Tag Archives: adult 4-H

Field Trip: Renegade Craft Fair

It was a big weekend for me. After years and years of talking about it, I finally went to the Renegade Craft Fair in San Francisco. The level of excitement I feel when I go to the City must be what people who are interested in farming feel like when they get to go to a farm or ranch. It’s a big deal. The night before I couldn’t sleep because I was so excited! I had already lurked at the booths I wanted to buy things from, planned my route down there, had toll fair already in my car and arranged for the other member of Adult 4-H to feed the pigs that evening for me!
I usually can make it to San Francisco, play for the day and come home in one day. It’s a lot of driving but it is definitely do-able. We left the Ranch bright and early, therefore missing almost all traffic, we made excellent time, despite a coffee, breakfast burrito and poop stop (the essentials).

There it is....... I made it!

There it is……. I made it!


The Craft Fair was held at the Concourse Exhibition Center, which is right off the freeway, so I didn’t have to do too much city driving. Driving on anything with more than 3 lanes, is kinda scary for me, we simply do not have that where I am from.
Despite my best efforts I was simply not prepared for the craftness Mecca that is Renegade. Imagine pinterest and esty had a very large, hipstery, love child. That is Renegade.

SO.MUCH.COOL.STUFF

SO.MUCH.COOL.STUFF

Here is the thing. I did some Christmas shopping while I was down there (I can only make my family and friends homemade stuff for so long before they get sick of it), so I can’t show you my favorite things until after Christmas. However I did get to see Drywell’s booth, which was super awesome, she is one of my favorites.

The one (maybe more) thing I bought for myself is this:

New necklace for me!

New necklace for me!


This is made out of spent bullets casings, that were melted down! My Grandpa left me a pistol when he died, it’s amongst my most treasured possessions and this reminds me of it. Some of my favorite Ranch memories are of shooting and hunting. My Dad taught me this skill fairly early in life, so oddly enough, this is something very meaningful to me.
Renegade was incredible, I’m so glad I went! Fair warning though, if you don’t like crowds, don’t go. This is a very popular event and several times during the day I felt like a cow caught in the middle of the herd, all I could do was just go with the flow.
Good times!

Good times!

I went over the Gold Gate, it was rainy and kinda scary, but I wanted a picture for this blog!

I went over the Golden Gate, it was rainy and kinda scary, but I wanted a picture for this blog!


Since I was in San Francisco I had another mission. Crab. Dungeness crab. Being cattle ranchers, fresh seafood is a delicacy to us, especially to my Dad. Crab is my Dad’s favorite, I think it means a great deal to him when he gets it. I used my social media network to find the freshest, best crab possible. I wanted to find crab that was alive until I picked it up. Enter Western Boat and Tackle – I called them while we were still in San Francisco and by the time I made it to their shop they had my perfect crab all ready for me!
Crab!!! Alive and kicking!

Crab!!! Alive and kicking!


My day trip to San Francisco was awesome. I got most of my Christmas shopping done, I had a fun adventure and I got to bring neat things to eat home, a complete win in my book!

Happy Dad.

Happy Dad.

Both my cat (Jack) and my Parents cat (Ozzy) have a passion for crab. They were pretty happy with me.

Both my cat (Jack) and my Parents cat (Ozzy) have a passion for crab. They were pretty happy with me.

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Filed under Ag, arts & crafts, Field Trip, food, photos, Ranch life, Rants, Uncategorized

Adult 4-H: Char is Home

 
Char fits perfectly into my cat carrier! And he didn’t even get car sick this time!

As you recall from the last post, Char went to Kristen’s house for some runt TLC. I am happy to report that Char responded nicely to Kristen’s hospital pen and is back on the ranch with his friends.

Char’s private pig house.  

Mahina came over and spent the day fixing up a separate pen for Char, so he wouldn’t have to work so hard for his groceries. Char liked it. Until he finished his dinner. He then broke into the other pen with his friends. We’ve been watching him closely, but he seems to be doing just fine.

Look at his little pig butt! Curly tail! Curly tail means happy and healthy piggy!

Char is eating well.

REALLY well. He gets to snack before the others, much to the alarm of Nikki-Dog (see her pointing at him? She is telling me he is not supposed to be there).

These pigs have become master rooters. remember how I told you the stickers and weeds were pretty nasty is their pen? Well check out the natural rototillers!

Before and after – I’m planning how to apply my hog power to other overgrown parts of the ranch….. exciting!!!

HOWEVER. The downside to pastured pork:

I found a tick on a pig. It upset me greatly. But it was a great time to e-mail my pig experts about a parasite prevention plan! Who wants to come over and help give shots?

My favorite part about owning pigs again? Pig races. This is the best video I could get of it, but trust me, we do this everyday so I’ll get some good ones later. http://youtu.be/wu2jjdNYwHY

When they catch me they get treats and the get to root at me:

This is treat time and root time. It’s a good time!

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Filed under Ag, Humor, photos, Ranch life, Uncategorized, Video

Adult 4-H: The First Week

We’ve been pig owners for a whole week now. It’s been glorious. I heart pigs. I missed having pigs! It has been an adjustment, for sure! I’ve had to wake up before daylight in order to feed them, take a shower, put on office appropriate-non pig smelling clothes, make-up and still get to work on time. On the plus side, I’ve been so paranoid about getting this done on time, I’ve been early to work all week, score!

Some updates. Char (the runt) is at Kristen’s house because he needed some TLC. He held his own, but the red wattle/tamworths out grew him. He is spending a few days with Kristen and then he will come home to his own little pen until he can run with the big boys. I’ve asked Kristen to write a blog post about being the hospital pen, so look forward to that. I believe Mahina is working on a post too, exciting!

This is why the red wattle are called red WATTLES (the wattles).

Kristen’s sister, Rachel, came over to meet the pigs. She said it was the first time she touched a pig (guess who is doing adult 4-H next time?!?!), she won for quote of the day. Rachel please don’t kill me for sharing this, but it was super awesome:

“It honked at me!!!” – Rachel (meaning it grunted at her)

The pigs are eating very well!

Right now they are eating about 1.5 pounds of this morning and night. And pretty much eating and growing more and more every day. YAY!

This is what their food looks like. They like to stand in it.

Like all kids, they eat, then nap;

Our little sausage links!

Kristen and her sister came over and fed them Oreos (we tried gummi’s, cake, marshmallows, white bread, and fruit with no luck), effectively ‘breaking’ the pigs. They now realize we are the bringers of food and attention and they dig it.

This piggy likes the filling. He’ll put his lips around the cookie, then expects you to drag it out of his mouth (notice the frosting lips).

His brother just liked the cookie part. It was perfect.

We want the pigs to be tame enough to like us, but not be pets. We want low stress, happy pigs when we move them and work with them, but not pigs that we get really attached to, it’s a fine line.

Just call her the pig whisperer.

After a week of living here we figured the pigs were ready to use their whole pen. The pen is about 3/4 of an acre, about half of which was scraped because the weeds were just too much to deal with for such little piggies. Mahina and I moved pig panels so they now have access to this whole area. Of course the first place they wanted to go was…

…into the weeds! Totally scared me! I was looking for foxtails in their ears and eyes, but they seemed to be ok!

It was the best day of their lives – so much rooting going on! I spent my morning picking pecans for them and hiding them in the dirt (it was better than therapy!), anyway the pigs think they have died and gone to heaven rooting up rocks and looking for pecans.

Pigs rooting and looking for nuts.

They will get another few weeks in this pen before we start making portable pens around oaks trees and pecan trees so they can graze and root during the days. We are waiting for them to gain a little more weight and for the weather to change a whisper more, so the nuts drop. I also need to borrow my Dad’s truck and horse trailer to get the panels, unless, you know, he wants to do that for me (hint). In addition to the pasture and nuts they will continue to get their pig grower feed.

Oh, this pork is going to be glorious.

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

Adult 4-H: What We’ve Learned in Two Days

Now that we’ve been pig owners for a few days, I thought I would share what we have learned so far:

Proper pig handling is essential for not only your pig’s health, but your own.

Hoot LOVES pigs.

Jack does not love pigs, but realized that a little too late to his liking.

The runt (Char) is really cute.

Learning how to drink from the water nipple took a hot second…..

But they are quick studies.

The runt will always take care of himself.

Our pigs are rooting for us! (But really, these guys love to root, and it’s super fun to watch their pure piggy joy)

Naps are essential on rainy days.

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Adult 4-H: PIGS

It was a big day. We got our pigs today. Plus one. The original plan for adult 4-H was to get 3 pigs. One for each of us. Then I had a few friends ask if they could just avoid all the work, have me raise the pig for them so they could just buy a pig when its ready to slaughter. Ok, so then, I planned on buying four pigs, one for me and one for lazy friends (KIDDING, you guys) and Mahina and Kristen’s pigs. I figured I might be able to make a few bucks to invest into buying some more pig panels or a, *cough* *cough* sow. But somehow by the time we came home today, we had five pigs!

Our piglets.

Mahina and Kristen met me bright and early, here on the Ranch. We borrowed my Mom’s truck, put a foam bed-liner and pine shavings in the back, opened the windows in the camper shell, and duct taped all the lighting wires up and off we went. After much searching the internets for heritage pig producers in Northern California we found Jamie at High Mountain Hogs. She is located out of Mad River, California, which is about a three and half hour (and a very curvy) drive from the Ranch.

Our truck ready, pigs, our piglet’s Mom, our piglets ready to come home.

My social media friend Amy Sipes is the person who first brought red wattles to my attention. She has a slaughterhouse in Kentucky and has taught me much about, well, meat and meat safety (thanks Amy!). Last year she kept posting these RED pork chops on her Facebook page. Like most of you, I am used to store pork, and while store pork is great, I missed having really wonderful, succulent, amazing homegrown pork. I haven’t raised our own pork since my 4-H days, which, let’s just say was at least over 10 years ago. I saw these beautiful pork chops Amy kept posting, and I found myself having major pork envy. If you know me in real life, once I get an idea in my head, I’m like a dog with a bone, good luck getting me to give it up (you’ll lose a finger!). My mission in life became getting red wattles, and today it happened.

Hog heaven! Guardian dogs and pig cats. I liked it there.

We got on the road bright and early. Of course, a Starbuck’s and gas stop was made and maayyybeeee a short stop at Lucero when we got to Corning.

This is hands down my favorite olive oil and vinegar place in the world. It’s so good. I make excuses to stop here, I can’t help it! Plus I had to get something for my Mom because we used her truck. I can fit 2 bags of shaving and 3 bags of hog chow in my Corolla, but I think 5 piglets and 3 girls would have been pushing it.

After that though, we made excellent time. The drive itself was a lot of fun, we saw a lot of agriculture and animals on our way there, including several does and fawns and a roadrunner!

High Mountain Hogs – started because Jamie missed having super good pork too.

We followed Jamie up to her hog barns and met all kinds of pigs! From red wattles to landraces to berkshires, we met sows, boars, piglets, guardian dogs and pig cats. It was glorious. I was in hog heaven (see what I did there?). Jamie was wonderfully patient as we pelted her with hundreds of hog related questions. We ended up buying red wattle/tamworth cross pigs. Since we are not breeding these pigs, we thought it was a great idea to use hybrid vigor to make some great pork. Red wattles are known for red meat and tamworths are know as the “bacon pig” – can you imagine a better melding of genetics? I can’t.

Hog farmer Kristen with Yum Yum.

Jamie caught our barrows (castrated male pig), and taught us the correct way to handle them. And then she gave us a runt! We couldn’t help it you guys, he was super cute! The runt she gave us was from a different breed of pig, a hereford. We’re pretty excited to have a taste test of pork when we are done – hereford vs. red wattle/tamworth vs berkshire (our friends raise them) vs store pork. Yeah, that’s going to be a bbq you want to be invited to.

Hog farmer Mahina with Pork Chop.

Unfortunately we had to leave High Mountain Hogs way before we wanted to because we were chasing daylight. We still had to get home, get the pigs situated, and fine tune our hog pen! The piglets were great passengers, despite my very best efforts of driving slowly and pulling over for rests, we had some car sickness from the little guys (and me!). When we got home it was a race to get the pigs in their new pen, set up the water system (Char was too small to use it), and clean the pig poo and puke out of my Mom’s new truck.

Pig house!

While we were gone, my Mom added sides to the pig’s house, which was a really good thing, because Char is soooooo little he could have slipped right out.

Me with Char and Hoot lurking. My Boss’s kids are naming my two pigs.

We safely unloaded our piglets into their new home. We had piglet chow and apples ready for them, they were pretty excited about that. Hoot dog supervised with intensity unmatched, we’re sure Hoot is ready to step up and be the piglet’s new guardian dog. It got dark and we had to let the pigs go to bed. I just did an 10:00 PM welfare check and the piglets had half their pen rooted up, but were happily asleep. I have my alarm set for daylight for another welfare check and Mahina and Kristen plan on being here tomorrow too. Adult 4-H has officially begun.

Hoot with her new friends.

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

Adult 4-H

As you recall my Parents gave me their blessing to get pigs. This has been a dream of mine for several years. The deal is, I promised my Parents that I would pay for and care for my pigs and they would not have to pay for or do anything for the pigs. I also promised I would get a heritage breed hog.
What is a heritage breed you ask? Generally they are breeds of animals that are not raised commercially. For that reason, the breeds can be rare. For example, the type of pig I want, Red Wattles, are considered critical. I kinda look at heritage breed animals, like heirloom vegetables, for some reason that analogy makes sense in my head.
I started thinking about this, a lot. I really enjoy raising my own food, it makes me happy and I know others enjoy it too. I’m also 30 kinds of stoked to be raising a heritage pig! I feel like I will be getting a superior pork product and bringing attention to neat breed. And in typical Megan fashion, I have a plan.

The pig pen. It needs a lot of work.

I was already planning on getting at least two pigs (so they wouldn’t be lonely. Happy pigs are healthy pigs!). But since I am so freaking passionate about agriculture and education – I thought this pig project would be a great opportunity not only for myself, but for some of my friends.
I am incredibly lucky to know a large group of people that want to be connected to their food. They buy local, know their farmers and do a fabulous job of educating themselves about current food issues, I am proud to call them my friends. I see a lot of these people looking for ways to get involved with production agriculture, but having little success, unless they want to pay dearly for the experience.
Light bulb! Adult 4-H. Many adults yearn to re-connect with their food and get their hands dirty, but there are still few opportunities for them to do that. Like I said above you can pay to intern on some farms, you can pay to work on a Dude Ranch, you can pay to be in a CSA (community supported ag), you can pay to go to school. Kids and teenagers at least have 4-H and FFA to learn from. But adults, especially ones with no or little ag background/training, can have it tough.

Milkshake stop – it’s hardwork fixing a pig pen!

This is where I can help!!!!! I have the space, I have the knowledge (I raised pigs in 4-H and my Dad knows a lot!) and I have the drive. I want people to have the same opportunities that I had, so they can learn about their food, agriculture and animals. It is in my best interest to share my point of view with as many people as I can. Plus how awesome is it going to be to have two of my friends play on the ranch with me?

Kristen found the pig waterer part.

“Adult 4-H” has started. My friends Kristen and Mahina are joining my “4-H club” as founder members. With the help of The Intern (more about him later), we started fixing up our pig pen last weekend. I’m hunting down Red Wattle piglets to buy. I think this is one of the most exciting endeavors I have started recently. I think the potential to learn and teach is huge. Stay tuned!

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, arts & crafts, food, Pigs, Ranch life, Uncategorized