True North is:

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Michigan, United States

Monday, March 30, 2009

Pigs on Parade

The big moment has finally come to fruition at True North, and although to some this may seem a small event or even something blasé, for us it is a monumental occurrence. Our two feeder pigs have arrived.
Our excitement stems from a number of different reasons: like the fact that we have never raised anything remotely close to livestock or have had to so fully prepare in order to be able to provide for such creatures. In fact, the amount of time we have spent on education, research, and construction of their living area has been both exhausting and exhilarating. Yet, ultimately the arrival of these two animals heralds a gigantic step for us on our journey to self reliance. To be able to raise one's own for them, feed them, and yes, slaughter them so as to provide food for your family is, to us, the quintessential meaning of self sufficiency.
We have only had the pigs for a few days now, and to be honest, all the work was in the preparation. The actually day to day care for them has been relatively easy. Each day I make sure they have clean fresh water, and feed twice a day. Other than that they..are, well...self sufficient. We had heard more than a few stories about pig's abilities to escape from their pens but thus far ours don't seem interested in escaping. i hope this holds true for the duration of their stay with us.
All of us have so far adapted well to them being here. me and Melissa have been planning for this for so long it's almost like we were holding our breath and now that they are here we can breath again. Gabrielle understands what we're doing and the purpose of the pigs, but on more than one occasion I've heard her say "Geez...why do they have to be so cute?" As far as our pets go; the cat doesn't even know they exist, and our dog Gypsy has only seen and heard them from a distance. She does seem very interested in what lies beyond that fence though. Maximus, our 'Little boy' as we affectionately call him, is another matter altogether.
Maximus already has an identity crisis. Obviously he's a dog, but we think he wants to be a 'real boy', and he interacts with the cat so much that he has picked up some kitty like tendencies. Now, enter the pigs...
At the first chance he had he ran into their pen and greeted them with as much enthusiasm as he could, and believe me, for a little dog he has a lot. The pigs regarded him with indifference at first, but now, after only a few days we believe max thinks he's a pig, and they see him as a small but suitable friend. He gets in their house (when they let him), steals food from their trough, ruts around trying to find out what in the earth they find so good, and has even snorted once or twice in their presence. I know for a fact that if we let him, he would sleep with them...nestled in the warm straw alongside his new found brethren. Honestly, only a pig could understands Max's relationship with food.
In my next post I'll elaborate more on the building of their pen and house, but for now here are some pictures...hope you enjoy.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Over the winter a number of things have changed at True North, but with spring coming and a whole lot of work needing to be done...I've been behind in the blogging "time capsule", so to speak. Although we are working hard to be as frugal as we can and destroy our debt, it was necessary for us to make two major purchases.

The first one was a new chainsaw:
I bought a Sthil Farmboss with a 20in bar. This chainsaw has proved to be the workhorse I thought it would be. I had done a fair amount of research before I purchased it and got many people's opinions. Most of those opinions came from fellow homesteaders at and their advise and knowledge was most helpful. Admittedly though, their is a lot I need to learn about cutting wood and, most importantly...sharpening the chain. Luckily I have a little bit of time to learn before I need to start getting ready for next winter.

Our second purchase was a plow truck:
It's a 1984 ford f250 and it came with a plow. I didn't know the guy that I bought it from, but after talking with him I felt comfortable with this older vehicle purchase, especially after learning that he knew some of the same people we did. Apparently we ride in similar 'Harley Davidson' circles.
The truck seems to be in really good condition and I only plan on using it for a few things; plowing, wood cutting, scrap hauling and a general purpose homestead truck. These uses shouldn't put a lot of miles on it either, but wear and tear will be another matter altogether.
Unfortunately, I have some type of fluid leak in the transmission or oil pan area and since I'm not very auto mechanically inclined yet I have it in the shop...we'll see what develops.

All in all it seems like these two investments will be good ones, even with the truck in its current state. Everyone who has seen the truck says i got it for a great price. Regardless, we needed this stuff. We'll be installing a wood furnace soon and wood cutting will become a major part of our money saving, and since our driveway is so long I had to be able to plow it myself. I was spending a small fortune to have other people plow it!

PS. Jackson has been great to be around, and I can't wait to be able to spend more time with him!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Jackson Oliver

Born Feb 14, 2009 - 6 lbs 14oz, 19.5 inches long and the apple of my eye! Who would have thought you could love someone so much! My grandson is adorable and we can’t wait for him to grow up to be our lil’ farm boy.

The 2 Little Pigs

We are just over 1 week away form getting the pigs. We have a lot of work done so far. The wood fence and wood gate are up. The wire fence and metal posts are up. We tested the “escape” factor with our dog Gypsy who is known to be the master escape artist and it held up!! We still have a few things left to do, finish the pig house, which has the floor done, and build the feed and water troughs. We have all the supplies and have yet to pay a dime for any of it. It’s all been recycled from Pat’s dad’s days of farming and a friend’s (Hugh) old privacy fence. HOURS of hard labor were spent harvesting every last post and fence. Yeah, everyone was right…its is HARD work, but rewarding. We still have yet to figure out to actually GET the pigs here, we have blazer and a farm truck, both with broken trailer hitches, we’re still thinking on that one…lol. We’ll have more photos and info when the pigs are finally here!

Captin' Jack’s Baby Shower

The "Pirate" baby shower was a great success! I spent under $100 for all the food, decorations, prizes, and even the gifts for mom and baby. One of which was the afghan I crocheted for them (pictured in a previous post). I did extensive research on the net for any baby pirate stuff I could find (which wasn‘t a lot, had to put my thinking cap on), searched the house for all our pirate ship gadgets, luckily we like that type of thing, and pictured here is what I came up with. It was a blast and even included a “Walk the Plank” game for prizes, and cute baby pirate gift bags with maps on one side and sayings like: “Shiver me rattles”, “Swab me poop deck” on the other. A BIG thanks goes out to Gabrielle and my MIL Sally for all their help, I couldn’t have done it without them!

2 Hours & 8 Stores

2 hours of research and 8 stores, netted us a savings of over $68 on our grocery/household supplies. I spent a Sunday afternoon reading the free community newspaper called the Alma Reminder and cross referenced all the savings verses what we used and needed in the house. I bought more than one item if it was something I knew for sure we need in the future. No need to pay full price later when you can buy in bulk at a discount now. The pay off was better than I expected and well worth the work. All the stores were within a 15 mile radius and we timed them with the other errands that needed to be done….ie pick up Gabrielle from school and donate plasma. It takes some time but if you stick to your “needs” only you can save a bundle!