Tuesday, February 10, 2015

These Little Piggies Went to Market

Pigs have been a big part of our farming experience this fall.  We got our pigs on July 31st.  We started off with 5 pigs.  They were so tiny and cute. The five of them fit in a dog carrier.  They were 5 weeks old when they arrived.

We let them come out of the carrier and into the pen on their own.  They came out and immediately eating all the lush greenery in the field.

It was a cool summer and the nights were down in the fifties.  I was a little worried about them handling the cold, but they were fine.

We put a garbage can with hay in it so they had a place to cuddle and stay warm.  All of our pigs liked to sleep together and share their heat at night, even when they were big hogs.

The pigs grew and grew.  We had a medical issue and ended up losing two of our piggies.  We made some changes in their feed and water procedures.  We gave them some herbs and they all recovered and started to really grow!  They were very friendly and would come to the fence to be petted and scratched.  

The hogs' names were Brazil, Panama and Trail Mix.  How did we come up with those names?  T-Bob assessed the spots on their skin and determined that their spots resembled maps of the two countries, and the other looked like trail mix.  The largest pig is a barrow and was named Brazil.  He had a back injury and required spinal adjustments several times.  It made a huge difference and he was once more able to get up and walk easily.

We moved our pig's pen every day to keep them on fresh pasture.  This worked very well and made it so that we had no issues with smell.  The chickens would come behind and clean up the spilled feed so that we didn't have rodent issues.  It was a system that worked well for us.  It also meant that we never had to shovel their manure and they put it on the field for us.  It was a win-win.

 The pigs were to be at the butcher  on February 2nd by 8 AM.  The excitement came when we realized that there would be a storm coming in on the day before.  We had to be able to get a trailer into the field to get them loaded, and then back out.  This would be very challenging to do in a foot of new fallen snow.  We borrowed a friend's trailer and loaded them on Saturday before the snow started.  It went pretty easily compared to many of the horror stories our friends told us of escaping pigs and hours of muddy labor to get them in the trailer.  It was about a 45 minute project.  We put hay in the bottom and food and water in the trailer and the pigs seemed very happy in there.  It was probably a lot warmer than their open sty out in the field.

We had to take them to the butcher in the middle of the snow.  It took us twice as long as it should have and was very exciting.  The roads were totally snow covered and slippery.

We got the trailer covered and ready to go.

The hogs seemed content in the trailer, and were quiet travelers.

We arrived at the butcher at dusk.  It was a little freaky looking there.  It was an old brick building painted white.  There was a definite sour smell and the animals inside were restless.

The boys unloaded the handy dandy ramp that came with the trailer.  It worked magnificently.  We had also been told stories about pigs refusing to unload as well, but ours were very well behaved.  They were installed in their new facility in less than ten minutes.

It was a very dreary facility! It almost seemed like a dungeon.

It was a little sad to see our pigs in their little enclosures.  They had been such cheerful creatures and never gave us a lick of trouble.   They had been on the farm almost exactly 6 months.  We did our best to give them a pleasant existence and to treat them humanely.  They got to live outside in the great outdoors and to enjoy a pasture as well as all non-gmo feed.  The butcher commended us, when I went to pick up the meat, for raising such healthy, nice-looking animals.

This was last night's dinner.  The best pork chops we ever had.  They came from Brazil or maybe it was Panama.  No, we didn't import the meat, those were just the pigs; names.  I didn't think that it would be a problem, but nobody seemed to have any issues eating our former residents, although it was a little strange to think about.  My DH says, "Farming is great!  You get to enjoy all the cute little animals, and when they grow up and no longer are cute, you get to eat them!!!  I can't wait until we get the bacon cured!

For those who are interested, the pigs dressed out at 191,199, and 252#.  I am interested in running our final cost assessment numbers.

I love homesteading! It is delicious!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Basketball Times

This year is the first year that both boys have competed in basketball. Thomas played on the Junior varsity and T-Bob played on the Junior High Team at CCS.

Yesterday they took the team pictures for the Varsity and JV teams.  Thomas is number 11.

There were LOTS of pictures.  I think Thomas is the tallest guy on the JV team.  He has had a good season and has learned so much about playing basketball.  This was his first time playing and he ended up starting most of his games.  You can't teach height!

Incidentally,  This post is dedicated to my nephew in the Philippines who started his basketball career playing with many of these guys.  Micah (#24) has really grown in the last year.

One thing I appreciate about the CCS team is that a number of the players on the team go to our church.  It really is a good way to build relationships!  Zach (#44) is a bulldog.  He plays varsity and has improved so much this season.  He has even gotten to start a few games.  He plays a tough low post and knows how to muscle it back up.  He does an 'Infinity' workout before his games.  Trevor (#3) "has hops" as the kids say.  He is really quick and can block shots with the height he gets on his jumps even if he is not especially tall.  He is a really good player, especially for being a freshman this year.  He started most of the varsity games.

Thomas started at center for the JV's.  He is tall and he has really long arms for his height.  That really helps on the tip off...

... and playing defense in the middle.

Thomas has come to really enjoy basketball!

This has been a good learning experience for the guys.  They have not had a good win - loss record, but they have really improved through the season.  They have a couple more games left and then the season is done.

T-Bob has come so far from last season!  He has practiced hard to develop a jump shot and is much more consistent on his foul shots.  He shot over 50% so far on the season.

T-Bob has grown a lot this season also.  He has almost caught up to me in height (that would make him almost 5' 9").  He has worked very hard, and has become a leader on his team.

Our junior high team is not very good.  Most of the teams we play against, have mostly 8th graders on their team playing.  We have two eighth graders total and even some of our fifth graders see significant playing time.

Logan is an excellent free throw shooter.  Especially if you promise him candy if he makes the shot.  It seems to focus his attention for some reason.

T-Bob has been a bit frustrated with the play of the team, but they have had much to overcome.  They have had almost no practices.  This was mostly due to scheduling conflicts at the school.  The fall play and other things came up.  But they are learning through playing in games.  They just lack the conditioning that regular practices gives you.  They really get tired in the second half.  

Next year T-Bob moves up to the JV team.  He is looking forward to that.  He has enjoyed going to their practices quite a bit of the time with Joel. He is learning a lot.

You may wonder, who practices the most in our family?  I would have to say that the most faithful player in our family is Elizabeth. She is outside almost everyday with the kitchen timer in her pocket set for 30 or 45 minutes.  She works on her shooting outside.  She works on her dribbling in the house in the basement.

She is her mother's child.  She never gets cold.  She has her sleeves rolled up and her shorts on when she is out there.  Some days the temperature is in the teens, but that doesn't phase her.

She insists on having good shot form and works on keeping that elbow in.  Her goal is to be a 6' 2" shooting guard on a girl's team.  She will get the height without a doubt, now she just has to work on her ball skills.  She enjoys playing basketball with her brothers.  Next year maybe we will let her play on the junior high team.  They asked her this year, but we decided that she was too young as a 9 year old.  We will miss basketball when the season finishes up this month, but now we are in the midst of debate season, so we won't be bored!  LOL

Stay warm and dry!