Showing posts with label Meishan pigs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Meishan pigs. Show all posts

Heritage Lard Hogs

Heritage Lard Hogs and their role on the modern homestead for a more self sufficient lifestyle! #homesteader #heritagepork #pasturedpork

What was old is new again! Heritage lard hogs are quickly becoming more popular on small farms again! For their excellent red meat pork and silky lard, they are niche pigs with great potential! 

Heritage 'unimproved' Hogs

 The picture you see above was a drawing in a book my wife found in a used book store. She loves to find "old school " wisdom in out of print books!

The drawing depicts a typical "Red Berkshire Hog" circa 1881. To keep that date in perspective America was only 16 years removed from General Robert E Lees surrender at Appomattox (still a dark day to my beautiful southern-born wife) and only five years from George Armstrong Custer's defeat at the Little Big Horn. So we were not talking about a feed store grain fattened hog here. 
The Book The Compleat Farmer was compiled in 1975 and was a collection of reprints from the periodical "American Agriculturist" (established 1842) spanning over 50 years of its publication.

 As a former breeder of American Guinea Hogs and now Meishan Pigs, both 'lard' hogs, I was very struck by the portly profile of the Berkshire pictured above. He looked way more like the America Guinea Hogs I used to raise than the common "improved" carcass hogs I have grown all to used to seeing. 

While Berkshires are the oldest registered hog breed and today are constantly referred to as a "heritage breed" I was struck that I never recalled them looking so short legged or frankly so fat. So I did a Google Search on "Berkshire Images". What I found confirmed my initial recollections.

The Modern American Hog

Yes, this is a very representative image of what I found. Hmm, obviously something had happened between The Little Big Horn and today's "New White Meat". But this blog post isn't about the Berkshire Hog. Today it is still touted as one of the most popular breeds to cross with commercial breeds to increase the intramuscular fat content and improve the dry wallboard texture (my opinion not a stated industry standard) of most commercial pork. I will assume it has become what its breeders, and what livestock show( 4H, FFA, County Fair, etc) judges wanted them to become. I do chuckle when its touted as a hog representing its "original" heritage, however.

The Lard Hogs Role On a Homestead

No, this post is about the role of the heritage lard hog on older small holding farmer operations and if that role is still applicable today in the "modern" homestead. How that traditional role affected its growth rate, fat to meat ratio and final size requires understanding its role on those farms. And if those traits, if retained, can make it an ideal addition to the modern small homesteader. Also, a fuller understanding of what the lard hog was and it will help us as lard hog breeders to celebrate and maintain the breed in its true "heritage" form. 

 In the discussion of the "old time" southern homestead, I have a unique and rich resource to get impressions of what role the farm pig played in smallholder operations. My wife was raised on a 100-acre farm in Athens TN. More importantly, she grew up knowing not only her grandparents but two of her great grandmothers. This was a resource that stretched back to early 1900s and before. Their impressions and statements have been very revealing in the search to define the role of the "pig" was on their farms. Her two branches of the farming family tree were a bit different. Her one paternal great grandmother owned 100 acres of rich creek bottom land. That grandfather raised cattle, had raised hogs, raised hay, grew all of his finishing grain (corn) and had large gardens both with cash crops and home usage crops. He had a smokehouse, corn crib, and a full working sawmill to utilize his woodlots. In addition to all those endeavors, he held down a full-time job at the postal service.

 Her maternal great grandmother was a Cherokee Indian (whose family refused to report to the reservation) who owned 80 acres of a rocky mountaintop. She bought calves and raised them for sale(never eating something so valuable herself) and raised a feeder pig which she fed with the table scraps she was allowed to bring home from her waitress job in a local diner. Ironically in those times, the 80 acres and 100-acre farm were considered small (or medium at best) farm operations of that day. I think both farms were very representative of post-depression smallholders in the southeast.

 Farming was a big part of their income but after the economic devastation of the depression not deemed reliable enough to be the sole source of income. These people had an incredible work ethic to work and farm at these scales. Every family member had their role right down to the pre-teens. My wife's grandmother commented the other day "Your grandfather wore me out over THOSE gardens!".

The pig in those situations was bought as an early feeder in the spring. It was raised on pasture and its omnivorous nature made it the perfect garbage disposal when kitchen garbage was more likely to be pumpkin rinds and chicken entrails than plastic wrappers. Corn was reserved for late finishing of both the cattle and the hogs so the pigs had to be able to forage and live through lean times and thrive and fatten in better.

 Every year like clockwork the day after Thanksgiving the hogs were slaughtered. This was done then because typically the onset of cooler weather in the southeast lent itself for less risk of spoilage and contamination of the meat and fat. It also signaled the end of rich pasture and in those days overwintering a feeder animal was a fool's exercise. The next day the families women (of all ages) gathered to render the fats into lard. That lard had the wonderful trait of being able to be stored without refrigeration. And refrigeration capacity was in short supply or nonexistent in those days. Too much meat was more difficult to cure and waste was not an option. That precious lard was put into Mason jars and sent to the root cellars of the household. That lard would be the cooking oil and baking shortening for the entire next year. Olive oil was in Italy not the home farms of Tennessee. 

Meishan Pigs are the perfect small farm lard hog with the most excellent craft pork!
Meishan Pig, The perfect Lard hog for us
The cracklins that remained were fried crispy and devoured like modern junk food or put into cornbread. Some pork was consumed on the spot and the rest was sent to the smokehouse where it was smoked for the preservation not just for flavor. In fact, in those days the homestead hog was a dual-use animal. Those purposes were as a source of meat and FAT. It can be argued that the hogs ability to produce a storable fat source was even more important than its role as a meat source in a culture that was more likely to dine on a pot of beans than a cut of meat. 

So in review, the ideal 'farm hog" would grow to butcher size (typically 150-200 lbs) in 8-10 months and would easily add back fat and lard without graining. It had to be docile and for those retained for overwintering and breeding a medium size. Raising a feeder hog had many advantages. When you look at that farming model you can see why the American Guinea Hog, as a lard hog, became the most popular hog in the southeast. And why the Meishan, also a lard hog, was so prized in China!

The Modern Breeding of 'lean' Pork

Meishan Pork! Not your typical pork!
Meishan Pork Roast

Flash forward 80-100 years. The 80 hours work week smallholder has given way to a society returning from World War II  and Korea that invented the subdivision and found the reliability of the factory paycheck much more attractive than the grind(not the "simple life as some romanticize it today or in 1975 )of farm life. Those households found the chest freezer as readily available as the telephone or the light bulb. This society needed cheap quick and convenient food sources. Those farmers who stay behind on their acreages found it more profitable to focus on fast-growing cash crop hogs and use the additional money to fill their other homestead needs at these new "Supermarkets" popping up in even small towns. 
Lard? Well, that was quickly replaced by margarine and Crisco heralded by Government as a superior "healthier alternative". And quickly the medium lard hog like the Guinea Hog was an anachronism. 

Unable to be "improved" to modern standards and USDA grading systems which put the highest price on pork with the "leanest" qualities. Lard hogs fell out of favor and dangerously close to extinction.
Today lard hogs like the Meishan are enjoying a remarkable resurgence! But even as the new "homesteaders" and those who seek to become genetic repositories for the breed begin to acquire these pigs I fear that we are losing sight of the true "heritage" of the heritage hog. 

Don't raise a Lard breed if you want Lean Pork!

As new farmers and breeders from a fat averse society obtain the breeds like the Meishan I am always struck by those who try to breed and grow the Meishan or other lard breeds as "lean". That wring their hands over how quickly they become "rotund". I am already seeing AGH bloodlines which look more like the second picture above and not the first. You see being "rolly polly" is their heritage. They are LARD hogs. There are few true lard type hogs remaining. They were raised and bred to easily add precious fat, be ready for slaughter in 9-10 months, be docile enough to be a "yard pig", not attack your chickens or your children!
 To raise the hog so as to minimize fat, accept growth rates ( or to make inadequate pasture or supplemental feed available) that result in pigs that take over 12 months (some up to 2 years!) to reach 100lbs is not the preservation of the heritage of the breed. Its just maintaining human-modified gene pool. But as I make this case understand I am not a museum farmer. I do not keep animals on my farm simply because they are "heritage".I do not begrudge those who do. But my animals must be low input animals that provide excellent efficiencies in both growth and utilization. 
No hog fits that better for my farm than the Meishan as a TRUE lard hog. 
Other posts about Meishans and how they improved our farm 

Lard helps us achieve a Self Sufficient Homestead 

We celebrate and render the fats. The succulent and sweet fat makes the meat superior to what we can find from Krogers to Whole Foods. The reasonable(if slower than some breeds) growth rate of  9-11 months to `150# plus weights fits into our plans to butcher our own hogs in the fall and to smoke and can their meats in cool weather. For our application the Meishan is not heritage, it is superior. 

Lard Soap! Great Homestead business!
Lard Soap

My wife utilizes those lards along with other farm-raised products to produce an entire skin care line including soaps, lotions, and shampoo bars. We no longer buy cooking oils or butter as we bake, cook and fry in lard. We would be lost when faced with a "lean hog".So before we as a community lose these qualities I would refer you to a quote from the introduction of The Compleat Farmer:

"The Compleat Farmer is an indispensable guide to good country living. It is, as its subtitle suggests, "a compendium of do-it-yourself, tried and true practices for the farm, garden, and household" 

But it is more than that. It is the sage sound salient advice of the nineteenth-century American farmer and his wife, selected, edited, and arranged for its practical use today.....these serviceable, interesting ideas from America's past speak directly to America's present. All are immediately applicable to a society bogged down with energy and cost problems, wanting to cut back, wanting to live a simpler less costly life, but not knowing how or where to begin"

Those words were written 40 years ago in 1975. I would argue the simple life those evenings I work past dark and peel off my manure stain jeans. But there is much wisdom in those old small farming methods. Do they ring true for you too? In closing, I offer that if you choose to raise a Guinea Hog, Mule foot or a Meishan always consider raising it true to its "heritage". 

For if you do and if you learn to treasure and celebrate those wonderful fats its value to you will be more than just a museum piece. It will be an indispensable part of your homestead and possibly a niche business as the fats are becoming trendy amount certain healthy dieters as well as for high dollar charcuterie plates.

American Guinea hogs
American Guinea Hog 

Heritage Hog Breeds

For more info on Heritage hog breeds, including lard breeds check out the Livestock Conservancy

You can also check out the American Meishan Breeders Association

If you want to know even more about Meishan pigs and how they are the perfect homestead pig for us and our homestead business you can sign up for the list for regular updates on the breed and the press its been getting! 

Sign up for the Meishan Tales Newsletter and get all the latest info on this amazing pig thats perfect for many small farmers! #pasturedpork #heritagehog

The Heritage Pig Breed we had never heard of

The Heritage pig breed perfect for our homestead: Meishan pigs

The journey to finding the right livestock for our small farm has been a struggle. We never would have imagined a heritage breed pig we had never heard of would become such a big part of our homestead. But it changed everything! 
Dare I say, the Meishan was a game changer!
As we enter our 4th year with these amazing (game-changing!) pigs its nice to look back at how it all came about.

Heritage Pig Breed: American Guinea Hog
With our AGH Boar

Heritage Pig Breed: American Guinea Hog Years

 Pigs......Who would have figured? When we started this journey nine years ago I don't think that pigs were a major component in my wife's "master plan" (and this whole thing was her idea). I know the idea of being a hog breeder wasn't in my consciousness at the time. Flash forward to today and the homestead hog has become a pivotal part of our subsistence homestead model. Notice I said homestead hog. Not the highly muscled standard commercial breeds that fill the aisles at Kroger or even Whole Foods. Not that chicken eating, fence destroying, don't turn your back on, mega swine. These pigs aren't even your "new white meat", close to fat-free stuff most of us visualize when someone says pork chop. No for us the homestead hog is above all a red meat lard style carcass hog. It is a hog that's a good barnyard citizen that uses our land not abuses our land. For us to achieve the goal of raising, growing, gathering or hunting the highest percentage of our food possible (which has been as high as 95%) that success depends in many ways on our pigs and the fats they provide us. 

To that end, we had chosen the American Guinea Hog exclusively for those first four years of homesteading as the backbone fat and meat supplier in our model.  And it was working well. You see our subsistence model was based on feeding us first. Cost offset or even positive cash flow have been subservient to the subsistence goal. Oh, I know everyone tells you how their little homestead is going to grow all their food, make lots of money so they can quit their job, and be the Norman Rockwell nirvana they imagine. Yes, we talked like that too. Until reality set in after a few years of actually living it. Feed yourself or have a profitable farm business quickly became the choice forced by both available time and resources. So we choose to reach the goal of feed ourselves first. Phase one was complete.

Now phase two.

How do we take certain components of what we do and make them profitable? Because while we have driven cash flow off of our farm we are just offsetting costs not covering them. Oh and if you are reading this and you are in that Norman Rockwell phase let me give you some advice. Don't quit your day job.
So how do we take something we do and not lose its value to us while increasing its value to the bottom line?
Once again the pig is where we turned. Specifically one of the oldest domesticated breeds of the hog in the world. Despite hours of research on pig breeds, this was the heritage pig breed we had never heard of! 

The Meishan Pig

Heritage Pig Breed; Meishan
                                     Meishan Pigs at The USDA research center in Nebraska

The Meishan pig was once the focus of an intensive study by the USDA, Iowa State and The University of Illinois beginning in 1989. This study spanned over a decade. You see the Meishan pig is a Chinese hog breed that has been selectively bred to produce high levels of succulent fat for thousands of years. They are also unique in that they are a "hyper-productive".While most heritage hog breed have litters of 4-8 piglets and Commercial breeds target 10-13 Meishan routinely have 15-18 piglets. One Meishan in the USDA study had 28 piglets in one litter. They also enter puberty in 90-120 days as opposed to the 6-10 months of many breeds. It took years of negotiations and literally millions of dollars to bring 33 Meishan sows and some Meishan (among other) boars to the US. The pigs proved that their hyper-productivity could increase the productivity of other breeds. The problem was that Meishan is a lard carcass and the crosses had increased levels of fat. Remember in the 90's the USDA (the same people who told us Crisco was good for us) were trying to create the super lean rooting machines we have today. The poor Meishan was deemed to have outlived its research value at one of the research facilities and around 2008-2010 the Iowa State herd was dispersed.
 The Iowa State herd was scattered, some were completely lost, some watered down by other breeds. In fact, the lard carcass genetics of many breeds (AGH, Old Line Berkshire, Large Black etc) also fell into disfavor and entire breeds were almost lost. The drawing below is a representation of what Berkshire hogs USED to look like.
Heritage pig breed Berkshire

 The remaining herds at the University of Illinois and at the USDA Meat Animal research center remained sequestered from the average farmer until the spring of 2016 when we acquired the last of those herds.

The Return of Flavor and True Healthy Fats

Today everyone from the foodies to health awareness groups to the Paleo way of eating are the driving the resurrection of pasture-raised fat. Restaurants who want to create tasty exclusive charcuteries cry for fattier red meat pork in a world of dry white wallboard that the USDA grading systems of pork have given us. Check out this article from Weston Price about traditional fats

Those few surviving red meat lard breeds like AGH are poorly suited to American butcher cuts. Plus the slow growth and small liters make them poorly suited to many smallholder economic models for sale. If there was only a heritage pig breed that had large litters, a decent grow out rate and still give higher levels of healthy sweet and delicious fat. Being docile and having a low impact on the land was also on the list. I can't have an animal on my farm that I fear and busts through fences like so many pig breeds do.

We are happy to have found that the Meishan IS that heritage pig breed

Heritage Pig Breed Meishan
                                                Angie meeting "Chiyo and Pumpkin"

It took a long time to research, locate, negotiate and obtain our first certified pure  Meishan stock traceable directly to the original USDA herd. On December 10th, 2015  our boar "Mr Wu" and 2 unrelated gilts "Chiyo" and "Pumpkin" joined the family here.
Heritage Pig Breed : Meishan Pig
                                                                   "Mr. Wu"

Future of Small Farm Pork Producers

Now if you had told me six years ago that I would make the effort, and the investment to obtain pig genetics I might have laughed you out of the room. Alas, homestead planning rarely follows the original homesteading path. The preservation of Meishan Genetics(which are irreplaceable in the US) calls to me. Yes, I had a vision but mostly I have a gut feeling that these pigs are too important to be lost. And no I don't run a museum I run a farm. At the end of this journey, I hope and I am gambling on the idea that these pigs can play an important part in the small farm movement efforts to help people in producing their own food and be profitable if they wish to also run a small farm business. These pigs can also improve many different breeds as F1 crosses that can benefit the smallholder.
The Meishan pig has been recognized and listed as Critically Endangered by the Livestock Conservancy and you can read what they have to say about them to as they join the efforts to save the genetics Livestock Conservancy on Meishan Pigs
To avoid inbreeding depression and so breeders can make informed decisions the AMBA has been established and is helping breeders and producers across the country learn about Meishan pigs. You can read more about their efforts here A.M.B.A.
The Meishans even have their our Wikipedia info page now! Wikipedia: The Meishan Pig

Heritage pig breeds: Meishans

So began the project. Our first leg of the Meishan herd was established. Here are two other posts about how we obtained the last of the Illinois Meishans and the last of the USDA Meishans. Neither had previously been released to the public.
Saving Heritage Pig Genetics: Meishans
and Heritage Pig Breed: Meishan
Heritage Pig Breed Meishan

 But before you think I claim this as originally thought its already being done in different places at different levels. There are already forward-thinking breeders using Meishan(along with other lard breeds like Mangalista) to fix the pork the USDA "improved". Our efforts are a small drip in a tidal wave of a pork revolution that has already quietly begun. I hope we are good stewards of these and all of our animals. And that is part of my daily prayers to the Lord. Looking forward to keeping a log of the journey.  That's all from Gods Blessing Farm today..... just a little look back. It's nice to look back on Homestead projects. It truly is a journey, as well as a blessing!
If you would like to be on our Meishan Tales Email list to keep up with litter announcements and information on growing and caring for Meishans you can sign up on this page over at our other site
Meishan Tales Email List

 One of the original gilts from the Iowa lines.

Want More? Check out Meishans on Video!

Be sure to subscribe so you never miss a video!

3 Tips to save big on the feed bill! That won't take tons of time!

Farm tips! Save on your feed bill without sending lots of extra time!

**ALL photos you see are from my actual Homestead. I do not need to use purchased stock photos. What you see on my blog is REAL! 

It's so important if you want to have a profitable small farm or homestead business to save as much as you can on the feed bill. I thought I'd share some easy ways we save on our feed bill that doesn't take a ton of time!

Our chosen livestock animals 

It's true that the Meishans are very low energy, noncommercial niche pigs! Our other chosen poultry and livestock aren't super heavy commercial eaters either.
Meishan still need plenty to eat and good nutrition in order to have all those babies they and give so much milk like they do! All breeding and producing animals need good nutrition. 
Seeing as how this is not only our pig of choice to raise for our food and lard needs, it's also a major conservation effort we have undertaken. We have to have A LOT of pigs to maintain diverse examples of all 3 bloodlines.
All the livestock feed bills do add up! If you've been homesteading awhile you know this,
But Especially when you're doing a true, closed herd, genetic diverse breeding program. You can read a bit more about Meishans here Make Mine Meishan or watch this video. They are a very neat homestead hog!

Dairy goats, dairy sheep, and cows are also big eaters! Chickens and waterfowl can certainly eat a lot too!
So here are a few tips that have helped us without adding extensive work for feeding that doesn't make enough of a difference in the long run, like growing fodder or sprouting, UGH!
Both have been tried here and are just not realistic, way to labor intensive for us and our livestock needs.

Tips to save on the Feed Bill

1. The local bread store is a great resource!
I can't believe how much is thrown out. It's perfectly good bread but after a day whole grain organic bread gets too stale and can't be sold to customers.

Feeding all these different whole grain breads allows us to cut way back of the carbohydrate portion of our pigs and poultry feed. We get a whole truckload every week now.
So check your local bakery's! Many small bakeries are happy to know their stale wholesome bread goods are still being put to good use.

2. Brewers grains.
Very high in protein and fiber! Must be kept to around 20%  for poultry feed or they will drop in egg production as they can't handle the high fiber in excess. Geese can have a little higher without dropping because they can break down fiber better. Its amazing for dairy goats and sheep! Wow! Do they milk on this stuff!
Dairy sheep and goats get about 40% of their ration in this because they are ruminants and can handle the high fiber. 
Here is a quick read with more details about feeding brewers grains How to use Brewers waste for livestock.
This allows us to cut back on the protein portion of feed we have to buy for the poultry and goats/sheep. If you have a dairy cow this is the stuff!
With all the small micro-brewery's around now this is fairly easy feed to find and they are happy to give it to you! Just keep it away from your pigs, it kills their growth rate and can hurt their productivity. Trust me, we found out the hard way a few years ago!!! That's what we get for listening to the armchair farmers on facebook I guess! Lesson Learned!

3. Re-Hydrated Alfalfa cubes. 
This is something I do for geese, sheep, goats and jenny donkeys or mares heavy pregnant or in milk. High protein, high fiber again so the chickens and ducks only get a little in the winter when they aren't getting any grasses.  Dehydrated alfalfa cubes rehydrated and made soft to mix in their feed. Quick and easy! I just fill a bucket and soak overnight. It's not really any extra work. 
The alfalfa cubes are less expensive than alfalfa meal for poultry and go farther than the pellets do for the equine and ruminants.

It's not much extra effort (like fodder! yikes!) although not as easy as pouring out a bag of dry animal feed but we are seeing a major decline in our feed bill by utilizing these things.  Plus they absolutely love the variety they get!! I believe with a greater variety of foods they will be healthier happier animals! They sure get more excited about feed time!

Farming on a small scale you will find yourself paying the highest retail prices for feed 

This leaves you with a feed bill so high that many new people trying to farm struggle with the fact that their feed bill is now higher than their grocery bill used to be.
It also makes it very difficult for the small farmer to make any profit if they sell their products. Most of the time they actually lose money. 
Certainly, the type of livestock you raise needs to fit the size of your acres and be adaptable to your climate, this also helps!
We are constantly looking for ways to realistically save on the feed bill and keep the animals super healthy! Being out in the open air certainly helps with that too! 
Look around your area! You may find some ways to save on your feed bill and put to good use.

Creating Farm Businesses

From homestead to small subsistence farm and now to the farm business.
Our wild ride in different homesteading/farming ventures has been a blast of successes and crushing times of utter defeats! 
Now this new year,  as I've stated in other posts, brings more changes and it feels so overwhelming but totally exciting.
For 2017 Gods Blessing Farm is now Gods Blessing Farm LLC. 

The milking donkey herd is getting bigger and the donkey milk soap business is a major undertaking. You can try some out yourself here Donkey Milk Soap
Check out my board for some soap making business ideas if its a business you are thinking about!  Soap Making Business

The Ever Changing Homestead 

For this to get bigger other things must get smaller. Management of time has never been more critical. So there will be No other dairy animal projects and no additional poultry projects.
To be honest, Over the years I'm realizing that my gardening and poultry efforts are ...
Well.... A bit too large! 
Ok much too large!!! 2 people do not need to raise over 80 goslings a year with no intent to sell them!
And 2 people do not need the huge and extensive amounts of food I grow in my garden.

So these things get much smaller and some things will get eliminated.
Other dairy animals I wanted, unfortunately, there's no time for me to dedicate there. The donkey milk is superior in skin care and I can't digest other milk like donkey milk so the focus has to be on what keeps me healthy and makes the best product. 

I'll raise about half of the grain corn and veggies that I raised last year and the more difficult things to grow, like things that aren't right for this climate but I've learned hacks to grow them anyways, will not be planted. 
I love my gardens and growing but I got to refocus on what most important. The ever-changing goals of the homesteader! 

I will only incubate some quail next fall for replacements but all other hatchings will be left to the birds themselves. Thankfully my Pilgrim geese and Muscovy ducks are excellent mothers and need no help from me!
My poultry efforts will be very very tiny.

I feel good that we reached an amazing goal of growing over 90% of our own foods here. This year that will be a smaller number. I'm good with that and looking forward to local sourcing from other farmers what I've decided to no longer grow. 
I feel the need to move on to other farm goals and challenges. I feel like these challenges have been put in from of me for a reason and I need to pursue them. 

Check out my Pilgrim goose post here though. Best goos ever! The Pilgrim Goose

The Meishan Pig Business 

My husbands' farm challenges and goals with the Meishans have also grown and changed somewhat. The Meishan offers opportunities that the American Guinea hogs could not offer. 
Having to be given the opportunity to preserve these extremely rare, diverse genetics and get them into the hands of other farmers is a huge undertaking. 
When I saw my husbands breeding schedule for the 2017 Meishans it was terrifying at first look!! 
The Meishans are a big part of the farm business. They are such wonderful pigs that I don't even mind having half our farm be a *pig farm*! 

He's put a lot of work into them. If you would like to learn more he has a great youtube channel where you can see them in action.. or lack of action! Meishan sleep a lot!

They are mostly my husbands' responsibility and as the Meishans get bigger other stuff he does must get smaller. It's all about balance and dedication to the opportunity given.  

There's much to be organized, much to be built and expanded and certainly, much to be learned with these new farm ventures we believe the Lord has led us too. 
It's a new day.... 
God is Good 

Thankful for 2016 and praying for a good 2017

Homesteading for sustainability and for profit

It's been a lovely year. I might even say it's been the best year yet on the farm!
The discovery of donkey milk and how well donkeys fit in on our farm and with my personality has been a huge blessing!
Learning how they think and how to train them keeps me on my toes! They are never boring!

You can check out my Donkey milk board to read more Donkey Milk Benefits
I'm getting a better handle on what and how much I need to grow to feed us all year in our four-season gardens. I grow WAY too much food in my gardens and I have years of food preserved.
Next year will be a very different gardening year than the last few years have been! And I'm looking forward to it!
Check out one of my favorite Pinterest boards for veggie garden plans and Ideas
It was actually 2015 when the meishans entered the picture. But in this year of 2016 is when we were able to add the 2 rarest lines of Meishan in America.. The USDA line and the Illinois line. By the grace of God, we were able to acquire the last of these pigs from those 2 centers. 
Never before available to the public, if managed properly the genetic diversity this brings to the table is outstanding! 
The Meishan has a chance of being an amazing opportunity for small farmers looking to raise nondestructive, quite, productive, gourmet meat and lard hogs.
Also, for those of us who tire of the slow growth rates of most heritage breeds the Meishan grows much faster!  
If there is a pleasant pig that exists it's this breed!
For more info on them go here Meishan Pigs

or watch this informative video on, Does the Meishan fit your farm?

My Muscovies are still champion baby raisers! 

And we raised over 80 goslings this year.
I had some surprises along the way but overall the geese were wildly successful.
To cut back on the workload and the breeding pens needed. I'll only be raising Pilgrims next year. The Chinese will remain though for their superior egg laying ability. We love goose eggs!
To learn more about the best homestead goose check out my previous post here!
Also this year the addition of the quail has been wonderful! And we added a few more bantam chickens for summer eggs. 
Our plans for dairy sheep were once again put out due to having to up the donkeys because of my health needs for donkey milk and allergy to sheep milk if I don't have donkey milk but we still plan to raise some meat lambs!
The Lord has lead us where he wants us to be. Our farm has developed into something I never dreamed it could. 
It's a praise to GOD in every way. The failures and disappointments have been learning tools to help prepare us. The joys and successes have been amazing and we are grateful!
We will certainly be praying for guidance as we enter the new year to come.
Thank you, Jesus, 🙂 could not have done any of this without your guidance.