Monday, March 18, 2013

Piggies, Birds and Disbud-a-palooza

This was a very full weekend for the residents of Boggy Hollow. First of all, two of us turned a year older, which, hot on the heels of a knee replacement surgery does not tend to make one feel Spring Chicken-y, generally speaking.

In addition to the clicks on the odometer, we managed to cram a whole lot of farm stuff into those 48 hours.

Firstly, Bill finished building a pig pen and pig house on the site of our first (completely flopped) garden, in the bottomland. Plants didn't grow well there, but we're hoping that piggies will.

Secondly, we bought ourselves some piggies. We got two gilts and a barrow, also known as two girls and a castrated male, 6 1/2 weeks old and already weighing 30-odd pounds apiece. They are mutts, essentially, being primarily Berkshire/Duroc crosses, with a little Yorkshire somewhere in the mix way back. They're fairly mellow little things, who managed to root up the grass in their newly built yard in a single evening.

Against the advice of some, Scarlet has decided to name this motley lot Baykin, Porkchop (Choppy) and Prosciutto (Shootie). I personally have no doubt that any inadvertent sentimentality for these gals & guy will go out the window just as fast as the first whiff of frying bacon (or Baykin) finds its way to my kids' snoots.
These will not be the first animals that we have harvested for food on this farm, but these will be the first that we will have raised for expressly that purpose. I certainly hope that knowing that going in will make it that much easier to harvest and eat these lil' oinkers. For the record, the pigs cost us $95/each. 95x3= $285

As if our dances with pork weren't enough for one weekend, we also were gifted a pair of strikingly pretty/odd Guinea hens. These gals are useful in guarding and alerting our chickens to the presence of the nasty coyote who killed Cotton and who keeps dropping by. I'm not sure if they'd defend our flock or just raise the alarm about a predator in the vicinity, but either way, these gals are a very welcome addition to our rag-tag flock.

Per Wikipedia, Guinea fowl are voracious consumers of fleas, ticks, lice and other insect pests, and will keep your coop and garden relatively bad bug-free. That's a pretty sweet deal, no? I have to admit that I'm also quite in love with their super-cool polka dot plumage. I think that Bill could tie some really cool flies with those feathers!

And as if that weren't enough to fill up a weekend, we also enlisted some help getting our 9 baby goats vaccinated, disbudded, and (where applicable) castrated. The gal who came out to do the deed was kind enough to show Billy the ropes, so that maybe next time we can do the disbudding and banding all by ourselves. For the record, the gal charged $15 per kid for the disbudding/vaccination (with our meds)/castration. x9= $135

Just to clarify, because I feel kinda like I need to justify our descision to disbud, we personally do not care at all whether our goats have horns, but since we're looking to sell these kids to folks, possibly within Olympia city limits, where horned goats aren't allowed, we thought it prudent to go ahead and have the babies dehorned. We also went ahead and castrated all of the bucklings, since one uncontainable buck is plenty for this little farm, thankyouverymuch.

So, that was our weekend. Even with having had goats and a whole mess of chickens for years now, something about bringing pigs and exotic birds into the fold makes this farming-thing suddenly seem super legit. I am going to do my level-best to keep good, accurate records about how much this pig adventure costs us, and how much meat we end up with for our trouble. I'm really, really hoping that between excess goat milk, bakery outlet scores and garden/kitchen scraps, that we'll be able to feed these pigs up, on the cheap. Come harvest time, which we guesstimate will be in August or September, I'll have to crunch the numbers and see how much this experiment cost us. More importantly though, will be whether or not this pork tastes ho-hum or crazy delicious.

Only time will tell!

Today's take:

Eggs - 8

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