Pleasant Valley Farm

  (Tionesta, Pennsylvania)
Real Family Farming in Tionesta, PA
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Butchering time is here again...

It's a beautiful spring day here in Pennsylvania.  I'm looking forward to a productive weekend on the farm. 

My husband's parents are kind enopugh to help us with the butchering of our hogs, so I am looking forward to seeing them this weekend.  We are doing 5 hogs this weekend, so I'm not sure whether I'll be grilling pork chops for dinner or if we'll all want chicken!  This will be my 3rd time helping with this particular farm activity, and since we send the piggies to a USDA facility for slaughter, the sides of meat we pick up from Hirsch's don't look like any creature I'm used to feeding.  That makes it a bit easier for a new to farming girl like me. (I never even had a vegetable garden until I met my mom can't believe that I pluck my own chickens now!)  This will also be the first time I'll be doing hogs that were born on the farm...the last 2 times we raised up feeder pigs that we bought.  I am looking forward to this weekend though, my freezer was quickly emptying after a long winter.  I am excited to make sausage this time.  I was let in on the 2 "secret family recipes" for sausage, a brown sugar breakfast type and a sage variety, and as a cook I can never just follow the recipe without trying to make my own adjustments.  I grew my first ever herb garden last year and dried some sage that I'm excited to used in the sausage.  If it turns out well, I'll use it in all the sage sausage we make and sell in the future, but for now I'm only going to try it with what my husband and I will be eating.  Lucky for me, he really enjoys sage, so if it comes out a little strong it won't go to waste.

We also have 15 adorable little piglets that will be 2 weeks old this weekend.  Our 2 sows, Fern and Charlotte (yes, the boar's name is Wilbur...I'm a family literacy teacher by day so some of the creatures get literary names) have done a great job with thier piglets, both this time and with the last litters.  We give our piglets iron shots at 3 and 10 days of age to make sure they don't become anemic.  I was happy to finish that up last night.  Char is as sweet as can be and makes some noise when you handle the babies, but dosen't cause any trouble.  Fern, on the other hand, well, you have to admire her motherly instinct.  On the other hand I really don't want a 350 lb sow biting me for trying to handle the babies.  So what works for us is to lure her just outside the hog house with a little feed and shut the door!  We can quickly give the babies the care they need, clean out the pen and no one gets hurt.  She's ready to come back in when the door is opened. 

Other than that, I plan to keep up the spring cleaning and help Dan in the fields if possible this weekend.  He hopes to finish up planting the hayfield today before I get home.  This weekend is the opening day of trout season in PA, which means lots of campers and former customers will be driving by.  It always amazes me how many people will stop on the road so they can talk to you...I guess seeing someone working a team of horses in the field dosen't register to most people as work, but rather something you do for fun.  It sure makes it hard to have a productive day though.  We bought a work collar and adjusted a harness to will fit my little Morgan mare, Sara.  I hope to try and work her in the garden this weekend. (it dosen't border the road!)  She is my baby, I adopted her from a rescue society when she was 6 and I'm proud to say she is an unbelieveably healthy 23 now.  I hope to teach her to do some light field work to keep her in shape as I don't get to ride as much as I used to. She's been a 4-H show horse, a trail horse, a pet that didn't get ridden when I was away at college, we taught her to pull a buugy and sleigh in the past few years, now it's time for something new for both of us!

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