It's not here yet.... but it's coming!

What am I talking about?  The word that so many dread to hear.... WINTER.  My children are actually looking forward to winter - they are ready for a blanket of white snow to play in and sled on.  And, I will have to admit, I do like the warmth of the fire in the wood stove.  We succumbed to the weather yesterday and had a fire in the wood stove.  Like most Michiganders, we were attempting to hold off turning on the heat for a few more weeks.  But, alas, we lit up the wood stove, and it was oh so nice!  Nothing beats relaxing on a Sunday in front of the fire.  Anyway, my post isn't really about the woodstove.  It is about preparing for winter in general.  There is a lot of preparation to do on the farm to get ready for winter, especially when there is livestock involved.

I have been doing a lot of harvesting and canning in preparation for winter so that we can enjoy the goodness of our garden during the cold months.  Some of the things I have been doing recently include Apple Raspberry Sauce, Egg Rolls, and PumpkinsI also made a Fresh Pumpkin Pie the same day I processed the pumpkins.

I have discovered a not-so-new product called Tattler.  They are re-usable canning lids! I have had great success with these so far.

Here are some examples of them on home-canned produce (look for the white lids).  They don't make the popping sound like the metal canning lids do when they seal.  You test the seal by gently trying to lift the lid after the ring is off.

The checkered lid is not a Tattler.  :)
I am still canning because our garden looks like this:

I guess it's one of the advantages of planting late!  

I have been digging potatoes as I need them for dinner and found these rather interesting ones last week:
These are two potatoes with multiple side growths.  Neat, aren't they?
What else have we been doing to prepare for winter?  We have been moving pigs to new pasture ground, giving them some new shelters, and updating the old ones. The large metal structure in the photo is a hog shelter constructed from 3 old fuel tanks. One of our farmer friends is no longer in the hog business and we were blessed to be able to get some supplies from her, hog shelter included.

The young pigs are on the right of the gate, the sows and boar are on the left.

As you can see from the photo, the "piglets" are not so piglet-like anymore.  I have to re-learn my vocabulary and call them feeder pigs.  I realized this when I called the vet to get some medication for our "piglet's" cough.  I went out and measured them, came back in and called the vet to apologize for my blunder in calling them piglets.  150-200# pigs aren't generally classified as piglets.  ;)

All the pigs are now on a beautiful clover pasture.

Pepper and Rue enjoying new pasture ground.
Boy saying hi to the young ones.
The big pigs' barn is currently getting a makeover to be ready for winter.  We are siding it, painting trim and installing water tanks.

Another project I have been undertaking is to get wagon numbers and our farm name stenciled onto our wagons.  For our organic certification, we also have to have our wagons numbered to keep good documentation of crop storage and transportation.  Here is one wagon with our farm name on it

This is wagon #1 (the number is on the other side, near the opening where the grain comes out).
And, here is our new 100 bushel wagon.  I was on a farm auction website (which is something I generally do not do.... maybe it will be a new habit).  I came across this wagon, and I don't think it was by chance.  Kevin was planning to build something for grain storage this winter, and I found this wagon.  The price we paid for it was probably the same as what we would have spent in material to build something, and it saved Kevin lots of time.  I am pretty happy with my find - we don't generally practice blind buying of equipment, but this was too good to pass up, and as you can see we were blessed by the wagon being in great shape.

We have also found a solution to our hay and straw storage for winter (we hope).  The port-a-hut in the bed of the truck needs repair, but until we can repair it for animal use, it should keep our bales dry this winter.  :)

Mama hen continues to raise up her baby chicks.  They are all doing well and continue to forage around the yard.  We will have to come up with winter housing for them.  Hopefully the rest of the flock will adopt them with no ill-will.

Wyatt's hens, Bonnie and Alice are faring well for now, but will also have to move to a better insulated pen for winter.  Maybe this weekend's projects will include working on the chicken area.

The turkeys are growing and the males now fan out their tails.  It's fun to hear the turkeys gobble when you go out to visit them.

Duke is doing some harvesting of his own - he picks his own sweet corn to snack on. He enjoys corn on the cob as much as we do.  No joke. 

Aren't I cute?

One of our favorite school activities for science has been our nature walks.  A couple weeks ago we ventured into the woods.  It was a lot of fun, and probably something we will do more frequently.
Silly pose in the woods.
Happy to be enjoying nature.
The colors are starting to get more brilliant in our neighborhood.  Isn't God's creation beautiful?  Take time to enjoy the beauty around you.