Cheeky Little Pig

Pork cheeks have a special place for us as a wonderful food memory and because they are so very, very tasty.

Some Context on Why We Love Them So
Long before we married, and before we ever considered farming, or even before the concept of butchering our own pig had ever crossed our minds there was Assisi. L had never been to Europe, and when I asked, “Where would you like to go?” A map of Italy appeared on the back of her office door. Soon after a motorcycle rental was found. L managed to pack light enough to fit two weeks of gear plus her helmet into one motorcycle bag. What a woman!

After arriving in Rome and taking in the sights we picked up a Ducati ST3 and zoomed into the winding countryside with no itinerary save for the desire to take it all in. Assisi was our first stop. We met an old innkeeper who had funky but charming rooms on the wall of the town. Our common language was a love of motorcycles. Their espresso was spectacular and the view equally so.


Around 7 o’clock Italians head out for a stroll, and the warm October night allowed us a luxuriant ramble on the hilltop town. Across from St. Francis’ classic basilica we found a lovely little restaurant, and embarked on the two hour culinary journey that Italians take for granted. Wine, pecorino cheese, and Umbrian bread started the meal. Imagine my delight, my utter rapture to be in this enchanted setting and sharing it with the love of my life.

There was a special, “only a few” according to our server who maintained a professional demeanor but was clearly excited. Pork cheeks were on the menu that night. It came with strangozzi (a plump spaghetti-like pasta), porcini mushrooms, and steamed carrots. As we have since the day we met, we tasted and shared everything on the table, my plate was hers and hers mine. Perhaps it was a trick of the dim light, but the room seemed to fall away and suddenly we were alone together hovering in warm fragrant space. It is still etched in my memory, her face, the table, and small plates of fantastic flavors shared between us. The cheeks were tender, succulent, and packed with flavor. Imagine the richness and depth of a slow cooked shoulder roast in a tasty little medallion.

Somehow it seems appropriate to have savored this meal in the town of St. Francis the saint who gave sermons to beasts. For our part we try to use as much of the animal as possible out of respect for sacrificed life, so when our last order of pork was made we took our farmer up on the offer of free heads and took three. L has the dog and cats on a raw meat diet so we thought any leftovers would be good to use for their meals.


Using your Head
There are great uses for heads: the jowl, which we cure for three months to make a fatty bacon called guanciale. These are prized in our home above all other cured meats. L slices thin slivers to make pasta carbonara and also uses it in soups and on our favorite pizza – “green, eggs and ham” (arugula, eggs and guanciale). Then there is head cheese, which we have yet to make, and lastly the cheeks.


When we opened the bag of bloodied heads and I began paring off usable meat I saw them – the cheeks were still on. I yelled excitedly “Cheeks! They left the cheeks!”. Philistines! These morsels were once reserved for Kings as tribute! I hopped around attempting to carve them off artfully and not remove a digit in my enthusiasm. This little outburst and happy-dance was repeated with each head, and each time with L’s eye-rolling at my exuberance. If you think I am alone in my adoration check out Chi-Chi Wang’s post on the subject.

…The first thing I do is saunter by the butcher counter. I try to play it cool.

“Oh, I see you have cheeks today,” I say. “Well, maybe I’ll just get two pounds or so.”

Thumbs twiddling, I watch the bucker wrap up the cheeks.

“On second thought, can I get twenty more pounds?” If I can muster it, I’ll yawn to show my indifference.

I try very hard not to bolt like a maniac once he’s handed me the precious parcel. Probably, I think, this is what it would feel like to rob a bank, exactly that rush of adrenaline and sense of risky wrong-doing….


Auld Lang Syne
These tasty bits are now reserved for New Year’s Eve. I’ll recreate that fabulous meal and add a little Prosecco to toast the new year. Here’s what I am making, don’t tell L.

Strangozzi with porcini mushrooms


½ pound all-purpose flour, plus more for working the dough
1¾ cups fine semolina flour, plus more for working the dough
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1¼ cups ice water, plus more as needed


Braised Cheeks in Tomato and Wine Sauce

Photograph: Chichi Wang

 2.5 to 3 pounds pork cheeks
2 medium carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch rounds
1 medium onion, chopped into 1/4-inch dice
2 celery stalks, chopped into 1/4-inch dice
2 cups dry red wine
1 cup chopped canned tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs, such as rosemary or thyme
A few tablespoons oil, for browning
Posted in Charcuterie, Cooking | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Reflecting on Sisyphus

Remember Sisyphus, that particularly nasty king of Corinth doomed to roll a boulder to the top of a hill for eternity in Hades? Each time he got close to the top the boulder would roll to the bottom and he would have to start again. Even by Greek mythology standards Sisyphus was pretty bloody and cruel, but what really earned him that fate was hubris. He believed he was more clever than Zeus.


I reflected on that myth while shoveling eighty yards of wet clay soil into part of our well line trench. By now we had no hope of using the tractor as the soil was so wet even walking across it meant heaving boots with thirty pounds of sticky mud for the trip.

The first roll of the boulder
But I am getting ahead of myself. This starts in September, as we prepared a 600 foot trench down to the barn to connect our well and the electrical for the pump. We had conduit and some pipe installed in the concrete pad of the barn so we could run the well electrical and water in. The contractor we had ran the water pipe to the right place but stubbed the conduit inside the attached shed, so we completed that part of the trench by hand through the compacted gravel and soil to connect the whole thing.


We knew we wanted to run a line to the end of the garden for future micro hydro generator  and since we were in there why not add a line to the spot that would eventually become our greenhouse? Easy enough, a trip to Home Depot to get the conduit and then we ran two 3 gauge wires, 12-2  to the well and two circuits of 10-3 to the greenhouse all in a 2″ conduit. For those of you not electrically inclined, 3 gauge wire is pretty beefy, about as big around as your ring finger. Home depot didn’t have a conduit Tee or Wye, so we got plumbing pvc, and they didn’t have pvc wyes so we grabbed ABS. 92 feet of conduit and running wire for an entire weekend and we were done.


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All wired up, we sent the pictures to the well guy and in one short email he said it wouldn’t work, all the connections had to be the gray conduit grade pvc, and oh yeah, we needed a sealed compression fitting at the end of the conduit so that the earth wouldn’t crush the pipe and clip the cable running up to the well.

Boulder rolls to the bottom again
Well, this called for some clever thinking, maybe we could cut two conduit style Tees in half and glue them together. So I purchased 3 “LBT”s. They look like this.


I carefully cut two in half in hopes we could avoid pulling all that wire out and that we might be able to glue them over the existing wire runs. Just in case – I picked up some pull line, a poly twine used to pull wire through conduit, and a jug of  “conduit lube”. I also grabbed a reducer and the compression fitting. We were raring to go.

Alas, the narrow trench close to the barn was too hard to get a good fit and the glue wouldn’t hold so we reeled in 600 feet of wire and started over. I did have the foresight to attach the pull line so we could get the wire back through. Then I used a cable saw to cut through the pvc and put the conduit bodies in place. Except… that little cable saw gets mighty hot with all the friction and melted through the poly string. Boo. So we ended up cutting into the conduit in a few places to push the wire through. But after two days of fiddling in the rain and mud we were done and sent the pictures to the well guy.

Fail. You can’t bury those connections.

Boulder roll three, fingers crossed
I went down solo this time. I didn’t want to subject L to my special penance. When I arrived it was cold.  The well guy was coming down that day and I had purchased two split wyes from a company in California. The trench was free of water as most of it had frozen uphill.


But that icy, muddy trench looked unpleasant. The lows hit 16 degrees and I was in a little travel trailer with no one to snuggle with. Morning came and I flew into action. Bundled up in quilted overalls and thermals I waddled out to my nemesis, the trench from Hades. Hell had frozen over and I cut out the conduit bodies and began assembling the split wyes.

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In the mean time the well guy showed up and looked at my work. He was skeptical that the inspector would approve it but I convinced him. So he went up to the well head and began installing the pump. By the time he had installed the pressure tanks I had finished the first section. Clamps were needed to hold the whole thing together.

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Then he hooked up the generator and ran the pump. It worked. I was so relieved. All the calculations for voltage drop and the pump wattage panned out. WP_20141114_004 2

It was dark as he was leaving when he reminded me that the temps would dip again and that I should insulate the tanks immediately. So I ran to the store and picked up what was left of the pipe insulation from the run they had on it and installed insulation with a headlamp. I got to bed late that night, and it was colder still.

I finished the last of the work the next day and packed our pickup in the dark.

One last roll of the boulder
Inspection day. Once again I drove down alone. I imagined a scenario where we would pull the wire out in the opposite direction, maybe into a tarp to protect it from mud and redid the conduit from scratch. Plan B didn’t allay my anxiety. When I got there the trench and conduit were completely submerged in frigid water. Blowing into the open end revealed that it was full of water. The 3 gauge wire was not rated for this, nor was the run to the future greenhouse.


Plan C. I tied pull line to the wires and pulled out all 82 feet of the 3 gauge, and the 24 feet of 10 and tucked them into the corner of the barn. We would have to run wire with a UF jacket rated for burial.

Then the inspector showed up. We chatted. He raised an eyebrows at my split wyes and asked about the gauge of the wire for the pump. I recited wattage, surge loads, and compared amperages to common pumps. Ours is the lowest wattage out there and has a “soft start” a built in capacitor which eliminates surge spikes in power consumption. It is perfect for a house run on solar. Satisfied he signed off.

Not a boulder but not what we had planned
When we started this we didn’t want an open trench in the rainy season. This season has been extra moist. So now we have to backfill parts of the trench by hand. The whole family took part shoveling and hoeing the wet sticky clay back in the trench. We are nearly done with the building site, 92 feet long. I emptied the conduit of all the water and dumped bags of bentonite at the places I wanted sealed well. Hands are blistered and backs are tired. Shoveling gave me time to reflect on how I had arrived at this point.

Hubris, believing I knew enough. Consulting with someone in the trade would have helped. So thinking I was clever, like Sisyphus, I was doomed to redo my work again and again.


Lesson learned.

Posted in Barn, Construction, Homesteading, Tools, Water Management | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Quick Win

Weekends have been spent doing and redoing the conduit and electrical line in our trench. Last weekend in a frozen trench. There is a whole tale of woe to tell but I’ll spare you to give you a little upbeat tidbit instead. Besides the inspector will have the last word on that one.

I came back tired and nearly thawed, eager to have some bacon, eggs, fresh baked bread and espresso. Our machine is no great shakes and has been coming apart for a while, with a big crack forming in the plastic handle. I’ve been eyeing this and thinking about ways to fix it. Maybe filling it with epoxy? It looked like there was a little bolt holding the metal portafilter to the handle deep inside the hollow handle. Could I make something and drill a long enough hole to attach the metal part? Maybe step down a hole to get a small socket in there?

So when it did finally come apart in L’s hands I had a game plan, but there was a sense of urgency. Morning coffee depended on it!

I found a doug fir 2×3 scrap in the garage and cut it to size. Then I drilled a hole all the way through it freehand and began drilling the shape of the metal part into the end. Chisels came out to finish the job, drill again, chisel. Then I dropped the bolt in and presto a handle that was functional. I thought about stopping there. I wanted to stop there. It seemed funny to bring back my 2×3 rough framing job and call it good. But I couldn’t.

I went in search of a knife… only finding an ancient fish filet knife and began to whittle and carve at it. Dry doug fir chips and splits more than taking a clean shaving so I switched to a coarse rasp.

In two hours I was done. I did it once. It went to plan. It is stronger and more attractive than the original. I’ll varnish it tonight to make it fully kitchen ready.
Gosh I needed a quick win.




Posted in Homesteading | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Sow Belly Bacon

The woman we get our Tamworth pork from kindly gave us a tour of her farm and pig operation earlier this year.  As an added bonus she sent us home with pork belly, a roast and a loads of lard from her freezer. The pork was from one her sows she culled after it started to get ornery. I think because we always ask for the offal, trotters, leaf lard and any of those other unwanted parts from other customers orders – coupled with the fact she knows we like to fiddle around with charcuterie – she thought we would enjoy experimenting with sow meat. Super nice lady – we will miss her and her beautiful pork as this is to be her last litter – she’s moving to sunnier pastures. We will be picking up our last side of pork from her next week.  It will be a bittersweet moment…

I found very little online or in the many meat and charcuterie books we have on our shelf about cooking or curing sow meat specifically, but had read on Sugar Mountain’s blog that meat from sows pastured and not fed conventional feed is considered to be very good. The meat is more flavorful as it has had longer than six months to develop. Apparently sow bellies are prized by chefs. Who knew? Yay for us!  Not surprisingly, sows raised in Big Ag operations are quite fatty, not very edible and typically get ground in their entirety for sausage.

I slow cooked one of the roasts in the crock pot as added insurance because I was afraid it would be tough and chewy if I roasted it.  That was before I read Sugar Mountain’s post. I finished it under the broiler to crispy up the fat layer on top. It was delicious.  It took me awhile to get around to dealing with the sow bellies (crazy busy summer/fall), but I suppose the saying is true in this case – good things come to those who wait.

these bellies are beautiful! At least 3 - 4 inches thick.

Aren’t those bellies beautiful?

It turned out to be sixteen pounds of pork belly!  I divided them into six manageable portions and followed Ruhlman’s bacon curing recommendations from his book Charcuterie.  I made three packages of sweet using his basic pork cure and adding in organic dark cane sugar, and three packages of savory – each bag a slight variation: basic cure plus one with cracked pepper, one with bay leaves and cracked pepper, and one with several cloves of fresh smashed garlic, bay leaves and cracked pepper.

Getting ready to pop them into the fridge for the cure

After about two weeks of flipping the bags every other day the bellies were ready for smoking. You know they are ready when the meat is firm to the touch. Regular pork belly takes only about a week to ten days but because these bellies were at least 4 inches thick they needed a little longer to cure completely. I sliced a couple of pieces to fry off to make sure they were ready. Too salty – soak in cold water for a day.  Not salty enough –  leave it for a couple more days of curing. Just right – pop those babies into the smoker and start planning breakfast!

M is the usually the Smoker King around here, but he had to head out to the farm to meet the well guy and tie up a few loose ends before our electrical inspection so I had to step up to the plate (pun intended).  He texted me his tips and tricks so between that, the Brinkman Smoker instruction booklet and Cook’s Illustrated Meat Book – I managed.


charcoal getting started in the chimney


I soaked the hickory chips in water overnight

I put the sweet portions on the top rack and the savory ones on the bottom rack. A little sweet drippings on the savories sounded better than the savory drippings on the sweets. The book said about 1 1/2 – 2 hours or when the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. Again, since these were a lot thicker than your typical belly, it took 3 hours. About mid-way through I tossed in more charcoal and chips.

The before shots:


and the after shots:



Looks pretty good…

Poor M – he’s out at the farm all by himself and although it isn’t raining (for once!) the temps have been way down in the teens.  That’s pretty cold for us cool temperate types. He’s freezing his fingers and toes off while I’m here at home playing Domestic Goddess. The woodstove has been burning non-stop, the bacon’s been smoking,  a loaf of bread baking in the oven and kombucha fermenting away.  I texted him that if he can make it home sometime tonight there will be a lovely breakfast in bed for him tomorrow morning.  Freshly laid eggs, homemade toasted bread and what will hopefully be some of the best bacon we’ve ever tasted!


M did make it home last night and enjoyed his breakfast this morning. We scarfed the bacon down before I had a chance to take a photo though. M offered to choke down another plate full if I wanted to cook one up, but for the sake of his arteries I passed.

As to how sow belly compares to regular pork belly – the meat has more depth of flavor for sure. It tastes, well, meatier.  It’s richer – I almost want to say “more sophisiticated” but that sounds a little weird. (The saying “you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear” is running through my head!) I can see why they are prized by chefs. They have a unique flavor that is not to be missed.

But be careful – it’s a slippery slope. You start out loving store-bought bacon because that’s all you know. Then you raise your awareness and start seeking out pastured pork that eats a wide variety of forages and any feed it is given is the good stuff – not gmo, pesticide-laced, mono-cropped crap corn. Now you’re hooked. You can’t believe how good it is and that you’ve wasted all those years on Hormel. You try different breeds and each one is better than the one before. It’s like your taste buds have grown up. Your palate is now more developed. But then a friend offers you a sample of sow belly bacon, and now you’ve entered into a whole new world of porky goodness.

One other observation on the sow belly – there’s more fat, but most of that renders out into the pan. I confess there’s a part of me that always hesitates when tossing the rendered fat out.  Having a father from Alabama and a step-father from Kentucky – the bacon fat always went into a coffee can and was kept in the fridge. We fried potatoes, eggs, cooked green beans, etc… using that fat and although fat from pastured pork is a whole helluva lot better for you than factory farmed pork fat – I have to force myself to draw a line there. and when I say force – I mean it.

The sow bacon definitely sealed the deal on our justification for getting a decent meat slicer. Slicing it thin is hard with just a knife. I’m not saying it’s chewier in a bad way – but it would be even better if we could slice it thinner, especially because of the thickness of the bellies – 4 inches wide is a pretty stout piece of bacon!

The bay leaf and black pepper is a delicious combination. If you aren’t growing your own bay – stop reading right this second and get one immediately! They grow well in pots for a few years if you don’t have space in your garden. The flavor of fresh bay leaf is a whole different experience than what you get dried up in a jar at the grocery store. I use fresh bay leaf in a lot more of my cooking now – the flavor is incredible and the aromatics are out of this world.

The garlic, bay and black pepper – AMAZING!!! Not particularly my first choice for breakfast though unless you are frying it up with potatoes and onions, but it will be great when you need to add a little pork flavor to other dishes.

The brown sugar is still my favorite – perfect for breakfast. The caramelized sugar and the crispy fat are a match made in heaven. Excuse me while I swoon…

Posted in Charcuterie, Homesteading | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

How High’s the Water Mama?

We have water at the barn…


Just not pumping from the well. The section of trench between the curtain drain and the barn was filled up again. We were hoping it would have drained out by now but thought it must be due to the heavy rains this past week. M hooked up a little pump to the truck and tried to pump out the water so we could install the 90 feet of electrical conduit without his muck boots filling up with water.


It was taking forever so M took the pump apart and found a piece of plastic was plugging it up. By the time he got it put back together and it was pumping properly, the sunshine we had been enjoying left and the rain was back. We ended up installing conduit in the drippy wetness anyway.


The next day, the trench was filled again (see first picture). Now it didn’t rain that much overnight, so I guess we can rule out a root cellar when we build the house.  Good thing we decided to add more gravel to build the barn foundation up higher and spent the extra time and money to put in the curtain drain around the perimeter of our zone 1.

Once the conduit was in place, we ran the wires through. The gray cable is the wire we are running 600 ft up the hill to power the well pump. The two black wires are being run out to the curtain drain (about 90 ft) to the spot where we will build a pump house for our future micro hydro system. The orange wire is for power to the future greenhouse which will be built attached to the south side shed of the barn (10 ft).


thisis the end of the 90 ft of conduit - the well pump wire continues on up the hill to the well. Where I'm standing to take this pic is where the curtain drain is and the future micro hydro pump house. the black pipe with the yellow poofs coming out of it is a 30 ft section of perforated pvc pipe that the water line runs through as it crosses the curtain drain. M filled the pvc pipe with spray foam through the perforated holes and created an inexpensive insulated pipe to keep the water from freezing as this section it is laying on gravel and susceptible to freeze. Better than paying $80 for special insulated pipe sleeve!

This is the end of the 90 ft of conduit that runs from the barn – the well pump wire continues on up the hill to the well. Where I’m standing to take this pic is where the curtain drain is and the future micro hydro pump house. The black pipe with the yellow poofs coming out of it is a 30 ft section of perforated pvc pipe that the water line runs through as it crosses the curtain drain. M filled the pvc pipe with spray foam through the perforated holes and created an inexpensive insulated pipe to keep the water from freezing as this section is laying on gravel and susceptible to freezing. Better than paying $80 for special insulated pipe sleeve! Our awesome friends S & J shared that tip.

While M was fiddling with the pump I took advantage of the sunshine and planted Black Locust trees along what will be the perimeter of the chicken yard. They are spaced 10 ft apart and will, in about 8 years, become permanent fence posts.  I grew these from seed I started in late January. They are about 2 – 3 ft tall. The tarps are covering compost piles (remember all of the dairy cow manure we’ve been hauling?). We have them strategically placed all over zone 1.


We are headed back down today to replace some conduit connector parts that we discovered after the fact would not be up to code. Blerg. If that goes well, then the pump will get installed next week and hooked up to the tanks in the barn.

I’ll be glad to get this project off of our plates. I have a bacon post to tend to.

Posted in Construction, Homesteading, Preparing the land, Tree Care, Uncategorized, Water Management | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

How’s the Weather?

Forecast for the weekend when I started to put the plans into motion called for heavy rain on Friday, light rain Saturday until about 11:00 am and then clear through to the end of Sunday. Perfect!

I can get the rest of the well project supplies rescheduled for delivery and get a dump truck load of hogged fuel delivered on Friday. M can ride down after work on his motorcycle so we can get up early Saturday morning and get the hand digging done at the barn while it is raining. The electrical conduit roughed in during the concrete floor pour when we built the barn has to be trenched from the barn out through the side shed and into the water line trench.  It will be nice and dry in the shed, so a great way to spend the rainy part of the weekend.

Once the rain clears up we can finish planting trees from last weekend, spread hogged fuel in mucky areas that we still need to cross with the truck for dumping cow manure, and then lay the 600 feet of electrical wire and HDPE water pipe in the trench. Then we will be ready for the well guy to install the pump and hook up the pressurized water tanks next week. Yay!

I spent Thursday getting everything packed and prepped. Friday morning I get a call from the plumbing supply delivery guy who is eager to make up for the missed delivery last week. He’s ready to deliver this morning but I tell him I won’t be there until noon – I have several stops to make along the way. OK – no problem, he will make sure he doesn’t show up before noon. I get there at 12:04 pm. He gets there at 2:30 pm. Guess I should have been more specific.

He pulls the delivery truck up to the barn and asks where I want the stuff. I’m eyeballing what’s on the truck and it seems there is something amiss. I see a bunch of 20 foot pvc pipe (which we ordered) and a large genie bottle shaped plastic container. Surely that can’t be a pressurized water tank – besides, I ordered two 80 gallon stainless steel tanks. I ask “what’s that?” pointing to the genie bottle. He tells me it is a 300 gallon water tank. I look at him completely puzzled and say “but I thought I ordered two 80 gallon pressurized tanks?” His face falls on the floor (well, actually the driveway) – “Oh my God! I can’t believe I forgot the tanks!”  Keep in mind it is Friday, 230 pm, they are 45 minutes away, 200 pm is their last delivery slot and they are not open on the weekends. He offers to deliver the tanks anytime next week that I need. The genie bottle is for someone else.

Hmmm…. Somehow I keep my cool (not sure how as I am yet again sleep-deprived and this is getting to the point of ridiculous). “Well, in a perfect world, once my well guy gives me a firm install date for next week I would like you to deliver the tanks the day before that”. No problem – he just needs a heads up a few days in advance. He’s super sorry and genuinely feels bad, so it is hard to get mad – especially because Magpie absolutely adores him and he’s playing with her the way she likes to play – jumping and running, with just a touch of love biting.

A little while later the hogged fuel gets delivered and I get started on spreading it.

12 yards

12 yards

M doesn’t end up getting down to the farm until 930 pm despite leaving the office at 500 pm as traffic was completely backed up. It was raining hard and he was pretty soaked upon arrival, but Magpie and I have warmed the bed up for him.


Saturday morning starts out a little rainy but there are blue skies out there. The hand digging in the barn shed goes pretty well even though digging through several inches of gravel and then hard, compacted clay is no day in the park. We take turns digging and holding the light.


The electrical conduit coming out of the barn into the 10 foot wide shed.

At about 11:00 am I comment to M that the sun should be ours for the rest of the day according to the last forecast I read. Five minutes later as we are ready to get back to tree planting, the heavens open up and it pours. And it just keeps pouring. Then the winds start up. I could barely see to get the tractor back into the barn, but we did get the rest of the Empress trees in the ground and staked. Mulching them will have to wait as we need to spend Sunday getting the pipe and electrical wire laid in the trench. I was also able to finish spreading the hogged fuel but forgot to take a picture of the finished project.

The hogged fuel was spread all the way tot he straw and over to the tarped compost pile

The hogged fuel was spread all the way to the straw and over to the tarped compost pile

Laying in the HDPE pipe was not as difficult as I was anticipating. M strapped it to the well and then we rolled it out together.



The hard part was where we had to make the right turn and then connect the two 300 foot rolls together. The pipe was cold and therefore not very flexible so M brought out the propane torch we use for burning weeds on the road to soften it up enough to get the barbed brass connector in. It also proved difficult to keep the sticky clay mud out of the ends of the pipe, and obviously our clothes, gloves and boots.


M whipped up a couple of homemade “staples” using scrap wood and freecycled rebar to help keep the pipe in place until we can backfill the trench.


We got the pipe all the way to the barn –  which included trudging through the “canal”.  The section between the curtain drain and the barn filled up with water during this past week of non-stop rain and is not draining very fast since this is the area that was cleared, leveled and compacted when the barn was constructed last year. M’s boots fill up with mucky water. He makes squishy noises with every step for the rest of the day.


It is at this point we discover that the brass connector the plumbing supply place gave us to connect to the roughed in water line that goes into the barn is not the right one. Neither is the connector for the electrical conduit which means we can’t run the electrical wire.  After a brief moment (or two) of frustration, I point out that since we have to come back out to receive delivery of the forgotten tanks, we can have them also deliver the proper connectors and we can run the electrical wire then.  All is not lost… yet.

Despite the comedy of errors of late, I think we still have at least one more shot at getting the well project done before I give up and jump in the “canal”. I sent pictures of everything to the well guy. I know he ordered our pump – I’m just waiting to hear from him when they will be out so I can get all of my ducks lined up in a row for the next trip. Maybe they will like the canal.

Posted in Construction, Preparing the land, Water Management | 6 Comments

Why ‘voting with your dollar’ doesn’t work

La Femme Farmer:

I just came across this post and am reblogging it as it is very well thought out. On a daily basis I find “it ain’t easy being green”, but every little step we take in becoming more responsible for the world we live in will add up. We just can’t take one step and feel we’ve “done our part”. We have become complacent, and therefore complicit. Make informed choices and keep opening your eyes wider and wider.

Originally posted on honeythatsok:

The fall down the rabbit hole is a long one – and often very painful. Once you start to deconstruct reality around you, you tend to alienate a lot of people. They are perfectly adjusted and don’t need your philosophical musings, thank you very much.


Vote with your dollars is something you will hear well-meaning sustainability-leaning people say a lot. I used to. I still do, to an extent, but it took a long time to realize just how difficult that is.

The idea behind voting with your dollars is to put your money where your values lie. If you are against animal testing on cosmetics, you make sure to only buy cosmetics that are not tested on animals. Easy, right? Not so fast. Did you know that The Body Shop (the most famous worldwide company for natural and ethically produced beauty products) is owned by L’oreal? I didn’t, and…

View original 891 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments