Tag Archives: farm photographer

Piggerators. And change.

I could not love these guys more.  And as much as I’m going to miss them when they are gone, I’m going to love them still (as bacon, sausage etc).

Dinner Time

We started with two pigs as a trial a few months ago.  Tracking time, expenses, that kind of thing.  Although pigs are/were new to us, we had wanted them for several years.  We often have a surplus of milk, and produce from the garden.  In the fall, it seems like the compost pile and chickens eat as well as we do, and while that’s all well and good, giving pounds and pounds of apple and pear pealing to the compost pile seems almost like a waste.  Especially when I know you can make them into tasty pork products.  So this fall, with gallons of goat milk in the fridge, and the cheese shelf mostly full, we got two little weaner pigs.  Harry and Tubbs, came to live with us, and while it took us a little time to gain their trust, they now come barking when they see the green feed bucket.

Happy Ham

The other aspect of pig keeping is their rooting.  As you may know, we are running all our critters on pasture, goats, chickens, ducks and turkeys.  We wanted to give the pigs similar treatment, but didn’t want to sacrifice any grazing area to them.  So they make me a bigger veggie garden.  The area I got into vegetables this year was about half of what I wanted.  I ran out of time (and mulch) and the rest of the garden was quickly overrun by quackgrass.  Enter Piggerators.  I was a little nervous at first, as they only picked at the turf in a few places.  Then more, and early last week, I paused and looked at the tilling they had done.  It’s complete.  Utter devastation.  If I were a grass root, I would not want to be in their pen.  All I need to do now, is go through and pick up the roots that are littering the surface of the soil.  Just look at the first and last photos, a few weeks apart, and they have been getting fed in the same place…

Piggertillers

Just a little more rooting and they will have the other half of the garden to play in!

As far as change goes, it’s only on the outside.  You’ll see some little things getting tidied up (new logo, and I’m going to refine the web site).  We are excited about this having worked with a great graphic artist out of Sacramento CA for our logo.  Stationary, and real business cards are in the works too!

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Firgus. Or, the stinky boy…

Here he is. Although you will probably smell him before you see him. Intact male goats are a bit stinky. Or a lot. But then you would be too, if you peed all over yourself. They also have a stronger ‘goaty’ smell, in part from the pheromones that help will all those non-verbal communications that help them figure out the ‘who, when and where’ of becoming a daddy goat.

I had sworn that we would never have a buck on our property.  They do smell, and badly.  However the prospect of hauling three does around the state, trying to catch the two or three day window of them being ‘open’ was not appealing.  Especially as that would have fallen to Farmer J.  With her two little ‘helpers’….  Not going to happen.

So we went shopping, and found Cuipu (the name he came with) down in Auburn.  He comes from RubyStarDairyGoats, from a great line of milkers.  The attempts that our three year old made at pronouncing “Cuipu” on the way home sealed his fate.  A name change was in order, for all our sakes.  Having just watched “Brave” the king Fergus kept coming around as an option…  Sticking with the floral theme, Firgus it was, and he now is.

Runner Beans.

We were able to spend almost a full Saturday at The Open Gate Farm, with Grammy and Grandpa, before they headed off on their mission trip.  They were kind enough to introduce us to Scarlet Runner Beans, well, more like, our little helper wanted to help Grammy shell some dry beans, and it just went from there.  It helped that the little helper’s favorite color is Purple (Burple).  The beans were beautiful, to say the least.  We also dug a bunch of beets, and picked a couple hundred pounds of apples (sauce, cider, and chips).  I’m not sure what we are going to do with all the beets in our garden now that we have almost all the pickled beets we go through in a year put up.  I’m sure we’ll come up with something.

Note the purple ‘holey shoes’

Beans and pods.

Beans

Littlest hands holding the beans.

Some wonderful memories.

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July.

July was a lot of work, starting with the Haying, then fair, then haying.  And more haying….  But here’s the first of two fairs our eldest showed her goats at.  She had some real hurdles to overcome, but came through better for it…  Even after the ‘rodeo’ she still said that she wanted to do it again next year.  That’s our girl!

Setup is up to the kids.

She has a lot of support, everyone in this shot was there to see her (well, all but the older couple in the middle)

“reigning it in” after the breakaway…

All done!  Marbles got to go to the second fair, but was there as company for the babies…

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June.

June is great!  This year, in addition to our usual farm stuff, we got to go on a vacation, with a farm sitter and everything.  The Oregon coast, Tillamook, and points North…

 

Checking out the werck in Astoria…

Cheese making at Tillamook.  Our favorite cheese (besides our own).

Little feet following big ones…  It reminds me to be careful how I tread.  Even things as simple as where and how we spend our money, we are not only setting an example for our children, but for those without kids, the way you spend your resources, moves industry.  Yep, you might not carea about BPA plastics, but if you make a consious decision to avoide such items, industry (and our american economic landscape) will shift.  We have the power, it’s in the decisions we make, and what we do with our resources (did I already say that?)  Notice that more and more big box stores are launching their own Orgaic lables?  They are doing that because their custiomers are putting their dime in that jar.   Yes, that’s righ, you did that.

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BFF.

Or maybe it’s B.F.F.  Either way, she’s the best.  The best wife, mother and friend.  Supporter of my wild ideas, and faithful to God’s call on her heart.  She’s even enjoying the insane schedule we have put ourselves into for this summer.  There will be an update once the smoke clears, but we are both looking forward to the seeming slow down of the school year, and easing up of the farming that will be ours to enjoy in in the next few months.  Till then babe, hold on, I’m right here with you!!!

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It’s a brave new world….

For these girls it is anyhow.  They have spent several weeks in the stock tank in the house, then the big brooder in the deck, and now finally, out to one of the chicken tractors.  Mostly green egg layers, and true to form, we will be selling some of these, as well as some one and two year olds.  So if you are dreaming of having a hen, scratching away in your back yard, but don’t know if you want to deal with the ‘chick raising thing’ (possible mortality, the rooster question, and the smell/mess) we might just have your solution….  Just keep an eye on this space, for more details.

For now, let me introduce you to the girls, all wide eyed and full of wonder (and good forage).

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All sideways

Goats are fun.  And funny.  Especially the little ones.  I think the ears are part of the personality too.  Daisy is as goofy as JarJar Binks, and has the attention span of a 2 year old on a sugar rush.  But I need to be careful, cause I keep thinking ‘she’s acting how I feel’.  She are her ‘sister’ Beauty are growing like a couple of well watered weeds (between the two of them almost 4 quarts a milk a day).  I can’t wait till they are weaned (not that I don’t enjoy being a goat jungle gym at 5:30 am during feeding time) as I have cheese, yogert and other goodies finally within my grasp.  Almost.

For now, I get to enjoy the kind of acrobatics that only a long legged, hyper active two month old goat can provide…

   
And then there is our little ‘Beauty’ practicing for this summer with her proud owner.

More to come….

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The New Flower!

It really does take a village.  At least for this idiot it takes a village…

It’s normally a challenge for me to get anywhere on time, and as soon as I saw the goat yard last Friday the 27th I knew I was going to be late to work.  Normally when there is a light mist coming down everyone waits till they are really hungry to venture out of the loafing shed.  Until about two weeks ago, when I started dragging them out to pasture during the days.  The winter yard still had green grass, but they were more than keeping up with it’s growth, and we have other places where the grass is almost knee deep.  Also, I wanted to rest the winter yard as much as I could, for several non-obvious reasons.

So around the corner of the shed I came and looked inside.  There was Elouise, our newest Nubian with a little bably.  I don’t have much of a birth story, as the baby was mostly dry, and Elli was passing the afterbirth as I peeked in.  Literally, just as I was getting my eyes adjusted to slightly dimmer interior.  Good morning, did you have a healthy breakfast?  I talked to Elli for a minuite, and the baby was stumbling around like a drunken sailor.  I called farmer J on the phone…  “morning hon”  “what’s wrong?” “nothing, I just wondered if you would like to come out and meet our newest goat?.  Hello?  Are you there?” it was early enough that she didn’t quite have the hard drive spooled up and it was a funny second or two, before she allowed how she might just wonder out and meet her.  I had no idea that you could tuck a night gown into pants and pull on boots that fast.  Probably cause I’m a guy.

I had picked up the baby by the time farmer J came out, and the baby still had no idea who momma was, or what to do to take care of this hungry thing she had going on.  She was dry though, so I had to think that she might have had a little from momma.  We vacillated on our ‘dairy plan’ which had been to pull the babies, and milk Elli 2x a day.  But there was only one baby (we found out that for the last 5 years she’s thrown triplets).  We finally decided to follow through on our plan, as we wanted as friendly a baby as we could get.  We have a friend who breeds pygoras and bottle feeds the babies, and her goats are so sweet!!!  I milked Elli off (the milk/colostrum was like thin yogurt!!) and baby took about 11 oz.

I helped set up a bedding area for the baby, in the loafing shed where she had goat company, and a heat lamp, and rushed off for work.  Farmer J fed 8oz about 6 hours later, and then when I got home I tryed to milk again.  It had gone so well that morning, she had walked right up on the stanchen.  She hadn’t kicked.  She had been plesent.  Not now.  Have you ever tryed to pull a fire hydrant up a flight of stairs?  I have.  And I won, barely.  And it shamed me.  And I called out to my village.  “help, I’m an idiot, I thought I knew what I was doing, but this is the first time this has happened, please tell me I am at least doing one tiny thing right, cause I know I’m doing the rest wrong”.

And the village was kind.  Our friend Holly, who we have leaned on for Pygora information was quick with some tips on baby care, and suggested we get the baby ‘out of sight, smell and hearing’.  Done, in our barn/pantry/canned food storage area.  She’s protected from the weather, behind the locked door, with a window wide open for fresh air, and a heat lamp at night (cause she is alone).  We are feeding four times a day, and started with 8oz a feeding, and have moved up to 12 following the bottle feeding schedule on www.fiascofarm.com.  Daisy gets to come out and play two or three other times a day in addition to the feeding, and has decided that farmer J is her momma.  We are hoping we can put her back with the herd in another three weeks or so.

Elli had a change of heart as well.  After e-mailing with Emily at http://wildrootshomestead.blogspot.com/ we rigged some hobbles, and I started spending some non-milking time with Elli.  This morning she waked right up onto the stanchion all by herself.  Two days ago I had to pick her up and set her on it, she had kicked the milk bucket four times, the last time putting her foot in the middle of the bucket and then pulling it back, dumping about a quart of milk all over the stanchion.  I could have just about eaten her for dinner.

Although in the future we will probably leave the kids on the momma (ala Molly Nolte) and milk once a day, for now we are glad we went this rout this year.  We are only getting about half a gallon a day (4#) milking two times a day, which the folks we got her from said sounded right for her, given that she only had one kid.  They have a yearling who threw triplets, and they are getting a gallon a milking off of her (ouch!)

So after all that, here is Daisy.  Staying with the flower theme (sort of) we now have the alphabet covered from A to E, and the next goat born here will be a flower or plant starting with F…  That should be interesting.

Here she is in her personal private box stall, and in the (gasp) house for some rainy weather play time!

   

She gets no kisses, hugs or cuddles.  Ok.  Just a few.

  

I told her last night, that God willing she will live with us all her life.  Feed our family and be showered with love.  That we would care for her, and watch out for her well being, not because of what she represents for our family, but because she is simply trusted to us, for her care and nurturing.

(As a side note, I have bottle fed Daisy more in three days than both of my children combined.  After 11:30pm, 5:30 am comes early.)

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