Our Piggy Adventure

17 Dec

My son decided this year that he loves pigs more than any animal. I never showed pigs and when I was student teaching I had the pleasure… errr… frightening experience of trying to put a board between two fighting pigs which made me decide pigs weren’t really my thing. What do you do when your baby has decided life isn’t complete without pigs?

Well you load up and go to a sale I suppose. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but there was a sale about 70 miles away in Roswell going on during a weekend we were free that a friend said would be a good sale. We threw the goat carrier in the back of the pickup and loaded up. When we got there we found that it would be a silent auction (not what I was expecting but ok) and the pigs were all numbered and put in pens by litter. I picked a few pigs I liked and especially had my heart set on a little duroc. Bidding started and we found that opening bid on all the pigs was $250. Ouch. That was my entire budget for the four pigs we were supposed to try to buy. We watched the bidding go on and my favorite little duroc went for $1250. Yikes. Guess I’m a good picker, it was the highest price pig that day. After the sale ended hubby went to talk to the breeder. Do you have any broken pigs? Lol, yep we asked for broken pigs. Since the pig market was out of our price range by a long shot surely there might be some runts, cripples, or something for us to experiment on?

The breeder was super nice and accommodated us with four broken pigs. Two had wonky ears, one had an abscess on it’s neck, and the fourth was just not a favorite and a gilt (female pig) which demand is less for since some fairs don’t allow them. We could have gotten a fifth pig but it was what he called a “head shaker” and had some neurological issue making it shake its head non-stop which it might or might not outgrow but I just couldn’t stand to watch. We loaded up our four tiny “broken” pigs and made a deal within our budget. It was a good day.

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Four tiny pigs in the back of my truck in a very tall goat cage!

We got the pigs home and they were freezing. It’s a lot colder at our altitude than it is in Roswell so we got them all tucked into the goat cage (now on the ground in our barn) with some straw and a heat lamp. I had to admit they were pretty freaking adorable sleeping in a pile and waking up to play and eat.

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Yeah by now you’re probably realizing I’m falling in love. I had no idea that baby pigs were so freaking cute. They are funny too. They jump and play just like puppies. Ronan thinks that all babies are cute and then they grow up ugly. To just wait and see that the pig cuteness will wear off.

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Pig selfie! It’s so cute isn’t it? Yep I’ve been out in the barn cuddling them.

So the pigs grew and grew. They ate and ate. They grew and grew. Grady practically lived in the pen with them and they were as gentle as dogs! Every time that someone came over to weigh them or see how they were growing for the fair they couldn’t believe how gentle they were.

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We built them a cute little house out of an old water storage tank that rusted out. It worked good until they all got much bigger than I realized.

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Best buddies. Pigs and little boys both love playing in the dirt all summer.

Fair came along and the pigs looked great but a little on the small side. One pig that went to live with our friends was showed by his owner in the Cloverbud class. Grady showed Dot in the Cloverbud class and Ryleigh showed her in a prospect class (she didn’t make weight). Mr. Piggy didn’t make weight. Ryleigh showed Cupcake in a cross class. They placed well in their classes and Cupcake could have pulled into the sale but Ryleigh had two other animals in the sale we wanted to sell worse so we brought our three pigs home.

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Ryleigh showing Cupcake.

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Grady showing Dot.

When the pigs came home we decided that we’d feed out Mr. Piggy and Cupcake which was always kind of the plan anyway to fill our freezer and my parents. Grady wanted to keep Dot and try to have babies which presents it’s own set of challenges and adventures.

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The pigs are so comfortable here at home that they even sleep on the porch like the dogs. Everyone says this makes it harder to eat them but we really like bacon. So. If we can ever get an appointment with the butcher we’ll be taking Mr. Piggy and Cupcake to come home in little white packages. This has proven to be a longer process than we imagined. Some butchers never call you back or only want to schedule appointments when you’re on vacation. So here we are in December with three pigs still.

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I was worried about how they would tolerate the cold but it honestly doesn’t seem to bother them much. They are huge so they regularly push the gate open and let themselves out of their pen and roam around in the snow. I’ve also been having to spray Dot’s nose with “boar scent” to try to get her to come into heat for artificial insemination. Now they all really love me and come sniffing anytime I’m in the vicinity. Apparently the stinky pig perfume is good stuff because I’m like the pied piper. Not good enough to stir up a heat cycle yet though. Maybe soon?

To be continued….

 

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Wow… Yikes… I’m A Shitty Blogger.

16 Dec

Alrighty folks who have been sticking with me through this I owe you an apology. I’ve had every good intention of being a super blogger, super farmer, super mom, super homeschooler, super home-based business owner and believe it or not sometimes it does not all come together….

So here’s where I’ve been since I dropped off the planet.

  1. Learning to live with less. In May I decided not to return to my job teaching at a university agriculture department. While the year I spent doing it was a breath of fresh air and the goal I had been striving to attain for years of graduate coursework the commute was ultimately too much for my family and I was missing too much. This cut our income in half and was a scary leap. Guess what we’re still plugging along and it hasn’t been as painful as we thought it might be.
  2. Starting a business. So five years ago I didn’t sew anything. Then a friend showed me how to make a quilt and I was hooked. I bought a used sewing machine from a friend of hers and kept on quilting. The machine had embroidery capabilities so I started experimenting with a single needle machine. People kept telling me you can sell that stuff! So after I quit my job I withdrew my educational retirement and took a leap. I bought a 10-needle machine and hung up my shingle. While I’m not making what I used to make we’re staying busy and I’m loving the opportunity to be creative and make just enough money to cover whatever we need when we need it. I also get to do this right in my living room with my family.
  3. Homeschooling. We’re doing this with full force this year. If you’d have asked me two years ago if I would consider being a stay-at-home mom and homeschooling I would have laughed at you. Who me? Lol, turns out that it’s pretty freaking awesome. The kids and Grammie, and I have had some awesome field trips and lessons together and I can honestly say we love it. We homeschool because we believe learning should be joyous. The testing was just too much and we wanted to spend more time with our kids. Best decision ever.
  4. Farming. I noticed my last post was in March. Blogging is much easier when you don’t have baby goats, chicks, rabbits, whatever. March is generally the time we start getting babies on the ground and work begins. Milking, feeding, making sure heat lamps are on. The work never ends but it’s a good way to spend time with your family and we wouldn’t trade it for the world. Our kids had a very successful county fair. We sold lots and lots of eggs and cheese and we’re blessed with a freezer full of food for the winter. Can’t beat that.

So now that you’ve got my excuses for being a shitty blogger in a nutshell I’ll do my best to improve and try to get more posts in for you here. After all it’s almost time for boxes of baby chicks to start arriving and before we know it we’ll have baby goats on the ground again. This year we’re also working on our first adventure of pig artificial insemination so I’ll have to let you know how that goes!

Meet the Goaty Girls Part Two- Marigold the Dairy Diva

6 Mar

 

 

 

When it comes to udders Marigold is our powerhouse around here. She has a well proportioned udder and good definition in her suspensory ligament. Her capacity is great and she is an easy milker. She’s a registered Nigerian Dwarf and we purchased her bred in 2013 from Prairiewood in Edgewood, NM.
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She is usually in a hurry to get the to the milking stand and gobble up her grain though and at home she goes on her own and gets right into position. At the fair she has a tendency to drag Ryleigh around the ring because she’s ready to get where she’s going!

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Last year at our county fair Marigold won the award for “Best Udder” in the Nigerian Dwarf class. This was her first year freshening and the judge was really pleased with her.  She was happy to see some Nigerian Dwarves with good udders and in milk this year.

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Marigold also took top honor in the Nigerian Dwarf class with first place and was the Reserve Champion overall. She rocked the fair her first freshening!

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Marigold became the momma to two of our favorites around here last year. Her son “Batman” is a tri-colored buck and her daughter “Sunflower” is everyone’s favorite around here because of her striking blue eyes and sweet personality. She was a great momma and very protective.

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It’s fun to watch Marigold around the ranch because she is very curious. She loves climbing rocks and leads the pack when they are out grazing.

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Marigold is bred this year to Scooter and we can’t wait to see what colorful babies she brings us this year!

Moving Towards Retail Sales- Dairy Farming

5 Mar

Exciting things are happening around here. One of the hardest things about trying to take our dairy to the next level has been what to do and in what order. Today I had the opportunity to speak with our USDA dairy inspector for the region of NM that we live in and while he had a lot of cautions for me he didn’t say it would be impossible. These are the items he told me to research this week:

1. Insurance. Unfortunately we live in a very litigious society and when you’re selling a product for human consumption there is the possibility of being sued by customers. Even if your customer becomes sick for another reason if they ate something like a local cheese product they might believe that it was your product that caused the illness. I searched around online and found some information about product liability insurance in addition to general liability insurance and I’ll keep you posted on how this avenue develops. One area where a lot of farmers have reported trouble is in selling products made from raw milk or raw milk itself. It appears that insurance companies are still misinformed about the danger of raw milk products (such as hard cheeses which are very safe).

2. Vat Pasteurizer. This will be one of our biggest expenses in the new set up. There are lots of small vat pasteurizers on the market but unfortunately not many of the small volume pasteurizers are made with commercial grade materials. I’ll be doing lots of research in this area both in new and used equipment.

3. Chilling Tank. Milk has to be taken from the body temperature of the goat to below 45 degrees within 2 hours. Again this is an area where commercial tanks come in large sizes and finding smaller ones will be a research task. The chilling tank has to have a paddle-type agitator so that samples taken from the chilling tank are representative of the whole sample. The USDA inspector will take samples from the chilling tank periodically for testing.

4. Water Sample. A sample of water from our well will need to be tested.

5. Facility. We are debating converting our newly built metal barn or our vintage trailer into the milking parlor and cheese room. The facility needs to have a floor drain and slope towards it. It needs to be composed of appropriate material that can be cleaned and sanitized (i.e.: concrete, tile, etc).

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Our inspector is going to come check our our site on Saturday and let me know what other considerations need to be made and work with us on what order things need to be accomplished to get permitted.

Drumroll Please… The Winners Are…..

3 Mar

Thanks to everyone who participated in our 50th blog post giveaway! We are grateful for all the new views, likes, and encouragement from our readers and are already thinking of new things to giveaway in the future so stay tuned!

Rafflecopter randomly selected our winners from the entries received and here they are:

Michelle F. from Texas is the winner of the $25 gift certificate to McMurray Hatchery! I’ll be emailing the details soon so we can get it ordered and shipped to you!

Heather S. from Washington is the winner of the necklace!

I’ll be emailing the details soon so we can get the prizes shipped to you!

In the meantime today I give a presentation to USDA employees about how the Internet is inspiring a new generation of female farmers so I should probably get off the blog and get going!

Petunia- Meet the Goaty Girls Series Part 1

3 Mar

This is the first in a series to introduce you to the goaty girls around here that make all the cheese deliciousness and creamy soap possible!

Today I bring you Petunia who will be freshening (giving milk) for the second time this year. She’s a beautiful glossy black and white and doe who came to us from Prairiewood Ranch in Edgewood, NM. She has large, alert golden eyes and can be a little shy.

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Some of her favorite things include bouncing across the huge rocks on the mountainside and butting heads with our German Shepard named Cisco. She also loves to prune the low hanging branches of juniper trees.

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Last year when Petunia kidded (had baby goats which are called kids) she gave birth to two beautiful kids. One adorable black and white buckling who we named Scooter and one exotic looking tri-colored doeling named Violet. Both kids inherited their dad’s vibrant blue eyes (Petunia came to us bred at Prairiewood Ranch when we purchased her). Petunia is a protective momma and raised her babies with pride last year.

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The kids showed Petunia at our county fair as a 1 year old doe in milk and she won second place in her class of Nigerian Dwarves (another of our does won first place). She looks so beautiful all trimmed up and polished for the county fair.

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While her udder blends in a bit more with her black coloring and doesn’t give the same bursting with milk appearance look that our other doe had last year she’s an awesome milker. She consistently gave more milk than our other milker. We doe raised our kids last year Petunia did an awesome job of keeping up with the milk demands of her babies and giving us a solid once a day milking.

This year she’s bred to our tri colored buck Batman and we can’t wait to see the babies she brings us!

 

The Dairy Goat Journey- Business Startup

3 Mar

We started with dairy goats about 5 years ago when my daughter decided to show a mini dairy goat in the county fair as a Cloverbud 4-H member. We bought a couple of mini lamancha from our friends Velma and Kate at Champ Peak here in our hometown. Velma and her daughter Kate have been awesome dairy goat mentors to us and many other 4-H families. There isn’t much cuter than letting your children be raised by goats.

goat 1 goat2 goat3 goat4Our first pets goats were bottle raised and spoiled! They rode in the backseat of my pickup and got paraded in costumes at the fair. There isn’t much better than watching your tissue paper flower daughter get eaten by a goat dressed as a bumble bee…..

Over the years our operation grew and changed after our initial doe (Cookie) had an unfortunate accident on her way home from getting bred and was killed.

We bought a couple of bred Nigerian dwarf does from a farm in Edgewood, NM and raised our first babies last year. It was also our first year to milk and show does in milk at the county fair.

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nigie3Nigerian Dwarf babies are quite possibly the most adorable critters known to man. These babies are tiny. I was very afraid that a hawk might scoop them up since they are smaller than a jackrabbit. We started our journey milking (which everyone told us would be no fun at all).

Guess what? We liked it. There’s something peaceful and soothing about the satisfying sound of the milk hitting the bucket and the gentle swishing sound as it leaves the udder. The goats are calm and affectionate and before you know it you’ve goat a pail of fresh milk. Even Ronan doesn’t mind milking.

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We started experimenting with soap and cheese and found it to be quite delightful. Our friends and family couldn’t get enough of it. The process is wholesome and satisfying. I posted pictures on Facebook and before I knew it people were asking to purchase. We sold a lot of soap but didn’t delve into cheese yet. Everyone says that is impossible.

cheese cheese2 soapIf you really want to get to see me get to work on something just tell me I won’t be able to do it. I spent the weekend going through all of the regulatory documents (which were written for large concentrated animal operations NOT 20 hand milked goats) and while I’m overwhelmed I’m more optimistic than ever. I sent out a lot of emails today and heard back from the NM Dairy Specialist with the cooperative extension service who pointed me in the right direction with USDA contacts and referred me to his publications on the extension website.

Stay tuned as delve into the regulatory process, setting up facilities, logo and branding, kickstarter campaign, product development and marketing. We’re in for the long haul (to do the impossible) and we hope you’ll ride along with us!

 

 

Reminder! Contest Ends in 13 Hours!

3 Mar

I probably haven’t been as attentive as I should have this week while running a contest… It’s been a crazy busy week I should be in Washington D.C. right now but my flights were cancelled due to snow. I’ve been hard at work on getting our ducks in a row to try to take our goat dairy to commercial status. Whew… Share with your friends and enter! Be sure to click the rafflecopter link and enter!

http://mynotsoclosethippyness.com/2015/02/24/50th-blog-post-giveaway/

50th Blog Post Giveaway!

24 Feb

Today is a very special occasion!

Hard to believe that I’ve written 50 little tidbits of information for this blog and even harder to believe the number of readers that follow, comment, and like my blog! THANK YOU!

In order to celebrate I decided on a little giveaway. I hemmed and hawed over what to giveaway and I settled on two items for my first every giveaway! I considered making something (and several people suggested that) but this week is INSANELY busy for me so I’ll save that for another giveaway.

The first item up for grabs here is a gift certificate for $25 to McMurray Hatchery. I love the selection, quality and customer service from McMurray and will have a few orders coming from them this spring here at the ranch. One of my lucky readers will be on their way to having some McMurray chicks too (don’t worry if you’re not ready for chicks yet they have great books and supplies you can order also)!

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The second item up for grabs is a beautiful necklace. I have a really bad habit of buying jewelry and then NEVER wearing it. So one of you is going to become the proud owner of a piece of my beautiful jewelry that I’ve never worn. I seriously should start doing giveaways from my closet like PW does. So much great stuff that never sees the public. The necklace up for grabs here is actually one I made myself and is a perfect color combination for spring and summer!

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Anyway- please share away with your friends, if this giveaway is successful in reaching lots of people I’ll do more in the future! Just complete each of the rafflecopter activities and click the boxes and you can enter as many times as you like. The contest will run for one week and I’ll ship out the prizes to the winners! Click the link below or visit our FB page at The Family Farm & Rock Creek Ranch to use the Rafflecopter widget!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This giveaway is not sponsored by or affiliated with McMurray Hatchery in any way.

Hello Again Winter

24 Feb

Last week we got a tease of spring. It came in and got us excited about doing yard work and being outdoors. Even my trees were fooled and they sprouted delicate little buds ready to welcome the summer.

Then the wind got cold and we were swiftly reminded that winter is still upon us. We desperately need the snow and will take any moisture we can get so I’m not going to complain. This calls for winter food though so let’s get cooking!

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The mountain looks like it may be enjoying a little snowfall.10922050_10100730293203851_33134340_n

Brrr… not much snow accumulation but the trees got a good frosting!

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Quick and Easy Green One Pot Chile Stew

In a stockpot brown a package of ground beef (I used about one pound). I also sprinkle in some dried minced onion while cooking the ground beef (you can also use fresh chopped onion). When the meat is browned drain the excess grease as necessary.

Wash and cube potatoes into bite sized pieces (you can also peel them if you like) I used about 8 small potatoes (half yukon gold and half red skinned because I had them on hand) and add to your hamburger in the stockpot.

Next add green chile. I used a container of Bueno Autumn Roast (13 oz) from the freezer section. I love all New Mexico green chile and you can’t beat the quick and easy no peeling required Bueno container when you’re in a hurry (and have to take out your contact lenses in a few hours). I love the flavor of the autumn roast the best and the heat is good for all members of my family.

I tossed in a teaspoon of beef stock base then filled my pot with water.

Simmer over medium to low heat until your potatoes are tender and your house smells delicious.

Salt to taste then serve!

*I am not a paid representative of Bueno chile nor was this post an advertisement or endorsement of their product by the company. I just like it!