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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Snow

Woke up to a snow capped rainbow yesterday…

Everyone was in good spirits though.
No one was shivering (Yay!!) and everyone was hungry. No surprise there. 😉

“If I close my eyes tight, and wish reaaaaaaalllll hard, when I open them, it’ll be Spring, right Mama?!?!??”

*sigh*
Sorry, Bella.
We’re in for winter now.
Just hoping it’s an easy one on all us Old Ladies.
😉

November

Here we are, first week into November.
Hard to believe we’re there already.
I feel like getting ready to hibernate for Winter, and yet, there’s still so much to do.
Like, right now, I’m writing, but I should be out cleaning and re-bedding the chicken coop. That’s my plan for this afternoon.

But, for now, a chance to catch y’all up on things here…

We’ve finally finished putting the meat chickens in the freezer.
In running the numbers, it was definitely worth doing more chickens, than last years small amount. It was, however, too late in the season to start 50 chicks. Next year, we’ll start them earlier.
I plan on getting eggie chicks, so doing meaties early won’t be a big deal…we’ll do them together.

Since there’s only 3 of us to do the butchering, we can’t do all 50 in one day.
I wish!!
But no, we’re not fast enough for that. So we broke it up into 3 different days. Which, truth be told, worked out well, because we took out all the biggest ones in the first round, which gave the others a chance to grow. Second round, same thing.

Of the 50 chicks we ordered, we lost 3.
1 to a piling incident.
1 to the mean nasty bitch hennys.
1 to a heart attack…which is an unfortunate possibility with Cornish Cross birds.

Turns out we had gotten 51 from the hatchery, because my finished numbers show we processed 48 birds.
9 stayed whole as roasters.
39 were parted into breast, legs/thighs and wings, with backs and necks saved for soup fixings.
Feet were fed to the dog…who ate soooooo many feet. And feathers. I swear, that dog is going to sprout wings, she ate so many feathers. Weirdo.
Livers were saved for friends who enjoy them.
Hearts, gizzards and trim bits were bagged and frozen for winter cat food.

In total, we got 141.1 pounds of meat for our freezer.
Factoring in initial cost of chicks and feed, not including time, infrastructure or butchering supplies, our winter chickens cost us $1.24/pound.
So, really, not too bad.

Next up, comes the pigs.
That starts this weekend.

I think the ducks will be happy to no long have the pigs as neighbours.
And, to be brutally honest, I’ll be happy to no longer have to care for pigs.
Pigs are cute and fun when they’re little.
Once they get this big (they’re around the 200-250lbs mark) they’re butts.
Oh, they have their moments, like with the straw…but man, I’m just tired.
I had thought of wintering some, some year, but I don’t think so.
By November, I’m just done.
LOL!

And then there’s this duck:

Indignant Duck is indignant…and wants me to know it!!

Y’see, we’ve run out of time to get the duck house installed before hard-core winter hits. There’s other things that have to be done before and there is only 3 of us…
So, the ducks have been bunking with the hennys in the insulated coop.
Now that the meaties are gone, we moved the other poultry in there.
Which is why I’m supposed to be cleaning it… 😉

Ducks are not happy about change.
Rain especially.
He’s been rather insistent that he shouldn’t have to sleep with “those stupid girls”. We won’t discuss that the hens have been bunking in the temp. duck house anyways. Still…he doesn’t want to be in the coop with them.
So nightly “put the birds to bed” has been even more fun, with the ducks running away and refusing to go in the coop.

And then…

Last night, Hubby picked Rain up and put him in the coop.
Oh. My. Duck.
The world was ending, Scary Guy Walking touched him, Rain was Going. To. Die. He was so traumatized.
The next morning when I let everyone out, he chased me around the poultry yard, trying to bite and peck me, quacking his fool head off…he went from playing “trauma duck” to being full on rage-y “Indignant Duck”.
Ducks are incredibly expressive.
It did not help at all that I was laughing at him.
😀

Check out my “hard keeper”…

Remember I said I was happy with Sable’s condition this year?
Just look at the picture…

Holy fat Palomino!

Yay!
Fat, sassy, and happy as can be!
Yeah, she looks pregnant in this shot. lol
But seriously, she’s doing really well, and I am so happy for it.

Basking in the Fall sunshine…

Astrid’s back to 98% health.
I’m still liniment-ing and stretching her daily, just to be sure. She’s been trotting and playing, so that’s one less worry for me.

Ghost and Gabrielle

This ^^^ is my poultry helper crew.
They’re sitting in a sandbox that was the ducks’ pool for a while, but is actually The Kid’s flowerbed that never got set up when we got out here.
Now, it’s the feline viewing gallery.
Feline cheering section?
That Ghost is so adorable…and so flippin’ fat now!
I’ve been calling him FatGhost.
I love him dearly, though. ❤

Finally, a lovely shot of our Ruby, dozing in the sunshine…

Fluff

Winter coats are blooming.
The Girls are lush, plush ponies.
I call them my Velveteen Ponies.

I love to run my fingers through that soft fluff of her coat.

Sable is in such great condition this year.
This is the first winter with us that she’s fluffy and soft and hasn’t lost any body condition. She’s still round and plump, with a soft fluffy coat over.
I’m hoping this bodes well for a gentle on us all winter…but with enough moisture to balance out our dryer than normal summer.

Actual fluff…

I thought it was dandelion fluff.
A friend on Facebook pointed out it was tree fluff…yup, with the poplars around us, I should have realized…tree fluff, not dandy fluff.
🙂

 

Day After the Storm

The day after a storm always reminds me how amazing life out here is.
We’ve just come through the first snow storm of the season.
This one was a little tougher than the last few years because I have an injured mare and an arthritic mare…and in stretching my injured Girl, I tweaked my back.

*sigh*

Old age is setting in.
But, even as sore as I was last night, it didn’t stop me from doing my nightly checks, making sure Astrid was snug in the shelter with her herdmates, making sure my Cookie wasn’t laying somewhere out in the storm because laying eases the aches, making sure Bella was comfy too…Ruby is my Super Horse right now and I slipped her a few mints last night and thanked her for being so.
I worry about them all in a storm, but, having 1 that I know I can put a hay pile in front of and she’ll be fine made things just wee bit less stressful.

Poultry and pigs fared just fine through the first snow of the season. I broke open a bale of straw to line the pig hut, and both the poultry coops.
Even though the pigs will be going to Freezer Camp in the coming month, they still deserve to be comfortable.
And, oh how they loved having new straw down!!
Once they figured out that they could burrow into the fluffy straw there were oinks and grunts of glee. LOL!!
It really was fun hearing them enjoy their newly bedded home.
Almost made me consider attempting wintering a pair…but not this year.
Maybe next year…

Chickens are always delighted with straw, whether it’s new bedding, or an old lump of buggy, moldy straw. It’s exciting and fun to play in, and new bedding in the coop *must* be rearranged to chicken specifications. I just don’t decorate properly, according to them. 😉

Ducks were torn between being happy and offended at my throwing straw into their house. Jazzy was hissing at me, while Rain kept trying to chew my pant leg. Finally, when I was done, I chased Rain into the shelter and he realized how nice fluffy, dry straw can be.
When we went to let them out this morning, no ducks came out with hens.
Peeking into the house, I saw 2 ducks snuggled together in deep straw, necks entwined.
Awesome! 🙂

Today my injured mare and my arthritic mare are doing just fine too.
Astrid even gave us a little trot while coming to the feeders.
It was real good to see. ❤
She’s still slower than her normal, but she’s showing great improvements from when she first hurt herself. Now, if only she’ll remember the lesson she learned here…

As for me, today I’m racking my green tomato wine to a carboy, getting ready to start a roasted pumpkin spiced wine and prepping for tomorrow’s final Peeperpocalypse. It’ll be nice to have all the chickens done and in the freezer. And then we start pigs.
Raising, and butchering, your own meat animals is incredibly rewarding.
I know their treatment, care and feed from a very young age (day old with chickens, 3 weeks with pigs) all the way up to the day they die.
It’s also exhausting.
But so very worth it, in the end.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

I don’t have any new pictures to share today, so I’m going to re-use this one…just because it makes me smile…and coming through the first storm of the season is definitely a good reason to smile. 🙂

“Oh, hello there Ladies…would you like some apple slices?”

First Snow of the Year, # 500 and the Anna Blake Clinic

We’re headed hard and fast into crock pot season.
Heh. Who am I kidding…it’s always crock pot season here, unless it’s bbq season. 😉

This morning we’re in the midst of our first snow storm.
Which started out as a rain storm. And, there’s a ton of wind.
Of course there is. Why wouldn’t there be a ton of wind to chill down the wet ponies, right?
*sigh*
I could be wrong, but I don’t think this snow is going to stick with us.
Supposed to be sunny and +5*c on Saturday.
Which is good, because I’ve got 14 more chickens to get into the freezer, and we still have the pigs to do.

But…

The bulk of our winter hay is on the yard.
We’ll probably need another dozen bales come beginning of March, but what’s here will get us through the worst of the cold.
Our straw bales were delivered Tuesday.
We are so lucky…
We have wonderful friends who, for a 3rd year in a row, have given us big straw bales to build the shelter extension for Sable (and the other 3).
I hope they know how much we appreciate it. We say thank you often, but I really do hope they know… ❤
This year, Hubby was able to work out a deal with the fellow giving us the straw and our (mutual) Hay Guy to have the straw delivered.

This.
Was.
Wonderful!!!

Since Hubby has been putting in soooooo much O.T on the weekends (which is why we still have 6 pigs to send to Freezer Camp), our Kid hasn’t been getting the same # of riding lessons in. 😥
And, the last 2 years, when she had lessons, we brought the trailer, and brought home 4 bales at a time.
This year that didn’t work…but an empty trailer after a hay delivery and some awesome folks made getting the straw home possible.
We have a few bottles of rum to distribute this Yule as a thank you!!

#500…

This is the 500th post here.
Yeah, I talk a lot. 😉
But, it’s also been 4 years, so, really, not that much.
LOL!

These guys were back around this week:

Bald eagles

I wasn’t thrilled to see them hanging out in the trees closest to the poultry yard. Neither was the poultry.
All the chickens were hiding in one of the 3 houses, whilst the ducks were defiantly making their presence known…and fluffing themselves up so that they appeared bigger. It was rather interesting to see them putting on their “Ima tough duck!” display.

I went out and shoo’ed the eagles away…flapping a feed sack at them is just startling enough to get them to fly off. Perfect, because there ain’t much else I can do to an eagle, know what I mean?

Then there’s this one…

Little Red

Y’know how I keep saying Astrid is pushing her luck with Cookie?
Luck done run out for Little Red.

See, I keep telling her to quit starting shit. She’s not going to win against that Paint, that Paint is going to clean her clock.
Oh, does Miss Astrid listen?
Naw.
She’s pretty sure she’s 10 feet tall and bullet proof.
Except she ain’t, and she’s feeling it now.

She started shit over 1 of 4 hay piles. Tried to drive Cookie off…Cookie let it go…twice…3rd time? She took a round out of Astrid.
Normally that means a few bites and a kick leveled at her. And, Little A is pretty darn good at avoiding those kicks and bites.
This time she got caught. She tried to deke, and I saw the second she did it, she was going to lose…poor Little Red tweaked her back.
*sigh*
Cookie’s bite connected, there were squeals and snorts, and Astrid slowly moved away.
I got the ice pack and dropped it on her right away, trying to bring the swelling down…and got in contact with the vet.
She’s pulled a muscle.
Rest (as much as is possible without stalls), liniment and gentle stretches.
With daily admonitions from Mama…
“DumbAss. Told you to quit pushing the Black One. Told you, you ain’t gonna win. But did you listen?? Oh, no! Had to learn the hard way. DumbAss.”
*rolls eyes*

And the Anna Blake clinic…

We were late.
So awesome for someone with social anxiety, coming into something late, at a new place, with all new people, and having to catch up.
Wheeee! That was fun.
But, we got there, and it was good.

Did I learn stuff?
Oh, hell yeah.

Did I take pictures?
Um, really? Do you have to ask? 😉
Still working on them, around everything else.

Preview:


Of course I took pictures…what better way for a person with social anxiety to hide, but still soak up as much knowledge as possible? lol

I do wish I had a chance to pick Anna’s brain a little more about Ms Cookie and her halter…we did start a conversation about it, but then it was lunch and things got busy and we didn’t get a chance to finish talking.
I also recognize as an auditor, I don’t get to have as much time (if any) from any clinician. It’s nice when you get it, but the people paying full price tend to (and should) get more time/instruction.

So, was the clinic worth going to?
Oh, yeah. And I still wish that I could have brought Cookie.
Not that we’d have done any of the riding part, because Cookie don’t do that…yet…but the hands on learning with her would have been so valuable.
But, I can only do with Cookie what Cookie is okay with me doing.
Her pace always, not mine. 😉

Now, I’m going for some fresh coffee…
It’s cold and blustery and I still have to check on the pigs and poultry…and check in with the horses again.
Not ready for winter.
Just want to register my protest.
Not that Mother Nature cares.