Thursday, November 28, 2013

Piglet Mania!

well .... new life has been added .... our pig, Lucy, gave birth to a fabulous litter of piglets.

the journey to this point has been pretty challenging.  facing the world of first time pig birthing was pretty daunting.  as each day passed and we saw her belly grow, we kept wondering when???  when???? when??????  just watching her waddle around, heavy breathing, lumbering to get cooled off in the heat was enuf to make us feel very sorry her!

oh good grief!  would you have those piglets already girl!  

because it was our first adventure into pig raising, i read up heaps ... and heaps.  did all the text book comfort things of patting her belly when eating and stroking her behind the ears .... talking to her.  all this to ensure that she was comfortable with us being around the piglet when they were born.  discussed what to look for with farmer friends here who have done it before so we were ready for the big day.  what kept coming up was the key things to look for in a pig about to farrow.

  1. nesting .... gathering up all the straw she can find to build her warm and cosy nest to have her babies.  this would indicate that she was about 24 hours away from farrowing.
  2. loss of appetite.  not wanting to eat because all her energy was going into preparing to give birth.
  3. when gently squeezing her teats if milk discharges that means she is hours away from giving birth.
did she nest?  nope!  
did she have a loss of appetite ... not a chance .... ate like a horse the morning she gave birth.
any milk discharge? not a drop.

so it would be no surprise then that hubby went out to do the morning feed and said she is big ... but no signs yet .... and when i went out that afternoon with the kids there were 10 little piglets getting cozy with mama!

it's 36 hours later and we've lost two piglets.  not sure if it is because she rolled onto them, or because we had an unusually cold night.  either way .... those sorts of things are to be expected as part of the natural cycle when you choose to raise your animals in a more natural, pastured way.  she is a good mum though ... and is now eating heaps to keep up that fabulous milk those babies need.

so, we are on to the next leg of this adventure .... growing the piglets and keeping them safe (i reckon for the next week they will still be vulnerable to a predatory bird that hangs around and the inevitable fox).  we move to our 100 acres in 3 weeks (yeah!) and at that point we'll begin the weaning process .... but mum will help with that as she is ready to help them grow up.  teaching them to feed out of a creep and taking solid food .... all that fun stuff.  will have to see if they break the stereo types with that as well!

oh .... and all that stuff they tell you to do about stroking her belly, feeling her nipples, talking to her during the last stages to ensure that she is comfortable with you around the piglets?  well, she got that one right!

a friend on FB said that she reckons the kids will have a hard time eating one of them.  ... hmmmm maybe .... but they'll get used to the process.  

Friday, November 8, 2013

what the??????

we certainly can't claim to be the first to have taken a new fork in the road.

when we left Sydney two+ years ago we were following a dream.  one of creation care activists ... living off the land in a sustainable way that honoured this world that our Father in Heaven has blessed us with.

it has been a wild, fun and wonderful two years .... but it's time for another change.  another re-jig of that dream to build on our strengths and assist in our weaknesses (oh yea!  we have heaps of those!).

strength:  what am amazing sense of community in this beautiful little country town.  we have been overwhelmed with the acceptance of us, our children and our desire to live this sort of life.  people here are happy with a simple life and always ready to lend a helping hand.  how awesome is that!

strength:  we found that we actually do have tenacity!  some folks were not sure we could do this ... but we have persevered and continued to face each challenge and make the best out of what gets dished out to us each day.

strength:  willingness to be wrong and learn .... 'nuf said!

weakness:  niave.  big time ... probably trusting in some folks more than we should with regard to how our future unfolds.  but at the end of the day, we'd rather be naive than to be cynical.  if you want to know more about that .... come on over and have a bottle of wine in hand!

weakness:  age and time.  lets face it, we aren't spring chickens any more .... and while hubby is an amazing man .... he can't make more than 24 hours in a day.  so when it comes to building and putting infrastructure in place, it became very slow and things just couldn't get done.  and even more importantly .... it was a bit of a drudge.  working a full time job and trying to help with the farm was just too much!

this whole situation was further exacerbated by the fact that all the banks decided that they didn't want to cover the risk of the house we wanted to build.  too risky, too different .... just "too" .... <sigh>  which has left us feeling deflated and defeated.

what next???

well .... chin up ... look at all that we have and trust our Loving Father for His provision.

so, we are humbly taking a deep breath and moving on.  to what????

to JustEarth .... mark 2.

we have found a place, just 20 minutes from town that will give us more than we could have ever dreamed of.  a house (albeit not hugely sustainable .... but we can fix that!), 2 dams, a lagoon and 100 acres.  and more importantly .... some basics already in place with a big shed, fire trails, a cattle yard .... you get the picture .... INFRASTRUCTURE.

so much more than we could have ever imagined (and isn't that how God loves to work??? giving us more than we could dream of??)

so watch this space, yet again.  looks like the dream is growing .... allowing hubby to do his full time job and enjoy our home as well ...

here we go again!!!!!  building JustEarth on a different scale, in a different way.  but still using those creation care / permaculture principles of people care, earth care and fair share.


p.s.  if you want a squiz at our new place, you can see it here ....

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Angry Birds...

i have angry birds .... very angry birds!

or at least that is my assumption.  how do i know you ask?  well ... we have gone from 6-8 eggs a day to 0 ... almost overnight.

yeah ... a big fat ZERO.

consider this a life lesson in changing the accommodation arrangements for your chooks.  i have given them a piece of my mind ... told them to get their act together or they would be chicken soup.  but i can't do that.  you see, i know the real reason .... and it's just one of those farm life lessons.

  • we moved the geodesic dome to a new spot .... which meant fresh grass.... yippee!  but also meant a lot of jostling about as they moved.
  • i had not one, but two broody hens.  one i let sit on a clutch of eggs.  the other i kept shoo-ing off the nesting box area ... she was taking up the entire area and wasn't allowing the other girls on the nest.
  • i have two isa browns that were in a seperate a-frame ... and moved them into the geodesic dome for the short term.
  • egg fertility rate has gone down significantly.  we hatched a clutch at just over 50% fertility.  the last batch that i gave to a teacher for their classroom with only one hatching from that!  ugh!
  • and to top it all off, i was rude enuf to throw the broody hen that hatched a clutch back into the geodesic dome and take her chicks away from her.  how dare i!

the only saving grace is three young layers i bought a few months ago that are finally starting to come good .... so i am getting a few eggs from them finally.

so i reckon it will take a few weeks ... hopefully less.  the broody hens are off the nesting box finally so all have access again.

i am missing my eggs.  both for cooking and for hatching.

really looking forward to that empty nest being full again and my angry birds not being so angry any more!