I was going to write about watching Blossom make a nest and then give birth to seven eight piglets last Tuesday evening.
But this morning, an event happened that amazed me! The day started out normally (though I slept in a bit). As I went down to feed the pigs I loudly yelled “Sooo-ey” to call them to eat. Since everyone was there besides Blossom, (who’d nested way back in the woods with her piglets) it was moot but I was trying to entice Blossom to come down. After I finished up, I decided to fix up another pig hut for my other sow, Sue, who is looking like she will give birth in the next week or two. As I was working, I noticed Sue had come back and Dozer, the Big Papa, was sniffing her. Thinking she might be in the early stages of labor I watched… and realized it was Blossom, not Sue.
Blossom is the black pig in front of Sue, the other black pig in the background
I quickly locked Blossom into the pen I’d set up for her, with some food to keep her happy. I set out for the nest she’d created 200 yards into the woods. Once up there, I discovered eight piglets; I’d only counted seven each of the other times I’d visited, but black piglets snuggled up to a black mama makes it very hard to count how many.
I was able to capture five piglets; four girls and a boy. I tied up my jacket’s arms and hood to make a bag to carry them home and made note of where at least two other piglets were hiding and set off to return them to their mama. After getting the piglets settled in, I started back only to hear some of the older pigs grunting in their “something is upsetting me” way.
Then I spied The Little Piglet Who Could. She was running down the hill toward the pig huts and making a her little piglet “I need my Mama” noise. After watching her tiny form maneuvering through the woods and mud, I started videoing as she got close (see below). This tiny 3.5 day old piglet ran all the way from the nest 1/8 mile away, through woods she’d never seen, following her mama’s scent (or something) to get to safety!
After settling The Little Piglet Who Could in with mama and her sisters and brother, I returned to find the last two piglets (girls) and brought them home. What a day! And what a big week! I’ve now seen piglets born in person and witnessed the most amazing feat by a tiny piglet!
If you want to see piglets being born, I managed to video five of the births! I hope you enjoy them; it was amazing!
2.620 eggs😮 Our hens graced us with 2,620 eggs last year!!!
2,032 duck eggs were laid by around 18 ducks (numbers fluctuated throughout the year). That’s over 178 eggs per duck! Our chickens laid 588 eggs from, on average, 6 hens. That comes to 98 eggs on average per bird! To be fair to the chickens, their numbers were more variable this year as we had some new chicks coming online, a few older hens, and quite a few losses to foxes. Also, the chickens seem less inclined to lay where they are supposed to! The new duck coop is going to provide housing for the chickens as well. Chickens enjoy height and ducks enjoy floor space, so there’s room for both.
February/March is the time of year when the ducks start laying in earnest. Their peak laying month in 2019 was May, whereas it was March in 2018 and April in 2017. Likely the peak laying times are a combination of weather and how old the ducks present are. Younger ducks lay more! At this point they are beginning to show signs of a slight increase in production with the daily egg average going from ~2 to ~3 eggs per day (from all 18 ducks). Chickens seem to start laying in earnest a little later. In 2018 their peak laying month was June. Last year it was October, but that is because 5 new chicks started laying in the fall! Before the chicks, June and April were the next top laying months.
One of my favorite breakfasts is easy to make, and it’s very, very local. I love scrambled eggs and bacon. It’s not an everyday breakfast around here but it’s great for special occasions or on those mornings when I ‘m in the mood for something hearty!
My first step is to make the bacon. Lately I’ve been using the oven to cook the bacon; it cooks up crispier and I can easily fit all my bacon on the tray, leaving extra bacon in the fridge for other recipes. After it’s baked, I drain the bacon and put about a tablespoon or two of bacon grease in a skillet and add scrambled eggs (eggs, herbs, salt, milk, and a bit of parmesan or romano cheese). While they’re cooking I often make a bowl of mixed veggies. They add to the yummy flavors and a serving of veggies is perfect with such a heavy breakfast! By the time the eggs are cooked, the bacon is cool and the whole meal is plated up. I pour the mostly-cooled bacon grease into a glass jar (jelly jars are best) and I keep it to use with various recipes (Alfredo sauce is great with a roux made of flour and bacon grease). Hammi is always happy with a spot of bacon grease on his food too! I love that in about 20 minutes, I get a lovely breakfast as well as bacon grease and cooked bacon to use in many other meals!
But I digress. What I really mean to say is that you have an opportunity to have your own tasty bacon to add to the eggs you already buy! We often have custom pork and lamb available for you!
Buying in bulk is a great way to save money while getting the best quality meat possible. Bulk means not only is the price per pound less than retail cuts, it also means you can make choices you can’t make buying retail. You can pick your favorite sausage flavors, buy thicker or thinner cuts of meat; whatever your preference, have your sausages made into patties because that’s the only way your four-year-old will eat it, and you can ask for the bones and leaf lard if you’re inclined!
To purchase in bulk, just follow the instructions above Email me or visit our online store to place a deposit (choose local pick-up for your shipping method). I will contact you with further details.
Some of my favorite conversations with customers happen when they tell me how they’ve used our products in ways we hadn’t even thought of!
The other day a customer commented that she’d had a knee replacement and as a result had one spot on her leg where the nerves didn’t heal quite right. She had some numbness and the worst part was it itched terribly, especially at night. She happened to have some of our Ditch the Itch Poison Ivy Salve on hand, so one night she tried it on the spot when the itchiness was particularly bad. She immediately felt relief and was able to sleep at last, after being kept up due to the itching. She now keeps her Ditch the Itch next to her bed!
Another customer uses a compression sleeve and has found our deodorant helps relieve chafing from the sleeve. She just applies the deodorant to the uncomfortable spots before she pulls the sleeve on (or after it’s been on a bot if she forgets). Other clients have found our deodorant to be helpful in areas where skin touches skin and causes sweating and chafing, especially in the summer.
A third customer found herself with a sore backside after a long first day on a European biking tour. She happened to have a roller of Mary Jane’s Last Pain in her first aid kit and found it worked to relieve the discomfort and she was able to ride again the next day.
Many customers have told us they use our body butters on their chapped noses and lips during cold weather or during illness. I did that myself after I couldn’t find my Gardener’s Salve during my last cold!
How do you use our products? We’d love to learn about your discoveries!
Pigs are very hardy but they still need shelter and warmth during the winter. One of the pig huts I have needed some changes before winter arrived. It’s made with a cattle panel frame, which is great but doesn’t hold up well to heavy or wet snow. Earlier this year I’d added some T-posts to help hold up the roof but apparently some pig thought it was in the way and the already-bent post became more bent, so a new, straight post was needed. Next, the back end of the hut was open fo allow breezes in the summer. Last year I just covered it with a tarp but pigs find tarps are great fun to play with and they’d ripped it apart last year. I wanted to keep the tarp as long as the tarp could last so with help I sandwiched it between two sets of pallets. It works great!
Finally, the area I’ve been using for the piglet’s feeding time is needed for the sheep, so I decided to create a “creep area for them to eat in. A creep feeder is designed so the smaller piglets can get into an area where bigger pigs can’t. I just created it this morning so I haven’t tested it yet but I have high hopes it will work! I basically created a box out of panels, with one side raised so little pigs could get in. It has a gate I can ope to enter to feed.
See the pictures below for both before pictures of the pig hut and after pictures of the pig hut and the creep feeder. All the huts need is more straw to fill them and as it gets colder, I usually find things like old comforters to suspend from the ceiling to block the wind (let me know if you have anything thats stained but still in good shape and I’ll pick it up)! They do destroy it eventually but I haven’t found much else that works as a temporary windblock; in the summer I like it to be open and breezy!