Friday, May 27, 2011

Maybe trainable is a better description. . . .

Pigs are reputed to be very smart animals. I believe I've even mentioned here how intelligent and wonderful they are, but after this week, I am wondering if trainable is a better description of a pig than intelligent.

Our pigs are pastured. We aren't there yet, but the idea is to have several pastures to rotate them through. Three pastures would be ideal for the feeder pigs. We can let them eat and dig up one pasture, and when it is cleared, rotate them to the next, and plant the first with goodies for later.

Since weaning, the feeder pigs have been in one pasture. They have done a wonderful job clearing it and digging it up. We finally got the second pasture fenced in about a week ago, but we can't get the pigs to go in it.

We gated off the first pasture with an electric fence gate, and made an opening next to that gate to go into the second pasture. Please note that electric fence was there before the opening to the second pasture was made. Kellen and I tried to herd the pigs into the new pasture. They wanted nothing to do with it.

They would go as far as the line where the electric fence was, and then they would budge no further. They jostled and pushed each other and us, but no pig would cross that line into the new pasture. A couple of them went through the electric gate into the old pasture, and several of them got by us before Kellen and I gave up in frustration.

It was time for plan B; lure them with food. We let the self feeder run out. This morning I called them out of the building with a bucket of feed. I put a small pile of feed right at the line where the fence used to be. Very gingerly a couple of them started to eat. Soon all ten of them were pushing and shoving for position on that pile of feed, but none of them would go around to the other side of the pile which would cause them to cross that imaginary line.

I took a little more feed and drew a line with it from the first pile to a second small pile beyond the imaginary line. I sat and watched for about 15 minutes. Still no pig would cross that line. I got tired of watching and went about some other chores.

An hour later, I went to look again. This is the picture I saw. Most of the pigs were still outside sniffing around for feed. Look closely. The black pig on the left has its nose right about where the fence was. Just past his nose is the pole that marks the corner of the two pastures. Keep looking left and you can see two untouched piles of feed on the ground. Apparently, they aren't hungry enough yet to cross that line. I wonder how long it will take?

Pigs, smart enough to train to electric fence, but not smart enough to know when the fence is no longer there. Trainable? They certainly are. Smart? I'm not inclined to think so at this moment.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Our extremely wet spring has certainly caused some problems here on the farm. Our spring garden has been one casualty, and now it looks like we can add our first cutting of hay to the list. Even so, there are a few things around here that are simply flourishing with all the extra moisture. Mint is one of them.

Mint is extremely easy to grow, and will spread and take over in just about any space. Give it a little sun and a wet area, and you can almost see it grow.  Our mint is planted near a ditch where it is welcome to cover the bank it is planted on.

I use a lot of mint fresh during the warm months, and I dry it for use over the winter. Mint is a delicious and different taste to use with roasted meats. It especially pairs well with lamb, but my favorite way to use mint is for tea.

There is not much that is more refreshing to me than sun brewed mint tea over a tall glass of ice. You can find a gallon of it in my refrigerator all summer long. It is so simple to make.

Peppermint Sun Tea
8 tea bags
a handful of peppermint
gallon of water

Put everything in a glass jar, and allow to sit in the sun. The time it takes to brew depends on your taste and the temperature outside, but it should take a least a few hours. I bring it in when it looks right. I remove the tea bags, but often just leave the peppermint in. We drink it unsweetened, but if you are a sweet tea fan dissolve some sugar in hot water to add to the tea. Serve in a nice tall glass over ice. 

Of course, if the sun is hiding, (as it has been most of this spring,) simply put a pot of water on the stove with the tea bags and mint. Bring it to a boil. Remove from heat. Strain into a gallon container and fill the container with cold water.

What is your favorite way to use mint?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Keeping Cool

It felt like summer last week. Though you wouldn't know it by the 50 degree temperature I woke up to this morning, last week was hot and humid. We were able to keep cool enough by cooling off the house at night, and closing it up tight in the morning. Our animals however do not have such an opportunity. They have to find other ways to stay cool.

I walked over to check on the meat birds. You may remember that they are now completely free ranging, and that I'm betting their proximity to the house (and our dogs) will keep them safe from predators. As I walked toward them, I couldn't see a single chicken. I couldn't even hear any of them. My heart began to race a little.

As I got to their pen, there was still no sign of the birds. I could feel the dread creeping in while I kept walking past their pens. I was well past their normal hangout when I finally heard the faint sound of them. Moving toward the sound I caught a glimpse of white among the green. They were all deep in the brush at the edge of the woods just keeping cool in the shade.

Directly across from where I found the chickens are the fat hogs. Do you know how hogs keep cool? They don't sweat. Though I didn't catch them in the act, it is pretty obvious. Pigs lay in the mud to keep cool.

Of course when they saw me standing there, they thought I was bringing something yummy for them. In a matter of minutes I had drawn a crowd. Pigs just flock to me what can I say?

Finally, I'll share one cool momma. She apparently, thinks the way to keep her and her chicks comfortable is to hang out in my strawberry patch. I probably should have shooed her out, but I was too busy snapping pictures of all that cuteness!

According to the forecast, I don't think we are going to have any trouble staying cool this week. Staying dry however may be a challenge. Hope the spring weather is better in your neck of the woods.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Where to start???

Tomorrow is Nolan's 7th birthday. It is also May 12, as in the almost the middle of May, for anyone else who has lost track of time like I have. Seriously? The middle of May? Where did April go?

There is always a lot going on here, and I don't know how many times I've seen something, or thought of something, and said to myself, "I really need to write about that." Occasionally, I even snapped a picture. 

I knew it had been awhile since I'd written, but I was surprised to see it had been two weeks! Goodness. So where to start?

I guess with the important stuff. Tim's surgery was April 29th. The surgery went well. He will have a large depression where they took out the lymph nodes and other soft tissue. It is under his arm, and thus isn't really noticeable, but really who would care anyway when given the alternatives? He is pretty tender in that area yet, and his energy is not quite up to normal, but everything is healing up nicely. And the best news, they didn't find any more cancer cells in the tissue that was removed. What a huge relief and answer to prayer! He will still have interferon treatments, but those won't start until June.

As for other things happening around here, one night we found the siding by the back door of the house covered with moths. Among them were several of these pink and yellow ones. I have no idea what they are, and I have never seen them before. They certainly are unusual.  I probably should consider them a garden pest; moths lay eggs that hatch caterpillars that eat my plants, but seeing as I have nothing planted (and it is almost the middle of May,) thanks to all this rain, I decided to enjoy looking at them.

Our end of the year picnic for our homeschool co-op was yesterday. This year we had a drama and music class. They were able to perform for us at the picnic. They did a wonderful job! The weather was great for the picnic. The food was abundant and delicious. We had a great time.


The kids are always up to something. Their imaginations and ability to entertain themselves astounds me sometimes. They had my camera the other day. I've come to expect some surprises when I upload from the camera. Among them this time were the one at the top of this post, and the one below.

Quite honestly, I have no idea what they are doing in either picture, but I thought they both were pretty cute!