Wednesday, March 12, 2008

warm day

Well, I've had a productive day with finally getting to my "odds and ends" containers that had ended up accumulating to a ridiculous 4 large rubbermaid tubs full! I threw away a huge amount of things, have several pails of "to sort" screws, tacks, strings, coins, keys, pills and other things that ended up at the bottom of each tub, plus I think I have a couple more bowls full of stuff from the counter. I had no idea there were so many precious things around that I didn't need the past year :). The house is still a tad messy due to bags of garbage to be hauled to the pit, boxes of canning jars to take to the loft, boxes of girl clothes to pack and stuff to return to inlaws, but it is nice outside so now that the chickens are in the oven, the girls and I will head out to work on the pig stuff. With wheat over $10.00 bushel, I am re-evaluating how much of everything do we really need and it is time for extra roosters to be dealt with, chickens to be moved to where they can do a bit more foraging (away from straw bales where they can lay extra eggs in!) and I'm making sure of the #'s of chicken I really need to order for meat this fall. Extra eggs do not sell well around here even though they are priced less than storebought (something I swore I would NEVER do!), so I need to determine if the they could be fed to other things and cost less than purchased protein for pigs or dogs, or if we need to get rid of a few chickens also. I love being sentimental, but it does not make for saving money or otherwise and I can enjoy 20 chickens as much as 50.
Pigs can easily forage elsewhere, but not in the winter and so we may cut the fall litters out of the equation if we don't have a market for the meat or piglets. And although we may lose a lot more money by selling feeder piglets rather than finished piglets, it also means we have to put out a LOT less money in grain to feed out the pigs. I have 1/3 of a bin of wheat and barley left so I guess we'll just see how that goes but I don't want to be stuck in a game of losing money purchasing feed for the animals rather than selling them.
With rural areas lack of interest in sustainable food vs. cheap food it is frustrating for any animal raiser, and it seems that they are doing their best to promote the Walmarts and ultra cheap food at any cost. They talk big about supporting local farmers and agriculture, but when it comes down to it, it is about convenience and perceived cost, as many are willing to drive 70 miles to get milk .50c cheaper.
We are out to finish the farrowing pens and shoo Terrence into a new abode - this warm weather is turning him into an 8 month old frisky puppy that wants nothing but play and using everything as an excuse to get bouncy with the very pregnant gilts. After he squealed and shoved one girl all the way across the pen out of fun, I whacked him on the head with a shovel and told the girls I would kick him out the next day. Emily and Elise had so much fun helping yesterday that I'll take them again today and they can crawl in and out of each of the pens, testing everything I've made.
Oh, I also need to get my seeds started today if I want to get much of a headstart. I am still having a hard time getting used to planting into potting soil instead of home soil and compost - I can't seem to get things to grow quite right. But I wasn't very happy with my purchased tomatoes and peppers as they didn't grow right and I wonder if they weren't root bound (like all purchased starts), and suffered Miracle Grow withdrawal. :)
Gotta run!
Heather for the crew

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

alive and annoyed

I just got a soliciting call from a group that first had me verbally agreeing on just how important their role in communities was - how would you say no when somebody carefully words things like, "I'm sure you would agree that helping disaster victims and homeless people is very important".
Then he asked, "Ma'am after hearing this I am sure you would want to lend your support to us in this and let me tell you about our levels of support."
I butt in with a "I would have to discuss this with my husband."
The rude fellow on the other end had the audacity to say, "Ma'am I'm sure your husband trusts you enough to make a decision like this."
Whoa, that is NOT going to get a single penny out of me. Try to appeal to me with that line - right. . . .
"First, you know nothing about my husband to make a statement like that. But yes, my husband trusts me to make proper decisions, but we discuss all of our spending together, so I would like to discuss this with him."
"You mean your husband would object to your spending $25 on a good cause?"
I do not know who taught him these lines or if he actually gets anywhere with these guilt trips or manipulation ploys (you mean your husband doesn't trust you - you can't even spend $25 without asking his permission??), but he sure was n't getting anywhere with me!
"That is not the point, the point is that I said my husband and I discuss our spending with each other so I would have to talk to him." "Okay ma'am please keep us in mind." And I hung up first, because in a very juvenile way, it made me feel slightly better to hang up before he could hang up . .
And if I get one more call from the local newspaper about the spring/fall/winter/summer/patrick's day/easter sale of .33c a day newspapers INCLUDING Sunday and "If you'll just give us your information I can have you signed up and getting it in 3 days."

we're alive

I think I will just give up completely on ever posting photos and just simply post meaningless drivel about our day to day existence. Ben could never figure out how to post his pictures last fall and then we kind of let this die. . . good thing not logging in every 3 months doesn't shut down your website.
We have had nothing but cold, snow, cold, cold, snow and a bit more cold. I realized that pipes freeze easily when there are holes in the bladder under your house, sewer pipes freeze in trailer houses when you let the water drip so the pipes don't freeze, and sewer pipes once frozen are not that easy to thaw until about March . . . Whoever plumbed this place had a bit too much pipe and not enough to do besides run pipelines everywhere. I spent a lot of my winter under the house and Elise and Emily quickly learned that I was either doing chores or going under the house . In January we took our 5 pigs to the butcher and I learned why the phrase "pigheaded" is so appropriately named so. Due to the run around the property 2 days before butchering, the meat may not be quite as tender as it could have been, especially where one pig was concerned. He took the in-laws on a run around the pasture when he showed them I was not lying when I regaled them with stories of his running over panels (with me under the panel), taking off down the driveway, and doing his best to go through anything that had a crack in it. I don't know how we could have done it without their help as three pigs loaded great, but the last two were rascals. Thankfully they are gone and I did not miss hauling extra feed and water from the house to the pigs when the water lines froze outside. Unfortunately 3 days before their butcher appointment, they realized that their electric fence was not electrified and so we had wandering pigs that I couldn't catch and I learned a great deal about how NOT to herd pigs.
Recently the weather went from thirty below to 30 above and I am enjoying the gloriously warm weather without toque or coat. Our Berkshires are due to farrow March 21,22, 23 and as it has been unseasonably cold I have been stressing about how they will do and how their piglets will be crushed, frozen or trampled. I'm sure it will be allright, but I will blame myself for everything that goes wrong as I'm not used to animals that typically just have a 2-10% death loss. I still have a bit of work to do on their farrowing pens (they have stalls that are 6x8 with creep area and then a run outside. I also need to get Terrence's new area fenced as he is truly a "boar" in every sense of the word. He loves to shove the girls around, pig out on the food, fight when he wants all of the water, bounce around when the pregnant girls just want him to go away and so on and so forth. He drives me bonkers and I'm sure the girls think so too, but I have felt sorry for him being alone when I separate him from his group so I put it off. But with the warmer weather he is just too playful and it's time for him to work off his energy alone.
I can only imagine what this post will look like as I can't remember how to do paragraphs either. . .
Ben has been ridiculously busy at work and on call and I've seen enough c-sections to do one myself now. Emily is grossed out by it all and prefers to sit with Rattatoile (clinic cat), but Elise likes to watch as long as I am willing to carry her around. Elise is walking by herself now - started on her 1st birthday - and as adorable as a screaming teething child can be (which is not too adorable!).
We are in North Dakota - for those who didn't know what state we were living in - and have not yet acclimated to the 8 months of winter they get *G*. I need to put a bubble over our property next year so that I can pretend I don't get 2 months of -30. Although I do believe automatic waterers and pipes that don't freeze would actually brighten my outlook on winter wonderlands.
I don't have time to type much to anybody these days (It is bad when your own mother asks if you are mad at her because you haven't written in ages!), so I'll sign off. Heather, Ben, Emily, Elise, Tia, Becky, Isabelle, Franklet, Mochaccino, Terrence, Wilma, Mattie, Gwen, Dan, and 53 unnamed chickens.