Man Alive. It has been forever since I last posted. Lots of things have happened and I was too busy and stressed out to write about them. Looks like I also didn’t write anything down in my hand written farm journal either. Maybe subconsciously I was thinking if I don’t write the bad stuff down it doesn’t happen.
The last month wasn’t all bad. The goats have adapted to my little farm quite nicely. I did decide to go with Billy for my little buck. I call the girls Mama goat and Nanny goat. I never claimed to be clever 🙂 One of our ducks hatched out 4 chicks. They were a surprise and so very cute. While attempting to catch the baby chicks who kept popping in and out underneath the back shed. I noticed 4 more duck nests hidden between the floor joists. Since then I have had 25 ducklings hatch. Well actually 28 but the turkeys got to a few of them.
Did you guys know I had turkeys? I might have mentioned it. I traded 3 piglets for 6 Bourbon Red turkeys and 5 broad breasted white turkeys and some meat chickens. I have since sold all but 4 of the Bourbon Reds. Those turkeys sold like wildfire. I wasn’t really wanting to sell more than 3 or 4 of them, but some guy came over and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.
I also bought some more egg laying chicks. Mainly because they are adorable and I couldn’t resist when I saw them at the feed store. I suppose I didn’t really NEED them. Well “need” is such a moving target of an opinion. Zoey loves them so it’s all good!
The bad that’s been happening this last month is the rash of piglet deaths. I had 5 sows who had yet to farrow this summer. We moved them to their pens got them all comfortable they had piglets everything was going as expected. Then for about a week and a half the temperature stayed above 110 degrees. What would happen is the piglets would settle down for a little snooze in the shade then the sun would move and they never woke up. So very sad. The moms were hot too they had slops. but then the piglets would go in the slops and get stuck or crushed we lost 25 piglets from 3 litters in a week . We did manage to save 5 of them by taking them home with us and pan feeding them. 3 have since died of unknown causes shock? heat? cold? it gets coldish at night and they are outside now in full shade. The two I have left are both females and destined to be replacement breeders. They are healthy and vigorous now at about 2.5 weeks old.
To prevent the last 2 sows from experiencing the same heat issues we moved them into the mother recovery pen with three other sows which is fully shaded. The big Landrace had her piglets on Sunday 6 of them enormous and colorful. They were roughly the size of two week old piglets. We built a shelter for them that had a doorjam one foot high to keep the piglets from wandering away. All 6 of them easily cleared it by day 2. Sadly when I went to check on them today and feed everybody. I noticed one little girl napping in the sun. This week is again hot hitting 102 daily. I threw some dirt at her to get her to move ( her mom is very aggressive ya’ll won’t let anybody in the pen) but she was gone already. Then one of my unbred sows noticed the dead piglet and proceeded to start eating her. That got me in the pen quick enough. I chased her around with a big stick trying to get her to drop the dead baby. She eventually did but then went after one of the live ones. Which is precisely what I was trying to avoid. Fortunately the babies mama noticed what was going on. She punked the young duroc troublemaker and growled me out of the pen, rounded up her crew and got them to safety. Hopefully there are no issues with the remaining 5 and the next litter.
I will do my best to write more frequently in future. I only so I have some record of what’s going on at my ranch!
We never say no to free feed. My good friend Steph’s family are rice farmers. Whenever they “spill” rice on the ground they sweep it up and put it in bins. Then they don’t want that rice anymore? I think it is unsellable. Whatever, they give it all to me! Continue reading “Free Feed!”→
Several days late as per usual but we had a party for the 4th. We (Zach, I was not involved in any of this) decided to play to our strengths and have a pig roast and invite all of our friends and family to come out to the ranch have a good time and eat delicious pork.
Well half of those things happened. We had delicious pork. Warning now some of the pictures below are graphic*** Zach as he tends to do, talked to me, his mom and his buddy Jhan about this party he was planning. He gave different, half formed details to all of us, and that was it. That was his party plan, no invitations happened no other food was on the menu no thought about drinks or chairs or shade. Men right! He had a pig to kill and beer to drink what else would ever be needed.
The only shade in the property is in the pig pen and under a carport right outside Hannah and Nate’s (my sister-in-law and her husband) front door. I believe they were told about this “party” the evening before and were told that the party was happening there. They had to run around cleaning things getting chairs and tables set up etc. Thank God for Hannah. I was deliberately staying uninvolved in all of this planning process I am boycotting stress right now. She went to the store and got ice and drinks and chips, fruit and other snack foods (like one normally finds at a party) She and Nate got music set up and a dance floor cleared. We even had a sprinkler going because it was 100 degrees. The party happened it was a great time even though almost nobody came since invitations were not sent out 🙂 I love my husband to death but planner he is not. Neither am I for that matter, but I am a detail person I would never have forgotten drinks!
The family that slaughters together…
Manliest Jared has ever looked
This is the third such hog roast we have done. We provided the pigs every time. The awesome party about raising a bunch of pigs is you can eat them whenever you want. Every time these pigs taste a little bit better as Zach and Jhan tweak and streamline their process. It is a very long process. First a hole must be dug, with a tractor or it will take hours, then you have a large bonfire in the aforementioned hole. Let that burn as you slaughter, scald and shave your pig. The one they did was about 175lbs. Jared and Jesse were conscripted to help also as per usual. Zach thinks it’s important for them to know how to properly butcher an animal.
Next it is time to gut the hog and prepare it for the hole. the hide is punctured in a dozen or more places and cloves of garlic are stuck in the holes. Various food is sewn back up into the cavity where the organs were. This time we filled it with onions, potatoes, apples, mushrooms and garlic. We should have done sweet potatoes as well but since I wasn’t getting involved I didn’t say anything… I shoulda, oh well next time. After the stomach cavity has been filled and the hole sewn up the entire pig is wrapped in chicken wire. Now drink your fourth or fifth beer throw a bunch of big rocks into the fire and wait for the fire to burn down to coals. Once you have a nice coal bed and a bunch of hot rocks you lower the wrapped pig into the hole. Cover the hole anyway you can, but it needs to be fully covered not even smoke should escape. I believe this time they used a pallet covered in a wet blanket or two and then a foot or so of dirt on top of that. Leave for twelve hours.
They got the pig in the ground at 11 pm on the 3rd of July and we (the “WE” that does the physical manual labor is rarely ever me, this time included) pulled the pig out of the hole. Using hay hooks cause it is hot in there! The last step is serve and enjoy. At some point also backfill the hole because kids.
It seems to be some sort of universal law that as soon as I put new sheets on the kids beds they either leak through their diapers and ruin the bed or throw up. Consequently they spend most of the time with various blankets and quilts on their bed but no sheets. Which especially for Roo (that is what we call the baby Emma) is particularly annoying she kicks it all aside then lays on the mattress and sweats on it and sticks to it.
We have been getting hog feed for a couple months now and it is awesome. The down side is it is still in its packaging. The produce is in mesh bags, bread is in paper bags, cookies in plastic containers etc. So it is a little work to open everything to dole it out. It is worth the time it takes to open everything in exchange for not having to buy feed.
We have a very nice client who gets produce for his pigs. Sometimes he gets extra produce. Yesterday he brought us one literal ton of bananas. As in 128 banana boxes full of bananas! And one 300lb box full of various apples and pineapples etc. Our pigs were so happy. Particularly the pen closest to the unloading zone. The load of produce he got us will feed all 20 of my pigs for a week. I am over the moon excited about
Sickness grabbed up both of my children these past few weeks which really limits my productivity. Since Zoey was born I have gotten more accomplished at doing things one handed. I can feed and water all the animals, gather eggs, and even catch ducklings while carrying a baby. It is not easy though and also takes me twice as long.
Zoey was sick last week and now Emma is under the weather. I pray she gets better soon. It is heart wrenching watching my babies be sick with nothing I can offer but comfort. Zach, of course, is a rock through all of it. He works all day, then goes out to the big ranch to do chores by himself . He then comes home and takes his turn snuggling babies. Sometimes I get tired just thinking about how busy his day is. He doesn’t mind working, he prefers to be active. His job as foreman lets him work with tractors all the time which he greatly enjoys. Boys and their toys! He also loves just being out at the ranch and breathing it all in. Petting his horse, messing with the alpaca, and making games out of tossing bread to the pigs. The heat affects him far more than it does me. For one he is outside all day air conditioning only happens in the truck between jobs. Today he told me he went through 4 work shirts and could wring out his pants if he wanted. Then he attempted a hug. Zoey and I ran away yelling “go shower daddy!”
This past weekend we went to the fair. Zoey had a great time with everything and Emma didn’t seem to care. Zoey particularly liked the rides. Although she didn’t get to go on as many as she would have liked. First off they wouldn’t sell her an all you can ride bracelet because she’s one inch under three feet. But she was allowed to go on all three feet tall rides with an adult. So we got her some tickets instead. Which is just not as cost effective. I would have made more of a stink about the bracelet, but then I realized she has to go on these rides with an adult. She had some of her little boyfriends there but they are all her age or a little older, not old enough to take them with her. That means me… or Zach, but she can only ride little kiddy rides and Zach is almost 7′ tall.
I want off!
She loved that rabbit
Zoey is happy…
He went on the carousel with her and tried one little roller coaster. That was hilarious, he’s SO BIG! Unfortunately I had to go on the rest of the rides with her. I HATE ROLLER COASTERS! I will do the little tea cup rides or the tilt a whirl, spinning is fine, up and down is so not okay. Zach snapped some pictures of us riding. I tried to smile for the camera but I fear it is more of a grimace. I was getting nauseous on a ride that was going about as fast as someone can walk. My friends would always call me a wimpy rider but whatever I go to the fair to eat the expensive greasy food, not to throw it all up. 😉
Zoey had a good time and that is all that matters. We also went through and looked at the baby animals. I think two of the pigs that were shown this year came from our farm, we were way off on breeding calculations, but there is another fair coming up. We have a deal with 4H kids that if they get a ribbon and bring us a picture of them and our pig they get half off their next one.