THREE LITTLE PIGS

InstagramCapture_03463d7e-2a2b-463a-b0e9-eaef1bf68416

I slogged through the mud, the rain dripped off the brim of my hat. One hand shoved deep in my coat pockets to try to keep warm the other gripping the cold handle of the slop bucket. Ollie, Pork and Beans greeted me with happy squeals and hungry grunts as I approached the pig sty. They always make me smile. Inside the sty I dumped the slop and as they devoured it all, as if they hadn’t eaten in days, I did a visual check of the fence and the water dishes.

“This is disgusting,” I said out loud. “C’mon you guys, it looks like a pig sty in here, ha!” It really is not a pleasant place. Mud. Mud puddles, mud, and then there’s the mud that’s gotten particularly squishy because I put straw on the mud, hoping it would sop it up and let them have some clean area before their hut. But it didn’t work out like that at all. And of course, the poop. Always, the poop.

 I reached down and gave each one a scratch behind the ears and on the haunches. I told them how gorgeous they are and that they are loved, and as I stood up a flash of white in the hut caught my eye.

“Oh, gross! There are rats in there!” I whined as I said it because Lance wouldn’t be home for hours and the proper thing to do is quickly dispose of the rodents..ick and yuck. I’m really not good at the revolting things.

I adjusted my hat and bent down to peer into the dark spot trying to make out how many I would be dealing with. And, there they were…wiggling around, disgustedly rooting for food, no doubt pooping rat poop.

“You’re disgusting..little rodents…oooooo….wait…..it’s BABY PIGS!!!!!”

Probably could have heard my squeal a mile a way.

InstagramCapture_7da38957-1506-48e6-af26-12276f778e70

We had guessed Ollie was pregnant but she didn’t have some of the sure fire pregnancy indicators she was supposed to.  We were getting the barn ‘nursery’ ready, but didn’t feel any hurry.  But now we had to hurry. In the first days of a piglet’s life they do not generate body heat, and they have zero immunities. They get those as they nurse from their mama. So, I had to make sure they didn’t get into the harsh elements. I picked up a baby, which made him or her SCREAM… Ollie ran into the hut at which time I put the baby down and locked the door. Essentially then, I was locking Beans and Pork out but they are pretty hardy so I reckoned they would be ok.

On my way to the Orthopedist I called Lance and told him about the piglets. I mentioned how mobile they were and that I was afraid they would just wiggle out into the mud so I had locked them in the pen with Olive. He tried really hard to not say, “they’re probably rats,” instead he said, “wow, really? You aught to send me pictures.” I don’t blame him for doubting. I actually wondered if they had been born a few days earlier because they were so mobile with sleepy open eyes. Not the typical look of baby animals I’d dealt with, which include white mice, hamsters, kittens and chicks. As you can imagine, or may know, all babies are different. Piglets are good to go when they drop, except for the whole immunity thing.

After my appointment I hurried home and raced down to the pen.

The little babies nestled next to mom. When Ollie realized I was there she stood up and strained against the door. Through the top slat I talked and scratched her head while slowly opening the door. I’m not sure if this little one in the picture below was coming towards my voice or the outside, but he speedily made his way to the front.

AdobePhotoshopExpress_06566af3764f4671a9aca54556010c0e

I just wanted to sit out there and look at them, but you know, life was happening, so I put some more clean straw into the hut and Ollie laid down with the babies again. Pork and Beans also went in hut and it then it got quiet.

In the barn, I began organizing tools and clearing the spot we had set aside for her. I spread the remainder of our straw down, and went back to the house.

In addition to various online sites, we’ve have been reading an amazing book called Raising Pigs. I reread some notes I had taken from the sites and the books and frankly I don’t know how wild pigs survive. Before she had the piglets, we were supposed to de-worm Ollie and scrub her clean, especially her teats before we put her in the barn which was also supposed to be sterilized. Some places recommend you make a farrowing crate, in which the momma lays down, bars gently press on her teat area and the babies eat from the other side. Thus she won’t roll over on them and crush them. And the babies can freely eat whenever. That just didn’t sit well with me. First of all, where do you take a pig to give it a bath? They’re very susceptible to the chill in the air, so an outside bath would be a bad idea. Secondly, really? I just couldn’t shove her in a crate and make her lay there. Seems like a sort of factory idea. Since then I have read a few homestead blogs and learned that homesteaders do farrow as well, not just factories practice it.  Farrowing also ensures every piglet gets a teat, so all can eat. We only have 3, not worried about enough teats to go around. We failed in that area with mom. Then I learned we failed with the babies, too.

InstagramCapture_2cf494ca-3b37-4c0f-ae7a-e66a9aca855f

I apologize for this blurry picture, I was trying to take it quickly so as to minimize the stress, but this little one day old piggy would not be still. By this time they should be in a sterile farrow crate, their milk teeth or wolf teeth clipped, injected with iron, notched identification marks in the ears and tails docked. None of this happened. The information out there divides, kind of like human vaccinations camps. You either love it or you don’t.  I reckon you do what  is right for you and your animals. Just keep them healthy.

As soon as Lance got home the day of the birth, we fixed up the nursery part in the barn. He brought home Sow food (we feed our livestock home mixed grains and greens to avoided the fillers in commercial feeds) but because she will need extra protein and vitamins we feed her this and give extra portions of milk. Anyways, he bought straw, too. So we fixed it up… spread the hay, put up the hog panels and gathered up the three littles, thinking Ollie would follow them into the barn, which she did, but so did Pork and Beans. All the livestock seemed very interested in what was happening and soon all the goats and sheep and turkeys were mucking around trying to get inside. We ushered Pork and Beans out and back to the pen with the allure of yummy alfalfa. Leaving just Ollie and the babies.

These are the babies in the cat carrier being transported to the barn.

InstagramCapture_03463d7e-2a2b-463a-b0e9-eaef1bf68416

With the heat light on, fresh water, full feeder, the calm and warmth and dryness of the barn, seems to agrees with Ollie as she nurses her babies, but still I’m unsettled.( I’m very tempted to bring them all into the house, but that wouldn’t be fair to the Mic, Mags and Mouser our three barn cats who might like to be in the house, too “) )

I reckon it will take a while to get used to all the homestead/farm/animal husbandry stuff. We’re always evaluating exactly what our goals are and what we hope to accomplish. But, in the meantime, I’ve got a pretty sweet gig with God’s gorgeous creatures and I’m happy.

All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all….(a song from my childhood Sunday school days).

So much POOP. What about Fleas? Diatomaceous earth. Part One.

I started this blog post writing about all the poop on the homestead and how we manage it. But I was life busy long enough to now be able to address another issue that’s come up- fleas. The good news is I have two natural options to help with both. (Introducing fleas into the mix has left me in a quandary. Should I address both issues together or separately? I think to keep my own mind clear  and not confuse you, I will break it down to two posts. Poop first. Fleas second.)

Poop is disgusting. No one wants to mess with poop. But poop can be a great indicator of our and our animals health. So checking poop is a necessary part of animal husbandry. Ick. Initially I was going to post photos of the poop we daily encounter. But, the stark reality of poop pictures might prove to be too much for sensitive types. I’ve been scolded for posting photo’s of what some consider gruesome subjects : like Lance’s finger when he sliced the tip off, and Lance’s finger when he shot a nail into the end, and my nose when I broke it, and my nose after surgery to set it,  so I get that not everyone thinks the raw things of life are interesting. So no glossies of poop. But, if there were photos, they would include: pig poop, goat poop, sheep poop, turkey poop, chicken poop, dog and cat poop.

There’s a book called, “Everybody Poops”.  This book is not a work of fiction.

Poop is a problem because it’s the carrier of things that do not belong inside our bodies. And, sometimes parasites and worms will invade to live in the warmth and ick that is poop.

There are good worms. Helpful worms. In the spring I added Red Wigglers to my raised garden beds to help irrigate and nourish my soil. Night crawlers  lure fish onto hooks so we can eat them. But mostly there are are gross worms.  These are the, ‘why did you create these things, God?’, parasites that live in the guts of living beings. There are heartworm, pole worms, tapeworms, whipworms, and pinworms to name a few, When the animals poop worm pieces or the whole worm, will be in the feces. Then they are on the soil. When the animals graze that area, they ingest more parasites/worms.

Parasites are not the only problem with poop. Poop attracts flies which then breed. This gives us creepy maggots and then more flies. Flies are nothing more than poop transporters. They alight on poop and then alight on garbage and then alight on poop and then alight on your wall, at which time you smack it and splat all the fly’s souvenirs.

Let’s just say it: poop is nasty. Although, if we didn’t poop, well that would be much nastier.

When we developed our homestead or hobby farm plan, we knew right off we would engage in natural and organic practices. One of the reasons we raise chickens is to have eggs that have not been pushed through a hormone antibiotic laden hen. We use no pesticides on our vegetables or fruit trees. So, using chemicals to kill ground pests, no matter how foul they are, would be counter to what we believe. This is where Diatomaceous Earth or DE comes in super handy.

Diatomaceous earth,  is a brand new product to us. DE is a finely ground exoskeleton of a fossil sea creature which when ground up leaves  microscopic jagged pieces. We are too big to be harmed by this, but the little parasites don’t handle it well. They crawl over it and cut their bodies causing them to leak and dry out. To help control parasites and worms, we spread DE

Use caution when  using DE. Use only FOOD grade DE and NOT POOL grade.  DE is similar in consistency to a dusting powder. DE can irritate eyes, noses and lungs. We make sure the animals are not around when we spread it, because any wind or breeze can easily carry it to them. we don’t want to subject them to any discomfort if possible. Chickens have fragile respiratory systems, so if you choose to use it in their coop as I do because it helps keep lice, flea, mosquito fly and mite populations down, use it after you’ve cleaned out the coop, and spread new bedding. Do not use it when the chickens are IN the coop.

DE is also useful for parasites and pests on livestock. When we trim hooves, we liberally apply DE to the sheep and goats hides. Behind the ears, around the rear, and down the backs. It helps get rid of  what might be there, and repel intruders.

We like to use the DE product from Red earth. http://www.redlakeearth.com/red-lake-diatomaceous-earth-us.html  We mix our own feed and use DE as a top dressing for natural deworming. Some folks also leave it as a free choice for their animals. I did read where a woman lost her chickens after spreading DE in their coop, but she spread it when they were in there, and she didn’t indicate whether it was FOOD grade or POOL grade. So be careful when you use it.

Red Earth DE

Red Earth DE

DE can also be used for flea control. We brought three flea infested barn kittens home. Kittens are so delicate and small you can’t really use any typical chemical laden flea control products on them. Initially we bathed them in Dawn dish soap and used flea combs. We spread DE in their litter box, and their bedding and around the pool house where their food and beds are. We add DE to our cats food, too. This site has dosage recommendations and more information about worming our domestic pets with DE.

https://www.vetinfo.com/using-diatomaceous-earth-to-worm-pets.html

I’ve always believed that God put on earth everything we need to live and be healthy. I don’t understand some of the things he created, like fleas and muzzles and flies, but He knows what’s He’s doing. I started researching natural remedies back in the 80s We’ve planted herbs that we can use for cooking, but also we put fresh cut and dried herbs in the coop, where they turkeys are and in the livestock area. This includes mint, thyme, sage, peppermint, and lavender. Smells good and helps repel pests. If you can do a natural God given remedy, why not??

Using this life viewpoint, I’ve extensively researched the use of natural remedies, herbs, essential oils etch,  and the news is good and fascinating. I didn’t mean for this post to turn into a huge endorsement for DE, but it did. The second part will address the use of Essential Oils at Baldwin Acres.

Thanks for reading. Have a beautiful day.

Fall at Baldwin Acres (and what we’ve learned)

Anyone who follows this blog might think from the title that I meant I physically fell again…but nope…talking about the season this time!

Didn’t the end of summer came too quickly? While I was able to put up a few pints of tomato sauce (which look like tomato soup, but taste like tomato sauce) I didn’t get half of the canning done that I did last year. Most of the pear and plum harvests went to just eating and then to live stock. As did most of the apples. I did manage to bake a couple pastries and cookies but no jam, or apple pie fillings or pear slices like last year.

Harvest pasteries

Harvest pastries

One of the biggest stories of our summer was the return of Pork 1 (now named Ollie) who had gone missing the day after we got her. Her story is elsewhere on this blog, but suffice to say, she’s back and happy with her siblings.

the swine of Baldwin Acres

the swine of Baldwin Acres

the majority of our raised beds are  harvested. The fall garden is sparse. We were able to gather enough Scotch Bonnet, Habanera, and Jalapeño peppers to take to two local fire departments for their kitchens. We used our spaghetti squash on a family getaway, and we have a few big pumpkins and small squash  for October. The volunteer tomatillos came back but I’ve yet to figure out what to do with them. This year we’re also trying our hand at saving seeds. Did you know that you cannot save just any seeds? Well, you can, but unless they are open pollinating and non-hybrid seeds they won’t grow. (Lesson learned!)

AdobePhotoshopExpress_b7d7f4fc16fb4c5aac8969bc8df940e7 WP_20150903_10_54_01_Pro

Lessons…. we are continually learning something…animal husbandry, pasture management, and growing our own grains are just some of them. If we are not learning something, then we’re planning. For example, the garden has done much better this year so next year we will expand it. I’d like to utilize better the fruits from the orchard and the eggs from the chickens. It’s good that we didn’t waste any but I still would like to have some in the pantry.

Lance was able to get another tractor at an auction. This one has a back hoe and a shovel. It will be great help and alleviate some of the physical work he tackles on his own. I do help, but honestly, I’m not much help. He fenced our property, built the barn, and the livestock shelters pretty much on his own. Not to mention the gorgeous gazebo over the hot tub. (Life on the homestead is good).

Our venture with turkey’s showed us to do better research. We initially wanted an heirloom breed like we’ve done with our Kune-Kune/AGH pigs, our Jacob sheep and our goats. But, the local store had only BBW’s (Broad Breasted Whites). So we bought them. BBW’s have been so overly genetically mutated for their breast meat they cannot naturally breed. (In more ways than one we have managed to ruin God’s once perfect creatures). They are beautiful, but because they will suffer when their hearts rupture or their lungs collapse, their life span is short.

WP_20150909_09_50_27_ProWP_20150909_09_50_15_Pro

The first photo shows the Breasted white turkeys. The second shows the heirloom breed Royal Palms, drinking from the livestock water. All the animals seem to think the other animals have better water. Maybe they have fizzy water, or an energy shot? The livestock constantly tried to get in the turkey pen to drink their water, and when the turkeys come down to the lower pasture, they drink heavily from the livestock tank. None of them can get into the pig pen but when we fill the pool or their water dish, there is a gathering at the pig fence. You can almost see the drool.

We have tasted one turkey. Turns out turkeys aren’t very smart. We had just loaded a ton of hay up in the barn and I was driving the truck through the pastures while Lance walked ahead and opened and closed gates and kept animals where they belonged. When I momentarily parked, one of the turkeys sat under the trailer and when I pulled forward, I ran over her.

WP_20150921_18_06_22_Pro

We had read that when you eat homegrown anything, it will taste like a foreign food, but our turkey tasted like turkey. Maybe if we had a regular antibiotic hormone riddled turkey right by our homegrown girl we would taste the difference, but she tasted like turkey.

On the list for fall farm chores: trimming livestock hooves, vaccinating the barn cats, deworming livestock, and filling in the pasture that gets flooded in the winter. I will plant garlic and oats for our winter crops and start planning for spring.

I like the seasonal changes in the homestead. Each one has both a beginning and an end, life and death. I am so happy the Lord set us up here. Life is challenging, but always good

WP_20150903_10_51_55_Pro