Pondering, Fishing & Pigs

We had a nice, short rain this morning, then the sun came out and warmed things up. My sinuses are healing up nicely, but I am still not doing anything very physical or anything that requires a lot of bending over. So after the morning chores, I thought I would see if I could catch a fish or two from the pond. I always start out very hopeful, and dream of fried catfish for lunch. There are lots of folks that don’t care for catfish because of their life style, but if you were raised in the south, you were raised eating fried catfish. Both of my grandfathers took us fishing as children, then grandma made up some really good things to eat when we got home. They are great memories, and with them came a definite preference for fried catfish.

This time I took the feathery lure thing off the rod and traded it for a regular hook. Frank had me add three prong hooks to our shopping list since we don’t have any, or we can’t find them. This hook is bigger and much stronger than the one that was on there when I tried fishing last time. I thawed out some chicken gizzards to use for bait, got my bucket, a pair of needle nose pliers and a fish stringer, just in case, and off I went.

The fish pond is in the pig pasture, and they wondered why I was there in the middle of the day. The first expectation was that it was feeding time again some how. As I walked down to the pond they followed me with grunts and squeals, wondering where I was going with this extra large feed bucket.

It took a while with sniffing and tasting of the bat we use for correcting improper behavior, nudging the bucket to see what was in it and poking their muddy noses on my radio, for them to calm down and realize I had nothing for them, in fact, I was pretty boring and after a while, they all wondered off.

 

Soon the dog and the pigs all decided it was a good time for a swim.

About five minutes after I threw out my hook, I started getting nibbles. Then I quickly caught, well almost, a small sun perch that jumped off the hook at the bank, flopped around a couple of times, then swam off. Well, that is a good sign, there are fish in the pond, even though it has been about four years since we last stocked it.

You know, for me, fishing is incredibly boring. I know people that would fish all day every day if they could. I think I would go crazy. One good thing about carrying everything in a five gallon bucket is that it doubles for a chair. I also put the jar of gizzards under it so I wouldn’t have to protect it from the pigs or the dog, Pearl. Pearl did get a piece of gizzard, though, while the pigs weren’t looking.

I was glad that the dog and the pigs came wondering back around and provided me with some entertainment. Lance, our boar, decided to hang around and give me hand or take a nap, I’m not sure which.

 

Not long afterward, I caught a catfish! Yea! But it was very small, not enough for a meal. The good news is since we haven’t stocked the pond in four years, and this guy was small, that means they are reproducing. This is very good news.

 

Back to sitting and hoping for a fish. While I was sitting there enjoying the peaceful beauty of the day, my thoughts turned to the events unfolding in the world. My prayers are with the fallen police officer’s family and friends in Houston that was gunned down while buying gasoline. I thought of the video interview Frank and I watched yesterday with yet another prediction of dire circumstances for the economy by October. October 1st is just 32 short days away. I thought of the mounting racial tensions across our country and how the death of a black person causes outrage, riots and speeches by well known political and religious leaders. Yet at the same time, the death of a white person causes silence by well known political and religious leaders. Not to mention the inundation of people illegally coming across the borders in droves and what that is doing to many communities and cities across the nation. These growing phenomenons will be at the root of a great many coming difficulties. There is a sense of the haves and have nots, those that do and those that do not.

There are those that will prepare and those that will not. All of these things are adding to the mounting resentment and unease that is slowly starting to erupt and ooze across our land like a putrid disease. There is no good that can come of it. Our leaders are fomenting actions that will destroy our land and many good people with it. What will be left is anybody’s guess. 

This is what I pondered. You know what? I also dearly prayed that none of it is so. That I could be totally wrong. But if I am wrong, then so are

thousands and thousands of others, whose numbers grow more and more everyday. No matter how hard I wish it weren’t true, and don’t want it to be so, it doesn’t change a thing. I told Frank about this when I came back to the house. I told him I am in mourning for our country. I mourn the coming strife and devastation. I mourn for the children that will be caught up in unbelievable situations. I mourn. But at the same time, I am filled with gratitude for these days that we have been given and the motivation to prepare for what lies ahead.

After awhile, I caught another small, sun perch. Nice looking little fish, but again, not big enough to eat. So after it posed for this picture, it got to swim away for another day. That was it for fishing today. Maybe sometime I will actually catch something we can eat. While I was at it, the pigs gathered for another dip in the water and mud, then settled down for a nap. Lucky pigs.

While I fished and the pigs roamed around, I got a good picture of Liberty, our gilt. She tends to spend time alone away from the ‘boys’, although when I arrived at the pasture today, she and Lance came up from the pond together. Liberty is about five and a half months old now, so she will be breeding before long. We figure we will have our first piglets sometime in January or February. That will be an interesting experience. We will also be having kids around that time since three of our does are bred. If they took and don’t come back in heat, they will all kid in January.

Since I didn’t catch any fish, I lolly gagged on the way back to the house. We’ve been noticing butterflies all over the place lately and they were out in force this afternoon. Several of them were nice enough to pose for pictures, so I thought I would share them with you.

The time has come that we all need to be very aware of our surroundings. More so than ever before. All the preparations in the world will mean nothing if we aren’t here to utilize them. The world is increasingly becoming a more dangerous place, where you may be attacked only because of your appearance. If you aren’t familiar with the concept of the grey man, you need to look it up and start practicing being grey. It may save your life and the lives of those around you. Be careful and watch your back.

Until next time – Fern

On Feral Pond

Hello Everybody, Frank here.

A while back Fern received a question about our pond. Now, I didn’t want to do this post, but you see, being the loving husband that I am, and wanting to maintain harmony in the kingdom, here is my article about our pond.

When we moved here, we took our 10 acre pasture and divided it into four sections. Two of the sections had small ponds, one of them very small. We decided we needed water in one of the quarters that didn’t have a pond. You say, why didn’t we put a pond in the fourth pasture? We had other plans for it. Some day we hope it will provide feed for the animals, myself included. So it’s affectionate name is the garden pasture.

Back to the new pond pasture, which has evolved into a pig pasture, but this story is about the pond. Down the road from us, whom I will call a local man, is a local man that has assorted pieces of heavy machinery, construction type stuff. When he’s not doing a big job somewhere, he does local work for local folks at a reduced rate. I contacted him, he’s well known in the area, everybody uses him. I had used him earlier to do some fence row clearing for me and he seemed like a good, decent human being.

He brought out a backhoe, dug two five foot deep holes, maybe six feet long and two feet wide. He wanted to see what the composition of the soil and subsoil was. A few days later he came back, it was during the rainy season, and in his professional opinion, the land would support a good pond. A couple of days later he came back with a bulldozer, and I discovered that I should have put in bigger gates in our corral, because to get in the pasture he had to go through two 10 foot gates. It took him a good while to go through both of them. I have since learned that a 12 or 14 foot gate would have done a much better job. That is on my to-do list, way down the list.

Okay, back to the pond. He brought out his dozer, his surveying equipment, put a bunch of stakes in the ground, then he started scraping the topsoil off to one side. I didn’t know that topsoil was a valuable commodity, but at the end of the project, or right near it, he returned a portion of this topsoil back to where the empty pond now sits, so that vegetation and like would grow back. You ask, what’s like? Like is like. I’ll let you chew on that one for a while, not literally of course, but figuratively.

Well, I told this man that I wanted a deep pond. He asked why. I thought it was obvious. What I really wanted was more water, deeper and less surface area. But what I told him was I wanted to be able to hide a pick up truck in it if I needed to. Did you know there are people that don’t have a sense of humor? Oh well. It’s deep, it’s holds water, and it doesn’t take up much surface area. Now forget about the pickup truck, and what was the real purpose or purposes for the pond? The primary goal is for drinking water. Animals primarily, and humans if necessary. It’s also a secondary source of food for humans. That’s where the next part of the story becomes relevant. 

Well, we did some research about pond habitat, and we devised a plan. Stage one of this plan was to saturate the pond with minnows. But before we put the minnows in, we let the pond fill up with water. Yes, I’m a city boy, but I did know that the pond had to have water. Then we waited about six months, for various reasons, but the primary reason was because fish hatcheries only sell fish certain times of year. So, back to the minnows. Well, no, I’m going to go back to the pond. The real, real reason for waiting six months was to allow some type of natural vegetation to develop in the pond, that way the minnows would have something to eat. Actually, I expected most of the minnows to die, which would provide a natural decay and help start the natural cycle of the pond.

Now, a couple of months later, we stocked more minnows. You say, why minnows? Good question. They’re inexpensive, relatively speaking. In a good habitat they will reproduce quickly, and in stage two or three, wherever I am, that was the stage for introducing a couple of different varieties of fish, which needed something to eat. Wa-la! A breeding minnow population. You know that a minnow can get pretty big if you let it grow. Just imagine that the next time you’re eating a sardine packed in mustard, it’s just a minnow. You know, fish food.

What kind of fish did we introduce? Of course, channel catfish, along with hybrid bluegill and redear sun perch, whatever those are. You say, that’s it? Yes, that’s it. We fed these fish some dog food a few times. I know some people buy Purina floating fish food, but dog food floats, too. It’s cheaper than catfood for the catfish. How did all of those fish do? Not a clue. But, the following year, we put the same combination of fish in the pond again. Minnows, catfish, hybrid bluegill and redear sun perch. Now, I know there are fish in that pond, because a big, great egret visits it on a regular basis. Or it used to, anyway. Did you know it’s against the law in my state to shoot an egret that’s eating my fish? Things will change when I become king. Those fish sounds yummy, don’t they? No, I’m not talking about the minnows packed in mustard, I’m talking about fried catfish, and it does sound good, doesn’t it? Just today I had fried chicken with a sourdough batter and it was delicious. You say, this is a story about a pond, what does a chicken have to do with it? Well, it doesn’t, but I have not caught one fish out of that pond in five years. Not one. But this is a story about the pond. Forget the fish. We’ve had a real wet year, so it’s full. When we had goats in there the goats liked it. Now we have pigs in there and they really like it. I guess I would classify it as a good pond. It’s deep enough to put a pickup truck in. The local guy still doesn’t see humor in my stupidity, but he tolerates me since I pay him in cash.

Now, the person that asked about the pond? Here is your answer in detail. Tomorrow my wife will not ask me to do a pond story. No, honestly, I hope this answered some of the questions that you had. Our pond is a good investment, and provides water for the animals which is critical. And there are fish in the pond, because every now and then you’ll see one. Now I’ve checked one more thing off of my list of things to do. 

We’ll talk more later, Frank
 

Pig Tales, Volume 2

All the worry and dread about getting pigs has pretty much been laid to rest. Our pigs are doing very well. They are funny when they snort and squeal at us for their food. If you are walking around in the pasture with a bucket and don’t go directly to the feed pan, they follow behind and do this little squealing sound, especially Liberty, our gilt.

We told you about Liberty’s mother and the problems the breeder indicated happened to the litter. The sow had four piglets, but two of them were dead. Because of that we thought it would be wise to get a second gilt, just in case there are problems with Liberty’s genetics. We had a young gilt lined up that we were going to pick up around the 20th of June, but when I called to set up a day and time, the breeder indicated he needed them to be picked up right away. He had lowered his prices and advertised on Craigslist to move them out in a hurry. We had things lined up for several days and were not able to drop everything to make a fast trip that would take all day, so I called him back and declined. 

In some ways that really simplifies things. We already have these four pigs, and the new gilt would have been at least a month younger. We wondered if she would be able to get through the field fence that surrounds the pasture. Now we won’t have to worry about that. 

The pigs enjoy anything we bring them. They usually get some whey with a variety of other things. We are using up some of the older canned goods in our pantry as part of their feed. I appreciate being able to turn this older food into new food via the pigs’ stomachs. We fed them the dried corn and sunflowers we grew last summer, along with a variety of garden scraps. They get a little pasta, lentils or beans as well. 

 

The great thing about our pigs is that the vast majority of their feed comes from the pasture. They root around all over the place, even in some of the tall, overgrown areas. 

 

We keep a small water pan for them by the barn in the shade, but the pigs get most of their water from the pond. When I went down to the pond this afternoon to try and catch a catfish, the pigs followed me grunting and squealing. After they realized I was not there to feed them, they started rooting around for something to eat. Liberty took a nap and almost rolled into the pond. That was funny. They eventually wandered off to do what pigs do. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch any fish for supper, but I am not a fisherman either. I find it to be extremely boring and I am not a patient person. It probably would have helped if I had the right bait and hooks for the fish I wanted to catch, but that’s okay. We had this pond built after we moved here in 2008, then we stocked it with minnows, hybrid blue gill, sun perch and catfish. Neither Frank or I like to fish, so it’s something we really don’t do. But lately, fish has sounded really good, so I thought I would give it a try. Maybe next time.

We are very pleased with our pigs so far. They have been a great addition to our homestead. The next step will be to butcher one of the barrows when they get big enough. We are really looking forward to seeing how the meat tastes and the amount of lard we can get from one pig.

By the way, I have to tell on Frank. One evening while I was in the barn milking, Frank was just going into the pig pasture to feed. The pigs came over to meet him, and I heard the funniest sound. You remember when you were a kid and you tried to make that noise with your nose to sound like a pig? That is what Frank was doing. I laughed out loud so much the goats and dog were looking at me wondering what was wrong with me. When Frank came back in the barn, I asked him if he was snorting at the pigs. He said, “Yes. Don’t you do that?” I started laughing again and told him no, I had never done that. Now that was funny.

Until next time – Fern