And Then There Were 2…

We’ve been working on sending the pigs to Freezer Camp.
So far, 4 have gone to Camp, with 2 left to take care of this weekend.
We’re down to AndyPiggie(picture) and CharlottePiggie.

First to go to Camp were:

1. LitaPiggie, who was the biter and meanest pig of the 6…she was also the one who kept climbing onto the pig shelter and trying to make the leap into the chicken yard.

I won’t miss that miserable b***h at all.

2. ImeldaPiggie, so named because she loved shoes. My crocs the most…she also enjoyed a good back scratch and a belly rub. Of all the pigs this year, she was the sweetest girl.

3. MaryPiggie. The runt of the 6, and the toughest. This girl fought for food every darn day, even with 3 feeding stations. She just wanted all the food, all the time. Healthy and happy otherwise, just hated sharing food with her piggie sibs.

4. GeorgePiggie. Our smallest boy, who turned out to be quite the chunk. Had he not been castrated before coming to us, he likely would have made quite the boar for a small farmer like us. George rivaled Imelda for friendliness.

We’re getting into weather that is not conducive to pink piggies doing well outside. Cold like we have now (a record of -21*C this morning!!) means pink piggies start to lose body condition, and can actually freeze to death.
Certainly not what we want for these guys.
Pinkies are not meant for outdoor 24/7/365, that’s for sure!
So, to make sure they’re still happy and healthy until their date with the Freezer Camp director, they get ample straw bedding in their shelter, to snuggle down into and stay warm.
They also get 5-6 hot meals a day.
Smaller than when there was 6 of them, and just enough that they can finish it each time.

I use a mixture of hot water, left over coffee (hey, it happens sometimes! 😉 ), and a pint of milk poured over their grains for each meal. And, the past week they’ve been getting a 1/2 cup of yogurt too, just to make sure tummies are working well and processing the food.

Seems like a lot of work for pigs we’re just going to kill, right?
It is.
But, the rule here is Happy Food Tastes Better and the best way to keep pigs happy is with a full belly and warmth.
Just because we’re going to butcher them, doesn’t mean that they deserve a lesser quality of life.

As far as we’re concerned, they get the same standard of care as any other animal here.

Hot mashes for horses?
Yup.
Hot mashes for chickens and ducks?
Yup.
Hot mashes for piggies?
Yup.
Really, what’s one more hot mash to make up, to keep the animals that will feed us for the winter happy and healthy?
That, to me, is time well spent.
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Baling Hay

Last week I told you how I broke my baling bin.
In reality, I was using a simple blue recycling bin to shove my hay into and tie up.
I’ve been after Hubby to build me something a bit more substantial for a while now, because hay is an important commodity.
Yesterday, he got the job done, and I was able to bale up the last of my first cutting…

Simple box made out of 2x4s, 2x6s, and some other scrap bits we had around the Farm yard.

There are 4 nails in the bottom, to hold the baling twine in place while I fork mass amounts of hay into it…

Filled, strings tied…I think I could have filled it more, but that’s going to be a trial and error thing.

I also got him to put nails on the outside, so I can wrap the twine around them and keep it from shifting at the top.

Voila!
Finished bale.

The joy is, I can fill, stomp down and tie all by myself with this…I just place a knee on the grass to pull the twine tight and tie it.

Hubby holding the finished bale.

And that, my friends, is just about 25lbs of hay.
So, in terms of feeding, that’s an average daily meal for 1 horse.

Next thing to do is adapt the baler to put it on the furniture dolly, so it’s easy to move around. That’ll be done with a couple of eye bolts and a bungee cord or two, so that it’s not permanently fixed to the dolly.
After that, we’re onto building a hay shed, because seriously, Hubby is running out of room in the garage for my bales.
😀
That’s a good problem to have!!

Friday’s Hunt June 4th

So, we’re well on our way to having the garden in…
Yesterday, The Kid and I got our last few small beds planted. She put in 300 kidney beans. Sounds like a lot, but you pretty much plant them, and then ignore them until the pods are finished and dried. The joy of a dry bean. However, that also means they don’t produce continuously, like most other beans. Bush bean, pole beans, they’ll produce more flowers and pods the more you pick them. Which is why we’ll also plant 2 types of pole beans, and a purple bush bean…for fresh eating and putting up for the winter.

Today, the plan is to work on the main garden bed…I did say, I will have a garden this year. It’s just going to take a whole lotta heavy lifting. 😉
Good thing we’re not afraid to get out hands dirty.

This week’s prompts for Friday’s Hunt hosted by Teresa at Eden Hills are Starts with V, Week’s Favorite and Inch.

Starts with V

Now that we’re in June, summer vacation is coming up for The Kid. Already. The school year has flown past, I tell ya…
We won’t however, be taking any sort of family vacation. That’s just not something we can do…not with these guys:

My toddlers.

Truth be told, I’m not much of a vacation person anyways…I like to stay close to home, and I do love my Farm. 🙂
(And yes, Sable is doing exactly what you think she is…)

Week’s Favorite

3 horse down…flat babies in the sunshine.

Life rarely presents fully finished photographs.
An image evolves, often from a single strand of visual interest – a distant horizon, a moment of light, a held expression.

~ Sam Abell

Inch

My helper cat, Sir Maximillion…helping me do what I do best…take pictures of the horses at sunrise:

Thankfully, he helped without his usual stance of having his butt an inch from my face. It’s really hard to take pictures like that.
LOL!

Hay Run

We hooked up the trailer for another hay run yesterday…

Bringing home the food for nags...

Bringing home the food for nags…

I like to do this early on a Sunday morning.
Get it done early and the day is ahead for whatever else needs doing.
Like napping. 😉

On Friday, Hubby had brought home an apple jack for me.
Not the traditional apple jack (distilled apple juice…nom nom nom!) but the pastry, which is, basically, an apple hand pie rolled in cinnamon and sugar. That was my breakfast, with coffee, while we went up to the Hay Guy’s place.

Once home, I figured with the lovely sunlight, I’d go take a few pictures of the Girls, while Hubby unloaded hay and straw (for chickens)…well, it didn’t take long for someone to figure out I had eaten something that any horse would love!

"Uh. Huh. So, you dare come in here smellng like apples and you have none for me? Really?!?" ~Cookie

“Uh. Huh.
So, you dare to come in here with apples on your breath and you have none for me?
Really?!?”
~Cookie

I tried to tell her it was an apple jack, that there was cinnamon involved, that she doesn’t like cinnamon (she’ll leave her beet pulp pail uneaten if there’s even a hint of cinnamon in it!), and well, quite honestly, she didn’t need any sweets. Seriously, her butt jiggles when she walks…sweet apple pies are not what she needs.

Yeah, her face says it all.
“Uh. Huh. Screw you, hooman…”
😉

Freezer Camp!

Don’t flinch, my loyal vegetarian readers!
I’m not going to show you graphic photos of animals being sent to freezer camp. Not today.
Oh, we’re talking about it, just today, it’s carrots. 🙂

I am not adverse to buying large amounts of produce when I can a. get great quality, and b. get it at a great price.
Before Yule, through the stable my Kid takes lessons at, we had the chance to purchase 20lb bags of carrots.
A quick inquiry to make sure these were good for humans as well as horses (and chickens 😉 ) and then, I asked for 2 bags.

Now, that sounds like a lot of carrots. 40lbs.
But, my Kid doesn’t eat candy. She eats veggies.
It’s not that I tell her she can’t have candy (that would be ridiculous, since I have a crazy sweet tooth!), she just doesn’t like it.
Ahh, but veggies!
I can’t keep her in peas, green beans, carrots, corn…
You get the picture.

So, 40lbs of carrots.
Yeah, gotta have!
We ate a lot of carroty yumminess…but yesterday, I thought I should put some in the freezer. Especially since we have a bunch of other produce to eat right now. And there’s more winter ahead of us.
Normally, I’d pressure can them, but I’ve been lazy on that front…that’s going to change with summer’s garden, and fall meat animal harvests.

So, prepping for the freezer…
First the chop:

big bowl o carrots

big bowl o carrots

I forgot to mention…these carrots are huge. Not woody, really tasty, but huge. Like, cannot give a whole one to the horses, because, well, I already had to go in Astrid’s mouth to pull out the chunk she tried to swallow because she couldn’t chew it.
Wheee!! Fun!
Said no one ever who has had to shove a hand into a horse’s mouth.

That’s a 14″ diameter stainless steel bowl…I have a bigger one too. It’s 18″ across. I call them my perogy making bowls. One for filling, one for dough.

Next, blanching (submerge in boiling water for 3 minutes, cool in ice water bath to stop cooking):

cooling the carrots in ice water

cooling the carrots in ice water

Oh, tops and tips?
They go in the fridge as horse treats:

6 cup bowl of pony nom nom noms

6 cup bowl of pony nom nom noms

That’ll last about 3 weeks for our mares.
By that I mean, it’ll take me 3 weeks to dole that out. If it was up to them, it wouldn’t last 3 seconds.

Finally, I weighed out the amount I wanted in each bag, and vacuum sealed them for the journey to Freezer Camp:

get in the freezer!

get in the freezer!

7 bags of 600 grams, and 1 900 gram bag.
8 meals in total.
Gotta like that.
🙂

Ready for the Garden

2 days of shoveling more snow that blew in Monday night has me dreaming of the warmth and sun of summer. This morning, when I was feeding the horses and collecting eggs (while bundled in layers and layers and layers) I reckoned out that in 6 weeks I’ll be starting pepper seeds…4 weeks after that, I’ll be starting tomato seeds.
Do you know what that means?!?

Light!!

There is light at the end of the winter tunnel!

This year, the garden will produce more than weeds for piggies. If I have to dig holes in the weed filled plot and plant my tomatoes and peppers and such, I will. lol
But, I’m also thinking about better ways to mulch in between plants.
My garden is huge (and, truth be told, not as big as I’d like it to be…one day) and weeding can become overwhelming.
So, mulch is the way to go.
And that has my brain working…
Good, I’ve 10 weeks to get it figured out. 😉

In the meantime, I went through my seeds today. Trying to figure out what, if anything, I might need to buy before the planting time comes…

My shoe box full of seeds...

My shoe box full of seeds…

I’m a bit of a seed hoarder. Used to buy so many of them, now I save a lot of them. I only buy things that are biennial now…carrots, beets, parsnips…I don’t have the patience to wait for a 2nd year to get seeds. 😛 Plus onions, because buying onion sets is soooo much easier!

The over flow pail of seeds...those that don't fit in the shoe box...

The over flow pail of seeds…those that don’t fit in the shoe box…

I haven’t made my full list yet, of what this years planting will be. Once I do that, I’ll have a better idea of what I’ll need to buy…so far it’s just looking like onions. And, maybe I’ll buy some garlic for spring planting, so that I can re-plant it in the fall. Sucks so bad not having fresh garlic in the house. 😦 I refuse to by that crap in the stores. Just not happening.

And in other news…

These gloves…

My nasty, gross, disgusting, so beautifully broken in, I love 'em, gloves...

My nasty, gross, disgusting, so beautifully broken in, I love ’em, gloves…

Finally transformed from their gross glory to their next role in life…

Fingerless photography gloves!!

Fingerless photography gloves!!

YAY!!!
All you Farm Girls out there, with your favorite gloves know what I’m talking about when I say…Oh, I couldn’t throw them away yet! Too emotionally attached…I have schlepped hay with them, shoveled shit, pulled hay and other grassy goodies out of the waterer, rubbed down cold ponies on frosty mornings, and picked shit covered eggs with ’em…I was not ready to give ’em up.

I got a couple new pairs just before Christmas (which I still haven’t paid my Bro for…oops! I better do that!) and so, I converted my old ones to fingerless photography gloves.
Now I’ll use ’em until I can’t.
😛

Oh My Gosh

Let me tell you about my week, last week!

Since the weather is cooling, the Girls have been getting fuzzy, and I’m constantly adjusting their beet pulp/flax rations. Horses can have delicate digestive systems, so changes have to be made slow and steady…that’s the norm. We all know one or two horses, though, that have iron stomachs and can handle any change, any time.
My Cookie used to be like that.
Not so much anymore. Especially not since she had her colic incident a few months back…be warned, if you go read that, the language is salty. If cursing offends you, well, just trust me when I say Cookie colicking is something to worry about, ‘kay?

Now, I watch her and her tummy as close as I watch Sable.
Sable colics so easily! I am very lucky that, so far (knock on wood, and thanks to all deities I believe in), she hasn’t had an episode I couldn’t handle.

Last week, I noticed Cookie wasn’t quite herself. Not colicking, but she was off. Which sounds silly, but ask any horse owner. We know when our hoofed kids are off, and you watch them, because you never know what could happen.
So, as she layed down in the pasture, I figured it was a good time for a back rub. Well, she sure enjoyed that! After a while (I can’t tell time and rub pony backs at the same time! 😛 ) she decided she’d had enough, got up, walked away and dropped a pile of manure.
I left her alone after that.

Later on though, after she had her beet pulp (which had, for about 2 weeks, included 1 cup of oats. Just plain oats we get from the Farmer down the road from us) she was off again…so I said to Hubby, I was going pull her off the oats (slowly) and increase her flax. Last winter, when I increased her flax, her whole demeanor changed. With age, and the cold, her body clearly needed something more. Spring came, and she stopped finishing her bucket until I reduced the flax. She was telling me that there was too much for what her body needed. Horses are pretty darn amazing creatures, if we just listen to them!

So, I pulled her off the oats, and I saw improvement. But, not 100%. Again, it’s not that she was showing anything more than just being a little off. If I wasn’t here all the time, I probably wouldn’t have noticed anything different. I would have chalked things up to mare-ish mood swings.
Next step was adding probiotics to her diet.
Easiest, and most economical, way to do that is with yogurt. I make a gallon of yogurt a week, give her 1/2 a cup in her beet pulp-because shooting it into her mouth like dewormer was not a good time to be had by either one of us!-and there’s enough for me to enjoy too. 🙂
LOL! Yeah, I started out trying to give it to her like when we deworm them. Hahahaha!! Oh, that was stupid!
1200lbs of cranky assed mare, and then, once I got it in her mouth she changed, and decided that “Hey! That was good! I want more!” and got super pushy trying *get more*.
Into the beet pulp went the next day’s dosage.

Then, just as I was getting that figured out, our Girl Astrid came in for beet pulp with a large amount of burrs in her forelock. Thinking nothing of it while she ate, I worked on getting them out of her hair.
As it turns out, if it’s windy while pulling burrs out, one should always be aware/careful about the job.
Taking a piece of burr to the eye is a painful, unpleasant, nasty bit of business. It will, quite seriously, mess up your day…or, week, in my case.
At first, I thought, since it was dusty too, that a piece of dirt had got me. Nope, as I rubbed to get the dirt out (yes, stupid, stupid, stupid, I know), I realized that was no dirt!

That was Tuesday, and I finally was able to see properly (and without my eye itching) yesterday.
I had to rinse my eye (not fun ever), alternate between ice packs for the swelling and chamomile tea bags to promote healing, and so much Reactine and Excedrin!
It was not fun.
Add to that I felt awfully stupid for having it happen, because people pull burrs from their horses all the time right? No one ever talks about getting the stupid things in their eye…so there, *I’m* talking about it, because damn, it hurts! And, if it hurts a human, imagine what it would feel like to an equine who got a bit in their eye. 😦

Now I’m a week behind in work, and it’s taken this long to update y’all here, plus (and this is the worst of it 😛 ) I spent a whole week without being able to take pictures. Can’t do it, if you can’t see your subject! That’s why this post is so much words…so very many words. Instead of the pictures y’all are used to.
I do have a couple for you though, from pre-burr-to-the-eye times…

This is actually from the first day I noticed she wasn't quite herself...

This is actually from the first day I noticed she wasn’t quite herself…

The next morning, as the sun came up, I saw this…

Awwww!  She's just plain perfect. <3

Awwww!
She’s just plain perfect. ❤

Hopefully, this week I’ll have camera in hand again. In fact, I have to!
Our meat chickens, the Peepers, are going to Freezer Camp this week, and I want to photograph it. Not to be gruesome, but because I have always believed that knowing what goes into you food hitting your plate is important.
There will be a blog post.
I will put pictures under a “Read More” tag…just so the folks with queasy tummies won’t have it all out there in their faces.
I will, however, encourage you to look at the images. Especially if you eat meat.
I can guarantee the Peepers have had a good life. Lots of food, including wandering about for bugs and such, fresh water several times a day, shelter at night but wandering the chicken yard during the day, and tootling their chicken sounds at me every chance they get. Their life has been good, as it should be for every animal that is raised to become food.
I look forward to sharing this with you, our journey from chicks to chickens in the freezer.
🙂
Happy Food Tastes Better.