Category Archives: Farm

Pastured Pork

My wife created a blog just for offerings from our farm, U-Turn Family Farm.  Today, she posted that we have pastured pork available.  You can check it out here.

We have pastured pork to offer for sale! The pigs will be sold based on their live weight (ranging from 160-230 lbs), at $1/lb, and delivered to a Johnson County meat locker. From there, you can pick up your meat or we can arrange a delivery. You are responsible for processing costs. If a whole pig is too much meat, find a friend who would be willing to split it with you!

These pigs were raised on their mama for the first 4 months of life. Then, they were moved out to a large 2-acre pasture where they root and dig to their heart’s content. They eat on pasture, as well as some supplemental feed.

Contact us by email if you’d like more information on getting your pastured pork.

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Filed under Farm, Farming Pigs

December 2008 Already

December already.  And it is COLD.  I don’t remember it being this cold last year.  Maybe I’m not dressing warmly enough.  I have a few extra days off this month, so I will be trying to get some work done, but the freezing wind was driving me crazy yesterday.  I think I will retreat inside the garage today and try to get up some insulation.  If I can get up the remaining insulation, I can go to Lincoln to buy some sheetrock and put that on the walls.  Once the walls are rocked, I can start organizing (such a novel concept), and then maybe we can start pulling cars into the garage to be worked on!  What fun that will be!

I think I have settled on putting sheetrock on the bottom of the rafters and blowing in insulation for roof insulation.  I will also be installing under-soffit vents and a wind turbine vent near the peak in order to provide ventilation in the attic space.  I still need to complete the wood-burning stove and chimney.  Always work when I want to play.

We have butchered Papa Pig and put him in our freezer (we used the locker in Tecumseh rather than trying to do this ourselves).  We have also figured out that Mama Pig eats far too much, so we are trying to decide what to do with her.  I don’t think we want to try to keep pigs, other than to buy some feeder pigs in the Spring and raise them to butcher weight by Fall.  Pigs are, well, pigs.  They eat too much, they are dirty and stink, and every time I climb into their pen, Mama Pig bites me.  We are considering butchering Mama Pig at weaning time, then raising our nine little ones.  We might try to sell some feeder pigs locally.  We could keep the young girls and raise them as new Mama Pigs, and just look for a young boar to come live with them, but, like I said, I don’t think that is what we are interested in.

In other news, I have been thinking about a crazy plan for pasture improvement and wildlife habitat improvement since I can get financial assistance, in the form of cost-sharing, through NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service).  I want to create shelterbelts of trees to provide edge effect and wind shelter for my animals and for wildlife.  Within the shelterbelts, I want to have some fruit and nut trees to provide food for my animals, wildlife, and my family.  I also want to lay out underground piping so I can deliver water to any portion of my pasture.  I want to fence off my ponds so my animals don’t go into my ponds and muck them up.  I want natural life to thrive in my ponds.  And I want to put up permanent fencing that will keep animals where they are supposed to be, so they aren’t always going where they aren’t supposed to be, as is the case with my Mama Pig and with my bull calf.  The goats, despite their reputation, stay where they belong 99% of the time.

I have been messing around on Facebook a bit lately.  It’s interesting to see all these people from years ago who have moved in a thousand different directions.  Really, people I have a place for in my heart (call it nostalgia) yet I don’t know at all anymore.  Great people, nonetheless.

I finally bought my pistol.  I went with the Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm.

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35th Birthday

I hit the 1/3-of-the-way mark the other day.  It is a bit hard for me to believe.  Have I always heard adults saying the same thing their whole lives and never understood it?  I don’t feel much different from when I was half this age.  Obviously, I move slower and have a bigger belly and work harder and longer hours and don’t spend anywhere near the same amount of time just goofing off.  But, basically, I don’t feel any different.

Let me try again to catch you up.  In August-September, my parents came to visit.  My Mom made sure my lawn got mowed for the second time since we moved in a year ago!

My Dad celebrated his 59th Birthday.

We processed chickens (Caleb needed stitches), held our first annual farm day (no pictures), and put vinyl siding on the garage, finally.

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Filed under Family, Farm, Work

Two New Members of the Family

Yesterday the newest members of our family arrived!

As of now, they are unnamed, but we have a two-year-old cow and her first calf, a little bull calf.  They arrived here on May 6, the calf having just been born on May 4.  What a blessing we feel.  Please pray that we won’t be frustrated by the new experiences we will be facing.


Filed under Farm, Farming Dairy

Life on the Farm

Life on the farm has been good these last few days.  The daytime highs got up to close to 50 for several days in a row, so Gina, the kids, and I worked on shingling the west side of my garage roof.  We are probably 90% done with that now.

In the last four days, though, we have truly become farmers.  After over three months of raising our first crop, we finally began to benefit from all of the inputs as we harvested 18 chickens.  We had planned to harvest 18 roosters on Monday, but Sunday morning when I walked into the chicken coop, I saw a hen that had gotten tangled up in string and had fallen, breaking her leg.  So, even though the plan was to work on the roof, we quickly dispatched the young lady and processed her.  We ended up eating her for lunch on Monday.  I have to say, I don’t think there is anything quite as tasty as your own crop.

On Monday, we corralled all of our roosters (I was able to locate 25) into the dog run area.  We then released 7 of the roosters back outside, leaving us for 18 roosters for processing.  We started the work and I quickly realized, with my freezing fingers, that there was no way I would get through 18 chickens in one morning, since I had to leave for work at 1:15.  So, I ended up processing just 6 chickens and we sprayed the other 11 chickens with pink hairspray so we would be able to find them the next day.

On Tuesday, we rounded up all the roosters with pink hairspray, but I was only able to locate 11 of them.  One rooster was able to dodge ‘the bullet.’  I only processed four on Tuesday, though, because of the frigid cold.  We had a plan, though, to come back and finish the job on Wednesday during the afternoon, since I wouldn’t be going to work and the afternoon temperatures would be in the 40s.  Plus the windchill on Tuesday was down in the lower 20s.

So on Wednesday morning, we again rounded up the remaining roosters — I still could only find 7 of them, and on Wednesday afternoon, we set to slaughtering.  The process went much better on Wednesday than it had earlier in the week.  I have started to get the hang of the evisceration, which is by far the most time-consuming part.  Some notable lessons though are that I need about four killing cones, I really need to build my whizbang chicken scalder, there should be about 3-4 adults to really keep this moving, and the knives really must be sharper.

So my flock of roughly 72 (started with 78 in late September) is now down to about 54, but we now have 17 chickens in the freezer.

I realize now, though, that I would have to charge about $35-40 per chicken in order to make a living at this, so some efficiency is definitely in order.

However, not to be discouraged by the economics of the whole thing, I have been drooling over the new Murray McMurray catalog.  Specifically, I would like to order 5 Araucana hens.  Araucanas are the easter egg chickens that lay blue or green eggs, and Gina just loves the color of the eggs.  I also would like to order 5 cochin bantams.  Bantams are renowned as good setters, and I would like to be able to keep 2 or 3 hens that are good setters in order to raise my own replacement hens.  The cochin bantams will be straight run, so I am hoping that out of the 5 chickens ordered, at least two will be ladies.

I also would like to order 25 Cornish X Rocks and 25 Heavy Breeds.  These will be the basis for a test of different meat birds, or broilers.  The Cornish Cross Rocks are the industry standard broilers that dress out at 3 to 4 pounds in 6 to 8 weeks.  But I want to run a side-by-side comparison of these Cornishes with some older standard breed chicks.  The Heavy Breeds mixture costs much less initially than the Cornish Crosses, but I want to see how they do converting feed, as well as any difficulties encountered in managing them, and finally, I want to compare their taste.  If I start both flocks in mid-March, I should be slaughtering the Cornish Crosses in May and the Heavy Breeds in July.  I will try to keep some detailed records of how much I feed to each flock, as well as any losses or health concerns along the way.

The final two items I wanted to purchase from Murray McMurray were ducks and turkeys.  Initially, I wanted to get the Turkey Assortment, which would have gotten me 20 turkeys of many different varieties for $120.  However, I have adjusted my order to 15 (the minimum order) Giant White turkeys.  My hope would be to raise these turkeys through the summer and then sell perhaps 5 or 6 turkeys for Thanksgiving, keep 2 or 3 turkeys for ourselves, and keep the remaining turkeys as breeding stock for future generations.  I haven’t yet been able to verify whether Giant White turkeys can breed true or not.

As far as the ducks go, I was looking at getting 10 Rouen ducks for many reasons.  First, they are just downright good looking.  Second, they are quite large and make for a good roasting duck.  Finally, they are said to produce 35 to 125 eggs per year.  My hope with the ducks would be that I would set them out near one of our ponds and let them continually reproduce throughout the year, occasionally heading down to the pond to catch some good duck for ourselves or our customers.

In other farming news, the kids were given some money at Christmas for starting their own farm animal enterprises.  Meagan has decided on rabbits, so today we purchased a cage and other cage-related supplies for housing our first rabbits.  We are thinking rabbits will be suspended from the ceiling in the western part of our barn.  We got a lead on some Dutch rabbits, but they are apparently for pets and show, and we are more interested in meat rabbits.  More to follow on Meagan’s rabbits.

Caleb had wanted to pursue pigs, but now he seems hooked on the idea of raising goats.  Our neighbors (the best neighbors in this world) have Nubian goats who just kidded in the last week or so.  Our thought was to buy one or two of her goat kids to raise.  There have been a few conversations about this possibility.  Of course, if we get goats, we will need to build a prison to keep them in.  And we would want two does from our neighbors so we could pursue a buck from elsewhere.  The next question would be whether to get another Nubian as a buck or to get a meat goat as the daddy goat.  More to follow on Caleb’s goats.

We are also still waiting for movement on getting our very own family milk cow and the possibility of picking up a few beef cattle as well.  But, you guessed it, more to follow on that as well.

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Filed under Chickens, Dreaming, Farm, Farming Poultry

Updates about nothing in particular

I really don’t have anything to write about tonight, but I have time on the computer, so I might as well write something.  I am finishing up my training in the prison this week — next week I will be on my own.  I really like my new shift — I work 2pm to 10pm.  Every day feels like a day off until about 1:15, when I leave to go to work.  The days off feel even more like days off!  The only thing we are having trouble with is me returning from work at 10:30 each night.  That really infringes on my ability to get up at 4:30 each morning.

Gina is very pregnant and very ready to give birth.  The due date is still nine days away and we think we have everything ready for our very first home birth.  We even have a pool set up in our dining room!  We can’t wait!

Work continues on the garage.  15 out of 16 trusses are up and I have started putting sheathing on the roof.  I was helped out this evening for about an hour by my neighbors, Jacob & Elizabeth, and I anticipate that Jacob & Daniel will make it by tomorrow.  I hope to get the roof close to finished tomorrow, which will require putting up the last truss, putting up another 24 sheets of 4×8 sheathing, and putting up the four ladders for the gable-end overhangs that Terry & I put together last weekend.  I am always overambitious.  The next step, I think, will be to roll out the roofing felt(?) and then start shingling, which is likely something I will work on alone.  I don’t know, we’ll have to wait and see.

The chickens are doing quite well and are growing very big.  We picked up more straw bales for them and I hope to buy some fencing to create a temporary run for them.  They are eating about 80 pounds per week of feed, which is costing quite a bit, so I want to find another source of chicken feed.  We hooked them up on a thermostatically controlled outlet, so their heating lamps will now only kick on when the temperature drops below 35°, and will turn off when the temperature gets back up over 45°.  The chickens are now 5-and-a-half weeks old.

Still no new job offers and no new ideas or thoughts or discussions about starting a Bible fellowship here.  I have been grappling with the thought of whether God is calling us to have a home-based Bible fellowship, perhaps meeting in the new garage with a wood-burning stove for heat.  I also have been struggling with the meaning of my new job and whether it is what God has called me to or if there are just valuable lessons for me to learn there.

God Bless.

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Filed under Baby, Bible, Chickens, Farm, Farm Projects, Farming Poultry, Homebuilding, Work

Chicken relocation


As I mentioned earlier, we had been keeping our chickens in the basement of our house. They were quickly growing, starting to really stink, and creating a ton of dust for us. They were also getting quite crowded.


So for their three-week birthday, we gave them a new house. They have been sucessfully moved out into their own home (coop).  In moving them out, we attempted to plug most of the holes in the building (except for the cat door).  We replaced all of the sash windows.  We laid out some straw for bedding material.  We hung their warming lights, food, and water from the rafters, and we began setting up roosts.  They seem to be happy so far, although it is a bit cold outside still.  They should get hardier as time goes by.  The following picture shows the cat area behind the chicks.


Checking on them is a bit harder now, but they have somewhere between 3.5 square feet per bird now, much better than the 1/3 sq ft they had in my basement.

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Filed under Chickens, Farm