Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Updated Piglet Pics

Breeding pigs was something we just kind of fell into, not a truly planned event but needless to say it's been an experience. One that we will repeat.

The piglets are a joy to have most of the time, they're happy, funny and so friendly, but that doesn't mean they won't end up on a plate! Raising any animal for meat is a job on it's own. There's time, energy, patience and also the monetary factor to consider. Animal feed is not cheap and by the time you work out how many hours has gone into caring for the animal realistically you can buy meat from a supermarket for the same price. It's the knowledge of knowing the animal has had the best life possible, been fed properly, cared for and loved and also met it's end without being overly stressed, man handled or treated badly.

Our pigs all seem to enjoy their lives, they love a good itch and will follow you around like dogs. Mind you it's not all plain sailing as they can be extremely vocal at feeding times and do occasionally push us mere humans out of the way if we're not quick enough putting feed bowls down. They also can be quite destructive but that's because they're so nosy! We used to take our first pig, Mikey, for walks on a lead - that gave the locals something to gossip about ;)

For me, raising pigs has been challenging at times but very worthwhile. We do eat pork and by far the best we've ever eaten has come from our own pigs. Last year we tried gammon and bacon too with great success. But mostly I like keeping them as they're intelligent, clean and are great with people. I think they're cute too - I mean how could anyone not love a face like this....

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Wandering Photo's

As it's another rainy day my choices of what to do are limited - it's either housework or blogging, and I know which one would win any day!

I've been out with the camera taking pot shots at anything that caught my eye and I thought I'd let you see a small insight into my daily surroundings and how they're changing with the seasons. Then I best get on and clean this house!

The locals will be out later collecting snails as they're considered somewhat of a delicacy here - mine will be staying put in the garden!

Some of the many trees we have are in blossom again, while others have finished already - parts of the garden are spotted with fallen blossom that looks like confetti.

This is our shortcut from the neighbours house - across the paddock, which will hopefully be plowed and have lucerne planted on in the autumn, through the orchard and into our garden.
There's a small cluster of these trees on one part of our land and I've no idea what they are! They look a bit prehistoric, don't produce fruit and are the last to be getting their leaves. The branches are all odd shaped. Can you tell me what it is?

Monday, 19 April 2010

Time to Start "Chick Watch"

According to our calendar the first batch of chicks are due any day now so I've been out and checked on all of our "Soon to be mums" today. Our broody bantam hen is still happily sitting on her eggs although we aren't entirely sure how many are there now. She's seems well but it does worry me that she decided the eaves of the barn were a good place to nest!

There are 2 turkeys trying to incubate one clutch of eggs and another sitting on a second batch of eggs this morning, although she may move off them later in the day. Only the layers are not trying to hatch babies yet this year and they're all happy scratching around and doing what chickens do. Maybe I'll try to get another of the bantam hens to sit on layers eggs to get some larger chickens. I'm probably going to have to give some bantam chicks away - although they're nice, quite decorative and friendly we really don't need any more. So if you want some small ornamental chickens please let me know.

I find that after the chicks are hatched the easiest way to ensure most of them reach adulthood is to take them away from their parent, put them in a large box with a heat lamp, water and food and keep them warm for a couple of weeks. Then they usually go outside into a pen away from the other birds until they're large enough to start integrating with their respective flock. Other people may have more success leaving things alone and letting them be raised by mum but we find that we often lose them before they're 3 weeks old.

I've done a spot of weeding today but the weather isn't great and has been trying to rain for most of the day. Yesterday I got some more seeds put in pots and also planted some ginger. It's the first time I've really tried growing ginger so we'll see what happens, I'm really curious to see what the foliage looks like. Are you growing anything you haven't tried before?

Sunday, 18 April 2010

The Chicken Mystery

Last night before I brought the horses and donkey in I had a couple of small jobs that needed doing so off into the stable yard I went. One of the stable doors keeps dropping off a hinge so before Maya came in I needed to secure it again......ok it's a 5 minute job and not exactly rocket science so I managed to re-hang the door and stepped back to take a look at it.

That's when I noticed one of our bantam hens was lying dead on the yard floor! She'd been doing the usual chicken things earlier in the day and hadn't looked ill so exactly how she'd died was a bit of a mystery. Why I'd not noticed it when I'd gone in the yard also puzzled signs of a struggle or the bird being attacked by anything, just a very dead but still warm chook.

The mystery deepened further when I asked kids and hubby if they'd seen anything odd, of course no one had. Then daughter piped up and said that Charlotte, the pig, had been out in the yard for a while at feeding time and had knocked the stable door over from where it had been propped up......Aha, bingo and along comes a brainwave, I'd solved the mystery and it was very simple really.

The reason I'd not seen the poor, deceased chicken was that it had been under the fallen stable door, the pig had knocked the door over and the hen had been in the way and unfortuately been hit on the head with the door and killed - The pig was the murderer! By accident of course lol  Mystery solved.

So we're one bantam hen less, and still have all those damn bantam cockerels that love to crow most of the night and day!