Creamy Butternut Squash Soup
All Veggies available from our farm in 2017.
Taste The Difference!!
Butternut Squash (6 Cups Cubed)
¼ C. Chopped Onions
¼ C. Chopped Celery
2 Cloves of Garlic
4 TBSP Real Butter
4 C. Chicken Stock (use from FRESH chicken from one of our CSA participating farms) :) So Delicious!
3 C. Water
2- 8 oz. Packages of Cream Cheese
Sea Salt and Pepper to Taste
Optional: Serve with a garden salad and crusty warm bread!
Picture above of our hogs in NE AZ. They foraged pinon pine nuts, limited grass, roots and grubs.
When I was growing up on our farm we always had pigs. The pig is my Dad's favorite farm animal, second to our cattle and at one time he ran between 30-40 hogs on 80 acres.
I started showing pigs in 4-H when I was 10 years old.
Pigs are very intelligent and inquisitive animals, they can actually be trained fairly easy to sit for a treat!
We have raised pigs both in large pens, rotated hot wire pastures and in the woods. There is no question in my mind after 35 plus years of caring for pigs, that the later is the only way to raise pigs.
Raising pigs in woodlots or on pasture is not a new concept. Hogs were being raised this way long before commercial, cemented floor confinement barns, farrowing crates and stinky unhealthy manure lagoons ever existed.
The key to raising these intelligent animals in the woods or on pasture is having enough space for intense rotation. One must be willing to move the hogs every 3 days, to achieve a healthy soil ecology.
The thicker and taller the forage, the more resilient the recovery of vegetation. One of my passions and goals on our farm is to ALWAYS balance with nature. Pigs will root and tear up the soil and can easily destroy trees by ripping out their roots, so erosion control is paramount when rotating hogs on either woodlots or pasture. Here in NE TN our pigs thrive on woodlots of acorns, black walnuts, blackberries and numerous other plant species and grubs in the forest. A good understanding of forest ecology and or pasture stands and the way nature heals itself and protects itself from the abuse a hog can have on them is highly suggested before venturing into raising hogs in this way. They can create a barren and ugly landscape with detrimental effects on other wildlife if not managed correctly. We supplement our hogs with healthy, NON-GMO grains, whey, milk, fruits and peas (legumes), as an added protection to soil health and for the over all health and nutrition that hogs require.
We plant food forests of natural food stuffs as well. A good foundation in hog nutrition requirements is recommended before mixing your own livestock feeds as well.
Raising pigs in open pastures or on woodlots keep the pigs super clean, pigs are very clean animals if given a chance with enough space. We take the stress off the animals with excellent nutrition and lots of space to root, stretch and get plenty of exercise, the pigs reward us with a tasty return. Some folks will ask us, "how can you eat something you raise"? My answer; "Wouldn't you rather know what your animal actually ate, how it lived and how it was treated?" The meat purchased in the typical store, (Unless labeled) has been raised in tight confinement for fast growth to make the fastest dollar, with no regard for the animals well being, pumped full of antibiotics because of the conditions they are kept in, they are fed cheap GMO corn and silage and given growth hormones. So with all that said, I would much rather have clean, happy, healthy pigs that live a good life and that don't require all of the hormones, antibiotics and GMO feeds to make a quick profit. We are interested in biologically healthy food that is grown naturally and slowly for the health of the animals and the humans consuming. Our breeding stock will live longer lives and are quite spoiled. They are given affectionate names and live out long lives with us. We do not breed them constantly either! We are not a pig mill. :)
We breed selectively for long living, healthy swine that have the ability to graze with shorter snouts.
Ecclesiastes chapter 3:1-2
Well here we are at that time of year already! The garden production has been slowly declining and we know the time is nearing to do the sometimes dreaded chore of cleaning out the garden areas and/or raised beds. I personally enjoy every aspect of farming and gardening! I am truly grateful to have reaped the rewards all season and eaten and shared the bounty of our blessings with others.
There is always a silver lining if we choose to see it!
O.k., enough pep talk! Lets get down to the business of cleaning out the gardens.
The very first thing I do at this time of year is to thoroughly check all plants for die back. Plants die back slowly at different rates, so cutting them out should be a gradual process to get the most out of the season. For example, we are still harvesting tomatoes, and the pumpkins are slowly ripening a few at a time and will continue to do so into October. So as you determine your individual needs and/or desire to keep your gardens going think about those plants that are still producing. A simple rule of thumb is, if its brown pluck it out. If it's green let it be.
I also allow my heirloom corn stalks to die and dry slowly in the field for later fall use as to be used as decorations.
A good thorough garden cleaning in the fall will really benefit your Spring plantings and lessen your chances of disease and insect infestations.
When I pull all of the brown plants out of their spaces, I BURN them ALL! Some folks compost these plant materials, I don't. The reason being is that I can not guarantee that insects that have layed eggs on undersides of leaves or in the plants themselves would be destroyed quick enough in a compost bin/pile. That's your call.
After I have cleaned all of the dead materials out, I then put clean added loose mulch layers around all of the "still green plants" to keep the ground from freezing too soon, this will help extend the season a bit and keep your plants healthy and thriving. Don't forget to water them as the days get cooler. Deep watering should be done in the morning, this will also help the plants stay healthy and believe it or not keeps them from freezing!
FOR RAISED BEDS:
On all of the raised bed areas of the garden that have been thoroughly cleaned out I place a 4 in thick layer of mulch or compost on top and I am done for the season! It's that simple.
An essential step for no-till growers and/or non-chemical use growers is the use of polyculture cover crops.
To accomplish this, simply clean out the area, prepare the soil and plant your cover crop seed.
What to plant in our area?
To achieve biomass, which helps to suppress weeds in the Spring and provides rich organic matter I use grains like winter wheat, barley and/or oats.
To provide the much needed nitrogen that is used up and/or depleted by leeching during the growing season I use; small legumes like peas and clovers. This combination mimics a natural ecosystem of self repair by nature if you will.
When to plant in our area?
The optimal time is between mid-September through October.
How to plant?
Lightly rake the area and scatter the seed either by hand or with a grass seed spreader (what I use). Application rates vary, so follow the directions on the bag or call your local extension agent? Rake the soil to lightly cover the seed, if the seeds are small, I water them in. Keep the seed bed moist until germination or wait for the next rain, and let nature do it for you.
In the Spring you can cut the cover crop down with a mower and let it decompose, then plant!
Happy FALL Cleaning!