Wednesday, September 01, 2010

It is finally raining...


Tabitha and I cleared the garden for the pigs to go in there and clean it up. This morning we decided to attempt the move. We opened the appropriate fences and gates. Tabitha got a bucket of grain while I opened the pigpen. They wanted nothing to do with her and her measly pulverized pig feed. Tabitha had just cleaned out the freezer and gave the pigs the waste. Note to self, make sure pigs are hungry before trying to coax them anywhere.

The rodeo ensued in earnest. I must admit it was really fun. I love pigs. Our farm is mostly dog proof so we were not in any danger of loosing anyone. First we tried chasing them. Pigs don't react like other animals in this respect. They immediately think it is a game wherein they are the puck and you are the goalie. They rush past just out of reach woofing just to taunt. Did I mention I love our pigs?

After trying several methods we simply relied on their natural curiosity and closing gates behind them. Surely the garden is the place with the most interesting things to eat and root. Finally they realized that it was. We closed them in and they were happy.

Then the heavens opened and praised our good work by offering us with a much needed rain. It has been over a month since it rained here. The grass crunched with each step like walking on fall leaves. Tabitha also put some clothes out on the line just to taunt the mischievous clouds into cutting loose.

We are hopefully going to get more this evening. All that beautiful chicken fertilizer from moving the tractors across our paddocks needs to be rained in. Oh if we get a couple of inches over the next few days the pastures will perk up into a lush cow heaven.

My rain water storage for the chicken coop was down to twenty five percent. I had a broken water fountain and it dripped for over twelve hours. Here is a picture of it filling up. I installed a chain for the water to adhere to on it's descent. I watched it for a while it was hypnotic like a campfire.



I took a video but when I watched it I decided it wasn't worth sharing because the moment was lost. A little video of it seemed stupid while in person it was almost spiritual. It is funny how some things can be captured and others can't.

Rome almost got bit by a copperhead snake yesterday. He actually stepped on it. It was between the house and garden. It struck at him twice but didn't pierce the skin. We were so lucky. I grabbed him up by one arm with a jerk. Luckily he is used to me picking him up by one arm since a baby. Otherwise, he surely would have a dislocated shoulder.

I guess they mostly travel in pairs so we are on *high-alert* until further notice. I raked all the leaves and debris from that area of the yard to be sure the other snake wasn't lying in wait. I showed Rome the dead snake, yes I killed it. I warned him that this snake could kill him and to stay away.

17 comments:

kentuckyagrarianwannabe said...

When your finished with the rain please send it to Kentucky we need it here very bad as well.

Copperheads are one of the most dangerous snakes to have around because they offer no warning at all, so glad he missed both times.

Tim

Christopher said...

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tansy said...

it's been raining for 2 days here now. good on the greenery, bad on the goats who hate to graze in rain and have to be supplemented food wise.

i'm so relieved to hear rome was ok...i had just read a few days ago about maria's daughter being bit and i was going to call you guys and ask if you'd had any appearances of them and then i saw tabitha's post. yikes! sometimes my intuition is freaky.

i love water chains. they make the loveliest noise. i completely understand about not being able to capture it on film. <3

Adrianna said...

You are lucky. One of the other blogs I follow had their little girl bit by one. Go read how horribly lucky you were.
dirtundermynails.com

onesojourner said...

Hey can you tell me where you are sourcing your old billboard signs from? I have called several places around here with no luck.

Kris said...

Oh glorious rain! We need some too. We are supposed to get some in Ga. tomorrow. I am so glad ya'll are getting that much needed rain.

And thank goodness you were there and were able to get your son before that snake did. And that it's a dead snake now. Please be careful and I hope you get the other one too.

I love your blog. So glad that the cow had a nice healthy heafer calf and ya'll are back in the milk now!

Kris said...

I forgot to say your pigs looks so happy to be where they are. I have raised pigs before and totally understand the rodeo part. They tend to do what they want to do and have no regards to what you want. So glad you got them to where they needed to be.

DavidZ said...

Karl,

Something to think about re pigs. After having raised a type of heritage pigs that grow to be huge, I've gone in the other direction and just recently got ahold of a couple of Guinea Hogs. They were once a very common homestead pig, especially in the south but now critically rare because true homesteads are critically rare. I thought of them in regard to this post because one of the reasons people preferred them is that they're real good at eliminating snakes. Many other advantages to them as well, which you'll see if you decide to look into them.

Ed said...

Hogs certainly don't like to be forced to go anywhere. I lost a lot of sweat chasing hogs around as a kid.

Glad to hear Rome wasn't bitten. We're lucky up here since we don't have any venomous snakes.

karl said...

kawb, Sure rain is headed your way.

tansy, Thanks we are so lucky he wasn't bitten. steel roof and water chain a lovely combination.

adrianna, We feel lucky. that is funny i just went to that blog the other day.

onsojourner, a glut of them just came through my friends sign company. they are called *vinyl wraps* in the industry. i can probably get more of them if you want. surprisingly their price just doubled. i guess everyone is trying to squeeze money from any and all sources during this economy. I just bought three of them this morning. I got seven more for my friend bob. he is covering a hoop-house for a permanent storage shed. If you can't find them for any cheaper i can get them for you for $40 each, let me know.

Kris, thank you we feel very blessed for our recent successful close call. Pig ranching is fun.

DavidZ, It is very surprising that the snake was this close to the house. The dogs run in the paddocks adjoining three sides of the immediate yard (where the kids play dog free). this would also be true of where pigs might roam. It must have come from across the road. We like full sized pigs. All pigs kill snakes ours just aren't free range. We like to save our pastures for the cow. We eat tons of pork and we'd have to get a whole troupe of them to meet our pork intake.

Ed, thanks chasing pigs is fun business.

DavidZ said...

Karl,

Well, I guess I'm going to take up the sword a bit as to your reply about pigs and the sort you consider appropriate for your enterprise. I'll begin by saying that I haven't the least judgment about what you deem suitable for you and your family...that's your choice and only you can make it. I just believe your process of evaluation could bear some scrutiny as far as how your reply came across (to me at least).

First, yes, all pigs kill snakes, but if you look at the very first image that shows up on the website of the Fort Lewis Preservation Farm, I think you'd agree that most hogs don't have this kind of relationship to the people they share homestead space with. 2nd, I don't think that your Pyrenees running in adjacent pastures means anything in regard to snakes. 2 of my 3 dogs are Pyrenees that have free run of the place and while they are endlessly killing coons, possum, the occasional skunk, sometimes stray poultry and escaped rabbits, and are forever burrowing after gophers and moles, I've never seen them with a snake, even though every time I mow hay I chop up a handful of them. Dogs are not the same as pigs when it comes to snakes. Your dogs aren't doing snake patrol.

3rd, if your family is eating 'tons' of pork, good luck with the prices at the grocery store because you're only raising maybe 400 pounds with the feeders you've shown. And good luck with the price of feed at the mill, because if you're keeping the pasture for Jocelyn, you're buying most of what they're eating. I think its plenty relevant how much an animal can feed itself. I was told by the folks I got my initial Guineas from to be careful about leaving them on pasture because they'll get too fat on pasture alone. Yes, it takes a few more of them, but if they're doing a lot better job of feeding themselves and processing bought feed...you're still processing a lot more chickens than you are pigs. And me, I'd worry a lot less about vulnerable children (though mine are grown and gone) around a couple of these little mutts than I would around a 300 pound feeder having a bad hair day, which could pretty much render the kind of fencing you rely on of little consequence.

And hopefully none of that will come to pass. Probably the way you're doing things is the best they could be done. In the meantime, even though the sun has been down for some time, there's a lot more I could be doing than chewing your ear, so I'll leave you alone.

karl said...

DavidZ, Sorry I didn't mean to discount your suggestion. It was not my intention. I was simply stating what was working for us and a sliver of my reasoning.

Mostly, we keep hogs to eat our waste. My children are tragically wasteful. I would pull my hair out if we didn't have pigs to convert their leftovers to food. Sure we buy food for them likewise for our broiler chickens. even our laying hens get their own special mix from the mill. Our pigs eat the vast quantities of canning off-fall, nuts and persimmons the kids pick up for them, orchard waste, garden waste. They are like our garbage disposal, which at the end of the day, we get to put into our freezer.

We buy the piglets from our friends and could free range them in the woods and likely will in the near future. These pigs are mutts with enough heritage breed in them to go either way, feeder or free-range. And, the price is right.

I agree our fencing is dodgy to say the least but as a rule fencing is just an idea anyway. Generally, happy, well fed animals stay in their pens--except goats. Our pigs are friendly and really like us, we bring them treats. Reasonable animal temperament is a critical expectation around here. The kids were out when we first set them free. They are just big pets, they like a good scratch.

Not to make assumptions, please don't feel like I don't value your opinion and comments--because I do. The exchange of information and ideas is why I am here.

You'd have to see our farmstead in action to appreciate the pigs role. I am sure that I could integrate guinea hogs into our symbiosis but full sized hogs are a most perfect match into our preferred lifestyle and choice of animals they might accompany.

I am not trying to claim that I have all the answers--I certainly don't. But imagine for a second I did have all the answers. Those answers could only be appropriate for my exact set of variables. The next farm down the road wouldn't have the exact experience I do. So please don't take my ideas what I believe as appropriate as anything but a choice. I also reserve the right to change my mind at the slightest whim.

In the end it is just a journey and muddling through is where all the fun is. Please don't feel slighted and thanks again.

peace,
k-)

Walter Jeffries said...

We could use some rain. But not the snake. The ones we have here are non-poisonous. Theoretically there are rattlers out there but they almost never get seen. I think I've seen two in my lifetime. One was already dead.

Woody said...

Happy that Rome wasn't bitten. Copperhead bites are damned painful. I can't imagine a little one dealing with the pain.

Ron said...

Whoa... yeah, glad the snake didn't pierce.

I comfort myself somewhat with the stats - no one in 25 years has died from snake bite in MO (more die from spider bites). Still, that wouldn't be much comfort if my daughter stepped on one!

We've never seen a copperhead here, although my neighbor across the road claims to kill dozens every year.

Ron

Sissy said...

Here's mine: Musingsbythecreekside.blogspot.com

Appreciate your thought!

mary said...

Boy, I do an operatic scream if I see a garter snake! I can't imagine.

Rain here too after a long dry patch. Loving the way the garden looks with the tiniest bit of extra water this time of year.

thanks for linking to my blog -- I'll keep an eye on your's too.

best to you all,
Mary

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