Posts Tagged ‘pigs’

Unrest

This little farm has different seasons, as all farms do.

There is summer with all its glory. Weeding the gardens, feeding the multitude of animals, canning, milking and the list goes as long as the days are and beyond.

Summer transitions into fall.  School starts, back to work, broilers and pigs head to freezer camp.  Gardens are harvested and readied for the deep sleep of winter.  Wood is cut and split.  And the grand push to ready the Christmas season is on. Soap and lotion are made for the numerous  sale events we attend. The house is cleared out and set up for the home show in November, no small feat that.  The family calls it “hell week” and rightly so. Christmas comes and goes and we settle into winter.

Most would think that things would calm down after all that.  But stock has been depleted and more must be made for coming shows.  I never have time for spring cleaning so I winter clean.   People love to take soap and cheese making classes during the doldrums so many are booked usually on the same day the girls come into heat so I must juggle goat sex and meeting people for their class without smelling of Stanky Buck.

The later part of winter, I mean like the month of March. I rest.  Chores are at a minimum with only the goats and chickens to be done.  Milking does not occur now as the girls are dried off to give their energy to growing kids that are due in April.  Life is slower and easier.

The longer days of Spring and five, maybe six piglets will be arriving this weekend. The first batch of broilers shortly after that.  I need to start the tomato and pepper seedlings, too. Did I say that I have the whole month of March off, I guess I lied.

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Today’s morning was to be devoted to getting the middle son back to college.  Orono is a little less than a two hour drive from our house.  FH dropped youngest son off at work at seven a.m. Then came back home to load the car for the trip.  FH, myself and middle son left home, car loaded with clean laundry, groceries, a box of bonsai plants, and another filled with kumbucha, kefir and other fermented wonders.

Our road was a bit slick.  It is tree lined so the sun has limited opportunity to melt any snow or ice.  The icy ruts were throwing the car around but we are used to that.  We proceeded to the Interstate.  The Interstate that was a bit more slick.  The speed was reduced from 65 to 45; not that anyone seemed to be paying any mind to that.  The sun was out, temps were almost in the 40’s, surely the ice was melted.  Yeah, no.  FH, mind you he drove milk tanker during the Ice Storm of ’98 when no one else was on the roads, was cursing and creeping along.  The road was covered with black ice.   We saw three or four cars off in the median at various intervals.  There was one 20 mile stretch that was so ice rutted that it made our road seem like dry hot top.  Remember this is the Interstate.  I have honestly never seen it like that.  We finally made it and dropped the boy off with all of this stuff and promptly headed South.  On the way back, we saw four semi trucks in the ditches laying on their sides.  Two of them were heading in the opposite direction.  There were two others that were off the road but still upright.  We made it home just in time to pick up the youngest from work.

We decided to clean out the goats and chickens in the sun and warmth.  FH took the chicken house to clean. Youngest and I worked on the goat pen.  He had to deal with Miss Olive our Nubian bitch in charge.  She does not really like anyone other than me and FH.  She gets all up in the youngest’s face and challenges him. She will rear up and grunt at him.  I laugh.  Youngest swears.  Olive continues to torment.  We pitch dirty bedding.

Much to Olive’s chagrin the girls were cleaned out and their dirty hay was thrown to the pigs.  Sorry that I am not a camera toter, so I could have snapped a few pictures, because those pigs were in Nirvana.  They were rooting and laying in that dirty hay like they were digging for gold.  They would lay down, stretch all out and just wiggle and snort.

Since we had the pens all cleaned out I decided to rearrange the milking area in the barn.  I like to rearrange things, a lot.

So one boy is back to school, the animals are all cleaned out, the milking area is rearranged and everyone is happy.  FH is especially happy.  If I rearrange the barn things then he does not have to turn the light on in the bedroom to make sure the bed is where it was when he awoke.

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It has been cold, terribly cold.  The snow squeaks under foot.  Your nostrils freeze together. It is booger freezing cold.

Anyone who has entered the goat barn and left the door open longer than it takes to get their butt through has heard me scream at them to shut the damn thing.  But, the girls are warm with their layers of hay.  James is snuggly in his little barn.  The pigs have grown very thick hairy coats and their house is filled to the brim with hay.  Their area actually steams when they are all pig piled in, ready for bed.  The eggs are freezing in the nests, so middle son (home for holiday break from college) is gathering frequently during the day.

Coffee is not cutting it when temps are 30° with the wind chill.  I am thinking this might be what I need before heading out to the barn…

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     Just kidding!

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  Well, 2013 is gone.  I could get all reminiscent and that sort of stuff, but that is not my style.  I am going to relive this past year in lessons learned.

     1. Never underestimate the jumping ability of a horny goat.

     2. Trust your gut.

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     3. Milking a first time freshening doe is a sport in and of itself.

     4. Potatoes do grow in hay, so do snakes.

     5. Birth is amazing, death sucks…unless it is potato bug or Japanese beetle then reverse it.

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     6. Tomato horn worms “glow” under a black light.

     7.  Old tractors always need new parts.

     8. Never plant your squash in a garden that slopes to the goat pasture.

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     9. Pigs do not see well in the dark and will follow a flashlight beam.

    10. Without my family’s help and support none of this would be possible.

May all your lessons in the next year be good.

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Here in the Central Maine we are experiencing an ice storm.  Ice storms can be nasty.  Everyone from here remembers the ICE STORM of ’98.  The storm as predicted started last night.  However, this morning was not near as slippery as yesterday morning.  The driveway, the path to the barn, was covered with a glass like sheet of ice.  The steps to every out building was coated with a treacherous layer.

The hog area is slightly sloped and in the excitement of impending slop two hogs went down.  Hooves slid and thud, down they went.  They are somewhat like Bumbles and bounced right back up.

In comparison, yesterday was a 2 pig down on the iciness scale where today was a 0 pig down.  But, I am betting the traveling is worse.

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BHF-7052

Sunny, Violet and Claus this spring.

Monday night was load the hog night.  They have to be at the processors first thing in the morning and we always try for the night before, just because we usually have shitty luck loading hogs.

Last time we loaded it was February with snow up to our…well it was deep and Drizella and Anastasia were not budging.  The trailer was backed up to their house and all they had to do was walk up the ramp and voila we would have been done.  But not the way it was to be.  Drizella came out the door and sauntered up the ramp like she was on a runway.  Anastasia  not so much.  FH had to climb into their house and with a large piece of plywood push Ana, mind you she was a big girl, with all of his might until she finally gave in and walked the plank so to say.

FH decided to put the trailer into the pig pasture a few days ahead of time to let them become acclimated with it.  He has done this before sometimes successfully, sometimes not.  This year was a piece of cake the trio of bacon walked right in.  The gate was shut, the truck hooked to the trailer and the pretrip check was made.  We had a flat tire on the trailer.  No problem, send youngest son to get the air tank and pump it up.   apparently, these pigs were smarter than the rest and their way of avoiding market was by eating the freaking valve stem.  They ate the thingy that you need to fill the tire with air.  The whole thing, not just the cap the whole thing.  So here we were with three large hogs in a trailer, hooked to a truck and a flat tire.  Thankfully we had a tire on the snowmobile trailer that would fit. (Mind you we never snowmobile, don’t even own a snowmobile but we have a trailer.)  Some days those random things that are around do come in useful.

FH uses the farm jack, in the very wet, sloppy, odorous pig shit to jack up the trailer, precarious as hell with the now disgruntled hogs inside, changes the tire and we were market/processor bound.  No more problems.

The hogs, Claus, Sunny and Violet on the rail weighed in at 240#, 222# and 214# respectively.  I suspect it was Claus that ate the valve stem.

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And since I have not posted words in a long time here a few pictures to show you around, maybe make you smile.  Our farm in pictures:

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2 2013 butting heads farm web -9648BHF_WebSize-0522BHF-7058BHF-06033 2013 butting heads farm Painting-9637The PicturesButting Heads Farm2013_04_13 Butting Heads Farm_574619 2013 butting heads farm web-9676

Please do not use these photos without permission, they are the property of the photographer and Butting Heads Farm. Thank you very much!

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