Typically, I have a love/hate relationship with the weather, but right now it’s mostly hate. It is causing one heck of a mess around here. The grossness isn’t just about inconvenience, it is causing a lot more work too. The ice caused a lot of limbs to fall, and of course loads of mud. While these photos are from the first ice round, I thought it appropriate considering yesterday’s ice and today’s rain.
During all the cleanup, there was a bit of an accident too.
How? Well, let’s just say boys will be boys, and let the next picture do the rest of the talking…
Yes, that is sword fighting. Everything turned out fine, though. Mom cleaned up Isaac’s wound and put some butterfly strips on it. He was good to go, and now has a cool upside down v scar.
Needless to say, the weather is taking bit of a toll on us. It’ll be fine, though. We’ll just keep praying for sunshine.
Pork was the theme for our New Year’s Eve and Day. New Year’s Day was your typical southern fare with black-eyed peas cooked with ham hock, collard greens, bacon, and ham. If you didn’t eat collard greens and black-eyed peas, then, I’m sorry but wealth will not be in your 2016. It is tradition, you see, to eat greens and peas for good fortune.
There isn’t really a tradition for New Year’s Eve in terms of food for our family. I made the command decision to cook a pork shoulder for BBQ (Eastern style of course), green beans, and loaded mashed potatoes. It was all good, but the pork was the star of the show. Clearly, it had to be, what with it being the last meal of 2015. It will not be left in 2015, though. It will surely make an appearance in 2016 at our house. I definitely recommend trying it at your house too!
Ingredients: Pork Rub
9 lb Boston Butt Pork Shoulder (this can vary based on the crowd you are feeding. 9lb fed our family of 6, and we had leftovers)
1.5 cups of white vinegar
1.5 cups of cider vinegar
1 cup of apple juice
Crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2-3 tablespoons of hot sauce
Rinse your shoulder and pat it dry with paper towels. Set it on a piece of tin foil. Do not take any fat off or the bone out.
Coat all sides of the shoulder with mustard. After all sides are coated, liberally sprinkle other seasonings on all sides of the meat. Squirt liquid smoke on once all seasonings are on.
Dump all sauce ingredients into a crock pot on low heat.
Place the meat (fat side up) and tin foil on a baking sheet and put it in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook for about 2-3 hours or until the middle of the meat registers 95-100 degrees. The oven will create a nice bark on the meat.
Take the meat out of the oven and place it in the crock pot full of sauce. Cook on low until the meat registers 140 degrees Fahrenheit (around 2 hours).
Once the temperature has been reached, take the meat and place it on a pan to shred. If there is any fat left on it, carve it away. Take two forks and shred the meat. It should fall right apart.
Put the shredded meat back in the crock pot full of sauce for 10-15 minutes. Serve on sandwiches or by itself.
*Note: If you like things spicier, add more hot sauce and crushed red pepper flakes to the meat and sauce at the end. I also made a separate batch of sauce to put in a bottle and squirt on top of the BBQ. The only difference in it and what was put in the crock pot, is I didn’t include apple juice and simmered it in a pot.
This makes a great family meal, and provides loads of leftovers for our family of 6. We have even frozen the meat for pre-made meals. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did! [p
Although yesterday was the first day of winter, here in North Carolina, it is a balmy 70 degrees and super wet(Santa, you might want to bring your swim suit). I have never seen a white Christmas. Well, there was that one time it snowed the day after Christmas, so I counted it, but still.
There are places here in the South where fields of white can be seen. I’m talking about cotton. It is a southern snow if you will, and it is beautiful.
Not only is it beautiful, but it is also pretty important to America. Cotton is the number one value-added crop in America, bringing in $5.3 billion just at the farm level and more than $120 billion in annual business revenue.
Cotton isn’t just about the fibers. All parts of the plants are used. The seeds are processed into oil, meal, or hulls. Oil is often used in shortening and salad dressing. Meal and hulls are a great protein feed for livestock.
America’s currency is 75% cotton.
One bale of cotton weighs about 480 pounds.
Weather affects the quality of the cotton. If the bolls (the balls of cotton) have opened and are rained on before they can be picked, the cotton sprouts and reduces the quality of the lint.
Cotton quality is determined by taking a sample from the bale where color, cleanliness, staple length (length of fibers), and strength are analyzed.
Thomas Edison used cotton fibers for filaments in his first light bulb.
America is the third largest grower of cotton, and Texas is the top state.
Eli Whitney’s cotton gin invention changed the face of cotton forever. It was able to process cotton 10 times faster than by hand.
Cotton is truly the snow of the South. I must say I’m partial to it over the real deal. Actual snow wreaks havoc. Everyone freaks out a bit, roads are on gridlock, schools close, and bread and milk fly off of the shelves. Not to mention, here on the farm, it gets to be a mucky mess. So, now that it is officially winter, I will not complain about my balmy weather (however I would appreciate a lot less water), and will embrace the snow of the South…cotton.
An early morning dawned, as our last day of the NC State Fair came upon us. It was time to show some sheep.
Days before the show, we had washed and trimmed up the sheep to get them looking spiffy for the show. We brought four ewes–Sybil, Edith, Aspen, and Fifi. The boys were super excited. The wool sheep show is one of their favorites. The night before, they put together costumes for the costume class. You can dress up your sheep and yourself, but it has to be worked around wool. Isaac was a fireman theme because wool is flame retardant.
Gideon was an artist and explained how wool can take dye.
Both were cute as could be. Gideon won first and Isaac won second. It was a great way to start the show!
The next part of the show were the ewe classes. These classes are judged mostly on the quality of the wool, but also on the ewe’s conformation. Classes are separated by white and colored wool, and long and medium/fine wool. Isaac and Alec were both in the white, long-wool class. It made sense as Fifi and Aspen are twins.
This was Alec’s first time showing sheep. He didn’t mind it, but he didn’t like the height difference. At 6’4″ he did quite a bit of bending. Still, he looked like a stud.
Both the boys did good, but Isaac took home the blue ribbon with Aspen. Fifi and Alec got third.
Gideon showed Edith in the white medium/fine wool class, and won fourth.
If you went by color, you’d never guess that Edith’s twin was Sybil; however, besides the color, they look just the same. I showed Sybil in the colored, medium/fine wool class.
Sybil can have a little bit of sass.
And sometimes, we both toss our heads in disgust…
But ultimately, she still gets kisses.
She ended up pulling in a third. I was excited that the judge liked all of the girls conformation. He said they were really stout and well made. Because Isaac got first, he went back in for champion drive. Gid and I were also in the champion drive showing other people’s sheep.
Champion drive is against all of the ewes–white and colored, long and fine, old and young. Would you believe it, Isaac and Aspen were named Reserve Supreme Ewe!! I almost let go of the sheep I was holding I was so excited. This was the second year in a row that one of our sheep has received this honor. It makes it extra special that we raised these girls.
All in all, the show was so much fun, and super exciting!
Our day wasn’t over yet, though. The boys had ride tickets left. We all got to ride 🙂
And with that, 2015 NC State Fair was over for the Lintons. It was quite the ride (literally and figuratively), filled with so many memories. Despite it being a lot of work, early mornings, and stress, it is always one of our favorite parts of the year.
For 13 years, we have packed the trailer full of goats to take to the State Fair. In 2015, we maintained our habits, and packed the trailer with goats.Back in our hay day (no pun intended), Alec and I would have 12 goats between us at the fair. We have since downsized our goat herd, but always have something to bring. This year we brought 7 does. Unfortunately, we only showed 6 because Nala decided to lose too many teeth prematurely, making her ineligible to show. Does have to have a certain amount of baby teeth, indicating they are under 2 years of age to show. Nala was indeed under 2, but her teeth told another story. Oh well! She didn’t have to get a bath.
Because Alec had classes, only Isaac, Gideon, and I showed. Of course, Mom and Dad were there too. Our first order of business was to clean-up the girls. Everyone got baths, blow dryed, clipped, brushed, and polished. It takes several hours to do 6 goats. Can you imagine the time it used to take to do 12!
Fitting involves a lot of detail from head to toe, and yes, even the butts. We get up close and personal!
As you can see from these pictures, fitting is a team effort. Over the years, the boys have taken on more and more responsibility. At first they couldn’t exactly wield the clippers. The goats would be a hack job. They have always brushed, washed, and blow-dryed though. Now, they are trimming hooves, clipping, and more. I love watching this progression! Before too long I can just supervise and sit back–not really. I like to be hands-on.
Show time rolled around and started with novice showmanship.My boys did so good in their classes, and were clearly the most handsome 🙂
It was my last year in the ring with goats. I still don’t think that has registered. It will next year when I’m on the outside looking in. I got to show the smallest goats (poor planning) which were Miracle and Tres. Miracle was a terd outside of the ring, jumping and rearing up. I think she was mad that she had to be on a collar like all the other goats. Yes, Miracle, you are a goat. In the ring, she did great except for gnawing on my thumb the ENTIRE time. Hey, whatever makes her happy and stand still. Tres surprised us all and got 4th! I get super excited when anything we raise on our farm gets in top 5 of a class. I can also say, that she was a dream. Sure she was a little goat for me to show, but daggum if she did not stand there without moving and walked perfectly despite being worked with once.
Clearly, I have the serial killer look down when showing. I promise I’m having loads of fun. I just like to concentrate.
And, look who decided to show up.
For those of you who know Garrett, you know he’s a pig guy. He is not fond of goats, but he came to cheer and help anyways. 🙂
All in all, it was a great day finished off with some spectacular fair food…again. If you ever want to see french fries disappear like a Houdini act, then you should watch us at 8 o’clock, still showing goats, wolf them down to tide us over. No worries, we later got fried pickles and jalapeno, pimento cheese, hush-puppies with sriracha sauce. Holy lanta!
Don’t forget, there is still one more part to the fair–sheep!
The NC State Fair has already come and gone. It was quite the whirlwind, but held a lot of special moments. For me, it marked a lot of bittersweet moments. This was the last year I was able to show in the junior show (21 years old and under). While this doesn’t mean I have to give up showing period, it does mean I can no longer do showmanship. I suppose I have to retire at some point. 🙂
I decided to do a series of posts for each day of the fair. Part 1 covers the pig show. We weighed them in on a Thursday, and showed them early on Friday. Alec, Isaac, Gideon, and I all stayed at a nearby hotel to make sure we could be at the fair in time to show. Traffic gets really bad from our house to the fair, adding 30-45 minutes to travel time. Mom, Dad, Grandma, and Papa came up that morning, but enough of those details. It is time to give the results of the pig show.
Gideon had an amazing hog circuit season. He won Champion Novice Showmanship and the belt buckle to go with it. He and another showman tied for the award, and Gid won the tie because he had attended more shows. The duo flopped places, and Gideon got Reserve Champion Novice Showman at the State Fair! I was super stoked for him. He and his pig, Nilla, were a dream team and worked so well together. I love watching Gideon show because he is so intense… sometimes too intense. For a 9 year old, though, he could beat some of the older kids!
Watching Isaac show is completely different than Gideon. Isaac is laid back and oh so chill. Despite the style difference, he also won a belt buckle in the circuit in the junior division. This is a tough category, because he is 10 and is up against 13 and 14 year olds, but he won! At the fair, he made the cut, and was so close to getting placed. Making the cut was major in itself, though. There was double the kids compared to the circuit shows. He and Legalus, his pig, did so good! Legalus got 3rd place in his market class, and won first place born an bred.
Isaac has been dying to show a red pig, so he was super excited to help another showman out and show his red pig.
I loved watching Alec, and his pig, Gus show. Alec really enjoyed showing Gus-Gus, but they’d butt heads at times. Ultimately, Alec won 3rd in the senior division of the circuit. He also made the cut at the fair. All during the pig shows, Alec struggled finding the perfect height to stand while showing. I think he finally found the right bend.
He and Gideon ended up in the same market class together. They literally went head to head. Alec and Gus won 5th and Gid and Nilla won 6th.
As for me, I drove Alice into my last showmanship class. There were 4 of us in the senior plus category. I don’t know why, but I was super duper nervous. There are few times I remember being that nervous. I finally got my nerves under control and entered the ring, only to have the judge ask me the ear notch of my barrow before I had taken 3 steps. “Ummm… 4-6 notch, but this is a gilt, not a barrow.” He nodded and I walked on. I couldn’t help but think if it was ok to correct the judge. Too late now. After driving Alice for a bit, the judge asked each of us to get on the microphone and give a little speech. I don’t remember all that I said except for we should thank farmers 3 times a day every time we eat. Thank goodness for my communication major!
I went back to showing Alice. At this point she is getting super cranky, and I am convinced I’m done.
The judge began to announce the winners, and said the “the lady in the red plaid will be our winner.” Is that me? I’m wearing pink. I quickly looked around to see if there was another in red. No one was wearing red. It was just a color label mix-up! After over a decade, I had won the elusive belt buckle (stay tuned for a separate post on this). I was beyond excited. What a way to finish!
Alice got 9th in her gilt class. Unfortunately, she had twisted something, and was limping, so didn’t get around too good.
After the show, we went out and got fair food!
Before going any further, I want to thank Mom, Dad, Grandma and Papa for all they do in supporting us. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do any of what we do. They opened the door to the opportunities that have become my passion.
The next day, we went and fed the pigs. Alec and I went to a banquet where we were recognized for receiving a NC State Fair Youth Livestock Scholarship.
As I was looking through pictures, I noticed a theme–butts. I couldn’t resist sharing.
Candid pictures are always the best, and I couldn’t help but include many of them here.
And that, dear friends, is a wrap for the pig show. I’m not responsible for any sudden urges to go and eat a ton of bacon. 😉
Most hog farms involve a few common key aspects. There is typically a dirt path that leads to hog houses aligned in a row. There are lagoons (waste pits), fields, pumping reels, employees, and of course, pigs! However, I recently visited a hog farm that was a little bit different. It had all the “normals” I would expect in a hog farm– the farmer, pigs, and poop– but there were a few additions too. It wasn’t typical, and yet again it was. The best adjective I could find is futuristic.
My day started with a drive through my alma mater, Campbell University (always a good day to go through camel country) and then on deeper into Harnett County. I came upon my destination–Butler Farms. Following a long dirt path, rows of hog houses came into view on top of a hill overlooking a field. I pulled in and was greeted by Mr. Tom Butler, the owner of the ten-barn finishing farm.
Originally tobacco farmers, the Butlers decided to build a hog farm. Recognizing the potential for incorporating new technologies on the farm, the Butlers began to research the color green — a greener way of pork production, that is.
In 2008, the first lagoon cover was installed; a second one was added later. One of the biggest tasks for hog farmers is managing lagoons, especially during wet weather. Lagoon levels naturally increase with the occurrence of precipitation, but lagoon covers help reduce the amount of precipitation that ends up in the lagoons, allowing for more manageable levels. The water that falls on top of the covers can simply be pumped onto crops. Not only do the covers reduce the stress of high lagoon levels, they also reduce 85% of the farm odor. If that isn’t awesome enough, it can also double as a type of trampoline…well sort of. You can walk on top of the cover, which is pretty cool, and yes, I walked on it!
Working in conjunction with the lagoon covers is a digester. The digester stirs waste from the lagoons and builds up bio-gas methane that is then converted into electricity! Pipes take the methane from the digester into a building that houses an engine that runs a 180 KW gen-set. This engine utilizes the methane as its fuel to power the gen-set which produces electricity that is used to power the farm.
In addition to the methane run gen-set, Mr. Butler has also installed solar panels to add to the electricity production. The farm produces enough electricity to not only run the farm, but to also provide excess electricity which can then be sold to South River Electric Membership Cooperation.
A final section of the farm is the composter. On a farm, it is inevitable that death occurs. On the Butler farm, any mortality is sent to the composter to be turned into fertilizer. The compost is mixed with wood chips to make the fertilizer that is spread on the fields.
To keep the fertilizer as nutrient rich as possible, it must be kept at a specific temperature. Anything higher than 160 degrees, and the fertilizer will begin to lose nutrients, so keeping a steady temperature is imperative. This is accomplished with air that is circulated through pipes at the bottom of the pile of fertilizer. Not much goes to waste on the Butler farm.
Of course, I couldn’t walk away from the farm without seeing some of the 7,800 pigs on the property. After all, they are my favorite farm animal, not to mention the money-makers. For the Butlers, they are not only the bacon, but they are the “poopers” that make bio-energy.
So, there you have a virtual tour of Butler Farms. What you haven’t seen yet is the passion behind the technology.
I spoke with Mr. Butler about his farm and why he wanted to incorporate so much technology. He shared with me that his motto is “A green farm for a green future.” It doesn’t take long to identify Mr. Butler’s dedication to following his motto. To couple with his desire to be green is his passion for science and technology. I had to frequently stop a discussion to ask questions about some complicated concept , but Mr. Butler knew the ins and outs of it all.
Mr. Butler was able to implement much of his technology through grants. He is a huge advocate of installing lagoon covers and other technological advances in other farms across the state. He hopes to see a day when his farm is not the future but the norm, and he never skips an opportunity to share his knowledge and ideas with others. Mr. Butler is very open to visitors and tours of his farm. University groups have spent a great deal of time at his farm running experiments, and he has spoken with and given farm tours to politicians, international persons, and various organizations.
The Butlers hope to one day see more farms across North Carolina and the nation implement similar technologies; however, it will take time. These new ideas are not perfect and are costly, but they hold much promise. Mr. Butler is dedicated to constantly improving. He researches a great deal and is already making plans for further improvements.
Butler Farms, in many ways, is a typical hog farm. The name of the game is pigs and poop, and doing that responsibly and well. However, Butler Farms is more than typical. They are innovative and, dare I say, futuristic.
I truly enjoyed my time at Butler Farms learning about the technology, walking on a lagoon, and talking pigs in the farm office. A huge thank you to Mr. Butler, his son Will, and the rest of the crew at the farm for sharing their time with me.
As I drove back down the dirt path to leave the farm, it started to rain. I couldn’t help but think of the technology that would provide a barrier between the rain and those lagoons.
On August 22, the North Carolina Purebred Swine Family Reunion took place where I was able to catch a glimpse of decades of work that not only made North Carolina’s hog industry better, but forged lifetime friendships, created lasting memories, and instilled a great sense of pride and accomplishment in those involved.
The Family Reunion is a time for those involved in the purebred industry to come together and reminisce. Many of those in attendance were a part of the North Carolina Swine Evaluation Station that operated from 1973-1994, and was headed up by Dr. Bob Jones. It was here that performance testing was conducted that has had a lasting impact on today’s hog industry.
Many stories were told about the “good old days” at the evaluation station–stories of record breaking boars, stories of camaraderie, and stories filled with good humor. The pride of those who had played a part in the station was evident as they spoke. Over 7,000 boars were evaluated during the 21 years with a percentage of those boars selling for a revenue of over $1.8 million. 120 breeders participated in the program during its lifespan.
The afternoon also consisted of a moment of silence for those who had passed away since the last reunion and a catered meal. North Carolina Pork Council CEO, Deborah Johnson, and NCSU Animal Science Department Head, Dr. Todd See, spoke on the industry and recent trips to China that gave insight into international pork production. Dr. Bob Jones, former NCSU Extension animal husbandry specialist also spoke about the research station and all of his fond memories. Ron Hughes, former NC Swine Evaluation Station manager wrapped up the reunion.
It was a wonderful afternoon filled with heritage, friendships, and of course, pigs!
Our farm was recently recognized with something pretty exciting. After some research into farm and land records, we put an application in for the North Carolina Century Farm certification.
The Century Farm designation is in recognition of 100 or more years of continuous family farming. Started in 1970, the program aimed to identify farms that had been in a family for 100 continuous years. To be eligible, records had to be presented that showed that the farm had passed to a blood relative of the original owner for a century or more. Of the 52,000 farms in North Carolina only about 3% of them have been honored with the designation of a Century Farm, and we are one! Isn’t that absolutely awesome?!
Our farm started in 1895 when Bettie Denning and husband David Jernigan bought approximately 150 acres. In 1909, Dave died. Bettie would later marry his brother, Jim Jernigan. Jim and Bettie never had children, but Dave and Bettie had seven together–6 boys and 1 girl. The girl was my great-grandmother, Harriett Jernigan.
A tract of the original estate was given to my great-grandmother when she married (approximately 45 acres). She and my great- grandfather, Owen Weaver, built a house on this land.
My great-grandfather cleared a large portion of the land with an ax, by hand. He pulled the stumps up with mules. On this farm land, they grew tobacco, soybeans, corn, and cotton. They also had chickens and up to 100 pigs. Mules were used to plow until 1956 when the first tractor was bought. It would normally take one week to plow 15 acres by mule.
My grandfather, Bob Weaver, and two older siblings, Elizabeth and Nick, were born and grew up on this plot of land.
Papa helped with the farm work until he was 18. At this time, he joined the US Air Force. He would eventually be stationed in Scotland where he met my grandma, Sylvia McCabe.
They married in North Carolina in February of 1966.
In 1978, they moved back to the family farm land where they built a house. At this point, my mom was 11 years old and her brother, Bobby, was 8 years old. The house was built on 14 acres of the original tract of land.
My great-grandfather was living at the end of the road, still raising pigs (my great-grandmother died in 1954). The rest of the land was being leased out to a local farmer.
Today, my Papa and Grandma have acquired 40 acres of the original estate, and my family lives on 6 of those acres. Our barn was built by my great-grandfather in the early 1960’s to be used as a pack house for tobacco.
Papa has buildings that are comprised of a tobacco barn built by my great- grandfather in the early 50’s. My great-grandfather died in 1988, but his handiwork lives on.
The next generation of our family is now farming on the same land that has been passed down for more than 100 years. Papa is growing a pecan orchard that has over 50 trees and rents out the remainder of the land for farming. We graze sheep and goats on 10 acres of the family land.
The honor of having a Century Farm is profound. In regards to why it means so much, I think Papa says it best,
“It is important to me to be able to pass down the land to my children and grandchildren, and for my future generations to know their heritage and where they come from.”
I am extremely proud to live on a Century Farm and to have such a rich history. Our roots run deep, and I love it!
My family just got back from the week we look forward to all year– the lake! We spend a week at Kerr Lake near the Virginia Border with our camper and boat. It is a chance for us to get away and get some family time in. We definitely learn to be close with 6 of us crammed into one camper for 7 days.
During the span of the week, a lot happened. There were the staples of hot dogs and marshmallows over a campfire, hammocks, and fishing, but there was also exploring abandoned buildings, ripped bathing suits, chiggers, thunderstorms, and picture perfect sunsets. All in all, it was the perfect family vacation 🙂
Kerr Lake has been a family destination for my whole life, going back to even when my mom was a girl. With a view like that, how can you blame us?
The lake is the result of the John H. Kerr Dam. In past years, we have walked across the dam. On the other side is the Dan River.
Kerr Lake is filled with all sorts of wildlife. One of my favorites is spotting bald eagles soaring in the sky. While this is not a bald eagle (I couldn’t get a decent photo), the osprey is still an awesome sight!
Geese came right up to the campsite too. Gideon decided to chase them with the kayak once. They did not appreciate it at all.
A tradition that we always have is to visit the local marina, grab some ice cream, and feed the fish and the ducks bread.
Afterwards, we go and look at all of the sailboats docked at the marina.
Of course with so much water at our fingertips, we enjoy it as much as possible. That may involve kayaking or swimming.
Although we fish every year, we almost never catch anything.
Except for the floating dead one.
We are all about some tubing and knee boarding . We can get kind of crazy on the tubes.
While tubing leaves me sore in the morning, knee boarding does it even worse. As you can see with the following string of pictures, wiping out is not always pleasant.
This picture cracks me up to no end.
During our water excursions, we typically stop off at different islands to explore. At one we found old abandoned buildings. It was quite mystical.
On our last night, we had a campfire. The boys are little pyromaniacs, but I think their favorite part is dumping water on the fire to douse it.
Frisbee, walks, bike rides and of course cooking out are all on the to do list.
Mom and I like to read and bask in the sun.
Dad and Alec are basically obsessed with their hammocks.
Poor Alec wasn’t just about relaxation. He not only ripped his pants, but he also got chiggers.
Grandma and Papa always bring Bojangles to us when they come back with the other truck to pick the boat up. It was so good seeing them, and homemade pineapple ice cream made it even better.
Just in case you wanted to see a few more candids… you know, because I haven’t included enough pics as is 🙂
Kerr Lake was the perfect vacation, and might I add, that I love my Linton family time oh so much!