Monthly Archives: January 2015

Gardener in Me

I’m hoping to focus more on my garden/food forest this year. I’ve got ideas…but my ideas are bigger than my budget. The area I had cleared for logging would make an amazing terraced orchard. But doing it right and not destabilizing the hillside would be  feat and likely cost more than we’d ever get back out of it. For now that dream in on the back burner.

Now, though, I can at least work on making my pasture area a “food forest.”

I like fruit. I like nuts. I like my animals getting food that i don’t have to feed them. A great way of getting all this in one is planting fruit trees between pastures. My light situation isn’t the best, so i have to think were I want my trees: how big is it going to get? how much light does this need,hlow little can I get away with? How can i keep this tree safe from animals, but have them benefit from its fruits? Will this tree block too much light from the pasture? Lots of things to consider.

I found a guy who runs a nursery out of his back yard a few years ago and finally went back to his place. Harvest Nursery is great. It focuses on edibles and they are very knowledgeable with wonderful prices. Today I bought:
2 Mulberries
1 walnut
1 golden delicious
3 blueberries
1 tea plant
2 almonds trees
2 Cornelian Cherries
5 asparagus

I’d say its a steal all for $125!

I’m excited about the cornelian cherries because they are actually dogwoods that make edible fruit. I wanted to plant a dogwood at Tabithas grave, so I think this may be the ticket…though I may still go for a *gasp* ornamental.

I have a bank with a stream that animals technically shouldn’t be grazing. I let mine in on occation to work on the invasive grass and fight back the black berries. Once they’ve finished clearing I’ll plant more fruits along the bank for stablization. Its not great grazing, but with the stream flowing nearby established fruit trees should be very happy growing there. Most of my trees are going along that the stream or a few select fence lines so they can drop fruit in the pens.

i am still thinking where things should go so im playing on ms paint until I figure it out.

2014 Sign-Off

December was not a good month for me. Thus my silence.  That and working at my “real” job like a maniac.This isn’t one of my funnier posts, but it gives you an idea of what I’ve been up against.

One of my pigs ready for butcher ate something sharp she rooted up in the pasture (glass from the original homestead? wire?) and punctured her gut. I didn’t know what what wrong until we euthanized her  but my instinct said i couldn’t save her with antibiotics or anything else, and none of the veternary materials i poured over could explain her symptoms satisfactorily.  I decided to put her out of her misery. Upon her autopsy i found a puncture wound in her lower stomach. She was a matter of weeks away from giving birth to a litter of piglets (which i suspected anyway). I processed her for my own consumption since it was an internal injury, but it was a loss of income. I made the best of it and attempted to butcher her out and made my first bacon

The primalsPig Carcuse DSCN1171

Then I slaughtered the chickens…the chicken plucker i built didn’t last long and we ended up plucking them all by hand. My friend brought her chickens up thinking we could knock them out in no time. Afterall, shes a professional gutter..how long does it take to pluck anyway? Well…out 27 chickens took almost all day until we got some plucking help. Once we got a system it went faster, but it was not at her usual 75 chickens an hour speed. The thermometer read 29 degrees. During the process I cut my finger bad enough to later in the evening make me go to urgent care. 5 stiches, hit the tendon.

They didn’t realized that until my follow up appointment and made me start wearing a split and reffered me to a hand surgeon. the splint kept getting wet, falling off, getting caught on hay bales…the surgeon saw me and suggested not using the hand for 2 months and doing surgery. um…no? I run a farm by myself and am employed as a goldsmith. Think a goldsmith can take the holiday season off? Not gonna happen. So…I cried and she was like O_O* “um….you can wear a splint and it might work…you just might have a crooked finger. Might not…we dont know” I took the gamble. She fitted me with a new splint which…promptly got lost in the pig pen during morning chores. So…I made my own.

DSCN1197 DSCN1198

Stays on, its silver so its antimicrobial. Airy so everything can stay dry….i know it looks like its cutting off my circulation but thats just the tendons scarring up into a huge immobile mass.

Fall chickens

Before the chicken butchering I realized I wasn’t going anywhere fast on the winter lean to for the pigs. I realized last winter it only takes a few pigs to ruin a pasture in an Oregon winter. During our rainy season they need a better situation than i had last year. So i decided an outdoor pen was the way to go. I had a friend who wanted to mill my leftover wood from logging…so he took a few weeks to mill it. then it needed to dry…pretty soon winter was threatening. I broke down and hired someone to do it for me. And do it right! I started but the posts were wobbly despite being sunk into concrete….So I hired a guy. Best $600 I’ve ever spent.

New Winter Pig House

Peppercorn the Pug Rico at 8 Months

The food is at one end, a muck area and then a bedding area. it has access to outdoors and a chute to the barn. This is good because the day i put them in I came home expecting happy pigs and was greeted in the dark by a single, lone Rosie. I was missing 5 large pigs, it was dark and I was tired. Then I remembered: there was a metal sheet the sheep had punched out a bit…did the pigs?

Yes..the pigs found the floppy metal siding and ripped a hole in the barn. They were happily inside while the inhabitants of the barn were standing outside in the rain waiting for me to remove the intruders. I was able to execute this move quickly thanks to the chute the fellow put on because he thought it was a good idea. Very good indeed. So I got them back in, fixed the hole on the inside of the barn where there was no plywood siding (thus the sheep punching out the sheet metal) then repaired the metal in the dark surrounded by pigs…It was a day. But now they are happy in their pen and have space outside.

Things should be good but…I have a butcher pig at weight and i can’t find customers right now. I’ve got more female pigs than i wanted. Females and a single male make babies…so this butcher pig (remember cute little evil runt piglet Leche?) is now pregnant. She too is an early bloomer just like her mother (though not as bad as her sister). Shes not breeding stock, though i do have a place in my heart for evil pig. We will see what happens.

Speaking of pregnancies Cinnamon farrowed unassisted. 7 total, one stillborn, 1 born without a tail or anus that had to be put down and 5 healthy squeakers. Not the best I’ve seen, but they came a month earlier than i wanted and the market is still depressed. It may be for the best as I haven’t sold all the pigs from Peppercorns last litter. Infact, I took a gamble  processed several through a USDA butcher hoping to sell them for holiday roasts and not a single one sold! Bummer…So I’ve got a freezer devoted to roaster pigs. Maybe come spring people will start thinking about luaus and bbq’s…

Piglet Without Anus or Tail DSCN1186 DSCN1188 DSCN1192

And finally, my rooster was killed by a neighbor. He’d visit her hens who free range (in my yard, they’d free range in the other neighbors garden much to his chagrin, anywhere they wanna go) and so i’d kept him locked up for months. I finally let him out for a day for exercise and after she admitted she missed chasing him off….so i gave him a day out of the coop and…blam. shot dead and dumped in the trash. I saw it from afar just as i was about to go fetch him and lock him back up. too late, deed was done. Its a sad thing to waste a good animal, waste a life, waste food and waste my friendship and trust. I’m not going to seek legal action because it would hurt the husband who works for the money more than it would hurt her. So it is what it is and i can’t have rooster because they will be killed if they arn’t locked up all their lives. i can’t do it…so no chickies for my hens…

2015…I wonder what it will bring. Hoping for the best, striving to improve, love for all Gods creatures. Even rooster killers.