We are having beautiful warm fall days here in Kentucky. After a particularly stressful day at the office this week, Boone and I went for an early evening ride through the countryside to help blow my stress away. It was gorgeous, peaceful and relaxing.
This is the dog that herds our sheep.
This is the dog that keeps my husband safe from crazed cows
This is the dog that finds lost calves
This is the dog that loves being a farm dog
This is the dog that lets us know when something is after the chickens
This is the dog that loves to be chased by the rooster
This is the dog that plays with the calves.
This is the dog that loves riding in trucks and considers it part of his job
This is the dog that will ignore me when he is in the truck and on the job
This is the dog that loves me and I him
We were given Miss Piggy when she was just a little piglet a couple of months old. Being the runt she was relentlessly picked on by her siblings and needed to go to a new home. We raised her in the garden and she went on to have a litter of her own.
All of her piglets were sold with the exception of Pinky. We decided to keep her as company for Miss Piggy and for a fall market pig.
Last spring with garden season nearing they were moved over to the sheep farm in a small pasture of their own. We ran a hose down to it so we didn’t have to pack water and they thrived well. Lots of shade, grass, plus their water tub was set on a small hillside so it would run over to create a mud wallow for them when we topped it off. Husband was given a small trampoline frame, that comes in halves, and with some roofing metal we already had he constructed their shelter. In the winter we’ll stack hay bales at one end to keep the wind out. Pig heaven!
A couple of weeks ago they were moved out to the big field that had a pond and woods. There was much discussion about the easiest and least stressful way to move them. Turns out when Husband started pulling out their house with the ATV they ran right along with it all the way to the new area!
The woods are thick with hickory, black walnuts trees, underbrush and vines. Miss Piggy and Pinky can fatten up on the fallen nuts, and have a pond to themselves while cleaning up the woods for us. 3 strands of electric fencing holds them.
Husband supplements their diet with vegetables and fruit (at no cost to us!) that our local grocer plans on discarding. He does offer them a bit of mixed feed but has cut the amount drastically since they have little interest in it.
While we do not consume mass quantities of honey I do like to use it for a few recipes and in hot tea. I have had friends do a taste comparison between the wild honey we harvest and a supermarket brand. While I’ve never had a complaint against commercial honey the wild has what I would describe as a mapley, buttery, vanillish, and amazing flavor.
We have 3 bee trees around us. There is a hive in a black walnut across the street in the “holler”, a hive in a cherry tree by the creek over at our sheep farm – Maplewood Hill, and the third is back behind us in a cherry tree down near the river. The black walnut has provided us with the most delicious honey for quite a few years so we have yet to harvest the other trees.
The honey is harvested on a cold day when the bees are least active. The bees eat a large portion of their honey stores through the winter so we need to leave plenty for them to feed on until spring. A single hive can produce from 60 pounds to upwards of 100’s of pounds of honey in a season so we are comfortable with getting enough to fill a couple of mason jars.
We never saw a bee but could hear them happily buzzing away somewhere in the tree.
I am only 5 days into my holiday break and hooweeee, has it been busy! Saturday night, while we were in Gatlinburg, the first lambing of the season occurred. On Monday night, Miss Piggy decided to get in on the action and went into labor. This was a first for us so there was a lot of hand wringing and whispering about what we should do but she paid us no mind and farrowed 11 piglets all on her own.
Tuesday, the kitchen sink clogged and we spent most of the day snaking the lines to no avail. There was a lot of grumbling and throwing of the snake around but the clog didn’t budge. The snake broke so a run to the hardware store 15 miles away was in order. That night another set of twin lambs appeared. Wednesday, after more snaking with the new snake and gallons of hot water later finally the clog left the premises.
We are installing a new chimney pipe for the woodstove so about the time the clog cleared the bucket truck showed up. Friends came over to assist so there was lots of yelling back and forth from our living room to the roof. The pipe was installed and yay (!), no one fell off the roof.
Friday morning when we went to let the sheep out into the big field we found that 2 more sets of twins had been born during the night. That’s eight lambs so far!
The end of the year is always a busy time on the farm. There’s usually lambing going on, bottle calves to feed and all the festivities of the holiday season. Miss Piggy is expecting to give birth at any moment! The university I work for closes for almost 2 weeks at the end of the year but this year I decided to end one year and start the next by spending more time with my family, friends and animals so I took some vacation time to extend my holiday break.
To kick off our holiday season, the husband and I decided to get away for the weekend. We decided on Gatlinburg, Tn. It’s far enough away that we feel we are on vacation but still close enough that if anything happened on the farm we could get back home in 3 or 4 hours. Our oldest son farm-sat for us and was gifted with the first set of lambs of the season while we were away. It was an easy birth, mom and lambs are in great shape, he moved them into their jug (pen in sheep farming) easily, took pictures and sent us a text letting us know.
We haven’t been to Gatlinburg in years and were surprised by how much it had grown. It’s mostly wall to wall shops now. It was very pretty at night as the town was decked out in holiday lights. We walked the main strip once but mostly just enjoyed the surrounding area as we are not shoppers. Happily our motel, Zoder’s Inn & Suites, was located in a quiet area at the beginning of the strip.
I know you are thinking, yuck it’s a motel, but motels are very common in Gatlinburg and are usually well kept due to the high demand of tourists. Zoder’s offers a little bit of everything, rooms, suites, cabins and townhouses. When looking for a place to stay, they offered a creekside room with complimentary breakfast, milk and cookies at night and wine and cheese in the evening. Complimentary wine! All for a decent $98/per night – sounds like my kind of place.
The creek runs through the property and all the rooms along it have a balcony. The room we stayed in looked to be one of the originals as it could have used some updating but it was very clean albeit a bit musty. A couple shots of air freshener to work it’s magic while we went out to dinner took care of that. The grounds were very pretty with their holiday decorations. There is also an indoor pool/hot tub, racquet ball courts, exercise area and an outside pool which we did not take advantage of. There is a grill area with a fire pit that I would have liked to enjoy but was a popular spot with lots of folks settled in around it both evenings we were there.
All in all we had a very relaxing and thoroughly enjoyable weekend. We are back on the farm and ready to meet lambing and the holiday season!
My job is in the city so I commute about an hour in the morning and afternoon. Because of this, I miss a lot of the farm happenings. This past Saturday morning found my husband out hunting so it was left to me to let out the chickens out from the Chicken Wagon and to let the sheep out into the big field. I was up and out the door just as the sun was topping the trees to take care of them. On the way out, I grabbed some bread that was on the south end of fresh and the cattle stick in case our ram, Rambo, decided to have a go at me and walked down to the farm. It was a beautiful morning.
Having a whole flock of sheep that are happy to see you is a great way to start the day. We all made our way out to the big field where the Chicken Wagon is parked. I could see the chickens at the windows and were anxious to start their day. After scattering the bread around for them and the sheep, I opened the door and scooted around to the back of the chicken wagon so I would not get rooster attacked. Between the rooster and the ram, you really have to stay on your toes.
I love to hear happy chickens singing and clucking.