charles bonded

As I have shown quite clearly before, the woman who calls herself “Charles” has initiated conversations with Al as much as the other way around.  If he was so terrible, why doesn’t she ignore him?  She always responds. They banter.

But the thing about the bacon isn’t a joke. It’s not a “code word.”  It’s real.

We have a cow.

frances with calf

I think maybe I’ve mentioned that before.

Anyway, she produces way more milk than we can use in the house, and that’s putting it mildly. At peak, she gives us 6 gallons of milk a day.

A calf drinks 1 gallon daily. Right now, we have 3 calves. That takes care of three of those gallons. We’ll get a fourth as soon as we have a pen free.

That’s still not enough stomachs to absorb all that milk. I generally take the excess in the house, put it in the milk fridge for a couple of days, skim off the cream for butter, and toss the skim milk on the blueberry bushes. It’s a waste. We know that.

So we always have a pig.

We used to get two pigs.


But two pigs is one pig too many. We did this because people told us that they eat better if they are in competition with another pig.  And that is true. They battle for dominance and behave, well, like pigs.

However, it’s not cost-effective for us to have two pigs.

We feed the pig, in addition to the pig ration you see in the bowl there, our excess milk.

When you bottle-feed a calf, you absolutely must have a half-gallon of milk every morning and evening for the calf. You can’t waver from that, even if you have to go the store and buy milk.  For a young calf, that is his life-blood, his sole diet.

A pig is different. She can drink a whole lot of milk, a little milk, or none. So a pig serves as a buffer animal for us. If we have a lot of milk left over, she gets it. If I decide to serve chowder and make pudding and do a batch of cheese, she gets nothing but pig ration.

For one pig, milk comprises about half her diet. That cuts our feed bill in half. The last pig we raised ate through about 4 100-pound sacks of pig ration during her time with us.

If we have two pigs, that doesn’t rise to 8 sacks. It rises to about 12. That’s because we don’t have a double supply of milk.

So it’s far cheaper for us to raise one pig than two. Furthermore, we can’t eat one pig a year, much less two. Yet we need to have one pig every year to drink the milk.

And that’s where Al Wilson entered the picture.

He raises lambs.  He doesn’t raise pigs at all.  Raising pigs would cost him more than it does me because he doesn’t have milk.

So we barter.

Here’s our pig from  last year.

previous pig

When that pig got to a decent weight and the weather was nice and chilly, we took the pig to the slaughterhouse and they did the deed and then hung it in their cooler for a day or two. We got our half, which is our usual procedure, brought it home and cut and vacuum-sealed it.

cut vacuum

In addition, we cut the belly into rectangles and cured it. We then smoked it. [Cold-smoked. Dave built the smoker. I do the curing and the hanging. We share monitoring the smoker. I do all the vacuum-sealing.]


Here’s the bacon after smoking.

bacon 2

And from a prior year, here’s what it looks like.


After we’d taken care of our half, we loaded up the other half and drove to Al Wilson’s farm and spent a lovely day with him and his wife and Lisa Luthi (who came down just for the socializing and ended up working). We cut up Al’s half and got the bacon into the cooler with the cure on it. (It has to sit for a week like that.)

In return, Al gave us something we really need badly: an all-weather frost-proof waterer for our cattle. It’s too large for his sheep, something he didn’t realize when he bought it. But it’s perfect for our guys.

This year, we’re going to barter for lamb.

And here’s the piglet.


That was three weeks or so ago. She’s about twice that size now. She’s currently living in a stall in the barn, but getting ready to make the big move into the pig pen. She is drinking as much milk as one of the calves, which is simply astonishing.

“Bacon” is a code word for. . . bacon.

This is real “homesteading.”

Where is the Naugler piglet?  Where are the Naugler chickies? What is it that Joe does all day? Where is the “homesteading”?



33 thoughts on “Bacon”

  1. Sounds very similar to how my family gets their beef. While we are all citified here, we have friends who run a farm. They feed out the steers and ship them off to the slaughterhouse. When yhey come back (sides of beef) we have a butchering party. Bring a side dish and your own drinks and grill out.

    What the Naugs fail to understand after 3 years is that is how life is for people who dont go around dumping crap on the ground and taking pictures of the neighbors and harrassing people for driving on public roads. No one gives a famn that you have 11 kids, so long as you care for them. There were 7 kids in my moms family, 5 in my dads and i have 6 brothers and sisters. The difference is my parents (and grandparents) worked to support us. They didnt beg from the neighbors.
    So despite what Joe and Nicole think their way of life is not all that special, or unique, and there has been a minority of people living in squalor in Appalachia for centuries. The only thing different about Nicoke and Joe is they have no shame and throw it in your face to try to elicit symapthy. Sorry, my give a damn’s busted.
    Great blog today.


  2. I have never read such informative and educational posts about homesteading anywhere else. It’s truly inspiring! By the way, I am a recent outcast/reject from the BLH Facebook page. I recently referred to this website as a “watchdog” site to someone who said that the “owner” of this site could(should) be doing something positive for children considering she has a deceased child of her own. To my mind, this is a “watchdog” website which exists for that very purpose and I said so! Far from “tabloid,” it exists as a beacon of light in an otherwise highly distressing and duplicitous story being broadcast to the world by none other than the perpetrators. I feel encouraged knowing the N. children and others trapped in similar familial situations can come here, safely read, gain perspective, and be educated on homesteading as well. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for investing so much time and money into the Naugler children who are growing up quickly. I think you are having a greater positive impact on them than what you may ever know. Children can and do break free from the constraints of their upbringing (or lack thereof).


  3. This is great!
    First time commenting but long time reader. Nicoles paranoia is escalating and is frightening. Those poor children.
    A response she made on blh page about running like a cheetah through the brush disturbed me.
    I can just see her
    …barefoot….dreads flying.. obscene words spewing from her mouth..running like a cheetah toward whomever the poor soul was.
    Im sure the kids were all outside…watching….and learning.
    Just devastating


  4. That bacon looks scrumptious. Pig Candy here I come!!!!
    It’s terrific that you and Al can share tips and barter with each other. I’d have to pass on the lamb, never have developed a taste for sheep. I like wool and that is as far as it goes.

    Maybe the N pig is far in the woods eating nuts and getting fat. One could only hope.


  5. There is nothing I want more than fresh bacon… like, not the kind you get at stores. There’s a lovely little “meat” farm I like to buy from at the farmer’s market, they have all kinds of meat. But their bacon is $11/lb, and I have yet to want to drop that kind of money on it. Your pigs look happy, healthy, and probably delicious. 🙂


  6. Seeing this today just lights a fire under my ass to get the pig pens built. When it cools off this fall.

    Question, because I’ve gone from wanting a mini cow (due to genetic issues) to a full sized cow (Jersey or Swiss) I know that will be more milk than I would need, and I had planned 2-4 pigs a year, if I don’t just breed them after I get the hang of it. With that number of pigs and the gardens in growing specifically for the pigs, would I be better off with 2 cows to help meet protein requirements?
    Also, I know you raise bulls to sell back to the dairy. That’s not an option for me, so I’d be raising the calves every year. Some people just keep the calves on the cow, some separate. Besides cutting into the amount of milk available for pigs, is there any other reason why I would not want to do that, provided the cow wanted to play nursemaid?
    Or, conversely, people here sell “nurse cows” all the time, the ones that don’t mind their calves and everyone else’s calves helping themselves. I could buy one of those, put the dairy calves on her and a bum steer from a local ranch, saving me some trouble and allowing use of all the dairy cow milk for the pigs, and souring some for the poultry.

    Am I crazy?


  7. I’d have to pass on the lamb,

    You’ve never had lamb until you’ve had Al’s lamb. Dave thought he didn’t like lamb, but he does. Al Wilson lamb.


  8. would I be better off with 2 cows to help meet protein requirements?

    Lord, no. That would be about 12 gallons of milk every single day. Start with one cow and see how you do. They are expensive animals to own.

    . Some people just keep the calves on the cow, some separate.

    Some cows really love being mama. If they do, well, that works. My particular cow simply refused that arrangement. Sure makes for less work, although it’s not as efficient because you really have no idea how much milk each calf is getting. Some people adopt a kind of compromise. The calf stays with the dam all day. They are separated at night. In the morning, they milk the cow, but only two teats (half the cow’s output). Then they put the calf with the cow, and he does the rest.

    And the idea of two cows, one a “nurse cow” isn’t a bad idea at all. You’re not crazy. When I said above “no” to two cows, I was referring to actually milking two. If you don’t have to milk the second one, you’re good.

    Keep in mind that a good milking machine will cost you as much as the cow does. They run about $1200. They are worth every penny. Our vacuum motor had a bit of a hiccup last night (it has a part that needs replacing) and I just panic when that happens. I cannot milk my cow by hand. I did for two years, but she was much younger then and gave much less milk. As she has matured, her production has increased steadily. Several years ago, she calved and I really could not reach the far teats at all. Her udder was just that enormous. I had to have help milking her and it still took about 45 minutes, and you cannot imagine the arm fatigue that you get.

    I came in the house that day and went straight to the computer and ordered my machine. We have two buckets. One is small (capacity supposedly three gallons, but in actuality a bit less) that I use when she’s winding down. The other is about twice that size and we’re using it now. Everything is stainless steel which is why it’s so expensive. I bought silicone hoses (they are also pricey) because they stay flexible in severe cold and my barn is not heated. The dairy uses rubber, but they have a heated milking parlor.


  9. That aforementioned movie, by the way, is one scary film. (For me.) It is a crude, disgusting horror, to be sure. But when I visualize incognito-Nicole, violently jumping out from a plastic port-o-john, it’s plastic doors slamming shut with a whack, awkwardly “running like a cheetah” through the unkempt brush, chasing random cars… I dont know what is scarier!

    Those PokemonGo players are in for a sweet smelly surprise, chock-full of Naugler hospitality.


  10. I’m a phishcatarian.
    The rest of my family are carnivorous.
    I have mixed feelings to the smell of bacon cooking in the morning, or for BLT sandwiches…
    I would probably eat meat if the animal was cared for and then slaughtered in the way you and Al do.
    I’ll admit seeing your little piggy looking though the fence at you and, then, the parts of her on a table was a little disturbing to me… But I appreciated it and your story as the picture of life on a good farm.
    I think if my family needed it, I could learn to wring a chicken’s neck with the best of farmers wives if I were taught by folks such as you and Al.
    I have been horrified at what the Naugler adults are promoting as animal husbantry.
    Feeding, housing and hygienic care for their eleven children has to be overwhelming.
    I suspect Amos the cat is surviving (if still alive) on local birds and rodents. The dogs have probably survived on rabbits and chickens…
    Petunia the pig… well…
    Sally, your skills as an expose writer, and truth teller, are remarkable.


  11. Milk machine is on my list!

    The best prices and equipment I’ve found are here. We didn’t buy ours from these folks and we made a big mistake. We got a new bucket and claw, but a used vacuum motor. It was supposedly rebuilt. Only when we got it, it was obvious that it had never been rebuilt.

    We ended up spending about $150 on a rebuild kit and redoing it ourselves. We raised holy hell with the seller and he finally reimbursed us that money, but he was really snotty about it.

    We should have dealt with the Parts Department. Much better source. I’ve bought lots of stuff from them since – small things like replacement hoses.


  12. That’s hilarious! Bacon the code word for trolling, or stalking. Lol! Let’s go baconing tonight. He has been baconing her. You’re such a baconer. They were such pigs and the homestead got baconed. The bacon followed him home and he took care of it his way by eating it all gone. You are too ridiculously funny Charles/Charlette!


  13. @Catt, Moonlight BBQ might just be what’s for supper tonight 🙂 I love me some mutton!

    Not quite sure where to even go with this, just seems like all of us “trolls” are just doing what we can to land her family in jail. But she needs something, rehabilitation or something of the sorts. On that note, I’m off to have a good weekend with the fam!


  14. Nicole “running like a cheetah”, down that embankment??? No way. She wears pink(ish) crocs. I’ve gotta call BS on that one too.
    It’s an image I now need to cleanse from my mind.
    On a lighter note, Sally I think you’ve now created a market for your bacon!
    Interesting reading from those who really know what their doing.


  15. I do not eat lamb either.
    I only have eaten the mutton at Moonlight BBQ.
    Can not wait to get back there as it has been over 30 plus years since I have been there.
    I eat a little of the mutton and fill up on the fried chicken livers.


  16. I am a Pescatarian. Is this what you mean, MIM?

    Pescatarian is a word sometimes used to describe those who abstain from eating all meat and animal flesh with the exception of fish. In other words, a pescatarian maintains a vegetarian diet with the addition of fish and other sea foods such as shrimp, clams, crabs and lobster.


  17. Sally, thanks for sharing further snippets of your farm life. I love reading them, and envy you your lifestyle. I’m sure it’s hard work, but it must also be so rewarding.
    The closest thing I have had was one acre here in Australia, where we had bantam hens and one rooster. I loved those girls and they always gave me such beautiful little eggs. I’d let them out in the yard, and they’d fossick about happily together, but if there was a loud noise, they’d all fluff their feathers and cluck-cluck disapprovingly, like a bunch of little old church ladies clutching their pearls.
    Thanks again!


  18. Well that was a brain fart…
    “Pescatarian” was my intended word.
    “Phishcatarian” was a joke word made up by one of my relatives to describe my eating habit years ago.
    I eat fish and shrimp.
    I don’t lose my mind if I accidentally eat something that includes animal flesh… I just try to avoid it…
    On another note, I’m very worried about the Naugler children. Nicole is totally bonkers.


  19. Ran through the woods like a cheetah? Joe or Nicole? Have you seen them? Not in this lifetime. The woman lies, always, that one wasn’t even a good lie.


  20. Wow, what a beautiful ‘stead! Reminds me so much of my family’s old farm. My dream is to one day get out of the city and raise a cow for milk, cheese and butter. We can dream!


  21. Beautiful farm sally!You are healthy living there!

    I raise livestock there to cute to eat ,You could but I don’t .I make money selling there fiber as I’m called a grower .I have some Alpacas that love being mothers and some not so much and we will milk an alpaca to give to there baby its not easy but I getting to pro at it.I love what I do .


  22. I am impressed. This folks is a homestead. I grew up on a farm, farming has gotten easier with progress & time. Naugs still don’t get it. Farming on Facebook is called farmville, they are too lazy to farm there too. I am happy to read you here. The homestead you run is work. Even in modern times. I buy from a local butcher here, it’s Ky proud beef and pork. Your bacon is much better I am sure. I too run a smoker, often I smoke turkeys. Can you please tell us more about your smoker? I burn hickory soaked in water after the coals get hot. What is in your drip pan? I have used fruit and or wine, but it can depend on what I have on hand.


  23. “In other words, a pescatarian maintains a vegetarian diet with the addition of fish and other sea foods such as shrimp, clams, crabs and lobster.”

    This is a diet that I would happily enjoy overall. However, I do love the occasional burger with blue cheese and a strip of bacon. So completely decadent.

    That’s not a criticism of your diet – I think it sounds great (particularly the shellfish – I LOVE SHELLFISH!), I don’t wish to entirely give up other foods that I also enjoy. Even though it would probably be healthier for me if I did so. Great. I’m thinking about steamed crabs with fresh corn on the cob and sauteed brussel sprouts and a three bean salad.

    I think I’ll go eat some guacamole.


  24. Here’s the smoker from a slightly different view. It’s a rectangular box with a wire floor. It’s high on purpose. There is a hole in the back down low where the smoke enters. It rises and cools as it does so. The idea is to smoke the meat without cooking it.

    From the hole in the bottom, you can see a stovepipe that comes out and connects to a metal barrel, turned upside down. That metal barrel, in the photo, is resting on concrete blocks, but right beside it, to the left, you can barely see a propane burner. There is a small metal container with holes in it that sits on the burner, which we fill with wet hickory chips or mesquite, depending on our mood.

    No drip pan is necessary. The meat really doesn’t get hot enough to drip, nor would a pan get hot enough to create steam or anything. This is a cold smoker. We do this outside, of course, in winter. No bugs around.

    One caveat: You cannot smoke meat safely in a cold smoker like this without using the proper cure. It must, and I cannot stress that enough, contain salt peter (nitrates). Absolutely must.

    Botulism grows very nicely in an oxygen-poor warm environment which is exactly what is produced in that smoker.

    One other thing: you can trot down to your local “health-food” store and purchase “nitrate-free bacon” and “nitrate-free ham.” They are sort of lying to you, though, if you do that. The thing that makes bacon and ham taste like bacon and ham is the nitrate in the meat. It gives the meat that red color as well. Without it, you just have salt pork and in the case of a ham, salty pork roast. One of the astonishing things I learned doing this is that bacon and ham are cured with the same stuff. Identical. The only difference is time. Hams are bigger and take longer.

    I use a combination of salt, sugar and salt peter. I rub that into the bacons and then stack them in a cooler,leaving room for two or three 2-liter bottles of water, frozen. I change those out every day. For bacon, the cure time is one week. For ham, it’s two to three weeks depending on the weight, and you add more cure half way through. The meat is kept cold. I don’t have room in the fridge for the amount we do, so I use the cooler.

    So how does the “health-food” store do it?

    Look on the ingredient list of that “nitrate-free” bacon. It will list “celery juice” or something similar. Celery has the highest concentration of nitrates of any vegetable in existence, AFAIK. They occur naturally in the celery. So they use celery juice to provide the nitrates and then label it “nitrate-free” and everyone goes “Oh, this is healthy” and pays twice as much for it.

    In reality, it’s not healthier. It’s actually less safe. That’s because unless the manufacturer does extensive testing to determine the exact amount of nitrate present in the celery juice (it would vary depending on how the celery was grown), they are not really regulating how much is entering the product.

    When I mix the cure, I carefully measure the nitrate (it’s called “pink salt” because it looks like salt and is colored bright pink so people won’t get it confused because high doses are dangerous). I am exact about it. It’s a very tiny amount (something like 1/8 tsp to a couple of pounds of sugar and salt). You can use other thing than sugar and salt, of course. Some people rub the bacon or ham with honey or molasses. Some people use herbs as well.

    But if you cold smoke and if you wish your bacon to taste like bacon, you better use nitrates.


  25. Cold smoke is very different from my store bought smoker. I have much to learn. I enjoy your pictures & thank you for the education. I won’t attempt bacon without more educational opportunities. I have no desire to get sick. The smoker I use has a thermometer and I burn in the hot range. That’s all I trust myself with. Again, thank you.


  26. Your post reminds me of my grandparents smoke house and the years if helping them hang pork. When they butchered their big, we all gathered to help and my grandmother rendered the fat into lard. They ha a huge black pit that sat on an open fire and the skin was cleaned first then tossed in the pot and cracklings and pork skins floated to the top. I will be honest here. I have never known anyone who let their pigs free range. Some let their chikens free range but it’s not good. My daughter had free range meat chickens that are free ranged in a fenced area and occasionally her egg layers are turned loose so she can clean the nests and move their pen. But NJ have turned their animals loose to not only fend for themselves but to protect themselves as well. I think N’s kids are at the mercy of their parents lack of education: they read a little about homesteading and jumped right on it; in lieu of doing the work and admitting the learning curve, they are self proclaimed experts who are a danger. The same is true of their home schooling attempts. I read a book about building rockets but to this day do not consider rocket building a skill. Poor N’s they read a little and strut a lot.


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