They have arrived all 23 of them. Yes our two sows had 23 piglets between them. Wow what a blessing.
My husband had noticed that both sows had gone missing yesterday (Tuesday) morning and so when he got home in the afternoon the young children and himself went on a pig hunt.
They found them at the far end of our property under some trees and both of them had farrowed.
Amazing the timing that they both had piglets within hours of each other. Any way they couldn’t stay out in the paddock as there isn’t much feed there and we wanted to look after the sows now that there were heaps of hungry little ones to feed.
Proverbs 27:23 Know well the condition of your flocks, And pay attention to your herds.
So they lured the sows with a bucket of grain and walked them back to near our house in our old vegetable garden.
Here they are getting stuck into the grain, they licked the trough clean. You can see how dry it is, and how little feed there is in the paddocks. We had rain overnight, thank you Lord, so hopefully we will see this continue and some new growth start.
Then my husband went up with the children in his Rodeo and caught all the piglets and put them in the back and brought them home.Here they all are snuggled together in the back of the ute. They are so cute at this stage (but believe me it wears off once they start getting adventurous).
Once the mothers heard them squeal it was all on to get them out of the ute and into their new paddock. Then the mothers had to sort out who was who’s. Really!!! they all look alike!!!
After my husband made them a new shelter and gave them heaps of grass hay to settle into, we let them be.
No 2 son (7 years old) was given the responsibility to look after them and make sure the trough was filled with water. He was so excited that this was his job and he was going to be the pig man about the place. He was up at 5.30 am this morning to check on them, but I persuaded him to wait until it was daylight and to go back to bed for another hour or so.
These arrivals has really put the pressure on to butcher the ones we still have so that will be our job over the next month or so when the weather cools down a bit more.
If you have read my Good Morning Mondays #20 post you will know that my husband and No 1 son have been in Melbourne handing out Bibles for Gideons International in Australia. They were away for 3 nights and almost 4 days.
So while they were away the younger two children and myself were in charge of the stock and general overall running of the farm. There were things I had to do that I haven’t done in ages.
I had to feed the piglets and the fish, make sure that all the stock stayed where they were meant to and make sure the aquaponics was still flowing along.
We had a good night on Sunday night but then it started on Monday. One of the sows decided she could smell grain and pushed the gate off the hinge and got into it. Now those of you who have stock will know that once they get a taste for something they will keep on trying to get to it. In the end after numerous attempts we had to barricade the gate shut.
Then when I was feeding the fish before tea I noticed one of our calves out on the firebreak along the side road. The two children and I had to herd this calf back along the fence and down the main road into the drive. We live on a major road with lots of big trucks driving past, so I was on the road in our car with the hazard lights on and the children (in their pjs) were running along behind.
I was just so concerned about it getting onto the actual road and being hit by a car or truck, for both the calf and the drivers sake.
We got it back in and through the gate to its mother and all was well again.
Tuesday dawned bright and clear and we got into our day. No 2 daughter was doing school and must have looked out her window and saw the calf from the night before in our vegetable garden, so off we went and chased it back again to its mother. Boy this calf was determined to cause difficulties. She then pushed her way through the fence again and we had to move her.
Then that afternoon I decided to plant our sweet potato shoots in the aquaponics bed. Now this isn’t a hard job and it went quite well but I knocked a stone down the outlet pipe. From then on the water wouldn’t drain away properly. I rang my husband and got instructions on how to remove the stone and I did this but it still caused us difficulties. It started working well so we decided to go to our bible study.
When we got home I noticed that the sump was nearly empty and one of the pumps wasn’t working. So again another phone call to my already worn out husband and we decided to add some water and as he was coming home the next day he would work out what was going on then. It was midnight and No 2 daughter and myself were still out there trying to sort it out.
I sort of decided that it would be great when my husband and son came home.
We talked about it being a spiritual attack because they were in Melbourne handing out bibles and it may have been and I did try and keep my cool and remember to pray instead of getting stressed and it sort of worked.
Thank you Lord for helping us keep it together.
All in all it wasn’t too bad but I didn’t really achieve too much other stuff, but that’s okay, keeping everything going is good too.
James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
What mischief does you stock get up too????
PS: There has been no more issues since the men got home – makes you wonder.
In my Good Morning Mondays post last week I mentioned that we were going to a turkey farm to look at the processing of turkeys, we also discussed the politics and paperwork involved with the whole process. If you want to look at where we went you can click here.
We have been talking about getting some turkeys from this same place one day when we went there, so we took the opportunity and bought home three of them.
Here is the Sweetgrass Gobbler.
Here is the three of them together.
We got a Sweetgrass gobbler and hen and a Pencilled Slate hen. The Pencilled Slate hen is the one on the right of the picture and a plain grey colour.
These are heritage breed turkeys and they are lovely looking birds. I can’t remember how old they were but the owner said they should start laying in August.
They wouldn’t sit still for me to take a picture but I finally managed to get all three of them together.
We have put them in the chook (chicken) house with the chooks and they seem to have settled in well. We kept them locked up for 4 days and have let them out now and they are wandering around the back yard with the chooks. They go back in each night and have settled in really well.
We were concerned about how the roosters would be with them, but they are bigger than the roosters and chickens so they have left them alone.
We couldn’t believe how big the turkeys were that this farm had. The commercial breeds were enormous and it was fascinating to watch the two workers butcher, pluck and gut them.
We learned a lot that day and it was even better to spend 4 hours in the car together discussing all the things we can do around the farm.
Do you keep turkeys, if so what type and how many???
Well the time had finally come to butcher one of our bulls and a couple of pigs.
Now we have a friend who normally helps us cut them up and he has all the butchery equipment, but unfortunately (only for us) he had to go away with the family, so we had to do it ourselves.
Now we butcher a steer/bull calf at least twice a year, you would think that we would remember how it’s done – yeh right!!! It always almost takes us the whole process before we get the hang of it as we don’t do it often enough.
My husband and No 1 son killed and hung up the beast last Saturday evening, when it was cooler. He was a big bull, about 18 months old. Once he was dead they hung him on the jib crane on the tractor so they could skin him.
My son is an expert at skinning and between him and my husband they did a great job. After they’ve skun the bull they lay out the skin and drop the inards onto it so that it’s easier to cart away. They then cut the bull into 4 pieces – 2 front and 2 back halves. It then gets hung in the cool room that we hired.
This is the same way that they do the pigs.
We did another pig as well the same way. We skin our pigs because we mince most of the meat and make sausages or just keep it plain mince. We will be putting a pig on the spit for Christmas dinner and we leave the skin on then, for lovely crackling.
We hired a mincer from the local equipment hire place in town as we only have a really small mincer and it would have taken ages to get it all done. We first minced all the pork and then I added seasoning etc to the mince and we let it sit overnight. We did curry and sultana sausages, apple and orange liquor sausages, italian herbs and port sausages, and plain ones as well.
Here is the labelled buckets full of mince in the cool room. We then got it out the next day and mixed it all together and put it through the mincer again and then made it into sausages.
I must admit I am really happy with the sausages, and was really enjoying making them especially when I got the hang of tying them..
Here is 2 halves of beef and the back end of a pig hanging in the cool room.
Here is my wonderful husband getting ready to bone out the back quarter of beef.
We found a You tube clip that showed us how to bone out the back quarter and we followed that as we did it. My husband did a great job of this and we now have a freezer full of beef steak, mince and roasts.
I also have 3 big bags of fat in the freezer ready to render to make soap again in the new year.
It is so wonderful to have this meat again as our freezer was getting quite empty. This should see us through the summer months – hopefully, I suppose it will depend on how many visitors we have.
We are so thankful that we are able to grow and butcher our own meat, and we thank God for this, He has really blessed us.
How do you butcher your meat, do you do it yourselves???
I thought I’d update you with some photos of our cattle.
Here is my husband with George our Scottish Highland bull. He has been with us a few years now and has fathered quite a few calves.
Here is Mildred our Scottish Highland cow with her calf from last year. She seems to only have bull calves. We ate her last one and he was delicious. She had another bull calf about a month ago. The Scottish Highland calves are just so cute, they look like a teddy bear.
The kids name all the calves and cows but I’m not up to date with them all yet.
Here is George again, he is just a magnificant animal. He is very tame, although I don’t quite trust him. My husband and our oldest son (19) get quite close to him and he has never caused any problems.
Here’s a close up of George Junior.
This is the next one we will butcher, his mother was a Friesian/Jersey cow and George is his father. He will be butchered before Christmas.
It may sound callous to talk about eating them, but we have cattle to supply us with our own meat, we have chickens to supply us with eggs, all the animals are here for a reason – even the cats have to catch mice. This is the way it is here and our children understand that. We usually butcher them ourselves now, and a friend comes and helps us cut them up and make sausages etc.
We are all very excited to have two new arrivals on Darling Downs Farm. Our Highland Cow “Mildred” had a little bull calf early last week. I’m not sure what name the children are going to give to him but I’m sure none of us will be able to remember it!!
I’m sorry about the quality of the photo but she wouldn’t let me get close enough to take a decent one.
The second new arrival came early this morning. Our jersey milking cow had a heifer calf. Again no name but will keep you all updated.
This cow at least allowed me to get pretty close for a photo but was still quite wary of me.
We have already been milking our Friesian cow since she calved a couple of months ago. I have been making cheese a few times a week, with the rest of the milk going to our piglets. But now that we are going to double our volume my husband will separate some so that I can make butter from the cream.
Why do we keep pigs????Apart from the fact that when they are piglets they are extremely cute – but not as cute as our granddaughters!!!! (sorry couldn’t help putting in a photo of them).
We keep pigs for a variety of reasons and are listed as follows: (in no particular order)
They are another source of protein for our family;
They are great to dig up the paddocks before planting;
We sell them to help pay our bills.
No 1 expanded: We have our own cattle that we butcher for ourselves, and they are a Highland/Jersey cross. We also endeavour to have meat rabbits and chickens for variety. But another source is pork. There is such a variety of things that you can do with pork and we especially like bacon. We have just made our own bacon and it’s in the freezer. I want to can it shortly. I especially like pork spareribs done in my multicooker and will post a recipe on that later.
No 2 expanded: My husband uses the pigs to dig up certain areas in our paddocks before planting vegetables or crops. Last year they dug up our pumpkin patch for us and our other vegetable patches. We don’t keep our pigs in small pig pens as we like them to graze naturally on pasture, we do supplement their feeding with wheat or whatever grain or hay that we have on hand. Pigs actually eat woody weeds that no other stock will and when you have them digging up they are aerating and fertilising the ground for your next crop. Minimal soil preparation is needed then to create a good seed bed (information compliments of my husband). At the moment the piglets get milk every day (from our dairy cow) mixed with wheat. So not only are they doing us a favour but they are getting fed at the same time.
No 3 expanded: At the moment we have 23 piglets running around and when they escape their fenced off area my husband calls them the tribe of Israel. When they are little, getting out isn’t really a problem but as they get older they escape the confines of their yard and dig holes in our nice lawn. We usually keep them in a roadside paddock and as we live on quite a major highway, we get people just dropping in wanting to buy them. Of course this is great and we have never advertised in any papers to get rid of them. We will put an A-frame out the front this year as we have quite a few to sell off.
So pigs are very versatile and actually really quite fascinating to watch. Last year one of our sows was due to farrow and the boar was pulling tufts of grass out and placing them behind her as she lay down. We aren’t quite sure what this was all about because she eventually got up and walked off and didn’t farrow for a couple more days. Maybe the boar had the nesting thing happening instead???!!!
So if you are thinking of keeping pigs (we have heaps and could sell you 1 or 23) we would really recommend it. We have a mixture of Large Blacks and Berkshire and we do find that the heritage breeds have a better mothering temperament and handle the free range lifestyle better than the commercial breeds, and they also taste better.
One point to note when keeping pigs is that you need quite good fencing. My husband keeps them in with electric fencing tape and we hardly ever have them on our nice lawn. He is my hero!!! I no longer have to run outside in my slippers with the kids to chase piglets. Sometimes when you let the children chase them by themselves they can end up on the road, and I am sure you can image this to be a bit of a circus.
If you have pigs and have any advice or just humorous stories please let me know, I love a good laugh and we can always learn new ideas and way of doing things.