Farm Food - Cheesy Spaghetti Squash with Bacon and Gouda

Around here, we believe in healthy, tasty meals. Whenever possible, we try to use our homegrown food, but occasionally we do have to supplement. When a friend gave me a couple spaghetti squash, I was thrilled. I’d seen this recipe floating around and wanted to try it. 

After trying it, it’s a great weekday night dinner, although it does take about an hour total cooking time. Next time, I’m going to try cooking the squash in my instant pot to see if that speeds things up! 

Here’s what you’ll need: 
- 1-2 Medium spaghetti squash
- Olive oil
- 8 slices of bacon, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 6-7 handfuls of fresh baby spinach
- Cheese

1.  First, you’ll want to pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. While waiting for the oven to warm up, chop the spaghetti squash into about 1 inch rings horizontally. This makes the rings of squash more pasta like by leaving the strands together when you start peeling off the skins

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3. Brush some oil onto a baking sheet pan (I make clean-up easier by using parchment paper and brushing the oil onto that), spread out the rings evenly and then brush a little more oil on top of each ring. Pop them into the oven.
4. While your squash is cooking, cook the bacon in a frying pan.  When it’s done, set the it aside.
5. Add the red wine vinegar and maple syrup to the pan and scrape up all the bacon pieces that got stuck.
6. By now, your squash should be done, so take it out and let it cool off.
7. Back to the pan - add the spinach and cook it down enough to be slightly shriveled.

8. Put the bacon back in the pan and mix it thoroughly in with the spinach.
9. Once your squash is cooled, peel away the thick outside skin. Separate the strands just enough so it looks like spaghetti.
10. Add the bacon/spinach mixture to your bowl of squash “noodles” and mix well.
11. Top with cheese and mix in to taste. I used gouda, which was absolutely delicious, but goat cheese would also work, as would an extra sharp cheddar.
12. Enjoy! 

The Reality of Farm Life.

(I wrote this piece last weekend and debated even posting it all week. It still makes me tear up. But, after running it by a few close friends, I realized that the emotion in farming isn’t really talked about and that it’s a conversation I want to start.)

We lost a baby kid today. 

Even typing those words sends tears down my cheeks. As I sit on the couch, him on my lap, it's hard to believe that he's gone. I don't want to believe it. 

The truth of the matter is that we couldn't have saved him. He was too cold, dehydrated and starved. His mother had been clogged and rejected him in her pain, so he didn't get a chance to even taste her life-giving milk until we took him inside in one last effort to change the inevitable. 

I named him Bruce, because he tried fighting to live, he really did. I told him as I held him that if he fought through this, he'd need a big strong name to get him through life. He gave a tiny bleat in reply. 

The reality of farm life is that animals die. For someone like me who pours my heart and soul into them, it's incredibly difficult. We'll do everything possible to save them, and when it can't be stopped, we'll sit and hold them as they draw their final breath. Bruce was our sixth kid born on the farm and the third born this week. He was the first, and only one, to not make it. 

But just like death is the reality of life on a farm, there’s also a picture of grace. Because in the moments that Bruce was succumbing, another baby made its way into the world. 

 Little Billy was born moments before Bruce passed. 

Little Billy was born moments before Bruce passed. 

New Kid on the Block

Heidi has always been the troublemaker of our crew. 

She was the smallest kid we got, but quickly became the boss of the herd. So when we first introduced Studley, it wasn't that much of a shock that she seemed the most interested. So, Heidi kidded for the first time this past summer. She birthed a healthy, bouncing baby girl. She was a fantastic mom, and gave more than enough milk for both the baby and us. 

A couple months ago, Justin and I noticed that Heidi appeared to be getting wider, but knew that if she was pregnant, it was still some time away. Then, after Christmas, she thinned right out, and we thought it was a fluke. Until Sunday night. 

As you may have seen, we have a new puppy in the house, so I've been taking him out regularly. It's been brutal in the cold, especially Sunday night with the temps in the 10s. Shortly before midnight, Jameson needed out. I took him and sent him back to sleep, but he wouldn't settle down. Outside, eliminated, came back in. Still won't settle. 

FINE. I got up, grabbed Jameson and headed out the back door. Only he didn't want to go down the steps this time. He just wanted to sit and listen. And stare towards the field. And that's when I heard it. Heidi was bleating loudly, (because I know her voice at this point.. I know, it's weird.) and then what sounded like a little "hello" from across the field. I rubbed out my ear and listened again. Heidi's bleat, silence, a new bleat. And I just knew. I woke Justin up and said, "Heidi's giving birth right now." He jumped up, bundled up and headed out the door. 

When we got to the goat pasture, we shone our flashlights into the shed to see if we could spot anything. Sure enough... there she was. A newborn baby, shivering in the cold. Since it was only 15 degrees, Justin started working on setting up a heat lamp as I ran to get a towel to dry the new kid off. 

Heidi stood back and watched, still panting from her labor. She knew her kid was in good hands. 

World, meet Gabi. 

A Piggy Tail/Tale

A couple of weeks ago, we were presented with the opportunity to add to our growing hog collection with a female hog named Keera. We decided it would be a very good plan to continue to widen our gene pool and set out to go get her with our pick-up truck and the hog crate we have transported every hog we own in.

After driving the two hours to get there, we pulled up to the house, only to have the owner’s son walk up to the truck and inform us that she (Keera) was not going to fit in there. We were confused and a little concerned.

“What do you mean? The pictures that were sent made her look about the size of our hogs, and this is what we use.”

“Weeeell, you can try, but I’m pretty sure she’s gonna be a good two feet longer.”

Great.

So we walked over to Mz. Keera’s pen and peered in. Justin whistled. Mz. Keera was NOT what we were expecting, and the son was right. Easily over 600lbs, Keera was definitely a good two feet longer than our longest hog and would DEFINITELY NOT fit in the crate.

“Now what?” I asked Justin, concerned.

He looked slightly frustrated and replied “I don’t know.”

“Oh don’t worry! We got enough pallets around here. We can just build her a crate.”

Lovely! Now I’m concerned about lifting a 600lb pig AND a 200lb wooden crate. But we’ll get to that.

So we get to work, building the crate from scratch. It took a good hour to get all the details right from making sure she wouldn’t fall out the floor when we lifted it to discussing how we would nail it shut when we finally got her in.

Finally, we finished. Time to get this hog in. Keera had other ideas.

Picture this. At this point, we have 5 men and 3 women standing around the pen, all trying to coax a 600lb hog into a crate. We tried doughnuts and Little Debbie’s cakes (her favorites), we tried Sundrop (a Southern pop), and we tried spraying her with a hose (because she hates water). Finally, finally, we pushed her back into a corner and used a combination of the food treats and the water to get her on the crate.

“Quick! Shut the door, shut the door!” we’re all yelling at each other.

SLAM. The door goes on and someone nails it in place. We all breathe. Then pause.

“Now what?”

We look uncertainly at each other and start discussing the best way to lift 800-900 pounds of hog and crate into the back of a pick-up truck.

Straight lifting is ruled out, as is sliding it up a couple boards. We’re starting to talk in circles when someone finally says: “Wait… doesn’t so-and-so up the hill got a cherry picker? Ain’t he home?”

“Yeah, he does! I’ll go git him!”

So off runs one of the men to go get the cherry picker and its driver. We sit and chat awkwardly about the weather and getting this pig home.

**Rumble rumble**

Here comes the cherry picker, down the hill and back up the driveway. He backs it on up to the crate. “Hi. How we gonna do this?”

It’s determined that the best thing to do is to lift it straight up and the men will stabilize it and move it forward onto the truck. The straps go on, only to have someone complain they’re too small. The straps come back off. Bigger straps go on, only to have someone complain they’re too long now. The straps start to come back off, but Justin intervenes with an idea to shorten them. There. We finally have this crate surrounded, and up goes the cherry picker, and up in the air goes Keera.

I back the truck up slowly under the swinging hog and almost run over everyone (oops). Keera is lowered and everyone breathes when she’s finally on the truck.

We load up the metal crate on top of her wooden one and pray a silent prayer that we didn’t come under any low bridges.

Saying our goodbyes, we got the other way around the house, because the crates won’t fit under the power lines. We pray that we don’t get electrocuted on the way back too.

We head off into the sunset with our brand-new pig and I look at Justin and smile.

“Worth it?” I ask.

“Totally,” he replies with a grin. “Now how we gonna get her off the truck?”

Well crap. 

It's Back

Well, the farm blog is back. I was informed by friend after friend that I need to get back to writing down all the stories that happen because owning a farm is hilarious. Or maybe it’s just us. Either way.

So I’m back. I have challenged myself to post more regularly and be generally better about planning ahead of time, so we’ll see how this works. For now, here’s a baby pig loving his tummy rub. Enjoy. 

 

Baby Pig