Thursday, July 26, 2012

Important notice

We've had lots of company lately.  As a matter-of-fact, we'll have had 32 people staying here in 2 1/2 weeks.  I just want to say this - from here on out I expect every visitor (or group of visitors) to provide me with a blog entry.  I mean, a really entertaining blog entry.  No one is here tomorrow but on Saturday a group of 19 folks from PA arrive and I have VERY high hopes for something juicy, even though it's a church mission team.  Do you hear that, you Methodists?  I have high expectations from you.  Get your game on.  I know you thought you were doing mission work.  Well, I have a mission for you too.  I think I'm giving you plenty of notice.

Has this scared any potential visitors away or challenged you?

On another note:  A friend sent me this picture on Facebook
 Whadda ya think?  Think I could train a pig to pull a cart?  Anyone have a pig harness I could borrow? 

Roxie's organic spa

My niece has never been to a spa so I decided to treat her to a mud bath at the finest spa I know of in Arnold's Valley. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Spaquaponics garden update

My hot tub gardens are doing great.  We've gotten 9 or 10 tasty cucumbers from it, some red long beans, swiss chard, lettuces, spinich, basil, oregano and tomorrow I should get my first tomatoes.

We even have some flowers growing.  Here's the view from our kitchen window.
Aren't these cool beans?  I forget what they're called.

Caspian Pink tomatoes.
Yellow bell peppers.

The white carrots have some growing to do yet but I think they're going to make it to our table.
The cool thing about planting in gravel is you can pull a plant out and transplant it (or take a picture of it) very easily.
It's also a good way to root a plant.  I cut a few sprigs of rosemary from another plant and I stuck them in the wet gravel.  I'm pretty sure they'll take root and grow just fine. 

Remember, this is all growing in gravel only and being fed by the waste from the fish.  Unfortunately the fish haven't fared as well as the plants.  I lost the majority of the catfish and probably only have 10 or so fish in the tub.  The original bass and sunfish are still alive.  I tried to get a picture of them coming up for food but as you can see I was slow on the trigger.
There's lots of algae growing on the uncovered portion of the tub so I made a shade cloth for it.  I also added another filter and we haven't lost a fish in a few weeks now so hopefully things have balanced out. 

I don't know how this will continue to hold up.  The gravel is full of roots and every now and then I have to clean roots out of the bell syphons.  I'm going to call it a successful experiment even though we won't be filling our freezer with fish this year.   I'm going to keep trying.  It's pretty neat having fresh vegetables 10 steps from the back door.

Friday, July 13, 2012

If only pigs could stay little

I know there are micro and teacup pigs but they really don't seem to stay as cute as a piglet.  Our 9 piglets have gotten very active and boy are they cute.  When I sit on the ground they crawl all over me.  It hurts and it tickles. 

Today we had to put up some electric netting because they were exploring so much more and walked right under the existing electric ribbon.  They sure are fast.

They've also discovered the mud pond.  I was afraid they'd fall in it and drown but they've figured out how to get in and out.  I don't have video of that yet but you can imagine how cute they are all covered in mud, can't you?

See, cute, right?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Milking to the Monkees

I love having electricity in my barn.  Now that I have a milking machine I have another reason to love it.  The lights are nice for nightime milking but what I really like about having it is  I can play music while I milk.  Someone asked me to video myself using the milking machine so I thought I'd try that today but it's really hard to do holding the camera in one hand and using the other to hook things up, pet and feed the goat, all while singing and dancing.  Here's the best I could do.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Piglet mortality

I've read that it's normal to expect a 20% mortality rate raising piglets, with the first 3 days being the most critical.  I'm at 25%.  Today the 3rd piglet died but I don't know why.  Yesterday one was crushed by Roxie but today's little guy just seemed sick.  I removed it from the others in case what it had was contagious.   The others were all very rambunctious this morning but tonight it's 100 degrees and they're all lying spread apart on the mud Roxie delivered to them.  She's lying in her mud hole.  I don't know if the heat is too much for piglets or not.  I sprayed Roxie with the hose and she stood there and relished in it.  I was tempted to spray the babies but didn't think it was a good idea at this young  age.  The little piggies are covered in mud and look nothing like the picture I posted last.  The one that died today was the cute black and white belted boy.  He was a pretty little thing. 

I'm trying to decide what my plan is for pig raising.  Should I keep Roxie?  Should I keep a baby or two for the freezer?  Should I raise a boar to breed my own or should I get out of pigs altogether?  I'm going to wait and first see how the rest of the babies do before I make any decisions. 

One more day of really hot weather and then it cools down to the 80s and even 70s.  I think all our animals will be happier with the cooler weather. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012


I almost hate to admit this but I think piglets might even be cuter than baby goats.  Believe me, that's tough to top.  Roxie delivered 12 babies last night, all different colors and all adorable. 

July 4th was her due date and she didn't make me wait another day.  James and I went kayaking with some friends and I was sure she wouldn't have them then because she was acting perfectly normal, as far as I could see.  Around dinner time she began nesting.  I had already given her hay in her house to make a nest but she must have thought she needed more because she would pull grass up and carry it back to her house, little by little.  She did this for a good while. 

I knew babies would arrive that night.  I sat in a chair and watched and waited.  I know what it's like to wait for goats to kid so I figured it could be awhile.  I decided to milk the goats quickly then go back to watch some more.  I thought I'd be staying up all night sitting in the field but instead Roxie decided to have 8 or 9 babies while I was milking.  They must have flown out of there because I was gone no more than 45 minutes.  I was there for the last 3 or 4 but I couldn't really see them entering the world because her butt was toward the back of her house.  She really didn't show any signs of pushing.  She was always grunting so that was no indication.  It seemed like all of a sudden a wet baby would appear from behind her and walk very easily to a teat and begin nursing like it had done it its whole life.  Piglets are the most coordinated newborns I've ever seen.  Their eyes are open and they don't even stumble except when tripping over the others to get food.  They nursed for an hour or 2 and then I left them in the dark. 

This morning I went out to feed Roxie and check on the babies and I saw one off by itself.  I thought it was dead.  I've been worried about her squishing them.  I picked it up and discovered its intestines were sticking out its side and it was open in the groin area.

I brought it in the house, cleaned it with peroxide, put some oregano oil and grapefruit seed extract on a bandage and taped it up.
She's still alive but I'm pretty sure she won't survive.  She's taken an ounce or 2 of goat's milk but she's not terribly enthusiastic about it.  I don't know if it's a boy or girl.  I need to study a few of them to see what a male and female pig look like underneath:)  I think she's a girl though.  She's the only one I've handled.
The others seem very energetic.  One of them had a bloody front foot and was limping but I think it'll be ok.

Come see them.  You'll want one.

Edit:  Ok, Unless I miscounted, It looks like we have 7 boys and 5 girls.  The one that's not doing well is a girl.

Edit:  The little girl died at 10 PM tonight, just 24 hours after she was born. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Storm power outages

So many people in our county are still without power from the storm last Friday night.  Think of that, no showers, no water for livestock, a dark house at 9 PM, no computers, swimming pools that are getting nasty, no air conditioning (and it's been in the upper 90s to 100 this week), traffic lights aren't working, gas stations are closed because their pumps aren't working, downed power lines have closed many roads and it take much longer to get somewhere, losing stuff in your freezer....................

Today some friends asked us if we had room in our freezer for their stuff.  They had a generator but it died and their frozen stash was at risk.  This was a good excuse for me to make wine from frozen strawberries from years past to make room for their veggies.  Our farrier told me yesterday she had already lost everything in her freezer.  She even had bread dough rising in there.  It would be so upsetting to lose all the food you worked so hard to put away.  We have 2 freezers full of food.

Fire departments are delivering water to farms for their livestock.  I would have hated to have to haul water from the river or creek to our animals a few times a day but at least we have water surrounding us.  I've had a few calls from friends asking if we were ok and if we needed help.  We really are lucky.  I'll take the tree damage we had any day over loss of power for this long.  I would have lost what fish I had left in my aquaponics garden.  I replaced some tile in our kitchen sink and we can't use it for 72 hours.  This drives me crazy and I can't imagine how frustrated I'd be if I couldn't use any of our sinks. 

I'm cooking soup for dinner tonight with veggies I discovered in our freezer today while making room.  We had a brief rain storm which cooled things off enough to eat soup.  We haven't had a nice rain in awhile so James and I went out on the front porch to watch and smell it. 

I'm feeling very content tonight but I wonder how cranky I'd be by now if we were without power for 4 days.

Craigslist for entertainment

I came across this ad on Craigslist yesterday.  I have to wonder if it's for real.

1977 2 horse trailer - $100 ( (catawba)

Date: 2012-07-02, 3:59PM EDT   2 horse trailer good condtion build out of galvanied metal 2 inch locus .... 100 obo will consider trade rideing lawnmower or anything.. call 828-241-3951.. thank you! my dumb wife put 700 for it she come out of the wrong hole we are an old couple so if me or her dont answer the phone keep calling 828-241-3951

I wish the "dumb wife" would put a counter-ad on there so we could see what she has to say about this.


Roxie is getting close to farrowing.  Her udder is developing and she looks to have dropped a little but what do I know about pigs?  I'm excited, that I know. 

I've heard pigs don't sweat and that's why they roll in the mud.  Roxie is almost always covered in mud.  Even her eyes are sometimes covered.
She's a chatterbox.

I wonder what her babies will look like.  I wish I took pictures of the dad. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Wind storm

We had a doozy of a storm 2 nights ago.  It's been very dry here and we were hoping for rain but we probably didn't get more than 20 drops, just wind - and what a wind it was.  A friend and I were standing out in the goat's pen saying how nice the breeze felt.  It wasn't 2 minutes later we had to race into the barn because that nice wind turned into a howling craziness carrying branches and lots of dirt.  Our turkeys were holding on to the swinging gates for dear life.  I think all of them got knocked off and we carried them to safety, which they weren't so sure they were more comfortable with (silly turkeys).  It was scary listening to cracking as trees were falling here and there.  James convinced us to come to the house so we stood on the front porch watching the lights of cars as they waited for the firemen to cut up the trees (our trees) that were blocking their way.  I worried about my animals in the field because I couldn't see them.  Every now and then the lightning would flash and I tried unsuccessfully to catch a glimpse of them.

We had folks camping in our field that night and all their canopies got blown away.  They were sitting in their van so we called them up to the house.  These were the counselors for a Quaker bike camp.  Luckily the campers hadn't arrived yet.  I have no idea what we'd do with 20 kids in our house for the night.  The 5 counselors slept here.

Daylight brought quite a scene.  We had at least 10 to 12 trees or very large branches down and small branches everywhere, along with buckets and things blown here and there.  Two crabapple trees blocked our driveway.

You get the picture.  Lots of wood to cut up and a few fence repairs need to be done.  Our garage roof had some damage but it was fixed in a jiffy by two neighbors who showed up to help.  They also spent 5 hours cutting up trees with James.  They had to quit when the temperature reached 100. 
James was disappointed to see his corn looking like this.  It was doing so well.

We're lucky though.  Most of our neighbors don't have power and have been told it could be a week before they get it back.  

Sadly, we lost 7 rabbits.  We found them dead in their cages the next morning.  I don't know if it was stress or heart attacks or what. 

The campers arrived in the afternoon and so did more tents to replace the ones that were destroyed.  Even though it was 100 degrees James stood in front of the wood-fired oven cooking pizzas for their dinner, which I think they appreciated. 

It's going to be a hot week for the cyclists.  I expect they'll spend the next few days in the river before they head out on their journey.  I hope we're done with big storms.