Tag Archives: adult 4-H

I’ve Gone Hog Wild

My dream of being a real pig farmer is slowly coming true. Tomorrow I get to pick up my second load of hogs to finish, for a grand total of 18. As many of my longtime readers know, raising hogs has been quite the journey.

My new pig pen is two pens like this.

My new pig pen is two pens like this.

I had to ease my Parents into the idea of raising hogs again. I did it as a child in 4-H for many, many years. I was too petite to raise steer, I wouldn’t be caught dead with a lamb or goat, so hogs it was! I have many fond memories of raising and showing my hogs and the sense of pride I had providing meat for my family, still makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

I built these pens by throwing brunch! I invited my friends to come build fence as I plied them with booze. If you look on the right you'll notice our measuring is just a WHISPER off after brunch. LOL

I built these pens by throwing brunch! I invited my friends to come build fence as I plied them with booze. If you look on the right you’ll notice our measuring is just a WHISPER off after brunch. LOL

As a child, my Dad raised hogs. Back then, the ranch was more of a farm, complete with dairy cows and grain crops. The leftover milk from the dairy would be combined with the grain from the fields for the hog feed. My Dad swears the pork was different back then, and I believed him. I knew the key to raising hogs again would be producing a pork product that was like Dad remembered.

See the deer in the pipe? Know what else these old, junked pipes would be good for? Yep! A pig house!

See the deer in the pipe? Know what else these old, junked pipes would be good for? Yep! A pig house!

I knew that if I raised heritage hogs, and tweaked their diet just a whisper, I could create some pork like my Dad remembered. I managed to convince my Parents into letting me get a couple heritage hogs, just to see. Well, that turned into five hogs and Adult 4-H. And that turned into me quitting my full-time job in town and ten hogs. Now we are here.

Heritage red wattle hogs eating cookies out of the new feeder my family built.

Heritage red wattle hogs eating cookies out of the new feeder my family built.

When I started pestering my Parents about getting hogs again, I never thought I would get to where I am now and where I am thinking of going. I didn’t plan on enjoying hogs so much. I didn’t plan on the meat being so very different and very good. I have quickly accepted the fact that there is no going back now, I like pigs too much!

Yes, I stole the rats with horn's house to make an upcycled pig house! Ingenious and 'sustainable'.

Yes, I stole the rats with horn’s house to make an upcycled pig house! Ingenious and ‘sustainable’.

Since I have doubled in size every year (and don’t plan on stopping!), I needed a new pig pen. The old pen I was using was older than I am by several decades and was not doing a good job of keeping the pigs where they needed to be. This caused several problems when the pigs ate my Dad’s cable to his TV, and my Mom’s flower bed. However, moving my pen meant drilling a well since I did not have a dependable water source and that was just not something I could afford. But then something magical happened. 

In an effort to be 'sustainable' this pig feeder is made out of old boards from out barn that blew down!

In an effort to be ‘sustainable’ we made this pig feeder out of old boards from our barn that blew down!

The most important thing to me, as I grow, is to be “sustainable”. Yes, I know that is an ag buzz word, but for, me it means doing this project in a way that meets my needs the best way it can. It means, not getting a loan from the bank (I learned from my student loan!), it means recycling materials when I can (but not super old materials that break all the time, so I waste all my time fixing them), it means doing things just a whisper different (outside the box is good!).

Part of thinking outside the box is getting free labor from my friend's kids.

Part of thinking outside the box is getting free labor from my friend’s kids (Just kidding, kinda!).

I am so excited to have this opportunity to do my own thing. I love working and being with the cattle, but I love having some independence on the ranch. My Mom made sure to instill in me growing up two “rules”: 1) always have financial independence and 2) develop as many marketable skills as you can. I feel like my pig operation is fulfilling both those “rules” and providing food for my family and friends – it feels so good!

If you get a moment please check out these awesome “real pig farmers”. Remember every farmer does what they think is best for their land and pigs. I urge you to ask them questions – the why’s and how’s are so important!

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, animals, family, Know a California Farmer, photos, Pigs, Ranch life, Uncategorized

Water Help

In California, cattle ranchers are the redheaded stepchildren of the ag industry. What I mean by that is we rarely get help when things go south. We don’t get subsidies, we don’t have many contracts, and we aren’t guaranteed a minimum for our product, etc, etc. This is ok, because in my experience cattle ranchers tend to be the most paranoid self-reliant out of the bunch, and we survive.

Even when programs are offered that want to help us, a good majority of cattle ranchers won’t accept the help. Seems like every family has a horror story of an uncle, grandpa or friend that “lost the family Ranch” when the “government” got involved. Understandably, this has resulted in super, stubborn and skeptical ranchers.

Well enter 2014, we are in the middle of an epic drought. Cattle ranchers are selling cattle, farmers aren’t planting crops, shit is getting real out here folks. Programs are finally being offered to cattle ranchers that are designed to help us. It’s been an immense relief, and I have no doubt, this has saved many, many ranches (remember these ranches are the same ones that provide us with all this beautiful non-developed land, habitat and wildlife, we are surrounded with in Northern California).

This ranch is no different. This drought has affected us deeply. We now have several fields that have no stock water access. When you don’t have water, you have nothing. If my pigs and cattle don’t have water, just like us, they die. It becomes a huge problem when you have the land, the cattle, the pigs, the bills, the taxes, but no way to sustain them.

The new and the old. My new well and our barn that has been here since Ishi's time.

The new and the old. My new well and our barn that has been here since Ishi’s time.

I made the choice to enroll in a program and get financial help. It was not easy, but for me, it’s a perfect storm of being a “beginning” rancher and the drought. The help was to ensure that I have water so I can continue to do, what I do. Fast forward a few months. I have invested my time and money in a well, solar pump and water tank, so my animals have drinking water.

My new water source. SOLAR, you guys! SOLAR!!!

My new water source. SOLAR, you guys! SOLAR!!!

My Parent’s have graciously allowed me to long term lease one of our pastures that had no water access. I had out-grown my pig pen behind our houses, and the pasture I was using for my beefs was not meant for that and no longer had regular water access. This ‘new’ area I am leasing is where I used to raise my cattle, when I was in 4-H and FFA, but the lack of water has essentially made it useless. By getting this help, I am returning this part of the ranch back into production, benefiting both my family and the wildlife that live here.

Long before this was my 4-H/FFA place, this a part of the history of the Ranch. Just look at the barbed wire left over in my pen. The bottom wire is super old!

Long before this was my 4-H/FFA place, this was a part of the history of the Ranch. Just look at the barbed wire left over in my pen. The bottom wires are super old!

This is not a choice I took lightly. My long term followers have watched me and this blog grow. You’ve been with me from working in town, to Adult 4-H, to me quitting my town job to work full-time on our ranch. And now, to me making a huge step of growing my hog and cattle business.

If Silly was a piglet, she said she'd live here.

My new pig pen. If Silly was a pig, she said she’d live here.

Now that I have accessible water for my domestic animals and our wildlife,  this is my year. This is the year I take initiative and grow my future. Because I now have water, I can use the knowledge I have amassed to better my land, grow my animals, improve our environment and habitat.

It’s going to be a great year.

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, animals, History, Know a California Farmer, photos, Pigs, Ranch life

Guest Post: The City Girl That Dreams of Being a Country Girl

Those of you that have been following my blog for a while remember my adult 4-H program. I asked the Ladies to write a guest post for me if they felt like it. Again, I have a tendency to take my life for granted, cows and pigs and horses are my daily life. I love when I can get into someone’s head and see my life from their point of view, it helps me understand what and how I need to speak to people.

Shannon was not an original 4-H member. At the beginning of this project she was busy! She was in law school (!), has a family and a fulltime job, (having dropped out of law school, I know what that stress was like (OH SO SCARY! Run away, run away!)), anyway, Shannon wanted to raise a pig, but couldn’t. So I told her I would do it for her and she could come out as much or as little as she could.

Well she ended up coming out a lot, helping with the hogs and cattle. And she was darn good help! I’ve noticed some people have a natural knack for working around animals, she is one of those people. I got to know her and her daughter Olive, better as well, and I’m really glad I did. I’m looking forward to many, many  more fun adventures with both of them (also: keep your eyes open for a pony for Olive, she needs one out here)!

I am super stoked to share with you Shannon’s guest post, enjoy!

Disclaimer: Megan called me up and asked if I’d be willing to write something for her blog. I was hesitant at first; I’m not much of a writer. In fact I’d rather be doing calculus problems then writing. But with the advent of the internet and everyone else thinking they are writers, how bad can it be?

I had the pleasure of helping Megan out with her Adult 4H pig project. She pretty much adopted me into the program. I work fulltime, was in law school at nights, and I have a family at home. So I initially told her I’d pass on the project as I had no more time to give to anyone else. But I ended up taking my daughter out to see the pigs on a number of occasions and helped Megan make them food. I found Megan, her Ranch, and the pigs to be so relaxing that I had to keep coming back to escape the crazy, hectic life I had made for myself.
Some background about me: I grew up in a suburb of San Diego in a basic 3 bedroom, 2 bath house. I loved gardening and my family had a variety of pets from dogs, rabbits, birds, and fish. Each year we’d go to the Del Mar Fair (now called the San Diego County Fair) and I’d marvel at the cows, pigs, sheep, and goats and all the young kids rising and taking care of them. But I never had to chance to do anything like that. I am thankful to Megan for giving me that opportunity.

Me, circa 1990

Me, circa 1990

I met Megan about 5 years ago at a mutual friend’s birthday party. She brought meat cupcakes. We talked grass-fed beef. And eventually I bought a half-cow from her.
It has become more important to me over the years for my family to eat healthy food. And a big part of that is knowing where our food comes from. I like knowing what goes into making my food. We grow most of our vegetables, we eat very little breads, starches, and sugars, and I like knowing that the meat we eat was raised humanely and fed well because what the animal eats, my family will eventually be eating. It just gives me peace of mind in this crazy world.
Side story… On one of our trips to visit the pigs Megan let my daughter and I herd cattle. Oh…my…gosh…I LOVED it. Basically the cattle already knew what to do. They’ve been walking from one huge field to the next for the fresh, better grass for years. There was one older cow and you could tell by her body language that she wasn’t too interested in moving. She walked slow and was unimpressed by the 4 wheelers coming her way. She was the last cow we needed to get into the neighboring field. So what did she do? She crossed a rather large creek to avoid us. It felt like she just gave us a cow’s version of, “F-you”. Megan got out of the vehicle and convinced her to cross back over the creek and into the adjacent field. I have 100% respect for that cow and Megan!
Back to the pigs… The first time we visited the piglets, I brought the whole family: my significant other, Jason, and our daughter, Olive. We had a great time and Olive got to feed the pigs and pet them. When we came out additional times, Jason didn’t want to come. I finally asked why. He grew up on a ranch where they raised pigs, chickens, and goats for his family’s food. He’d been through the raising of the animals, helped with the slaughter, and helped put the food on the table. (His grandma actually did most of the work, killing the animals and all. She’s currently 99 and a half. She told me you get to count the half’s when you get to be that old.) Although Jason is thoroughly enjoying the pork, he didn’t want to get attached to the animal that he would eventually be eating. I can respect that. Ranch life isn’t for everyone. And he’s been there, so he knows. In fact I would say it isn’t for most people. It’s easy to walk into the grocery store and buy the attractively wrapped meat that doesn’t have a face. It’s much more difficult to feed and care for these animals every day without a vacation, and then eat them. That takes a different type of person to do that day in and day out.
So Olive and I would still come out and bring the pigs treats. We’d also help Megan with cooking all the food. She would spend all weekend cooking up vats and vats of food for the pigs to eat for the week. I really don’t know how she did that all especially with her full-time job during the week. What a crazy time commitment. And also why I’d make a bad rancher…I like my vacations!

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Slaughter day… I left Olive home for this one. She is only 2 years old. Although I think it’s important for her to know where her food comes from, this wasn’t the right time.
We waited around for the slaughter truck to show up. I wondered how I would feel about this. I’ve fed and petted these pigs too; will I feel bad or sad? I wasn’t there every day like Megan was so my attachment is much less. I was more nervous about my reaction then the actual event.
The truck showed up and the butchers got ready. A small caliber rifle was brought out. The butcher walked into the pig pen with some food. A pig came up and BANG, the deed was done. The butcher quickly cut a small hole in the pig’s jugular and the pig bled out. I was surprised how fast it was. There was some shaking as the body released its energy. But it was all pretty tame under the circumstances. If I had to choose a way to go, that would be it. Quick and painless. Then what surprised me more was the next pig that walked up to get food, completely unaware and uncaring that his buddy no longer existed and was laying there right next to him. BANG! And repeat the quick jugular cutting.
The two pigs were brought out of the pen and were put onto tables so the cutting process could begin. They were washed and cleaned up. Their hooves were removed and they were skinned. Then the organs were removed. The butchers walked us through the process and showed us everything. It was all quite fascinating. I looked over at the other pigs while all of this is happening and they are milling about in the pen like nothing occurred. Like it was any old day. I don’t know if they were oblivious or just didn’t give a shit, maybe a little of both. Pigs aren’t the nicest of animals.
So how did I feel? I felt honored to be a part of this process. The butchers respected these animals. There was no malice or disregard that these were living beings. These pigs were treated with respect and kindness the whole time. These pigs were here for us to eat and this is just part of their life and they had a great life. I feel that their happy, joyful lives gave me better meat. If an animal is stressed, that goes into their muscles and tissues. Just like humans have adverse health effects from stress, so does an animal.

Olive and her piggies

Olive and her piggies

I really enjoyed the process of helping to raise my own animal for food. I liked knowing what it ate and that they got exercise and rooted about and dug things up and were basically being pigs. Thanks Megan for giving me this opportunity to help you, and I look forward to our next venture together.

Yummy pork chop

Yummy pork chop

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, Beef, family, Guest Post, photos, Pigs, Ranch life, Uncategorized

Garden 2013: I’m Gonna Win!

Ahem, if you follow me or this blog with any regularity you have probably noticed I got put on a vegans group’s radar. This particular group had issue with my Adult 4-H: The Last Update post. In fact they said “I can’t sugar coat it, this girl sucks and so does the 4H program! Please contact her and give her an ear full”. Well that resulted in over 100 comments on that post alone, it broke my record for the most views on my blog, and just tried to create all kinds of drama.

This happened.

This happened.

Well needless to say their words were not successful in getting me to convert to veganism nor did it convince me not slaughter the pigs. The whole reason I got the pigs was so I could raise a critically threatened heritage hog, hopefully bringing some attention to the breed (to help save it!). I also like to know how my meat is treated, and by raising my own I ensured they had the best life and death ever. It was my goal that if Dr. Grandin magically appeared out here, she would tell me that I was doing a good job. The icing on the cake was I had three other women that wanted to learn about what I was doing!

My facebook friend Jan Hoadley, posted this to her wall. This is kinda what I'm going for with my garden.

My facebook friend Jan Hoadley, posted this to her wall. This is kinda what I’m going for with my garden.

The last few days have been interesting for me. I dealt with being called all kinds of horrible names by people that have no clue what I am about (and obviously did not even bother to read the blog post). We slaughtered the hogs. I worked on the Ranch and I officially started my garden. The biggest surprise however was after my Dad read through all the comments relating to this blog, even the ones on Facebook, he bought me a present! I think he either felt bad or was impressed with how I handled everything or both. He called me up, after spending a good, long time reading all those nasty comments and said “hey Meg, I have an idea, let’s buy a dog kennel and use that for a deer proof fence”. Ummmmmm, YES!

My zombie apocalypse/deer proof dog kennel.

My zombie apocalypse/deer proof dog kennel.

Last summer the deer drove me insane. All I want in life is to grow my own food, veggies, fruit and meat. All the deer want in life is to eat my veggies and fruit. I spent a small fortune last summer, replacing plants, buying wire, buying anti-deer stuff, chasing them with sticks and screaming, but nothing worked! Finally I gave up and got very sad. The plant sad went away about mid-winter, and I started planning my new deer proof garden. I had asked my Dad a few days ago to help me with building my new deer proof fence. I told him my plan, and he nicely told me he had a better idea. Since he was going to be doing all the building anyway (and he’s built more fence than anyone I know), I was like, OK! Well his first plan did not work because we couldn’t find the right materials. In the meantime, my Dad thought of a better idea – a dog kennel.

Square foot gardening. FWI.

Square foot gardening. FWI.

He loaded me up in his truck and we drove to town. We wanted to buy a Costco dog kennel because they are the best, but they didn’t have any in stock, so we settle for tractor supply company, either way, I was 30000 kinds of excited. My Mom and I assembled it in about 10 minutes and after that, I STARTED PLANTING! I do find it oddly amusing that our animals get to run free but my plants all have to be in cages.

It addition to doing square foot gardening, I am also incorporating aspects of vertical gardening. My vines will be trained up. I did it last year and it worked great, I mean, before the deer attacks.

It addition to doing square foot gardening, I am also incorporating aspects of vertical gardening. My vines will be trained up. I did it last year and it worked great, I mean, before the deer attacks.

Oh you guys, it was glorious. I have the knowledge my plants will be safe from deer, cat bathrooms, chickens, happy dog tails, skunks, and raccoons. I AM GOING TO HAVE A GARDEN. I will be able to eat all my own food this summer! Self-sufficiency feels good.

The seeds I got last summer on my field trip. They are gonna be so good!

The seeds I got last summer on my field trip. They are gonna be so good!

I started a bunch of seeds today in my bathroom greenhouse, in addition to sowing some seeds in my garden. I planted radishes, carrots, green onions, sweet onions. I planted a basil plant, a lemon cucumber plant and a squash too! Don’t forget about the peas and brussel sprouts I started for the Microwaves Kill! Or DO They? blog. In my bathroom greenhouse I started some of the seeds I got from my field trip to Monsanto. I’ve been hoarding those seeds all year, in anticipation of this moment.

New seed starts! New life!

New seed starts! New life!

So stay tuned because now you will be getting garden updates, not as fun as pig updates, but hey I’ll try and make it fun and educational, lol.

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, family, food, photos, Pigs, Ranch life, Rants, Uncategorized

Adult 4-H; It’s Over

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Yep. Today was the day. I’m working on a post the will detail the whole custom exempt slaughtering process, but since it won’t be done until tomorrow, I wanted to update those of you that have been following this process. After six months of caring for these pigs, today they fulfilled their purpose.
I handled way better than I thought I would. I didn’t cry, I wasn’t upset. Dave is quick and efficient and the pigs really had no idea what happened. They knew no fear, one second they were just being normal, happy pigs and the next they were gone.

As you can see we all handled it well. We learned a ton today! Dave is an amazing teacher. I am one of those people that find comfort in knowing where my food comes from. I also enjoy being self-sufficient, being able to raise my own food (meat and vegetables) means a lot to me. Being able to share  my knowledge with other people is just the icing on the cake. Thank you for coming with me on this journey.

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Adult 4-H: The Last Update

It was my last weekend with the pigs. I made the most of it.

When I get sad, I plant things. This is a "cocktail" tree. It has a peach, plum and nectarine all grafted onto one tree.

When I get sad, I plant things. This is a “cocktail” tree. It has a peach, plum and nectarine all grafted onto one tree.


My town job was very stressful last week. So much so that I stress puked at work on Wednesday. I should clarify that I love my job in town and stress myself out because I don’t want to disappoint my bosses (I used to do the same thing before, during and after I worked cattle with my Dad, but I think I have control of that now). Anyway Friday when I go home I went straight out the pig pen with a glass of wine and hung out with the piggies until I felt better.

Pigs make everything better.

Pigs make everything better.


On Saturday my Dad took me to lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant. After we polished off our margaritas, my Dad tried to talk to me about my feelings toward the pigs. Now my Dad is pretty much the most stoic guy I know, he tends not to get attached to anything (he’s softening up in his old age though! He has a bed kitty that he loves deeply (don’t tell him I told you that)). I really appreciated his attempt to make sure I was going to be ok when the pigs are killed. We both acknowledged that I would probably cry on Friday, but that was ok.
The pigs love being sprayed. LOVE IT.

The pigs love being sprayed. LOVE IT.

As you all know the pigs are our “adult 4-H” project. Kristen and Mahina each bought one pig, and I bought two. My friend Shannon, wanted to do adult 4-H, but she was busy with life, law school, and a job, so I told her I would just raise her pig for her, and she could be involved as much or as little as she could handle (she ended up being involved a lot, yay!). When we picked up our pigs, Jamie (our pig connection) gave us Char, who was a runt of a litter. On the ride home from picking up our pigs, Mahina, Kristen and I decided that we would “split” Char.

My Mom made my Uncle a bench to suck up so we can get more almonds.

My Mom made my Uncle a bench to suck up so we can get more almonds.

After a few months into this project, I realized my Parents were doing a lot more work for the pigs than the original “nothing” I had promised. My Dad got us a crapload of pumpkins. My Mom and Dad got feed for us, fixed fence, cooked, picked up almond pieces, and fed for us a lot during the winter when we had no daylight. They also allowed me to do this project and didn’t charge us rent or for water or anything! I planned on giving them half of my pig, but I could tell our family was going to have some major fights over the pork (we don’t share well).

After I realized how much my Parents were doing for us, and how much my Dad really wanted to eat Char, I gave my interest in Char to my Dad. It seemed like an especially good idea after Char rooted up my Dad’s cable TV cable and then to add insult to injury, my Dad tripped in the hole. I figured it’d be hard to be mad at your own pig, right?!? After my Dad got my interest in Char he promised the other girls he would hook them up with some beef in trade for Char. I think it worked out well.

The almond pieces, pigs love them!

The almond pieces, pigs love them!

Sunday my Uncle Steven came over. Steven is responsible for getting me all the organic almond pieces that we have been feeding the pigs as a part of their ration. I really noticed the pigs start to put on weight when Steven started getting us the nuts. And best of all I didn’t have to pay for them! Needless to say Steven is getting some pork from me (I want nuts again next year! I know whose butt I need to kiss). Steven couldn’t believe how big the pigs had gotten since the last time he saw them. I tried to get Steven to load up Char and take him home but he wouldn’t (Char has been a really bad pig lately, escaping and rooting and eating garden plants).

Char the bad pig was "helping" till my garden.

Char the bad pig was “helping” till my garden.

After my Uncle left my Mom pulled me aside and wanted to talk about how I would handle the pig deaths. I said I was probably going to be sad and planned on saying in the house until after they were killed, but after that, I’m going to blog about it. I’m an only child, I get attached to everything including inanimate objects. I can’t help it. But I’ve known this is what these pigs are for, and this isn’t my first time to the rodeo.

I have an illness. I buy too many plants. The deer kill them, every year, but I can't stop!

I have an illness. I buy too many plants. The deer kill them, every year, but I can’t stop!


In anticipation of having a giant pig shaped hole in my heart after next Friday, I woke my garden up. I bought some new trees and plants. I started some early garden plants in my bathroom “greenhouse”. Next weekend I’m going to see if the Intern can come over and intern help me build a fence for keeping those goddamned deer out. Soon I will build my chicken coop and order chicks, and the never-ending cycle of food production will continue.

I have to admit, I am so excited to be producing all of my own meat, eggs and if I can keep the deer away, a lot of my own veggies (and in a couple years stone fruit, pomegranates, citrus and grapes!). Stay tuned, Friday is slaughter day and you know I will be blogging the whole process.

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, family, food, photos, Pigs, Ranch life, Uncategorized

Adult 4-H: Pig Update – So Close!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a pig update. It’s time. The pigs are over 200 pounds a piece now. They are growing like weeds! We have about a month left before “the appointment”.

Remember how little and cute they WERE? Notice the feeder? I put it in there so you could compare.

Remember how little and cute they WERE? Notice the feeder? I put it in there so you could compare.


They spend a lot of time eating, rooting and foraging. I sometimes let them out to find acorns and eat grass. They loved it!
Happy pigs!

Happy pigs!


Wattle hog (what I named the pig that has the wattles) found one of the dog’s bones and took off. He refused to go back into his pen and he refused to give me his bone. I think I know where the term “pig headed” came from.
This is where Wattle Hog found the bone. Notice Nikki looking a little more nervous than usual? That is her bone pile.

This is where Wattle Hog found the bone. Notice Nikki looking a little more nervous than usual? That is her bone pile.


Since I’ve been literally cooking their food, I can use kitchen waste, garden waste and that kinda stuff. I keep my eyes open for pumpkins, old bread, fruit, etc. As I was coming home from getting apples at my favorite apple farm, I spied a sign and two big pallets of FREE bread.
It was pretty awesome bread. I picked through the containers and picked out all the moldy bread to cook and use as pig food.

It was pretty awesome bread. I picked through the containers and picked out all the moldy bread to cook and use as pig food.


My little car will filled with bread. I was quite pleased with myself.

My little car will filled with bread. I was quite pleased with myself.


For some reason these pigs insist on using their bedroom as their bathroom. In all my experience with animals, I have never seen this. All my other pigs would either go outside their bedroom or have a corner of their room dedicated as the bathroom area. Even the horse have a particular corner of their pasture they do their business in. Their lack of hygiene means we have to clean their room often. And it is a nasty, bad, gross, job.
My Mom thought she was being funny taking a picture of me cleaning the pig pen in my PJ's. I have no shame - I work in an office all week where I have to wear dresses and make-up. It's my goal to look as socially unacceptable as I can during the weekend!

My Mom thought she was being funny taking a picture of me cleaning the pig pen in my PJ’s. I have no shame – I work in an office all week where I have to wear dresses and make-up. It’s my goal to look as socially unacceptable as I can during the weekend!


Granted, I did smell like a billy goat/hog after I cleaned their bedroom, but luckily, I have a secret weapon to combat pig stank.
This is the most effective soap at removing pig stank. Of course my Mom's soap is the best, but since you all don't have access to it like I do...

This is the most effective soap at removing pig stank. Of course my Mom’s soap is the best, but since you all don’t have access to it like I do…


Since we are about a month away from slaughtering these guys, I’ve been increasing the amount of almonds they are getting in their food. The extra protein has been making them gain like no one’s business, and hopefully, the nutty flavor with influence the flavor of the meat. I know in Spain they are famous for their nut finished pork. I’m so excited to see if this works!
Pig food, rolled barely, corn, bread, almonds, pumpkins, and kitchen waste all cooked together. The pigs love it.

Pig food, rolled barely, corn, bread, almonds, pumpkins, and kitchen waste all cooked together. The pigs love it.


Since it is February in Northern California and we have been having beautiful, sunny, upper 60′s days, the pigs have made themselves a mud hole.
Mud hole!!!! This is what I mean when I say "happy as pigs in shit"

Mud hole!!!! This is what I mean when I say “happy as pigs in shit”


After a nice mud bath they like to lay in the sun, they really like it when you brush them while they lay in the sun.
This is what happens when you brush them. They lay ON you, and fall asleep.

This is what happens when you brush them. They lay ON you, and fall asleep.


After mud bath sun soak.

After mud bath sun soak.

I figure we have about a month left with these guys. I’ve really enjoyed having pigs on the Ranch again. I’ve learned a lot over these past few months, and have really enjoyed my Dad’s involvement and guidance. I can’t wait to taste this pork! But I am going to admit right now, I am going to miss these guys! Especially Wattle Hog. We’ve become friends (I KNOW better), but I couldn’t help it. He’s such a character! Look forward to one more Pig Post and then another slaughter post (I wonder if the pork council is going to say something to me?).

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Adult 4-H: Congratulations Kellers!

That’s right! Kristen and Ryan will be having their first baby this spring! Baby Keller (or Megan Jr., as I have been calling her), is a ranch hand in training. Already, she’s moved cattle and pigs, she’s ridden the 4 wheeler and Polaris, she has cooked pig food, and she has nurtured a sick pig back to health (I mean her Mom has, but Megan Jr. was there). She is destined for agricultural greatness. It’s decided.

Since I am 31 and have never changed a diaper and refuse to hold babies until they are potty trained, this is going to be my Adult 4-H. I’m so excited to learn more about babies and pregnancy (right now I compare everything to a cow giving birth, I’m sure my friends hate me when I make those comparisons out loud). Megan Jr. and the Kellers are going to teach me so much and they don’t even know it yet! YAY!

The Kellers are going to be the best parents ever. I'm so excited and lucky to be apart of this time! Congrats guys!

The Kellers are going to be the best parents ever. I’m so excited and lucky to be apart of this time! Congrats guys!

Obviously, Megan Jr. will be needing a pony, I mean when she is born, so keep your eyes peeled for “the best pony ever” (I know they don’t exist so….) or “the best old gelding ever”. We’re getting a new ranch hand people! Rejoice!

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Adult 4-H: BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: It Was Just a Matter of Time

Since most of the adult 4-H members are married or in long term relationships, I think we all knew this was coming. One of us is pregnant with the next generation of 4-H members! Can you guess which one?

We knew in the beginning, when adult 4-H started, that by the end of it, there would be four members instead of three.

We knew in the beginning, when adult 4-H started, that by the end of it, there would be four members instead of three.

This picture is from this weekend, at least 4 months since the picture above. Does it give you a clue?

This picture is from this weekend, at least 4 months since the picture above. Does it give you a clue?

We are all pretty excited to meet the little nugget. Until she is done gestating though, she is enjoying a lot of in utero ranch time and Brown Ranch grassfinished beef. We are doing our best to make sure she is primed for a ranch kid life!

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Update: Piggies

I’ve realized it’s been a few weeks since I’ve done a pig update. I’m sorry!!!! Let me fill you in.
We are still having problems with Harry Houdini pig, oops, I mean Char. When Char was a wee piglet he taught himself to escape the pig pen. He’d go hang out with my Dad and get treats. It was funny and cute to me for a long time until I started tripping in his holes. And then Dad started tripping in his holes. Now we are trying to fix this problem.

Char has been escaping his pen daily. I thought it was funny until I was taking a plate of prime rib home and tripped in one of his rooting holes. The prime rib was ok, but the au jus was a goner.

This is what Char escaping his pen looks like. I thought it was funny until I was taking a plate of prime rib home at night and tripped in one of his rooting holes. The prime rib was ok, but the au jus was a goner. If you know me, you know how serious I am about my au jus.

Dad got into his pole collection for us....

Dad got into his pole collection for us….

And added those pole around the bottom of the pen so Char couldn't slip under the fence.

And added those poles around the bottom of the pen so Char couldn’t slip under the fence.

This is what a sad pig looks like when he figures out he can't escape!

This is what a sad pig looks like when he figures out he can’t escape!

We have cotinued cooking slop for the pigs, I'm really getting it down!

We have continued cooking slop for the pigs, I’m really getting it down!

Sam from the Cardinal Rules blog had the brilliant idea of putting a lid on the slop as it cooks, therefore cutting my cooking time!

Sam from the Cardinal Rules blog had the brilliant idea of putting a lid on the slop as it cooks, therefore cutting my cooking time!

I'm saving seeds from the pumpkins and plan on planting them every where on both ranches! (Don't tell my Dad I plan on planting them on the edges of his hay fields!)

I’m saving seeds from the pumpkins and plan on planting them everywhere on both ranches, for next year’s pigs! (Don’t tell my Dad I plan on planting them on the edges of his hay fields!)

I had one of my twitter friends tell me about a study they did where they gave pigs beer to see if it would lower their stress levels. Pigs like beer!

I had one of my twitter friends tell me about a study they did where they gave pigs beer to see if it would lower their stress levels. Pigs like beer!

Like I mentioned before, I was able to get these pigs by promising that I would pay for and take care of everything and my parents would get a freezer full of pork out of the deal. Well, it hasn’t really worked out like that. It’s now adult 4-H/Parent’s having fun. They drove to Orland to buy us cheaper/better slop cooking materials. So nice of them!

Like I mentioned before, I was able to get these pigs by promising that I would pay for and take care of everything and my parents would get a freezer full of pork out of the deal. Well, it hasn’t really worked out like that. It’s now adult 4-H/Parent’s having fun. They drove to Orland to buy us cheaper/better slop cooking materials. So nice of them!

And the last pig pen improvement is a concrete feeding station!!!  My parents surprised me when I got home from work - isn't it awesome!?

And the last pig pen improvement is a concrete feeding station!!! My parents surprised me when I got home from work – isn’t it awesome!?

Happy pigs!

Happy pigs!

And there you have our latest pig update. They are fat and happy, and getting more so everyday!

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, food, photos, Pigs, Ranch life, Uncategorized