It has been a few months since I’ve written a What’s Going On post and, as usual, there’s plenty going on around here. I can’t possibly do justice to All The Things in this one post, so I’ll plan a second update post sometime within the next week or two, okay? PINKY-PROMISE.
First: I feel incredibly grateful to be able to take part in this sort of busy-ness. Sometimes I moan about being overbusy, but I grow bored when things stay the same, and with a garden and livestock and a big family, nothing ever stays the same for more than a second or two, don’tcha know? And I am incredibly grateful for my friends and family who take an interest in the things that are important to me, helping me and teaching me and checking up on us regularly.
I am blessed, through no doing of my own. God is good to me. And this is something that is important to remember in this–the longest, grayest, coldest month in our Nebraska calendar.
Now, without further ado . . . wanna see what’s going on?
The piggies are still growin’, bless ’em
From what I’ve read and heard, it’s best to have your piggies ready to go to freezer camp before winter sets in. It makes sense. It’s harder to keep animals during the winter, of course. Drinking water freezes and snow and ice and cold must be dealt with on a daily basis. But my piggies weren’t ready for freezer camp before winter came, so we made them as comfy as possible out in their yard for the colder months. Bryan built a lean-to (out of a piece of our last year’s melodrama set) and I stuffed it full of hay. You’d be surprised at how cozy the gilts say in that little space. I see them at night scootching the hay around with their snouts to make it just as comfy as possible.
Guess what: piggies snore when they sleep heavily. It’s true!
My piggy consultants express concern over the fact that Chinwigchinpig is so much smaller than Beacon. They did, after all, start out about the same size. I patiently point out that
- Sheesh, Chinwigchinpig (CWCP for short) fell off a truck. LITERALLY fell off a truck. Naturally she’s not as vigorous as Beacon.
- Beacon is obviously Top Pig and takes an aggressive tack when food is proffered. To put it mildly.
- Maybe, just maybe, CWCP–despite appearances–is the smarter of the two and she knows where piggies go when they get fat!
One more thing: I guess I must wear my heart on my sleeve overmuch, because everybody who knows about my piggies express (privately to others, or publicly to me) their doubt that I will, in fact, have the gumption to send these gilts to the butcher, when the time comes. This is a sensitive issue for me.
While it’s true that I thoroughly enjoy raising animals, I also am pragmatic enough to know that you simply can’t raise a pig forever (with the exception of the potbelly pigs that are kept for pets, I suppose). According to my dear dad, pigs never stop growing. They just keep getting bigger and bigger. So if I don’t want to keep hauling feed and schlepping after pigs that will eventually be as big as our house, I will have to say good-bye to Chinwigchinpig and Beacon, at sometime in the not-too-distant future.
And yes, that does make me sad. I’ve grown to love these piggies, it’s true. They are a fun and interesting part of my day. But I won’t keep them forever, and I’ve known that since Day One (click here to see cutie baby piggy pictures!)
In the chook yard
We have seen a unusually large number of falcons, eagles, and hawks* preying on our chickens this winter. I don’t keep an exact count, so I don’t know how many unwitting hens they might have carried off. I confess that I was so swept up by the grandeur of seeing several bald eagles soar (very low!) over our place a few weeks ago that it just made my day. Never mind that they were probably just scoping out their next meal. #mixedfeelings #naturelover
I have an uncomfortable decision to make–one that I had to put off because of most of my family getting sick after Christmas week. (That event does relate to the problem, I assure you!) I’ve got to choose only two roosters to keep for breeding purposes, and put the rest into the freezer–and soon.
And I tell you. There is just not an ugly one in the bunch this year. Well. Maybe there’s one ugly one.
My parameters for rooster selection:
- He’s gotta be sexy, i.e. at least not repulsive to the hens.
- He’s gotta be pleasant in temperament. #aggressiveroostersneednotapply!
- A rose comb, or at least a smaller comb, I prefer. The big floppy combs (though beautiful and eye-catching) just get frozen off, anyway, during our cold winters. Sadly. Because I think they are quite sexy, indeed.
- He must be utterly gorgeous, because you know I’m all about pretty, folks. And I do have a definite preference for lighter colors and the blue-grey color of a few of my flock.
- Healthy, of course, and with a well-shaped body and head. Those who spend a little time watching their chooks will know what I’m talking about here: some birds are just nicer shaped than others. I could draw a human parallel here, but I’ll (uncharacteristically) use some restraint!
That’s it! One thing I’ve got to decide: is it worth the risk (you know, the lighter colors have got to be more visible to predators, especially the ones that *swoop down from above) to encourage light-colored and white chook breeding? I have a bee-au-tiful pure white Icelandic rooster right now. And a pure white hen. But I don’t know if it would be folly to encourage that line or not, or if it would be best to just go with the multi-colored Icelandics, which surely are better camouflaged in their usual habitat.
I’d like to just go with both . . . and I just might. Bryan has been (amazingly!) mulling over the idea of building a bigger chicken coop . . . !! But it is definitely just in the thinking stage, so I dare not start counting my bigger chicken flock before the coop is built.
Our beautiful puppy is no longer a puppy, although she quite often–mostly, in fact–still acts like one! In fact, we’ve learned that if she is not on a leash, attached one of our belts (whoever is available), she is:
- roaming around the house, plucking used tissues, butter wrappers, candy wrappers and toilet paper tubes out of trash cans and chewing them up into little sodden messes, which she then drops randomly;
- chewing up library books; (gaaaaaah$!)
- pinching scraps, loaves of bread, anything edible (or, non-edible!) that she can reach, from tabletops and counters;
- making mysterious puddles in the caboose;
- chasing any cat she might find, through the house at breakneck speed;
- jumping on Malachi and wrestling with him like he’s another puppy that must. be. dominated.
Yes! Can you believe it, that such a lovely dog could be so, so naughty? And yet, she is.
The key seems to be the leash.
In the house, if she’s on the leash, attached to my belt, she is much more relaxed. She does not have so many choices. She is a good dog. She looks up at me adoringly; she relaxes and flops down at my feet and naps. She enjoys accompanying me as I cook, clean, teach the kids, answer the phone, etc.
Off the leash, she. goes. nuts.
So. Scout is on the leash, most of the time. When we step outside, I let her off the leash and she runs like sixty! When we step inside the house, she goes on her leash, attached to a belt loop. We are getting very close, Scout and me. 🙂
Oh, Gentle Reader. It just never gets old. I’ve got a garden plan ready for the next few months of growing, blissfully pleased that every week gets closer and closer to when I can dig my old(ish! oldish!!) hands back down into our wonderful soil and enjoy being part of a growing world again. I am trying quite a few new varieties in my garden this year, including the following from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds:
And I’m putting in a few beds of cutting flowers, just to see how they do in our soil. I’d love to be able to offer cut flowers with my edible flowers to local restaurants with good taste. 😉 I’m really excited about growing the following from Johnny’s
I am trying to be more deliberate and diligent about planning out my garden this year. To that effect, I already have several trays of seeds germinating on my sunporch and in the basement. I add to them nearly every day. I no longer have time for my soap operas (joking) or window-shopping (again, a joke, I never really did). I wake up thinking about my garden. I go to sleep thinking about my garden.
This morning (I am not kidding) I woke up at 4:30, wondering if I should learn how to graft tomatoes. Cray-cray, baby.
Okay, you dear gentle reader, look, you hung in there to the end, kudos to you! Next week (I will!) I’ll write a catch-up post and include news about the kiddos and the kitchen and . . . let’s see . . . whatever occurs to me before then.
Did you enjoy this post? If you have a friend or relation who might also enjoy it, you’d be doing me a very sweet favor by sharing it with them. Thank you. Good gentle reader. Sit. Stay. Share. Also! You can’t imagine how much I enjoy your comments, so if you have ten or twenty seconds to leave one for me below, well. That would be icing on the proverbial cake, baby.
I love ya, I really do.
- It’s a twofer: Chicken Enchiladas for Company + dry enchilada sauce mix!
- What we’re reading at our house in January: the (quite necessary!) backstory