Thursday, March 26, 2015

Pigs on the Homestead..Meet "Fern" and "Wilbur"
So, I just spent an hour creating this post and then Blogger decided to erase all my efforts and thus, I am giving this post one more try. (Remaining composure and trying not to throw laptop at the wall. Ah-hem.)
That's right. We decided to jump in feet first and get pigs this spring. Meet Fern and Wilbur. They are 8-week-old Yorkshire/Hampshire cross piglets and are the only 2 from a sow's litter. The owner's are friends from church and are't these 2 little guys just stinkin' cute?!

When we got the call that they were ready for pick up, the oldest 4 kids and I jumped into the car (after loading it with a cage and nets) and were on our way. We hung out and chatted, admiring their herd of beef cattle as we prepared to catch the piglets. Lots of spring calves!

Here's Mama Pig and she wasn't happy about us taking her babies. For sure!

Lincoln, admiring one of our friend's mama cows

"B" was a great help and demonstrated his pig-catching skills quite well I should say. We dressed in boots and play clothes ready to help, but this lad knew what he was doing and after about 20 minutes, and then a little chatting as we loaded up, we were on our way home.

They did very well on the car ride home. I was surprised.

Rob met us at the car and helped carry them to the pen. He estimated them weighing in around 20 lbs. each, but we haven't found a way to weigh them just yet.

They took a few minutes, but then warmed up to their new home and came out, exploring.

The next morning, Ranger decided to jump the pig pen fence and round them up for us (You're such a great help Ranger!). It was off to Rural King for some chicken wire and thanks to Lincoln, he took initiative and a hand staple gun and after about 2 hours, had the entire pen enclosed with chicken wire. We really didn't want to use wire, keeping the authentic weaved wood look, but we also didn't want the dog jumping in and out, nor the little rascals escaping. Chicken wire it was.

Their first mud bath was really fun to watch. Snouts poking in and out of the warm earth. Just as God intended. Makes me sad thinking about all the pigs in feed lots on cement who never see the light of day. We feel so honored to give these pigs a great life up until the very end.

You really haven't lived until you sit in a chair in the warm sun, watching baby piglets burrow in the mud. It's fascinating!

Lincoln has taken a special liking to these pigs. They trust him the most out of all the kids, probably because he spends the most time with them, putting in the most care. They really are clean and intelligent animals, despite what people may think. No odors coming from the pen and they are very easy to train.
We decided not to get them wormed nor cut their teeth. I'll be using a natural tonic of rosemary herbs, fresh garlic and good old Diotemaceous Earth for worming. They won't be on fresh grass (for now anyways, until we get our pastures set up) so we're not too worried about worms. I found THIS website very helpful and have been using THIS book for the past year and I wouldn't farm without it! Really.
The plan for these pigs...well, Fern will remain on the farm here with us for as long as possible and Wilbur, well, he'll be fall bacon. Yep. I don't think I'll do well emotionally on that one, but you never can tell. Maybe he'll escape one too many times and I'll be happy to see the guy go.
Anyway, pigs naturally begin reproducing around 9 months of age and although Fern and Wilbur are brother and sister, with pigs, they can interbreed and supposedly, it doesn't effect their offspring. They're one of the few animals that you can do this with. So, after Wilbur "does his thang", he'll be bacon and Fern will produce a litter of piglets later on for us to sell and keep one or two for more butchering.
We're excited to learn about a new animal that we've never had before. Chickens, they're old news. Cows, we're ALWAYS learning something new about them (my personal favorite!), dogs, cats and ducklings, been there, done that. But pigs! We're reading a ton and the kids and I are learning so much.
So, here's to pigs! {smile}

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

March at Vine Living Farm

Life is crazy busy around here and "spring has sprung". We love it though. It's LIVING. It's messy, busy, loud, hectic at times, serene at other times, breezy, still cool at night, clear evenings, less bonfires, but more water play. Shady, hammock book reading, lunches on the picnic tables and lots and lots of BABIES (including the approval of our adoption paperwork and on the waiting list for our home study...ya-hoo!).

We gave in and bought 5 ducklings at Rural King. They seem to have taken on names from Beatrix Potter...Jemima Puddle Duck, Rebecca Puddle Duck, etc. {grin...because we're huge Beatrix Potter fans!}

My laundry room has become a duckling and turkey nursery lately, but I don't mind, thanks to THIS...

my essential oils diffuser. I'm really in love. No really! Who doesn't love a fresh-smelling house especially when adorable, little ducklings and turkeys must invade your laundry room. This has been fabulous to have and we take it everywhere we go, yes, even camping!

Our new kitty. We now own two cats and although we've never been cat fans before, we're so thankful for them as they've been on "mouse duty" in the barn.

Titus is pretty taken with his kitties.

We've had lots of baby rabbits born (12 to be exact) to two mothers within 24 hours of each other. Two didn't make it so 10 little bunnies remain.

Anyone wanting a spring bunny?

Finished a new quilt. Just a scrap pinwheel quilt, but it did turn out nicely.

Some fabrics were vintage sheets and some just left over fabrics from other sewing projects. I am a new fan of using sheets as my backing instead of buying expensive fabric. Just picked up a queen sheet at Goodwill for $3.00 and "bam!", instant backing. SO much softer too!

Bunnies, getting bigger. Our girls are in love I tell ya'. This is one litter...

and this is the other.

Then, let's just throw everybody together for a group shot.

Everybody smile!

This is our buck, Peter. Happy Papa! He was grinning from whisker to whisker the day the babies were born. He's such a sweet boy and the kids just love him.

Mopsy, one of the mothers.

Rob's car had to be taken into the shop, so this is the rental they gave him. Poor guy!

Our biddies. So happy to have eggs again.

There's nothing like a fresh egg. Nothing. Golden, orange yolks fresh from the hen house. We found a great feed store here in town that sells Kay Organics. Non-GMO feed for all of our animals. Score!

Our Americana rooster

We have a total of 3 roosters

Just taking a swim on this spring morning. Tis the life of a duckling.

I was finally able to get Echinacea growing. So excited about this tray of starts. I do grow all of our own starts and this one especially make me smile. Time to transplant!!

Tractor Supply  had a bunch of fruit trees in last month so we caved and bought a few...cherry, 2 apples, Navel orange, lime, lemon and a weeping willow. This peach is one from a tree I have been waiting to transplant for about 4 years. The Saturday we actually put them into the ground, I had to pinch myself again that we're actually here. (I have to pinch  myself from time to time...still.)

I've been having laundry line withdrawls, so Rob put this up for me a few weekends ago.

A go cart a neighbor gave to us to work on. Needs a new brake system. Lincoln and Titus are helping.

Some campfire cooking

What our afternoons are like (with some neighbor boys)

Isaac on our hay

Roses blooming

Lincoln's strength never ceases to amaze me...he's still just 7 and can lift things that I can't. My "man child"...tee hee

We didn't have bluebirds in the city where we used to live, but we have them here and they are such a delight! A family of bluebirds moved into the bird house Rob and the kids bought me for my birthday last year. We've had fun observing them.

Garden Phlox are in full bloom here in our little town and they're so beautiful along the roadsides. The kids tease me that I pick too many wildflowers, but I can't help myself. One of my favorite things to do.

Molly-Moo is a few months pregnant now and Mabel is currently undergoing some AI this week and next. She'll calve in early January. Four cows (Lord-willing) by next year! We'd better finish our pasture!!!

More laundry line drying.
Stay tuned for pictures of our latest little additions...they go by the name of "Fern" and "Wilbur". Betcha' can't guess what we've added to our little homestead?