Last Friday, our bacon got a taste of free-ranging. Their pen has a 4' high welded wire fence around it, but we never fixed up or turned on the electric wire strands that run inside that fence. However, the fence wasn't the problem - we either left the gate open, or they grew thumbs and opened it themselves. Either way, Dave came home to find the pigs wallowing in the creek bed a few yards away from their pen.
We don't particularly mind that the bacon is free-ranging, except that the road is only a few feet away, and we don't want squished bacon (or wandering into neighbors' flower beds bacon). So Dave spent about 6 hours chasing them, sneaking up on them, bribing them... even feeding them beer in the hopes of subduing them! But turns out bacon is smart and fast and elusive.
When I got home from work, we teamed up, and we finally caught them. Dave drove up to them on the four-wheeler, dove off like a crazy person, tackled the lady bacon, and wrestled her to the ground. I ran up and put a noose around her neck, and we dragged the bacon, kicking and (VERY LOUDLY) screaming all the way back through the gate to their pen. Boy bacon calmly followed behind, not a care in the world. Freaking bacon.
We also have accidentally free-ranging turkeys. The Broad-Breasted White turkeys have gotten really big, really quickly, and one day they escaped from their (flimsily wrapped in plastic fencing) hoop house. They looked so happy running around on the pasture, eating bugs, playing and being "real" turkeys that we just haven't had the heart to cage them up again.
They hadn't wandered out of the pasture yet, until this morning. They followed the layer flock right up to the front lawn, which was quite the sight:
Turkeys wandering up the front path to our door, chickens hanging out in the driveway... does this happen at anyone else's house, or just mine?
Perrin was having a great time this morning watching Turkey TV:
I was actually worried he was going to jump through the screen to have turkey for breakfast, but thankfully, he just whined and stared and paced and panting and licked his chops ;)
Our bacon is growing up *really* fast! From this when we brought them home:
To THIS just 2 months later:
I try not to visit them too often, because they're very friendly. Very dog-like actually. They bark when I drive up on the ATV with their food and come running over to me. I can scratch their heads while they eat, and when I hold out my hand, they come over to snuff it:
Thankfully I don't have to go visit them too often - Dave's been doing most of the piggy work, and they're actually really low maintenance! Their waterer is all automatic, so nothing to fill or clean or carry there. They get grain in the morning that last them all day, and if we have extra food scraps at night, we bring them over. They (thank God) like where they live and haven't tried to escape, because we never did figure out the problem with the electric fence strands, so it hasn't been turned on. There's just a relatively flimsy welded wire fence holding them in place - if they wanted to, it would take them maybe 2 minutes to dig under or push it over!
They have a lot of land in there - I think we could easily do 4 pigs in the same space next year without them turning it all to dirt. Of course, they still have a lot of growing to do... maybe I should hold judgment on that for now. We'll definitely do pigs again though (so think about your orders now and get them in early!)
Julep and her puppies are all doing really well! The chubby little pups are starting to open their eyes and are wiggling their way all around the puppy pen. So cute!
(That's Cosmo - don't you just want to smoosh him?!)
The laying hens are all loving the beautiful weather we've been having - dust bathing, eating bugs and *gasp* mice, and giving me about a dozen eggs every day. The meat chickens are happy being outside, and I'm happy to have the barn back! The little replacement layers are growing up... I'm a little worried that all of the Easter Egger chicks are boys, but we'll see in a few more weeks. The baby turkeys are getting huge, and there's still one turkey poult with an identity crisis who keeps trying to join the chicks:
The bacon is doing fantastic! Yesterday they managed to tip over the barrel reservoir for their water and catch their waterer nipple so that it was stuck open - they created a wallow for themselves! They had a grand ole time in a giant mud puddle during the 90 degree heat :)
The gardens are also going well so far. We're getting a crap-ton of asparagus, and I finally made home-made pesto from our basil - dear god. I don't really like pesto, generally speaking, but I ate approximately all of the pasta with pesto and LURVED it! Mmmm. Most of the garden is planted, but we still have to put in pumpkins, various squash, watermelons, corn, a couple more varieties of beans, and some miscellaneous things (2nd round of salad greens, kale, kohlrabi, cabbage...). The tomatoes are absolutely beautiful:
That's a row of them about a week ago right after transplanting - they've perked up and gotten about a foot taller each. Cannot wait for fresh tomatoes and salsa and sauce!!
And in other news, Perrin and Tia are still looking for their forever families! We're REALLY hoping they can find homes before the puppies get much bigger - soooo much work, I really don't have time for the farming stuff plus that many fosters plus my full-time job. So please spread the word that 2 awesome pibbles need homes!
Last Saturday, Dave and I went to a neighboring town to pick out our piglets. We sold 1 pig (2 halfs) and are going to raise one for ourselves, and we decided to start slow, so we only got 2 little piggies this year. I didn't realize how small they would be - for some reason I was picturing lab-sized pigs, but these guys are 2 month old puppy-sized! They're also adorable:
The girl pig is black with white feet - she's a Berkshire mix! The boy pig is black and white - he's a Hampshire mix!
Because they're so tiny, they're living in our barn right now instead of outside - they need to get bigger, and the weather needs to get warmer before they can go out on pasture. They love their little house though:
Their bedding is a layer of pine shavings covered in hay (they eat the hay too, but they also nest in it). There's a trough in one corner with grain and veggie scraps, and another corner has a nipple waterer, which they don't know how to use yet, so there's also a doggie bowl of water there. Piggies are actually very clean, and they chose the empty corner as their toilet - they pee and poop only in that corner, which makes it really easy to clean up after them!
The barn smells like summer now thanks to the fresh hay, and it sounds "real" with the little grunts and snorts from the piggies. I love life :)
Jen & Dave Paul, owners & operators of Old Post Farm