How I Became an Accidental Pig Farmer

Another Hatchett Job, photo by Ethan Hatchett, pigs, accidental pig farmer, homesteadingHubby and I have always loved the idea of being more self-sufficient and saving money where we can. We have occasionally considered livestock animals, but only recently have we lived somewhere that it was feasible to have them.

Unfortunately, the land has covenants that prevent having any sort of large livestock animals (other than horses). Chickens and other birds have not been viable options because my father (we live together with my parents) absolutely loathes them.

So, that has pretty much put a damper on our desire to have more control (and better prices) for the meat that we eat. That is, until recently!

Friends of ours live on property that is partially covered by an incredibly thick mass of

Another Hatchett Job, homesteading, pigs, accidental pig farmer, pig shelter, photo by Ethan Hatchett
Setting up the pig shelter.

blackberry canes. Last year, they raised a piglet for the freezer in a movable pen. The pig feasted on blackberry leaves and rooted up the canes, leaving clear, fertilized land that can be utilized for garden space. This year, they sought to double their clearings by raising two piglets.

But, they didn’t really need two sows worth of meat in their freezer, so they were putting the word out that they wanted someone to split the responsibility, the work, the expense, and the meat.

Long story short, we jumped at the chance and became kinda, sorta pig farmers. We have the benefit of someone else’s land and forage for them, as well as expertise in knowing how to successfully raise them. This greatly increases our chances for success by shortening our learning curve!

Another Hatchett Job, pigs, livestock, accidental pig farmer, homesteading, photo by Ethan HatchettWe chip in for food (which can include kitchen scraps as well as commercial feed), help with labor, and watch over them when the other family wants to travel. Plus, we are learning a new skill set that we enjoy dabbling in. It’s completely a win-win for us (we hope it proves worthwhile to the other family as well!).

Have you ever cared for livestock animals?

Till next time,

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Just a’Canning

Another Hatchett Job, creative commons, writing, typing, typewriterAnother day of repetition around here.  Today, I began putting up the second large stock pot of turkey bone broth and some leftover turkey meat.  It feels good to put a bit of quality food back in the pantry for use later.  I like that I know what goes into my jars, where I might not be entirely certain when I purchase products.

Today’s tally is 15 quarts (actually 13 quarts and 4 pints, but it all adds up the same) of turkey bone broth and 5 pints of turkey meat that was packed tight with  a bit of bone broth added in to fill the jars.  Not too shabby, if you ask me.

It turned out to be a lovely day to work on canning chores.  Hubby’s car requires a new fuel pump that has been ordered, so he needed to use my van to go to work today.  Being at home allowed me plenty of time to cook and chop and process with minimal interruptions.

I still have more bone broth to process tomorrow at some point.  Maybe a 7 quart canner canned food on shelvesload, more or less.  But, it will wait on low heat overnight until it is time to get started.

My lovely cousin gifted me with 5 big bags of collard greens from her food co-op this week and I will get those ready for the freezer.  It’s time to get off of my sore, broken feet for tonight and it can wait a few hours more.

All in all, a good productive day that has included this blog post and the start of an article for my magazine editor and a mad search for a previous one I had written (she found it first, thank goodness).

What have YOU been up to today?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Repetition

Another Hatchett Job, photo by Jan Hatchett, bone broth, nutrition, canning
Quart jars cooling after coming out of the pressure canner.

In many ways, repetition is the stuff that life is made of.  I wish I could put up another blog post that shares another fabulous idea for the homestead.  Alas, I can’t do that today as what I am doing is a repetition from another day and post.

I tend to worry a bit about not posting frequently enough and sometimes life does get in the way.  Other times, though, I just feel like I have nothing to share because my activities are largely a repetition of previous events that have been previously documented.

For example, today, I am making turkey bone broth…again.  Yes, I did this last week as well (using our frozen carcass from Thanksgiving), but we had another turkey in the freezer that we defrosted, cooked, and are now making bone broth from the remains.  The meat from the bird was divided into enough for one meal for our family of 6 and the remainder is waiting in the refrigerator until I have time to pressure can it for future use.

Some practical tasks can be performed once and do a great job in saving money or helping to get these done around a homestead.  Building a greenhouse to start seeds in is a great example of this.  Perhaps a bit of maintenance will need to occur once in a while, but once the greenhouse is built, it can be used season after season to help grow flowers and/or canned food on shelvesvegetables.

Other tasks are equally useful, but are far more repetitive in nature.  Planting the plants in the greenhouse mentioned above will be done season after season, year after year, in pretty much the same way each time.  Both projects are helpful in getting the job done, but don’t always make for a life changing type of blog post.

Making dinner is the same.  My family tends to enjoy the same or similar foods in repetition.  My father has a short list of dishes that he really would like to see every week.  Hubby, the kids, Mom, and I enjoy a bit more variety than he does and use a longer rotation.  Dad, on the other hand would enjoy meatloaf and mashed potatoes every week, made the exact same way, without fail.  Never trying a new recipe would make writing about food a little dull for both writer and reader.

But, these simple, often repetitive tasks are the heart of keeping house, saving money, living healthier, and being a little bit more self-sufficient.  Repairing a loose button on a favorite shirt will save money over replacing the shirt.  You may repair several buttons on one garment or many buttons on several garments over the course of a lifetime.  Each repair is not necessarily newsworthy, but these little acts add up over time for your household economy.

Another Hatchett Job, cooking, canning, salsa, frugal life, frugal gifts, photo by Eddie Hatchett
Deep, rich chicken bone broth.

So, I can’t promise that all posts will be exciting and full of new ideas.  Much of life revolves around repetition of little tasks and habits that come together to help make life comfortable, and, even meaningful.

And, these extra jars of bone broth will give us cheap, healthy food for many months using only things we would have thrown out anyway.  It’s a totally win-win situation, if not worthy of another post on bone broth today.

What repetitive tasks give you satisfaction?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Easy Chicken Soup

chicken ccOne thing that I don’t have on my little homestead is a chicken coop full of hens and chicks.  We are in an agrarian area, but covenants that came with our property specify no large livestock.  We can have horses, but no cows, pigs, etc.  However, a neighbor once cleared land with goats and nobody batted an eye (so I am assuming that goats aren’t considered large livestock) and a couple of others down the road raise chickens, so I am pretty sure that would be okay here.

But, I have a chicken hating father, who can’t abide the idea of having hens running around.  Even when I have offered to keep them in a fenced enclosure or build a “chicken tractor” to get my eggs, he hasn’t softened one bit. Sigh.

I truly enjoy pastured eggs.  I really do.  And, as much as I would enjoy having my own source of healthy eggs, I don’t want to cause too much consternation for my family members.  So, at least for now, poultry is out of the question.

The next best thing to having my own flock of hens, is a good ol’ bowl of homemade chicken soup!  I bet you wondered what my desire for gateway livestock would have to do with soup.  For one thing, soup is one of the best things to do with a hen that is past her prime laying years.  No, I am not heartless, but I just can’t see having chickens as pets.  I know, I know.  Not everybody is willing to go there and that is okay, too.

But, even without homegrown hens, I can make a mean pot of homemade chicken soup that celebrates the humble chicken.  It’s that good.  And, you can do it, too!

Another Hatchett Job, turkey bone broth, frugal lifeThe secret to a superior chicken soup is really all in the broth.  If you can avoid it, try not to use chicken stock.  Stock is made from the meat and isn’t cooked very long.  Stock will be straw colored and not nearly as rich and tasty as a good bone broth.  Broth is made by cooking bones and some meat with or without veggies and salt.  I always put onion and garlic in mine (you can even put the skins in as it will all be filtered out later), but there is no rule that says you have to.  If I have carrots, a celery heart (or the end pieces that have leaves on them), a piece of cauliflower that has seen better days, broccoli stems, onion peels, etc. then I will throw ’em in.  Basically, it’s a good way to take iffy looking produce and use it rather than throw it out.  I would throw in just about anything except collard (with or without stems) because the only catch is to keep delicate leafy things like herbs out until the last 30 minutes or so, so they don’t get cooked to death!  Oh, and I usually throw about 5 whole peppercorns in at the beginning, too.  To learn more about preparing broths, click here.

I am nuts enough about homemade broths that I will make up large batches and can pints and quarts of the stuff to use later.   It’s totally worth it!

crockpot line art ccBut, back to the soup.  In my large crockpot (I think it is a 6 quart model), I will chop up a fresh onion, add 4-5 cloves of minced garlic (we love garlic, if you don’t then cut it in half), a stem or two of finely chopped celery, and 2-3 peeled carrots cut into small rounds.  I toss in a couple of cups or so of chopped or shredded chicken (can be cooked or uncooked), a Tablespoon of salt, a few grinds of fresh, black pepper, and 2-3 quarts of homemade turkey or chicken bone broth.  If I add 2 quarts of broth, I will add 1 quart of water and two bullion cubes or the equivalent in granules.  You can always add more water or broth if you want a fuller crock of soup, just remember to add 2 bullion cubes for every quart of water you add.

Turn crockpot on high and let it cook for an hour or so and then switch it to low and let it simmer for at least 4 hours.  Add 1 cup of rice for the last hour of cooking time.  Taste and adjust seasonings if you like.  Then serve with a salad and freshly baked rolls.  It’s a delicious meal and perfect for a chilly, winter’s day!

I hope you enjoy this easy recipe for Chicken Soup.  Once you have broth canned and ready to go at a moment’s notice, it’s quite simple to get a delicious dinner started!

What’s your favorite soup recipe?  Share it in the comments below.

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

 

 

 

Crockpot to the Rescue!

crockpot line art ccSome days are just the pits.  Half of your family members have chest colds; nobody wants to cook.  And, you have two broken feet to boot.

So what’s a gal to do?  Limp in to the crockpot and find a way to produce dinner for her hungry crowd before they get hangry!

Everything feels tougher and more time consuming when you are walking on sore tootsies.  Even with orthopedic boots, carbon shank inserts, and insoles to add needed support.  So, quick and uncomplicated top the priority list for this time in my life.

We had some chicken that had been cooked for a previous meal and frozen.  It was a chicken ccwonderful start.  I added one frozen breast from a bag in the freezer and thawed it just enough to be able to run a knife through them.  I diced them fine and added to the crockpot along with 1 medium yellow onion, 5 cloves of garlic (minced), two carrots cut into thin rounds, 3 quarts of chicken bone broth, 2 bullion cubes and 1 1/2 Tablespoons of salt.  I let it cook on high for about 4 hours before stirring and adding about 3/4 cups of uncooked orzo to the mix.  Normally, I would have added celery and used brown rice (wild rice, too, if I have some), but it was more important to use what we had on hand.  Any noodles would have worked fine also.

While the soup finished and the pasta rehydrated, I set about making fresh rolls using the Kitchenaid Sixty Minute Rolls recipe that I found a couple of years ago on The Thrifty Couple Blog.  I doubled the salt in the recipe this time, but still find that it could have used a bit more for my taste.

This recipe really is quick and easy.  It would have been quicker had I been able to move about a tad easier.  To compensate, I didn’t divide the dough into rolls and just baked it in a single piece, slicing into squares when done.  I sat and read blog posts while everything had a final rise and again when baking in the oven.

All in all, the rolls took a bit more like 75 minutes, but considering I usually can pull it off in an hour, it was still really good.  I come back to this recipe again and again as I can make rolls in less time than thawing out store bought frozen dough.  Mine tastes better and I have control of what goes into them.  Besides, it made a humble soup from what we had on hand taste even better and seem like a luxury, not a desperate attempt to stay off my feet.

And that makes it all worthwhile!

What is YOUR go-to meal when your family is ill?

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Log Cabin Lessons

Another Hatchett Job blog, log cabin, log cabins, log homes, homestead, dovetail corners
The Purdy Cabin, circa 1984. Photo by Eddie Hatchett

Summer of 1984 was a busy time for our family.  My parents, John and Judy Purdy, had purchased land about an hour outside of Atlanta, and were breaking ground on their dream home.  I had just finished my Junior year in high school and we were making our big transition over the summer.

Visit Molly Green Magazine to discover more of our family adventure.

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett