Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Walk in the woods and the pig mover

Well, it is really here now...temps in the 60's, rain and more rain, and flowers and trees coming out. This is what most people consider spring...me too.

A walk in the woods this morning showed some great stuff...lots of wildflowers like trillium, bluebells, dutchman's breeches, and Virginia water leaf. The edibles to collect are wild onions, ramps, and mountain mint. A search for mushrooms proved that the weather, even tho very wet, is still too cold. Maybe in another week I'll see some.

And...on the past edible/not currently edible side of things...I found my first owl pellet!! That was way cool. I've never found one in the wild. I brought it home to disect it and pull out the little bones to see who it was that unfortunately (for him) was et. I started collecting bones this year, figuring that someday I will become a bone woman. Some of you may know the story of the bone woman. If not...well, a good research project for you!

In the barnyard - chicks are doing good and giving me about 2 1/2 dozen eggs a week. I have to get to them before the egg eaters do (Coookie chicken and goofy duck...and her name isn't Cookie like you eat, it is Coookie like crazy or whatever). We got the pigs lined up in their cages on pasture, and the babies out of the barn into a "baby cage" until we can get a bigger one built. Will and I plan to castrate two of the three little boys today. We'll keep the third as a breeder boy for later.

Our latest greatest (besides the outhouse in the woods, which really came in handy today) is the pig moving contraption on the truck. Didn't cost a dime (most important). And works pretty well. It was due to my complaining that I can't be moving 30 cement blocks, and 12 cages, and still walk upright when I get old.
Here it is...

It is a 4x4 piece of wood tied to the truck, with bolts on each end, and on each bolt is a hook on a chain. We put the hooks on the cage and then back up with the truck. Now it might seem this takes more gas...a little bit. But, we have to carry the water out to the pigs anyway, so we take the truck to do that anyway.

And, you might ask...why don't you use a dolly/wheel contraption like Joel Salatin. Well, the cement blocks were too heavy and we have to have them so the cages don't blow away in the wind. (I believe Joel lives in a part of the U.S. where there are less wind turbines.) And the dolly thingy still takes quite a bit of strength when you are moving a 10x4 foot cage with two cement blocks on it. I'm finding our system works really great and stand by it for single, weaker women like me.

Next big project is to put some kind of skid on the front of the cage so they go over the clumps of grass better without bending the cages. Another day...as it is raining again!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Beeves on green

This is the happy trio on pasture.
Right...big mama...Surprise.
Middle...stubby legged blocky guy with a flat face...Budley.
Background...my buddy...Bernie.

They are really happy that the grass if finally getting green and they have been eating it to the nubbies. Budley is a really funny little guy. He can't hardly get two inches off the ground, kicking his heals up with delight. He only really likes Will and won't let me get within six feet of him. Unfortunately for him (and for me too I guess), he is going in to the meat locker later this month to become food for us.

Lots of people question us about stuff like that. How can you raise them from babies and then kill them? Well, it is hard after you spent two years feeding and caring for them (and chasing them around when they get out). I like Budley. But, he was born a boy beef and we told him (and us) from the very day he was born that he would have to be food. If he had been a girl beef then we could've kept her for breeding. But...

It is hard tho. Especially when it comes time for my buddy to go in early this fall. This is my buddy...


He loves me. Gives me kisses, as you can see. He is great, comes right up and wants lovin. He plays chase, kickball, and scrub faces with me. I won't be able to take him in...even tho that is what he is for. That is his purpose in life...food. But, he is my pal. So, Will (who doesn't play with him) will take him in. Will is also going to take Budley in. And, I feel sorry for Will cuz he is the one that bottle feeds them when they are little.

In some ways I think of becoming vegetarian when going thru this time of year. Butchering time I mean. Or buying meat from someone else. Sometimes I envy those people who don't know where that chicken mcnugget (gives me creeps even saying those words!) comes from. No name chickens, no name butchers, no name boxes, no name whatever else they add to it that kills us slowly...don't get me started. But, as I've heard..."ignorance is bliss". Is it?

On the consolation side of it. I am thankful that Bernie and I get to play, that he is outside in sunshine and with fresh grass to eat, that he is happy. I am thankful that he has a purpose in life...sometimes I wonder if I can say the same about me. If my purpose was to live happily in order to someday die and feed lots of people...well...I wonder if that would be okay for me too. In the meantime, enjoy your furry friends and the love they give you!!