Saturday, February 11, 2012

A new neighborhood?

Hello, neighbors!

Well, it's been awhile since my last post (and I still have yet to do one more To Russia, With Love post write-up) but a lot has happened since November.  Yes, November. I've left you all hanging for nearly three months. Three months with no food! No recipes! No pages upon pages of my rambling!

My dear readers, I apologize to you. You see, Mr. Onion's Neighborhood has changed neighborhoods.x

On December 23, my better half and I closed on a house with some property in Hammond, about an hour outside of New Orleans. This place is fantastic: nine acres of mostly pasture, mostly fenced, a creek running through it, two ponds, and a whole bunch of outbuildings already constructed. Not to mention a really awesome house! As soon as we closed we packed up our first couple of loads of boxes and planned to spend the night.

Now, I had been planning something for awhile that I couldn't really share. So that night, this ended up happening, too:

The ring was designed with some help by one of her good friends, cast by another good friend, the stone was from her grandmother, her uncle did the setting and her cousin did the engraving. I tried to involve as many people as I could and it all came together beautifully.

I wanted to make my own ring box and thought an egg-shaped box would be very fitting for us and our duck raising, so I ended up taking a crash course in chip carving. If you have any interest at all in learning this really interesting craft, check out Marty Leenhout's site My Chip Carving. The platinum membership is pretty low cost and gives you access to a large amount of patterns and video tutorials. I honestly could not have pulled it off in the three weeks I had to finish it without his site.

(And, in case you were wondering, she said yes and loved the egg!)

Since then, we've been working on starting a small business for our side projects and building up our inventory of livestock. We formed HighTail Farms, LLC and I have spent the last month navigating the legality of establishing a poultry/game bird and small animal processing facility on the property.

This is more difficult than I thought and it's become clear that a lot of state agencies don't communicate with each other very well, although that shouldn't have surprised me. It will be some time before we can process and sell poultry and other meat, but I'm confident we'll get there eventually. For the time being, though, we are permitted to sell duck eggs!

We've filled a lot of the already existing coops and pens with our original flock of ducks (nearly 30), a bunch of crested pekin ducks, guineafowl, turkeys, various chickens (broilers, Wyandottes, Ameraucanas, and Silkies), geese and meat rabbits.  Quail eggs are in the incubator and should be hatching this weekend, and we have over 40 duck eggs collected to incubate as soon as they are done. We hope to obtain some Katahdin sheep (hair, not fleece!) soon for lambing, and hogs will be on the list for a little later in the year. We're learning a lot of new things very fast, but we were very lucky that the property came prepared for so many things.

Silkie chickens

Rabbits getting some pasture time

Goslings (up front) and crested Pekin ducklings
So what does this mean for Mr. Onion's Neighborhood? You'll probably see a bit more expanding on the content here. Rather than just food, I may occasionally explain some farm-related projects in detail.  We'll be posting a bit over at the HighTail Farms blog, but I'm going to make a concerted effort to keep those posts a bit more to-the-point, rather than my usual long-winded posts.

Some things on the agenda:
  • Finish setting up the HighTail Farms website/blog
  • Build rabbit tractors (nature's lawn mowers!) and mobile chicken coops
  • Put up electric fencing for sheep/hog enclosures
  • Repair fencing in back pasture
  • Renovate the front shed as poultry/game bird and small animal processing facility
  • Obtain licensing, permits, etc. for facility
  • Prepare the front and back garden areas for planting
  • Find a slaughterhouse for sheep and other larger animals
My good neighbors, even in my months of posting abstinence many of you were still visiting and for that you have my thanks!  I'm looking forward to the adventures to come and I hope you are, too!


  1. Sounds awesome! I am going to buy the crap out of your food.
    John Cummings

  2. I'm so excited for you! As a typical girl, I want MANY more pictures of your house and cute fuzzy animals! :) Also, nice work on the ring box- that's super impressive. And I love how so many important people had a hand at creating her ring- that makes it even more special. Can't wait to follow the progress of your farming adventure!

  3. Congratulations!!!
    I'm jealous! Your set up sound wonderful!

  4. Sounds like I know where I'm getting my Thanksgiving Turkey this year...