I’m writing outside today for the first time in a really long time. Like years. It’s been an interesting year, this year since the DNR graciously bestowed our pigs back to us. Many people have asked us, some almost immediately, “You’re OK now, back to business like before, right?” Sometimes we lie and say, “Yeah, sure.” Sometimes we half lie and say, “Well, you know, it takes time to build markets back up.” It is true, but how about building your whole process chain again with all new components because the people you worked with before are no longer working with you. It’s a daunting task, especially when you’re tired. Emotionally. Physically. Mentally. We’ve enjoyed being able to focus more on rebuilding our business. We’ve been encouraged by each person we’ve interacted with in the course of putting good food in front of folks. Our horizons have been widened by all the different people we’ve interacted with (that’s one of the things we’ve loved about these pigs). Yet, it’s a bit disheartening to have to do all that hard work. Again.
But, now it’s spring. I have time to write today, which is a pleasure. I’m listening to all the birds, especially the mourning doves. That particular song holds lovely memories of my Grandma and their farm. I’m looking at a pen full of freshly weaned little pigs out in the garden field. I just took pictures of one little boy in his homemade robot suit, and pushed another little boy on the swing set some precious friends built last weekend. I’m remembering the young man who came
to get weaner pigs last Saturday. He’s jazzed about raising Mangalitsa pigs, using them to clear land, then coming up here to learn how to process them, and, finally, turning his backyard hogs into bacon himself. He also took in all he could of our chicken operation so he can do that, too. Budding food entrepreneurs are inspirational.
Spring is the start of the year on the farm. We start pigs, chicks, calves (one of the dairy cows is going to burst any day now), seeds, compost, butchering—all the things we do. I decided a couple months ago that I want to live by the Jewish calendar, where the new year is in the spring. It makes perfect sense to those who live by the seasons and natural rhythms.
So, like farmers all through the ages, we are really eternal optimists, no matter what we say. Because spring is the time for new starts.
This weekend will be the first opportunity to get one of this spring’s new pigs!
Here’s the official word:
Finally and at long last, we have chicks! Farming is a dynamic profession. Life is ever changing, and so does our farm. Usually we would have chickens almost done by now, but this year we needed to build a new brooder, so we are just starting them now. Rachel is our new chick person (otherwise known as the “brooder babe”). She has always been our “mother hen,” watching over the little boys and always aware of the little things that need doing. Now she’s really the “mother hen,” and doing a marvelous job even though she’s only had the position for less than a week.
The baby pigs born in February’s snow are loving April’s sun. They will be ready to go to new homes starting mid April.
The older ones are, alternately, digging to China and sunbathing.
The guys are building new chicken brooders. Our old brooder building got turned into a machine shop. So, the chicks get a new home.
And then there’s yard cleaning. Jim, Rachel, and Keith worked on getting the wood area cleaned up.
Puppies! The puppies are out and about and having fun!
Our two Great Pyranees females had puppies a while back. The girls are great working dogs–our farm would be lost without them to guard the chickens. All three dogs are gentle with the kids, too. They don’t try to keep the kids in line and are welcoming (sometimes too much so!) to anyone who comes. However, the boys have tried sneaking up on the house before, and the dogs proved to be able defenders. They watch for things that sneak (even boys) or cause alarm in their protected group. They are good family dogs and fabulous guardians.
Jim was helping me get pictures, but the puppies just wanted to play with him! The one he’s holding is his favorite. The markings on the face are called “badger markings” and fade away to white as the puppy matures. Our adults all had those markings and are white now.
Sleep is still one of their main occupations, but they get more active everyday. They are starting to play and wrestle now, just 5 days after taking these photos.
These superior family guardian dogs are indispensible on a farm or homestead. They are $350 each and will be ready for their new homes starting April 18. We are taking deposits if you want to ensure we have a puppy for you!