31 August 2016

3 little piggies

I went and got our three little piglets on Sunday - and boy what an adventure that turned out to be.  Dragon-Momma Miss Piggy led a jailbreak, so it was more challenging than expected to get the piglets separated from her, and there was one little shoat (uncut male) we could not catch.  In fact, Frank said he didn't finally catch that little monster until this morning.

Meanwhile, I had a front-row "seat" to learning how to castrate pigs ... I had to hold them because Caroline took a wrong step the day before and had a swollen knee under her knee brace.  Castrating pigs is a lot like caponizing chickens; just no rib spreader needed.

I got picks of the litter, since Frank and Caroline plan to eat the remaining pigs, including Miss Piggy.  I picked the solid, heavy black gilt (baby female) as soon as I netted her.  She ended up breaking the net frame, she's so heavy compared to her siblings.  Even without catching the one, I am sure she is the biggest of the six.  Her name is Cerridwen (pronounced "Kerr-a-dwynn", the Welsh goddess who sometimes appeared as a big black sow).  I compared the red gilt to the spotted gilt, and saw the red one was wider through the body, so that was my second girl and I named her Annie Sue, from The Muppet Show.  As for my newly-cut barrow (pig equivalent to a capon), his name is Boston Butt.
3 little piggies
my only somewhat-clear pic of Boston

Cerridwen and Annie Sue,
each trying to HOG the food
Right now they are in dog crates, with Boston being by himself until his incisions heal.  This also keeps them from running too far away from us until they get more used to us, and realize we are the source of food, water, and yummies like eggs and whey.  The other reason they are in the dog crates is because hubby is still working on the pig pen.  He'd like to get it right the first time, and when Lynn brought the cattle panels down on her flatbed truck, she had some advice ("Dig it in a lot deeper than that!") which hubby is incorporating.  Here's where he's at today:
working on the pig pen
Finally, a goat picture ... just because.  Usually, there are four or five lined up on the downed tree, but every once in a while when it isn't too crowded, Flora lays down on it.
Molly, Flora, and Tangie
I'll need to get a pic soon of Flora standing up.  She's just gone through another growth spurt.

18 August 2016

Ground broke for pig pen

So while I was stir-frying up some zucchini and leftover rice, Caroline calls.  The piglets are pretty much off the teat and eating solid food, to Miss Piggy's disgust, and four of the six are getting out regularly.  They were finally able to sex the piglets (Miss Piggy is from the school of dragon-mothers) have a half-and-half litter, with the spotted one, one red, and one black being gilts (young girl piggies).  When she called me, they had just picked up the bander and bands for all the boys.
the piglets and Miss Piggy, mid-July
The piglets sunning themselves, mid-July
So hubby and I - being King and Queen of procrastination, respectively - went out with the tape measure, six sections of PVC pipe, and the rubber mallet and began seriously discussing where the pig pen will be.  Hubby only wants to build it once, and I fully agree on that sentiment.  We also briefly discussed the layout and concept, and that is a go at this station.  The main difference of opinion was which side of the property to build it on.  I insisted it be on the southern side, where it is always shady to keep them out of the heat.  Hubby prefers the northern side, where it will be much more protected from predators, although that is also where we have the solar charger for the fence due to the sunnyness.  A little bit of haggling, and it is set up on the southern side, but we'll be getting another section of fence to put it inside the goat perimeter.  We'll also be moving the grape vine that was here when we bought the place, and Lynn has commented that it doesn't produce because it's in far too much shade.

I am buying two gilts and one barrow (cut male) as "quality control".  I am not certain which I am getting just yet, but I suspect Caroline will want to keep the spotted gilt judging from how she talked about that one.  One red and one black are fine with me, and I shall name them Miss Piggy and Annie Sue.  Annie Sue was the younger girl-pig on The Muppet Show in the second season.  I think I'll let hubby name the feeder boy.

Progress for today is the pig pen laid out, measured, and six fence post holes dug in the right places.

16 August 2016

Nine A.M.

A while back, one of the military branches (Army?) had a recruiting commercial that said, "We do more before 9 A.M. than most people do all day."  Well, the thought occurred to me this morning that out here I do more before 9 A.M. than I did most days in the Army.

So, things I have done already (clock says 0903) include:

  • turned on sprinkler in goat pasture
  • let morning crew of chickens out
  • let guineas out
  • fed rabbits
  • milked four goats
  • refilled mammals' waters
  • moved sprinkler to new location
  • trimmed dog's toe nails
  • fed chickens
  • started laundry
  • watered garden boxes where I planted Swiss chard seeds and green onion seeds the past week
I still need to hang my laundry, then bring it in before dark, do something with at least a gallon of milk, and of course milk in the evening.

Usually, when in garrison in the Army, by 0900 we had gotten up, did PT (physical training, not therapy), showered, ate breakfast, and dressed for work call formation which normally was at 0900 sharp, which meant you better have been there by ten minutes prior or you'd spend however long in back of the formation doing push-ups.  Looking over my little list, there is nothing physically strenuous - and that's a good thing with my back.  It just looks like a lot because it didn't rain last evening or overnight, and only a small chance of rain for today so I may water where I seeded again this evening.

14 August 2016

Wyandotte pictures

Just a few pics, first up, the new chicken fence:
new 48-inch high chicken fence
It seems to be working properly, as we haven't lost any more chickens.  It's also too tall for Flaca and Ducky to just hop over any time they feel like checking out sprouts in the front "lawn" area or garden beds.  The pulser actually was not bad - the battery wasn't holding enough of a charge to pulse the fence.  The box for the goat fence has two batteries, so hubby swapped it for one of those and everything seems to be working fine now.

I have not posted any recent pics of my gold-laced Wyandottes, so here are a bunch of my F1 generation, including Bigfoot.
Bigfoot, looking pretty

Pollux the capon nanny,
and Feyd's five daughters from the March hatch

Pollux and Feyd's daughters
note the nice wide-set tail!

Bigfoot's four sisters, and one Azar daughter -
I can't tell them apart 

F1 group I call "the Sisters"
plus Azar's one daughter

new pic of Tiny,
sire of Bigfoot and the Sisters
I had Feyd in with the Sisters, so I have been collecting up every egg they've set since he died.  I plan to set the incubator tomorrow evening after picking up eggs for day ten.  This hatch will be my first F2 generation (since the Sisters are F1s).  When Feyd's daughters from the March hatch get laying, I will be rotating Bigfoot in with them first, then Tiny and Azar afterwards to see which cross gives me the best looking chicks.

07 August 2016

Planting notes, 7 Aug

So, hubby took my camera out the other evening while I was milking and grumping about getting hardly any pics in focus, and he took a bunch of pictures of all the goats (from all angles, as well).  I did try to pull those pics off the digicam, but apparently the computer and cam are not talking to each other today.  So, you'll get a text update.

First, our chicken thief returned last night.  This time it got a Silkie hen who was setting a nest, and almost everything in the nest as well.  I discovered it quite early this morning, when I heard a chick cheeping LOUDLY.  Along with the missing hen, I also found a dead hen - the last black one.  She has no marks on her, so either internal injuries or she literally died of fright.  I am guessing the wet smell of chicks hatching is what attracted it.  We still don't know what is preying on our chickens, but we did learn what the problem was the other evening: the pulser in the fence charger died.  Tomorrow afternoon, the big brown truck will bring us not only a new pulser, but new poultry netting as well - this one 48 inches tall.  Let's see if it can get over that.  Of course, if it does then we are dealing with something not only big enough to carry Feyd off the other night, but something that can climb the trees well enough to bypass the fence ... the only thing I can think of that could do that would be a Florida panther.  (Yes, they are real.)  Recap: good news/bad news first thing this morning.  One hen missing, one hen dead, one new (really loud) chick.

I managed to accomplish the task I wanted to do today a little after lunch: spreading forage and clover seed in the goat pasture.  The goats followed me around as I tossed the seed, trying to figure out if I had treats, then getting annoyed that they couldn't find the grain seeds.  I tried to tell them, "Curiosity killed the cat, ya know," but the look I got basically said, "What does our crazy little cousin have to do with this?"

Talking to Lynn afterwards, I asked if she starts any seeds this early.  She not only said yes, but she meant to tell me the other day that August and September were the months to start tomatoes and peppers as well as herbs.  So, I plan to start some seed trays tomorrow - parsley first as it takes just-about-forever to sprout.  One of the herb gardening books poetically puts it, "Parsley must go to the Devil and back seven times before it will sprout."  It may sound silly, but it sticks in my memory.  Speaking of memory, I read rosemary is good for memory, and students in ancient Greece used to wear crowns of rosemary for tests.  Again, odd visual ... and it stays in my memory.  My rosemary is still alive, but still not yet big enough to start harvesting.

In case anyone is wondering, I am also trying to learn a bit of basic herbalism to go with the culinary uses.  I'll have to get a picture of all my herb books: growing/gardening, medicinal uses, and of course magical properties as well.  Those of y'all who don't believe in magic can just think of it as learning the old folklore associated with herbs.  If y'all want to take it a step further, plant herbs when the moon is in Libra (by the astrological chart, not astronomical one).  Same with pasture and field grains and grasses.  If it takes magic (or folklore, if you prefer) to overcome my black thumb, then magic it shall be.

04 August 2016

Molly and Flora

I finally got around to attempting to get halfway decent pictures of Molly and Flora.  I've only had them for over a month now!  Lynn says Flora looks double the size she was when we went to get her the last weekend of June.  Molly is half Nigerian Dwarf, half Nubian, as is Flora's sire, which make Flora technically half/half, albeit an F2 (second generation).  Molly is a very good milker, and I am hoping Flora is the same.

Mind you, I took either 14 or 16 pictures just to get these four somewhat in-focus pics.  That's about the same (lack of) success rate I have with the chickens.

02 August 2016

Now Feyd is gone

I had intended to resume blogging with a much more cheerful topic, really I did.  Feyd - my beautiful, big original Gold-Laced Wyandotte rooster - is gone.  A medium-sized predator got into the electric perimeter last night, dug under the back board of the tractor, and managed to get Feyd and drag him off.  Knowing Feyd, he probably bit the predator's nose bloody, and is giving it indigestion to boot.  All five pullets that were in with Feyd are still here - Bigfoot's four sisters plus Azar's one daughter.  I plan to gather up every egg they lay in the next ten days to hatch, before I put another rooster in with them.
Where the predator dug under, and some feathers from Feyd

This wasn't how I planned for Feyd to make his final exit ... after Feyd taking a chunk of skin off hubby's palm last week, I had decided Feyd deserved a proper death, as the centerpiece of Thanksgiving dinner on the blue and white china platter.  So much for plans.
another view of where the predator dug under

This is our fault.  We had become complacent; we had become lax.  We both had seen the broken eggshells , but thought the hens were kicking them out of the tractors.  We have been lazy on keeping the grass down around the electronetting, so it could have been grounding out.  Hubby immediately spotted where the fence was sown this morning.

We're not sure what we're dealing with - smaller than a bear (the bear would have caused much more damage) but larger than your average opossum or coon.  Possibly a bobcat, or coyote, or loose dog, or maybe even a fox.  Hubby says he will probably sit up tonight, hoping to shoot it.

This is on top of another rabbit loss Saturday.  Out of the four young rabbits I bought, I sold one _ Runt - lost Hogger to a freak accident where he got both hocks jammed into the wire and tore skin and meat off trying to get loose, and now Roberta, the big girl, who like Hammy looked like she simply went to sleep and didn't wake up.  That leaves me with Lacey from that group, plus Shalimar who is doing just peachy.
Lacey, remaining bunny from the NZ/Rex mix group I bought earlier this summer
Y a know, I forgot to snap a pic of Shalimar.  She's in the shade now, and that will make it difficult to get a good pic because she is a solid dark blue (grey).

As for the long silence ... well, it seems this year that the more I am doing around here, the less I feel like blogging.  I guess you could say I've been spending my energy doing, instead of just "talking" about it.  By the time I'm done with evening milking, I usually just want to stop sweating, maybe take a shower, and lay down and either read, or just page through a knitting or crochet magazine, or cookbook, or through one of my herb books with lots of pictures.