In my last post, I mentioned that we have had a steady flow of pigs here on the farm this summer. Meet our newest additions. They are less than 24 hours old here. They were born to Blackie , a first timer, who is about a year old.
You may notice our pig names have become less than creative. Our two newest sows, Blackie here, and her sister Pinkie were named because one had a black nose and one had a pink nose. Kellen suggested we name them Keith and George. I think we need to put one of the other kids in charge of naming the pigs.
If we have two litters that are close together we will let the mommas and the babies interact freely. In this group, there are piglets from two litters. One is about a week old. The other is about two weeks old.
These little muddy cuties are just about two months old. They are still with momma, but are about ready to be weaned. They can already pound the feed.
These two are about 4 months old. They are actually a little smaller than they could be. We've been letting them grow slowly on pasture and limited grain to time them right for our needs this year. Standing beside them is the momma of the two month old piglets. She is two years old.
Pigs are amazing. Birth to about 250 lbs (slaughter weight) can happen in a mere 6 months for a pig on full feed. Our pigs on pasture do grow a little slower, but even after raising them all these years, I still can't believe how quickly a pig will grow.
It is July. How is it already July?
I really thought I would blog regularly this summer. I miss blogging. Writing for me is a way to document this adventure here in the 100 Acre Woods, but it can be therapeutic to put my thoughts down in words. We knew the summer would fly by, but I feel like after a month we've just found our summer groove.
The month of June was very busy. We had a couple trips to North Carolina. Tim's surgery was fine. The pathology report was not what we hoped. They found several pockets of of cancer cells in the removed tissue. The lower part of the tissue appeared to have been cut through a pocket of cancerous cells which suggests that there was still cells left after the removal.
The only chemo therapy approved for Tim's stage is the interferon that he took the first time around. It is not a treatment you repeat. (Not that we'd want to repeat that anyway.) The doctors at Duke recommended radiation, but have said even with radiation it is probable the cancer will return. We have declined this treatment, and Tim has begun an alternative treatment called Protocel
. Now we pray, hope, and wait and see what happens.
Let's talk about happier things.
June was filled with camps. Lydia and Nolan had soccer camp.
Lydia, Nolan and Vivian spent a week at Tim's parents. The next week Lydia and Nolan went to 4-H camp. This week Vivian is going to Cloverbud camp. Kellen went to the US Marine Corps Society of American Military Engineers Construction Camp.
One of the projects they complete was a trebuchet.
We've been busy on the farm too. There is a steady flow of piglets being born, broilers to be processed, and eggs to be gathered. The gardens are coming along nicely. We do have less planted than previous years, but are still planting, mulching, and just beginning to eat some of the fruits of our labor. We are still waiting for goodies from many things. Below the girls are standing in front of our two elderberry bushes. These bushes are amazing to me. Kellen and I planted them just over a year ago by simply cutting branches off a wild bush and sticking them in the ground. The bushes and the flowers are HUGE!
Summer means market season. We stock our farm products all year at The Wild Ramp
. In the summer, we are also at The Putnam Farmers Market
. A few weeks ago Lydia, Nolan, and Vivian participated in Kids Chopped. I think Vivian's chocolate was a little soft.
It has been busy, and it has gone fast, but I am completely loving summer! It is so good to be home together to work on projects and to play. We are going to enjoy it while we can!
Just a quick update....
We thought Tim would have his surgery and be done. We thought he would be coming to Duke this week to get stitches out and for a routine follow up.
The call came late last week that this occurrence of melanoma was more serious than we thought. The pathology report on the removed tissue showed quite a bit of melanoma cells. Over the phone, chemo and radiation were mentioned. Today we meet with the surgeon, the medical oncologist and the radiation oncologist.
In our own research, the chemo drug suggested has lots of side effects with a less than stellar success rates. We haven't seen anything that has shown radiation to be effective for melanoma. We will see what the Drs. have to say this morning.
We are continuing to research alternative approaches. There are many out there that appear to have better sucess rates without the serious side effects.There are many decisions ahead of us.
We have been blessed by the support we have received, in many forms, from our friends, family, church, and co-workers. This is a scary road to walk down. Your love and support has made it easier and taken some of the stress from us during this time.
Right now we keep about 100 laying hens. Their main job is to produce eggs, but they have other jobs too. Some of their other jobs include eating bugs and scraps.
We raise chickens for meat in batches of 100. They have one obvious purpose. Getting them to that purpose can sometimes be challenging. When they first arrive on the farm there are challenges with keeping them at the right temperature, with pasty bottoms that need cleaned, and other issues. As they get older, the main issue becomes predators. Our LGD, Stella, has greatly helped keep the fox and raccoon away, but hawk have been a problem the last couple of years also.
Every now and then a few hens will go broody. This is their natural instinct to sit on their nest and hatch eggs. I love when our hens hatch out their own chicks, but we've never had success with hens sitting in the chicken house. The only successful broody hens we've had have always made their nests somewhere hidden outside. So, when a hen is broody in the hen house we try to discourage her by removing the eggs under her daily. They will come out of their broodiness, but while they are broody they are not producing eggs, or going outside to eat bugs. They just sit in their boxes.
Last year we had a hen go broody while we had 100 meat chicks in a brooder box that was in the hen house. She could not get in the pen with the chicks, but she could see them and was determined to be their momma. She would sit next to them clucking to them through the fence. She kept a watchful eye on them. When they were large enough to go outside, we moved them to a different pen for finishing on pasture. That momma hen found her 100 babies. This time she was among them, and able to mother them in a whole new way. One day Kellen was feeding the meat birds, and witnessed momma raising a ruckus and defending her babies. She was chasing off a red tailed hawk.
Currently we have about 6 hens sitting broody in nest boxes in the hen house. On Tuesday, we got 100 new meat chicks. One of those broody hens got a new job. Her job is momma. It was very cute to watch her when we put her in with the chicks. She looked a little overwhelmed at first. Can you blame her? It didn't take long for her to start clucking and calling them. Of course she can't brood them all, but she tucks ten or so of them under her, and keeps a watchful eye on the rest who warm under the heat lamps.
Hen is happy and productive. Chicks are happy. Farmers are happy.