Tag Archives: excited

Farrowing Time!

A pig’s gestation period is 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days or 114 days. I am well acquainted with this knowledge because I am about to experience for first solo pig birth. And it’s like Christmas for me. My very first sow, M-pig is due next week with her first litter. As you all recall, I’ve been anticipating this day since the end of May!

Yes, I took a video of M-Pig and her boarfriend.

All summer I’ve been extra careful with her diet and care. I’ve spent a lot of time with her, giving her attention and lots and lots of brushes and baths. I figure, if this pig really likes me, she’s not going to care too much when I assist her with her birth because she’ll trust me. I’m also looking forward to having a ranch day or two so my clients can meet their meat and I want tame pigs and piglets.

She is so close!

She is so close!

 

This week I have finished my “pig birthing kit” and worked on M-pig’s bedroom. I’m pleased to report I am pretty much ready for the blessed event. I’m watching videos on youtube, talking to my experts and reading books. I almost feel like it is a whisper silly that I am so nervous about one pig giving birth! I spent the whole summer watching and helping a couple hundred cows do it,  so this shouldn’t be that big of a deal for me.

Remember the Montana Cowboy? He helped me install some bumpers so the piglets have a place to hide from Mom.

Remember the Montana Cowboy? He helped me install some bumpers so the piglets have a place to hide from Mom.

I am doing the birth the “natural way”. That means I am not using a farrowing crate. A farrowing crate is a small pen that keeps the mama sow from rolling over and squishing her babies. My gilt is pushing 600 pounds, she couldn’t feel herself roll over on her babies even if she tried. I’m not using a crate for a few reasons. The first being I can’t afford it, pretty much all my money is going into buying more pigs. The second is since I have the time, I plan on being with M-pig during and after the birth. This will hopefully mitigate any loss until the piglets can figure things out for themselves. I do realize that I do face increased piglet loss by this choice, but I am going to try it and see how it goes.

My farrowing kit. My vet helped!

My farrowing kit. My vet helped!

I’m excited and proud of myself that I have reached this point in my hog operation. Honestly, I never thought I’d ever own a sow, let alone farrow one out! I’m getting ready to purchase a boar and build more pig pens, so I can keep expanding! Hopefully next Wednesday, my Wordless Wednesday will be cute, newborn piglets! Stay tuned!

 

Leave a Comment

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

Field Trip to Washington D.C. and #NPC14

I leave tomorrow morning for Washington D.C. to be a panelist for this conference. Ecstatic does not begin to describe how I feel. This is such an amazing opportunity for me. I am especially excited that I was invited as a rancher – I feel like our voices are slowly starting to be heard and valued.

 

NPC14

This is be live streaming, so if you’d like to watch me, please go here for more information. If you have a twitter account, please use hash-tag #NPC14 to following along!

Fair warning Dear Readers, I know this conference will inspire and teach me. Be prepared for lots of posts and pictures about it!

 

1 Comment

Filed under Ag, agriculture, Field Trip, Know a California Farmer, Media, Ranch life, Uncategorized

Wordless Wednesday: Merry Early Christmas

20131204-115014.jpg

Leave a Comment

Filed under Ag, agriculture, photos, Ranch life, Uncategorized, Wordless Wednesday

Living the Dream

Over the past few months I have started working a lot more on the Ranch, in addition to my fulltime town job and my blog and writing. I am exhausted. Working on the Ranch is physically exhausting and working in town is mentally exhausting, I need a nap. All this work has started to affect how I feel and interact with the world. I miss my friends, I miss having a life, I miss cooking and having free time
That being said, I’ve got some pretty big news for you all. I’ve given my notice at my town job and will soon be working for my Parents fulltime. To say I’m freaking out would be a slight understatement. I loved my town job so very much. It taught me so many skills that have benefited both the Ranch and my own life. But since I’ve been working fulltime on both the ranch and in the office, I’ve realized I am spread too thin and something had to give.
Since my legacy and passion is the Ranch, I decided that it was time to return to it. It was a hard decision to make. I have become accustomed to a certain lifestyle, one where I can buy myself new boots, take myself to a fancy dinner if I feel like it or spend a fortune at the plant and flower store. Needless to say that time is ending. Since I will not have a steady income anymore, I will continue to freelance write, probably substitute teach in the winter and hopefully pick up a few part-time, odd jobs (I cook, I clean, kids love me, I drive tractors!).
My ultimate goal is in addition to my grass fed beef is to start raising heritage pastured pigs, quail for eggs and chickens for eggs. Hopefully I can start a CSA or some type of program like that and find financial independence there. I would also love to become more involved with my community. I will finally have the time and the professional demeanor (skills I learned in the law office!) to become involved with local politics and boards (I’m looking at you Fair Boards and Ca Beef Council).
I will greatly miss my boss, my co-workers and the community I work in and around. I loved getting dressed up for work, it was a change to put on a dress, make-up and do my hair, every day. On the Ranch the cows could care less what I look like or what I wear. In a way, I am completely doing an 180, from a fancy, salaried, air conditioned, classy, 9 to 5, office, to dirt, blood, sunshine and freedom. Know what? I couldn’t be happier! I’m going to be living the dream!

8 Comments

Filed under Ag, agriculture, animals, Beef, family, food, Humor, Ranch life, Uncategorized

Adult 4-H: Processing the Hogs

This morning I had the pleasure of going to the Locker and watching my hog get cut up. Like watching a master musician or artist create a masterpiece, watching Craig the butcher break down these hogs was just breathtaking.

Linda holds your hand and very nicely walks you through your cuttinh order. It's so fun!

Linda holds your hand and very nicely walks you through your cutting order. It’s so fun!

The best thing about raising your own meat, or buying from people like me, is you get to decide how you want your meat cut and wrapped. That means you can decide what meat cuts you want, for example a pork loin or pork chops. You can decide how many chops you want in a package, how thick you want your chops, or bacon. For a foodie, it’s like a dream come true. I like it because it makes my life convenient – since I live alone, I only got two chops per package.

The whole pig. It took less than 30 minutes for them to break it down.

The whole pig. It took less than 30 minutes for them to break it down.

If you want a more in-depth explanation of these pictures please read Jenny’s post here

This is MY half. It will live in my locked freezer. It's MINE.

This is MY half. It will live in my locked freezer. It’s MINE.

The hog has been split into two sides. They will process one side at a time.

Kidney lives in the leaf lard, if that gives you an idea of where it is.

Kidney lives in the leaf lard, if that gives you an idea of where it is.

The first thing Craig does is remove the leaf lard. This is supposed to be the best lard ever for making baked goods. I’ve never had any before so I requested them to save it for me. I will render it down in my oven and then make heck of pie crusts and tortillas! Yum!

Kidney lives in the leaf lard, if that gives you an idea of where it is.

BACON

Check out this video of Craig cutting my beautiful chops.

Pork chops! Glorious chops!

Pork chops! Glorious chops!

This is the one time you will hear me say "look at all my beautiful fat!". Don't be jealous, I might share some if you ask....

This is the one time you will hear me say “look at all my beautiful fat!”. Don’t be jealous, I might share some if you ask….

This is a whole pig, granted he was small, but it is still pretty cool he's all there.

This is a whole pig, granted he was small, but it is still pretty cool he’s all there.

This is my Dad’s pork. It’ll get him through a summer of BBQing, it’s nice to change it up with some pork! We love beef, but variety is the spice of life!

This will be sausage.

This will be sausage.

All the scraps are saved for sausage, I wanted my sausage “southern style” because it is my personal favorite and makes the best biscuits and gravy. For reals. Come over for brunch, I’ll blow your mind!

Again, it's mine! It's all mine! It even has my name on it like an adult!

Again, it’s mine! It’s all mine! It even has my name on it like an adult!

Yeah, I’m excited. This was a lot of work right here!

My bacon and ham. Yum.

My bacon and ham. Yum.

The bacon and ham will take longer to get, because they must cure it. They said I would have my ham in time for Easter! YAY!

The Man, the myth, the legend. Mr. Dewey. Thank you so much for being so transparent and awesome! I love you guys!

The Man, the myth, the legend. Mr. Dewey. Thank you so much for being so transparent and awesome! I love you guys!

So my next blog will be what this whole project was about – pork!!!! I cannot wait to try it. Even though I raise animals for a living, I’ve never had this caliber of pork before. I’ve been dreaming about it! What should I try first?!

9 Comments

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

The “Appointment”

I’ve made the “appointment”. The pigs are going to be slaughtered March 8. I’ll admit I’m already a whisper sad about it.
I grew up raising my own food animals. I did 4-H and FFA. Every year I watch as our commercial calves are loaded into trucks to become food. I watch the custom exempt slaughter of our personal freezer beef. Heck I even worked in a slaughterhouse. I’m not new to this lifestyle, but for some reason I am already bummed out about the pigs.
Maybe because this was my project, my idea, my money, and my time. It was the first time a bright idea of mine worked out successfully (ask me about goats sometime). Since October, I have spent every day with these pigs making sure they were the happiest pigs they could be. In December I started making their food. I’ve cooked for these pigs more than I’ve cooked for myself.

Happy pig

Happy pig


I realize that is their “job” to be pigs and if they didn’t have a “job” they probably wouldn’t exist. I know I have provided them with the best pig life I could. I know they are happy and healthy. But I am still going to miss them; I think I would have no soul if I didn’t.
Treats!

Treats!


When I would have a bad day at work, or someone poked me with a stick, I would simply go out and hang with the pigs. They are always super excited to see me, even more excited when I bring treats and the most excited when I brush them and give belly rubs. They run and grunt at me when they see me, just like I sing them silly pig songs and talk to them when I am in their pen.
This project has been a success and we haven’t even tried the pork yet. It was wonderful doing adult 4-H and having so many visitors to the Ranch. It was great having something my Dad and I could talk about everyday, where I could ask for his advice. And best of all it was wonderful to bring awareness to this pork. I have a waiting list for next year.
This project reminded me that my place is on the Ranch, not in an office. Over the past three years I have worked in town from 8 to 5. I worked on the Ranch during my weekends and free-time; so I have not noticed how “soft” I have become until recently.
When we first got the pigs I noticed it was hard for me to pick up the 50 pound sacks of grower feed. My arms were sore after I started cooking their food all weekend (it takes my whole weekend to cook enough food for them). I had blisters on my delicate little office hands. I have to make two trips to feed them because two full five gallon buckets were just too much for me.
But after 6 months of taking care of the pigs every day, twice a day (except for like a month at night, when my Parents fed for me because it was too dark by the time I got home) I have upper arm strength again. I can pick up their 75 pound sacks of feed like it is nothing. I now fill their slop buckets as full as I can get them and “pump buckets” on the way to their trough. I have calluses. It feels good and I’m thinking of becoming a bouncer with these guns, lol.
My "man" hands. I've very proud. I missed them.

My “man” hands. I’ve very proud. I missed them.


Since this was a success my Parents have agreed to let me start raising pastured poultry this spring. When I take my vacation next month I am going to build a portable coop and get chicks. I have fond memories of being a small child and slaughtering chickens and turkeys with my Dad (he would always give me the sea glass from the turkey’s gullet). Very exciting stuff is happening for me!
Work. Lots of work. All weekend worth of work. I need a weekend from my weekend.

Work. Lots of work. All weekend worth of work. I need a weekend from my weekend.


Be prepared Dear Readers, even though I will probably be sobbing, I am going to video and take pictures of the whole slaughter process just like I did with my beef all those years ago (Industry groups, if you are concerned about this, please contact me NOW, I don’t want another Beef Council incident).
Thank you to all of you that have kept up with our pig adventures. I’ve really enjoyed all of your comments and feedback! I’ve even met new “friends” through this project, it’s just been such a wonderful experience. However I am a little excited that I can start to sleep in and have weekends again after these pigs are gone. It has been a lot of work balancing my town job and my pigs.

7 Comments

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

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!

9 Comments

Filed under Ag, agriculture, Humor, photos, Pigs, Ranch life, Rants, Uncategorized

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!

3 Comments

Filed under Ag, agriculture, Beef, Humor, photos, Pigs, Ranch life, Uncategorized, Wordless Wednesday

Like a Fat Kid in a Candy Store

I feel like a fat kid in a candy store right now. My idol. My hero. Dr. Temple  Grandin is coming to speak in Chico tomorrow. AND I GET TO GO. Dr. Grandin is pretty much the reason why I am here, that this blog is here. Her work changed my life, my Ranch, and my point of view about animal agriculture. Because of her, our cattle have a better life and death. Because of her I have a better understanding of what my animals need to thrive. I’ve been looking forward to this day for YEARS!

I first learned about Dr. Grandin in college. Her books touched me deeply, I even started to get a masters in a field where I could work with people living with Autism. I made every member of my family read her books, I gave her books away as Christmas gifts. We re-designed our corrals based on her teachings. I started “opening my barn doors”, like Dr. Grandin advocated farmers and ranchers to do.

I really hope I get to meet her. I would just die. Meeting Dr. Grandin is in the top 10 on my bucket list.

This opportunity means so much to me. I can’t wait to share with the Beef Jar Readers!!!

20120214-132304.jpg

2 Comments

Filed under Ag, Video