Impromptu Road Trip—Bringing Home Barbara Que

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(YouTube link at the bottom)

Sometimes your plans don’t go as planned, but due to some unforeseen circumstances it made more sense for us to pick up Barbara Que this weekend. Which also meant taking the goats to get bred this weekend. We did decide to wait to castrate Riblet until we go pick the goats up because I don’t think one more living creature could have fit in our vehicle.

So I loaded up the 4 kids and 2 goats and set out on an impromptu pajamas and sweat pants mommy adventure to go take care of our farm work.

We loaded up on both safe and unsafe snacks, soda (because it’s a road trip after all–judge me) and hit the road. One hour–4 kids–2 goats–1 mom and one 24 oz (decaf) coffee. We got this. The trip down was smooth. The goats didn’t fuss and we only had to stop once for one the potty. For our family that’s a success.

When we arrived we let out like a clown car and the kids were in awe every direction they looked. We love visiting farms! AJ and Gannon were quick to hug Lisa and her husband because they remember how much fun we had the last time. The two youngest even made Lisa’s husband spin them over and over.

The kids got to chase roosters and try to wrangle pigs and say goodbye to our does since we had to leave them behind for their last attempt at breeding for the year. If they don’t take this time then I’m gonna leave it alone for a few months. If they do take we’ll be expecting some May babies!

After the goats were on their date and the piglet was safe in the car it was time to head home. We had an easy trip ahead of us, but nothing can just be easy and routine with us. Poor AJ had a bout with her gastroparesis on the way home and vomited an impressive amount on the trip home. But other than that it was smooth sailing and we really enjoyed our trip.

As if our morning wasn’t busy enough we then had to come home and close in and insulate all of the animal houses for our first snow of the season.

I’m so proud to have had the courage to tackle the trip on my own, I’m proud of overcoming my anxiety about taking a trip with my gastroparesis little one and dealing with vomit in the car and I’m super proud I still had time to finish up all of the animal pens before the snow. The inside of my house is a mess but I can work on that while it snows.

If you want to watch our adventures click HERE

Happy ❄️ Flocking

How I Plan to Save Money Feeding my Pigs

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I’ve searched far and wide but I cannot find the tree that money grows in. So I have to use what we already have and make it work. So when it came time to consider a new “pet” one of the provisions for me getting a piglet was that it not cost us any more money. No special feed, no crazy enclosures, nothing that we weren’t already buying. All new pets much provide something as well. We don’t have the space or money to have anything on the homestead that isn’t doing some kind of “job”. So in order to make the piglets plausible for us I needed to have some plans in place. As far as infrastructure went I had a plan for where to put them and a back up plan if that location didn’t work out. It didn’t so we went with plan B.

Chose the Right Pig

For us the first part of saving money would be to choose the right pig for us. Aside from personality and being docile there was other criteria to consider. For instance size, small pig = less food. We also chose a breed that grazed and could fatten on grass. For us Kune Kune pigs were the best choice. They aren’t for everyone but they were a great for to us.

Reduced Produce

Our grocery store has a few shelves that have the ugliest, most beat up fruit I ever see on it! I always wondered why they had it but now it makes sense. Banana bread and smoothies won’t taste any different with ugly bananas and a pig wouldn’t mind one bit. A large bunch of bananas for $0.39 sounds worth it to me. Sometimes if you’re lucky and get there at the times they’re throwing it out you can even score free out of date produce.

*tip: if you have local small grocery stores they may work out a deal with you to pick up old stale or “expired” foods. Some restaurants to.  Panera Bread used to save bread and give it out for free to people who came in to feed animals.

Leftovers

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I very quickly looked up and tried to become familiar with what food items were safe for pigs.  When we are done eating we scrape safe leftover into a bucket and those leftover become pig (and chicken feed).  Farmers have been feeding food scraps and “slop” to their pigs since the dawn of farming.  The pig will definitely enjoy these tidbits.  Obviously veggie and fruit scraps are ideal, but a few other types of foods won’t hurt them.  We separate out meat and give that to the chickens not the pigs.

Milk

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From the research that I have done and what I have read “old” milk is a great source of lysine (it’s a protein).  One of the articles I read is called “How to Raise Pastured Pigs without Buying Feed” just that title is enough to make your ears perk up.  Raising any animal without buying feed sounds like a good deal to me.  This article talks about getting a relationship going with a local milk distributor and that’s a great option if you have that resource near by.  Luckily for me I have my own “milk distributors” and when all three are in milk they make way more milk than we need.  I typically share that extra milk with Rhaegar and the chickens, but this season I’m going to make sure the pigs get plenty as well.

Grazing

 

This point ties in with the point I made above about “choosing the right pig”.  Having a pig that can graze means that it is capable of foraging for it’s own food.  As long as it has access to fresh grass or good quality hay that’s the majority of it’s food.  We have a ton of grass all summer and provide fresh hay year round as well.

I’m still doing plenty of research picking the best diet for my new porcine friends, but these are a few ideas that I plan on employing to keep costs down.

Happy Flocking.

To Eat or Not to Eat…

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…that is the question.  It’s no secret now that we are having two new hooved additions to our homestead.  Barbara Que (Babs) and Riblet  are two adorable Kune Kune piglets.  Now Barbara Que is part Juliana so she is going to be smaller and it was already the intention that she would hang around the homestead and be a pet, but then the idea came up that we would like to try our hand at raising a pig for the freezer.  We had already researched the Kune Kune breed in depth and it seemed like the perfect pig to raise for a small homestead.  So now we were getting two, one to keep and one to *gulp* eat…?

***Disclaimer*** I know that talking about eating meat vs not eating meat, and butchering vs. not butchering is a very controversial topic and I HATE controversy.  It is NOT my intention to start a debate or to say what is RIGHT and what is WRONG I just want to respectfully discuss our thought process for what we’re thinking for our homestead.

We have raised animals for meat before (Harvest Day—Bittersweet) so we aren’t a stranger to the idea.  We also aren’t a stranger to separating some of the animals as “non food” and some as “food”.  This idea was hard to wrap my head around at first.  How could I have some chickens for eggs that were practically pets and some that would be treated as pets as well UNTIL it was time to eat.

We finally reconciled that this animal will be a part of our family in life and will return back to our family in death. We appreciate the sacrifice made so that we may eat meat and we do not take it lightly. We owe it to them to give them the most loving and kind life that we can. I worried about them feeling a sense of betrayal but at the end of the day I don’t think the animal would resent the love and the friendship. I don’t believe that they would look at us and say, ” I wish you wouldn’t have been my friend if you were just going to eat me. I wish you treated me differently.” And I truly do take the time to think about and process such things. I try to provide all of my animals with the best care possible and with that comes a friendship that I am truly grateful for. It’s not really easy for me to keep any animal at arms distance. When we first got meat birds I remember telling myself that I wouldn’t name them or pet them or spend any time with them, but it didn’t feel good and it didn’t feel right. I’m a relationship former by nature, that’s what I do, for better or worse no matter how much it hurts in the long run I form bonds with just about everyone I meet and miss them when our interactions are complete.

My favorite video on this subject matter is Justin Rhodes video called, “Why We Name the Cow We’re Going to Eat”. In the video he makes a promise to the calf (a promise that I make to my animals as well) that he will only have one bad day. He goes further to promise that his sacrifice will not be in vain and that they will use every bit of him. He finally ends by saying that it all comes down to one word–the reason they name an animal that they’re going to grow, kill, and eat–RESPECT!

So when the day is done I know not everyone agrees with raising an animal in your backyard around your family and children and then harvesting it. I know that it can seem too close to home and cruel. I know that most people prefer the safe distance that comes from purchasing your meat in shiny packages from the super market and never having to know the face of the sacrifice. All of those emotions are 100% understandable and relatable. But for our family, us the most affordable way to get humanely raised, well fed meat for our freezer, so that we can feed our children the best that WE can afford is to do it this way. Harvesting is never easy and I’m certainly glad that I will not be doing it myself (or on site) but I am abundantly grateful for the sacrifice of the animal that will feed my children and I hope that their [my children’s] gift of love and respect will in some way add enrichment to its life and give thanks to its sacrifice.

All of that said there is always the chance that we grow too attached and the harvest will not be made. Perhaps we will try again, perhaps we won’t, perhaps we will stop eating pork if we don’t have the courage to see it through, who knows. But the idea is that we are ready to try our hand at this journey on our small backyard homestead.

Thank you for reading this with respect. Happy Flocking.

We’re Growing by 8 Little Hooves

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Find out Here!!!

I just love when it’s time to take on a new venture. The potential and the excitement of new hope is thick in the air. Mostly the potential for me to make a thousand new mistakes but potential nonetheless. I’m eager with new ideas and my husband is silently shaking his head just out of my line of vision. You see he loves helping me make my dreams a reality, my whole homestead was the most generous gift from the most loving man, but he also knows that his wife has a mountainous amount of ideas and excitement and more of a molehills amount of experience and know-how. Nevertheless he straps in for the ride and is always down to go on these adventures with me. Even if he spends most of the time bailing me out. I don’t think there will ever be a way to truly thank my better half for all that he’s given me, all of the sacrifices he has made and all of the dreams that he has helped me chase or fulfilled for me, but hey I am talking him up in this blog post so we’re almost even.

Without further ado I’d like to introduce you to our two new Kune Kune piglets, Barbara Que and Riblet. These two piglets will have very different roles on our homestead (be waiting on Friday’s blog to learn more about that).

Barbara Que or Babs, is part Kune Kune and part Juliana so she will be the smaller of the two. She doesn’t have wattles and was the runt of her litter. I’m a sucker for the runt of a litter. She will be joining us right before Christmas, as she’s my Christmas gift from my sweet husband. Just look how tiny…

Riblet is full Kune Kune. He is joining us today and I’m so excited to have him. His sweet double wattles and spots. I just love this breed.

We choose Kune Kune for a few reasons:

  • Temperament
  • Size
  • Availability
  • Homestead Use
  • Looks
  • Temperament
  • From what I have researched, learned from people with them, and seen for myself Kunekunes have a very gentle and docile temperament. They don’t mind children handling them and they don’t seem overly aggressive. Since we have children and a small homestead we will be in very close proximity to these animals and it’s mandatory that they are docile.
  • Size
  • I will not venture into the debate about whether or not a true “mini” pig exists that’s not the purpose of this blog. But as far as pig sizes go these are on the smaller end. Are they teacup pigs ABSOLUTELY NOT, but are they 400 pound commercial hogs definitely not. Kunekune pigs tend to be smaller pigs. Shorter and lighter. Much easier for someone my size to handle and care for on a daily basis. At full grown will I be able to pick them up and carry them? Of course not I can’t even pick up my Great Pyrenees. But at full grown I will be able to move them about the yard and manage their care without fear of being injured.
  • Availability
  • In our area it wasn’t too difficult to put my Facebook feelers out and find reasonable Kunekune piglets. We didn’t want to have to drive super far and we didn’t want to pay an arm and a leg for piglets either. Another reason why we didn’t just get a pet “mini” pig ($$$). On our homestead animals need to be local (within reason) and affordable (both acquisition and care).
  • Homestead Use
  • Probably our biggest draw to the breed was all of the articles talking about how wonderful they are for small homestead use. They’re grazers, which means they can fatten on GRASS! That’s a huge plus for us. That means we can let them forage the yard and supplement with hay (that we already buy for the goats) in the winter. It also means that we have a new use to leftovers (safe ones) we can supplement that grass diet with approved leftovers and limit feed costs. I have seen many articles about homesteaders raising their Kune Kunes on grass and kitchen scraps alone and eliminating feed costs all together (#farmgoals). Another tidbit that we found fascinating was that due to their upturned snouts they didnt tend to be heavy rooters. I’m interested to see if this is the case for us, Rhaegar digs like a John Deere so maybe he’ll dig their mud holes for them. It is also said that they are both winter hearty and tolerant to Summers. Neither of those seasons are terribly harsh hear but we definitely get both extremes so it’s good to know that they should weather the weather pretty well (see what I did there).
  • Looks
  • Lastly we just love their looks. They are cute as heck. All hairy with those little wattles on their chin. Pigs are cute enough as is, but throw on some hair and chin wattles and my heart is melting.
  • We are so happy about our new venture and cannot wait to share this journey with you. Happy Flocking.
  • The Goats are Gone…but the Homestead is Growing?!?!

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    With any luck when those ladies come back they’ll be full of baby goats! I dropped the ladies off with their handsome buck Vader today and we’ll just say everyone was very eager to get down to business. As you can tell by his lip and tongue flapping he is excited to have visitors in his home. He was a real gentleman and selflessly gave up his house so that they would be comfortable. The girls seemed pretty smitten with him even though some of them played hard to get. Toffee had mated twice before I left so she wasn’t shy about letting him know she liked him.

    Hopefully we’ll know in 30 days if the homestead is growing or not.

    Happy Flocking!

    Love is in the Air…How to prepare Does for Breeding

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    It’s that time of year again.  The does all have dates on Friday to get bred and that means I’ll get goat free for at least a week.  That means I have time to clean out stalls, lay fresh straw, and fix their fence.  I’m also looking forward to a weeks worth of peace and quiet.

    The following is how I am preparing for this breeding season:

    Find a Buck-  I’m going to preface this by saying that I do NOT have fancy registered does (toffee is registered but she is the only one), so I am not looking for super fancy registered bucks with pedigrees a mile long.  I am simply looking for a HEALTHY BUCK, with a good temperament, that isn’t too big, has a good track record for throwing girls, and has a nice look to him.  Other than that we aren’t terribly picky about out buck.  There a different way of finding a buck if you don’t already know someone with one. If you are confident using Craigslist that is probably an excellent resource.  I am fortunate enough to be in a local goat forum on Facebook so I made a post about wanting to breed my ladies and the BUCKS just rolled on in.

     Get the Ladies Gussied Up-  Now is the time to get your ladies look all fancy and clean for their date.  Hang on, slow down, step away from the hoof polish and lipstick.  Your goat is already pretty enough to attract the buck she can go fresh faced, let’s just work on some hygiene things.  This is a great time to trim those hooves, it’s better to do it now than getting up close and personal with them when they’re full of hormones and smelling like a buck.  If you want you can shave their back ends, but I don’t think that the bucks care whether they’ve had a Brazilian Bikini wax or not.

    Health Boosters-  When I decided that it was time to breed the girls I immediately wanted to make sure that they were their very healthiest.  In my mind the healthier they are the more likely they are to get pregnant.  So we tried to focus on making sure they had consistent access to their mineral and feeding them the best food that we had.  We bulked it up with nutrients by adding pumpkin seeds.  I also gave the girls a dose of selenium/ Vitamin E, a copper bolus, and probiotic paste.

    Get to Work-  While the ladies are gone I plan on sprucing up their area.  I’m going to clean the run, clean out their house and add fresh straw and repair their fence.  I may also rearrange their climb on activities.

    I’m hoping that this breeding takes on the first try, but that may be wishful thinking.  Wish us luck in this new endeavor.  This is my first time being in charge of breeding, I purchased my does already bred.  Check out my ladies Online Dating Profile her.

    Happy Breeding and Happy Flocking!