The Holder. The Watcher.

IMG_8587I am the Holder. The Watcher. It was always an excuse to elude addressing my fear of heights when the family rock climbed. (I’d hold the goods and watch from the picnic spot.) It was my excuse for not wanting to ride Space Mountain – I’d hold the strollers and watch the stuff in line while the rest of the family screamed in delight from their speedy perches. Truth:  for practically any family thing, I was the supreme holder and the watcher.

As my two children grew I’d be the holder of hands through tumultuous times. The holder of hair while she threw up a weird ‘condition assaulting her young body. I was the holder of a broken heart when an injury put a stop to playing high school football. I was the watcher of the clock when they kept late nights. Then the watcher of emotional and spiritual temperaments. But, then I was also the holder of  prayer for them. And for me to do my mom job effectively. Lifting each family member in prayer as our spiritual and emotional temperatures waxed and waned.

Some folks don’t get it. Being the holder and the watcher means missing out on the fun or missing out on adventure. But for me, being the holder and the watcher has taken me on an adventure of spiritual highs and lows, watching causes me to see sweet things – the subtle smiles, the mischievous grin, the tiniest twinkle in their eyes, that would have otherwise been missed. Being the holder and watcher doesn’t stop when the children are grown, though, it’s alive and well with the grands, now! Although I don’t get to practice as often as I would like. In fact, as I look back now, I missed things. My watchfulness was often clouded by my human heart to see them happy. I get it that happiness is not the end all but when the kids were hurting or sick, my mom heart desperately desired for them to be happy and hear them laugh.

Now, I can’t see them. In fact even with Facetime and Skype we rarely speak face to face. Our relationship takes place via texts, some calls, emails and I catch a lot of news on Facebook.  For whatever reason, God has put them up in the PNW and us in Texas. But, even now, I can close my eyes and there they are in the memories I’ve been holding through all the years of watching.

Through the years I’ve moved beyond watching and holding. And, now, I am a doer. An adventurer. And, I cherish those years of watching and holding.

 

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!)

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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.

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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.

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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

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The Return of The Pig

Meet the swine of Baldwin Acres.

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Porky, female pig number two.

Beans

Beans. The only male swine at Baldwin Acres. He’s pretty happy to have two women keeping him company.

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Ollie. She went missing at Easter. Although the person who found her had seen our plea for our lost pig, she decided to keep her. At the time they named her Oliver and then found out she is a girl. We call her Ollie.

It was Easter Day 2015 as we introduced our two  Kune-Kune/AGH piglets to our grandchildren, when the female pig bolted out of the pen into the blackberry bushes. We immediately set live animal traps and sent lost pig posts out on social media, but to no avail. A few days later someone posted on our town’s Facebook  page that a little black pig had been seen over by the local Cemetery. My husband and I jumped in the car and headed to the graveyard. We rattled the slop pail and called for her, but she alluded us, or had already been snagged by a woman who decided she could just keep our little pig because she liked her. Disappointed we headed for home. Before she ran off, we had named the two piglets Pork and Beans. Reluctantly, we bought another black piglet one from the same litter and named her Pork 2.

We didn’t hear anything more about our little pig, and because  the homestead is busy and life and death is a reality, we thought maybe Pork 1 had become dinner to some coyote or bear or cougar. No way did we suspect a nieghbor had found her, seen our lost pigs posts and simply decided to ignore them.

Until July 4th.

On July 4th I got a notice via Facebook that a little black pig had been found and kept at a horse ranch on the same road as us. Could it be? Pork 1? We called the ranch and were told that yes, they had found a pig, and yes, she was a black female. They had found her over by the cemetery, but they really liked her. So, yes we could come see her but she would not be coming back to us.

Further notification from the lady who had initially  informed me revealed that the pig was being allowed to wander and riders were concerned she may be cougar prey. A flurry of events happened in a short amount of time. My son jumped on the ranch’s Facebook page and said he was so happy they had found his parents pig and he would be happy to come and get her. A few more of the ranch’s riders contacted me and said the pig had been there since the end of April/beginning of May and also that the owner had seen our posts (although she told some of them that she had not seen the lost pig posts). I tried to find out information about the ranch via our town Facebook page and then was banned from the page. (The moderator actually said, “how dare you try to use us to solve your legal problems). What?!?!

Small town drama ensued. People were very angry that the little pig had been kept from her rightful owners. Even the police officer, yes, the police were involved because the lady who by now I considered a pig thief, called the police on my son because she said she felt threatened. (Because he said he would come and get his parents pig).

Because it was a long weekend, and my birthday, we opted to file a police report online and then left for my birthday fishing trip. The online report was rejected because we had a suspect. I was directed to call the police. The Port Orchard police department was, for the most part, very helpful.  Although the hint of disbelief in the deputy’s voice that we were willing to go to small claims court over this was a little insulting. The thief offered $150.00 to replace the pig, while insisting , ‘it’s not your pig.”….she told the police that we were going to eat the pig. Remember she had no idea who were are (and we have never eaten any of our livestock, but, if we did,. that would be our business). We rejected the $150.00 offer. By now, we were standing on the principal of this nieghbor stealing our property and not owning it.. Finally, we told the police officer who was acting as the moderator, that we would pay for a DNA test. He presented that to the thief adding that he thought it was a fair and just way to go,  and her whole demeanor changed. She became angry and told him , “If they want the pig, they can come and get the pig.” So our son and his wife went to get the pig because we were three hours away. The thief demanded the police be there  because, she said we were ‘unreasonable.” Yes. WE were the unreasonable ones. ?!

I wasn’t there for the attempted capture of the pig, but from the description given, the woman was callous and mocking,  video taping  my son and daughter in law’s failed attempts at getting the pig, while occasionally calling the pig over to her. She said more than once, ‘want to catch a pig? Here’s how you catch a pig,” and then the pig would run off. (She seemed to take delight in the fact that the pig had ‘bonded’ to her and not my family, however, if she had done the right thing and answered our lost pig ads when she found the pig, the pig would not respond to her anymore than she did to my kids.)

Hearing  how our children were treated we  changed our plans and headed back. Our son and daughter in law felt like they had let us down because they couldn’t catch the pig, but we were glad that they left instead of subjecting themselves to the woman’s abuse.

When we got back home, we called on our son-in-law, our son, and I was going to accompany them, to get the pig. Communications and timing was off and I never did make it there. I think, though God may have kept me away. I’m not known for self control when my family is being abused. My son-in-law also brought five of our grandsons but made them stay in the car for safety.From what the men tell me, they got to the ranch and the woman was ready with her phone to video tape it all. She kept saying, “All I did was find a pig and take care of it.” SERIOUSLY? that’s the problem right there. We don’t live in a finders keepers world. You found the pig, then you ignored lost pig posts and decided you liked the pig and you kept the pig knowing the entire time it wasn’t yours.

What can be seen as a sort of unique justice, my son-in-law cornered the pig, my husband herded her into the dog kennel and closed the door. She shot out the side door and my son tackled her. He wheezed our, “I’ve got the pig.” YES!

My husband helped  her back into the kennel, all the while soothing her, and comforting her and telling her it certainly didn’t have to be this way. it could  have been solved a whole lot easier. The actions of this women are rather disconcerting, not only did she keep livestock that she never paid for and didn’t try to return it to it’s owners, although she had our information, she found out who had told me about the pig and kicked her and her horses off the property. This woman had worked with the ranch owner for a couple of years and was disheartened that she got booted out, but was also happy she had done the right thing in telling us where our pig was.

Ollie ( they had initially called her Oliver until they discovered she was a female, we call her Ollie)  obviously has been grossly overfed but we can fix that. We were concerned that she might not get along well with her sister and brother, but it was only a matter of minutes, before they were all romping and running around the pen.

Ollie returned to us with a red dog collar on, so we bought Beans a green one and Porky a pink one. Today, on a rather hot day, they took turns soaking in the wading pool and rooting out weeds. Before finally snoozing together in the shade.

I believe the swine at Baldwin Acres will be just fine.

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Sheep Shearing

Life on Baldwin Acres has been busy. Two weeks ago we hired a professional sheep shearer to come give Edmund and Lucy their yearly shearing. She also trimmed their hoofs and gave us valuable information about the sheep and their needs. Some folks think it’s cruel to shear the sheep, but from what I’ve read it is to the sheep’s benefit to get sheared. They will be cooler in the hot summer and in the winter, the wool has returned. I should have snapped ‘before pictures’. But here, you can see Lucy getting sheared Imagethere’s a fair amount of lovely dusky white and black wool. (Just like tigers, their markings go all the way to their skin). Elizabeth was a super calm, fast worker so Lucy was up and about in a matter of minutes. Then, she looked like this. ImageHello gorgeous girl! I think they are adorable and resemble, maybe, a sheep bobble head. At the end of each one’s shearing Elizabeth laid out the fleece for me and showed me how to roll it until I am ready to use it. Here’s what the fleece looks like off of Lucy’s lovely lamb body. ImageWhat I am going to do with it is what I’ve read: wash it, and then try to spin it…with a drop spindle. Which arrived in the mail yesterday and looks really simple and complicated at the same time.

Edmund got sheared too. He had a ‘pocket’ on his hoof, which I wouldn’t have noted to possible trouble, but Elizabeth did, and she cleaned it up nicely so he won’t have future hoof troubles. Image Then they were back in the pasture. When they got to the pasture, there was much bleating and banging of heads. Seems the sheep do not recognize each other when they get shorn, so they have to do the whole priority establishment again. It didn’t last long before they were settled down and chomping at the pasture grass.

Edmund and Lucy’s former family came to visit. They said after the shearing the sheep look like the little lambs they first brought home.  I offered them one of the fleeces which they happily accepted.

Sheep. Sometimes I’m just living the life and reflect on what I’ve done during the day. These days it usually involves dirt, sheep ‘berries’, chickens and a visit from a grandchildren or two. I do live a blessed life.