are certainly getting shorter aren’t they? Love your apple crumble in a jar. Do you cook them in the jar? And if you do, how hot an oven will the jars stand?
    I made my first batch of soap using Janine’s instructions at http://olallieberry.typepad.com/blog/basic-handmade-soap-tutorial.html and then made some with lard from Natural Soap by Melinda Coss. About to make some more as supplies are running low and it’s so good! I used a stick blender the second time, which was much quicker.

  32. In case you need any more soap links – Down to Earth – its an aussie “back to basics” blog and you may find her tips of use, although I did notice she uses oils. Joy

  33. Now you have me excited to see your lavender soap! I look forward to seeing the process, the result, and your assessment of the process. I just know the photographs will be lovely too, Celi! It is your way.

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