Prepper’s Livestock Handbook by Leigh Tate

If you are interested in livestock for a homestead, we would highly recommend Leigh Tate’s book Prepper’s Livestock Handbook. Leigh writes from experience and research, which is something I appreciate and have learned a lot from her over the years. It is an easy to read, informational text that will help get you started and be successful traveling down the path of raising livestock in a self-sufficient manner.

Leigh is an author of several books, eBooks and the blog 5 Acres & a Dream. Her blog is what led us to raise American Guinea Hogs, make and drink kefir, and this 

year, grow amaranth. Leigh’s extensive research in ways to become more self-sufficient for both the humans and animals at their homestead has led Leigh and her husband to try many different things. The benefit for all of us is that she writes about those experiences.

Leigh includes many resources and references in The Prepper’s Livestock Handbook that will lead you to more information beyond her experiences. I would highly recommend it for anyone starting out with livestock, or anyone that is looking to expand their animal husbandry experience. It is full of natural ways of raising animals and maintaining their health beyond dependence on chemicals and purchasing all that is needed. Leigh’s information focuses on being able to provide for the health and vitality of livestock independently, with knowledge, trial and error according to differing climates and environments, and with forethought and planing. She and her husband strive to provide for themselves and their animals in ways that decrease dependence and increase the probability of survival should the SHTF.

Other books Leigh has written include:

Critter Tales

5 Acres & A Dream: The Book

I learned to make lotion and lip balm using one of Leigh’s eBooks, which I still make and have for years. She has written a number of eBooks on a variety of topics. They show the efforts she has made at becoming more self-sufficient and knowledgeable about decreasing dependence on store shelves.

Leigh is a prime example of life-long learning. I truly appreciate her willingness to share her experience, knowledge and research with us. It has, and continues to enrich our lives daily.

Until next time – Fern

No More Surrender

We raised pigs for a while, the American Guinea Hog. It is a standard breed, just smaller in size by nature. 

Well, the day of my uncle’s funeral, six months after my double bypass, we were feeding the pigs that night, which we had done every night for a year or two. The male pig decided he wanted to get a little aggressive. His weight was around 250 pounds, fully grown. I felt a nudge on the back of my leg, then I felt a nudge again, a hard nudge, which is not really uncommon, our pigs just did that. But on the third nudge, I realized he was biting me about knee high. I hollered at him and he started to circle me. 

Being the prepared person I am, I pulled out my pistol and fired a shot into the ground in front of him. This did not deter him, he continued to circle. It was still daylight at this time and I knew what was coming, so I shot him right behind the head, which ended the circling.

Here is food for thought. When I drew my pistol, I did not have to think, is my gun loaded? Is my safety on? You see, my gun is an extension of my hand. I didn’t even have to think about where it was pointed, where it was aimed, it was second nature. I know my gun. I know it well. I have shot this same brand of pistol for decades. You need to practice and you need to train. You don’t want to be fumbling for a light switch in the dark, you want to know where your flashlight is. You want to know that your radio is charged and what frequency it is on. Your life my depend upon these little, bitty, simple things. An animal circling is looking for a weakness. Don’t give your enemy a weakness to exploit.

So, you say what’s the problem? A 250 pound pig, the way pigs are built with their neck strength, if he had gotten me to the ground, he could have killed me. That’s the problem. So we waited a few months to see if any of the girls were pregnant, which they weren’t. We hauled off all of the pigs to the butcher, therefore, no more pigs. No more surrender. 

Frank & Fern 1997


If I had not been carrying my gun, well, we can speculate all we want. We are a gun carrying family. When Fern leaves the house, she is carrying a gun, and I don’t mean leaves the house to go to town, I mean when she leaves the house – to work in the garden, to take care of the chickens, to go to the barn, or any other household type chore that takes her outside. Fern is very capable and competent with her pistol. She is one of those people that knows which end of the gun the bullet comes out of. She knows that a gun will not fire all by itself, and she knows that her little 40 caliber Glock will stop a 250 pound beast from doing her damage, or worse, killing her. Fern lives in reality. A gun is a tool, just like a shovel, or a flashlight, it is a tool.

My pig story, it could have had a horrible outcome, and it did for the pig. You see, there are people out there that say I can’t carry a gun, and there are other folks that say I could have handled the pig situation different. Well, let me be very simple about this. I don’t care what those people think, and I know they don’t care what I think. But if anything messes with my way of life, I’m going to stop it, by whatever means necessary. On occasion, we’ll have a dog come through. What if that dog is a drunk, meth druggy piece of crap in the form of a human? Some people call it the Castle Doctrine, it used to be called Make My Day. But God, through the Constitution gave me the right to protect myself, be it man or beast. Rights come from God, and if you don’t believe in God, then your rights come from the Constitution, which by the way, those rights came from God.

I refuse to let some beast rape or kill my wife because some bleeding heart liberal refuses to accept his responsibility to defend his wife and family. I call these people cowards, among other things that I shan’t say here. A tool. It’s just a tool. Can a hammer be deadly? Absolutely. Can a diving board be deadly? Can a kitchen knife? How about that 4000 pound piece of 70 MPH projectile sitting out in your driveway?

I refuse. Listen to me very carefully. I refuse to surrender my right to protect myself and my family. There are more commandments than just the Big Ten. I’m leaning heavy on God here, but it is my right as a man, and a warrior, and it’s my God given responsibility to be a man and protect and defend those that I am responsible for.

I can hear the snowflakes screeching now. This beast is a barbarian! So be it. We are losing our society. Some people would say we have already lost. I’m one of them. If we do not get up off of our fat, lazy, stupid butts and take this bull by the horns, then in a generation or two, we will not even recognize our neighborhoods, our society, or our culture. Don’t think it can’t happen, because it is happening, while we sit and watch TV, laugh as we watch the perversion, and stuff our fat faces with Cheetos. Read your history. It has happened many times before, people have lost their cultures by idly sitting by. Once you lose, you lose.


It’s raining at my house today. A good day to sharpen your kitchen knives. A good day to sharpen your skills. Just look around Ladies and Gentlemen, 90% of the people will never fight, 1-2% of the people will fight. King George had the overwhelming majority of people on his side. If you don’t know who King George is, then you should. He had the overwhelming support of the people in the colonies and 1-3% of the people overthrew his local government and his trained military. These were tough people in a hostile environment. Do not believe a word our government says. You know we need leadership that I do not see stepping up. Our last president, Mr. Obama, said that we are not a Christian nation, he was wrong and is wrong. We ARE Christian and we are in need of those 1-3% of the people to do what the majority will not do.

I refuse to surrender. You should refuse to surrender also.

A shift here. You’ve got to have food and water. You have got to have shelter. It is imperative that your head is screwed on right. You need the ability to protect yourself. You’ve got to have water.

Next. Quit trying to change the minds of people that you’re not going to change. You’re wasting energy. I have tried for YEARS and the government and the media has convinced the people that everything is just fine. So quit wasting time trying to get other folks to see it your way. Be very careful who you do trust because through the kindness of their own heart they may tell someone what you’re doing and that person may not be a kind, gentle person. I have heard people in church stand up and ask for prayers for when they go on vacation for two weeks. Great. They just told a whole church full of people they’ll be gone for two weeks. If one person, in light conversation, mentions that to the wrong person, their house could be empty when they return. 

It’s time to quit talking and thinking about telling people what you’re going to do. A veteran street fighter knows that when someone tells them what they’re getting ready to do, it’s not going to happen. A veteran street fighter never tells someone what they’re going to do, they just do it. Trust me. Remember the last presidential campaign when Mr. Trump said we are going to quit telling the enemy our plans? Word to the wise.

It was me or that pig. I chose me. I am the person responsible for my house. I choose life over death. Our mindset is strong. Plan to feed those you can, but if you can’t, don’t worry about it. Do not put your family in jeopardy for the fool next door that didn’t prepare. It’s your choice.

Choose wisely.

We’ll talk more later, Frank

Homestead News, Volume 18

I’ve been thinking I need to update you on the animals around our place. They are a big part of our daily lives, so sometimes the changes appear subtle to us, but others notice the changes more readily. The young ones are growing, and some of the older ones will be increasing our numbers soon.

 

I’ll start out with the goats. We still have three older wethers waiting to fill some of the freezer. I’ll have to wait until the surgeon gives me the okay before I tackle this project. Believe it or not, the meat from the previous goat we butchered and ground is gone. Since these are dairy animals, we don’t get a lot of meat from one carcass. Last year we kept three young wethers, this year I think we’ll keep them all. More meat on the hoof that way.

We will be having baby goats soon, January 5th is the first due date with one or two others to follow by mid January. One Stripe, our old lady goat of seven years, will be first. She has developed her characteristic waddle and her udder is developing nicely. I need both hands back in action to begin milking her the day of delivery. I will milk her everyday and give the colostrum to the pigs, dog and cats. After five days, I will begin keeping it for us to drink, which we really look forward to.

Next in line is up for grabs. Back in the summer I turned Cricket in with the buck for breeding, wrote down the date and thought all was well. Later on, she spent the day by the gate with the buck indicating she was back in

heat, so I didn’t think she ‘took’. At that point we had decided to sell the buck and borrow one from Faith, which is what we are doing now. Well, Victor the borrowed buck,

Victor the borrowed buck

has now been here for 22 days and Cricket has yet to come in heat. So, is she pregnant and due in January? She is the only one what knows. She is also the only one I am milking once a day now. We only get about a pint, so it’s barely enough to keep the kefir going, another reason we look forward to new baby goats and an increasing milk supply once again. I didn’t keep Cricket’s summer breeding date so I can only guess a due date. If memory serves me correctly, which it often doesn’t, that’s why I write things down, she is due somewhere between One Stripe and Copper. We’ll see.

Next in line is Copper, one of One Stripe’s daughters. Copper is an old hand now at having babies and she looks very good. Her due date is January 11th. With two does back in full production we will soon have plenty of milk which is very good. We also need to replenish our reserve supply of frozen milk.

Besides having plenty of milk for us, another reason it will be very good is the expectation of having piglets sometime in the next month. That’s a guess anyway. We are estimating Liberty may be due around January 10th if we have an accurate breed date. That estimate could be anything but accurate, so we will just have to wait and let her tell us when the time comes. I figure after a few weeks the piglets will be more than happy to drink some goat milk, so it turns out to be very good timing. Right now the pigs are getting some of our old powdered milk in their daily ration. They will be happy to have goat milk instead.
 

 

Two of the pigs have turned up with greasy pig disease again. From all of my reading, this is caused by a staph infection that sets up in scrapes or scratches. It can be very contagious and it can spread all over their body, but it can also run it’s course and heal without medical intervention. According to the vet, staph bacteria is everywhere, in the soil, on the surface of most animals skin, etc., it just needs an avenue

to grow. With all of the briers and thorny plants in our pastures, the pigs are going to get scrapes and such as they graze and root around, so this looks like it may be a recurring event here. The first time they got it the vet came out and gave each of them a penicillin shot. We don’t want to repeat that performance on a regular basis so I did some research to see what we can do naturally. For now I have added dried minced garlic and yeast to their daily ration. The sulfur in the garlic is great for it’s anti-fungal and antibiotic properties. The yeast contains zinc which is good for the pigs immune system. I have found a book that I will be ordering about natural pig treatments to see what else I can learn.

We did some more bartering with Emmet and he took home all of our older hens and two young roosters that were causing too much commotion in the chicken house. We kept our older Buff Orpington rooster. He is calm, not aggressive toward us, calls the hens to eat and overall, has been a great rooster. This leaves us with 20 young hens, many of which are laying. There are two different ages of hens in this flock from the first two sets of eggs we incubated in the spring, so some of them are almost a month younger than the rest. We are getting 10 to 12 eggs a day for now and a few of them are getting to be good size along with the smaller pullet eggs.

There are about 40 more young chickens that will be ready to butcher in about two to three weeks if the surgeon releases me to do so. This chore will have to be completed around the healing of my right hand and the timing of the surgery on my left hand. It will be the same thing, trigger finger and ganglion cyst, so I will have another splint for a while at some point.

Life on the farm is good. Very good. It fills our days and our bellies. It seems with each passing day we talk to more and more people that see very hard times coming our way. There are pieces of the coming storm that some focus on, the economy, the terrorist activities, the racial hatred, the government, but most don’t consider the immensity of it all. It’s a huge complicated mess and there is no telling which way the avalanche will fall when it all lets go. I have talked to some older folks that know something is coming and they are afraid. Some of them hope to be gone before it gets really bad. Fear is a powerful thing. It can paralyze you or motivate you. Remember, even though it is the holiday season, it appears to become more important everyday to avoid crowds. And if that bus or truck every pulls up out front, don’t get on it. You never know what may await you at the end of that ride, but it will no longer be a life of your choosing.

There is still much to be done here. We can only pray we have it completed before the time comes. You might want to do the same.

Until next time – Fern

Pear Sauce, Pigs & Vinegar

Remember those five 5 gallon buckets of pears? And I said I was finished? Well there are still tons of pears coming off that same tree and we thought it would continue to be great pig food. So I got five more 5 gallon buckets.

From the last of the first batch of pears, I made my first vinegar. It isn’t ‘done’ yet, and I don’t know how it will turn out, so I haven’t told you about it. But it looks right according to all of the pictures I’ve looked at and all of the information I have read. I’m excited to finally try making vinegar. I wanted to and had to because my friend Grace also tried her first batch out of the same pears, and she started hers before I did. Today she is making her first ever batch of soap, too, something we have yet to do. Good for her, I hope it turns out perfect.

Bowl of very ripe pears, vinegar crock, pig bucket, pan for pear sauce


After I brought home the last batch of pears, I decided that pear sauce would be a good thing to make. Since we aren’t eating any sugar and haven’t in almost a year, I was thinking pear sauce, made out of the really ripe, dripping pears would make a good sweetener for things like winter squash pie. Pears have a good amount of carbohydrates like sugar, but there is no processing or additives in these pears. The tree hasn’t even been pruned, sprayed or fertilized for, well for as long as anyone can remember. The only thing I did to make pear sauce, was peel and core the pears and cook them down. The vinegar got the peels and the pigs got the cores and seeds. I did add a tablespoon of citric acid powder, just because. The sauce has cooked down to a beautiful golden brown. It was canned in the water bath for 20 minutes. I think the next time I try making a pie, without a crust, I’ll add about 1/4 cup of pear sauce for sweetener and see how that tastes.

Since the first batch of vinegar seems to be doing it’s thing correctly, it actually made some ‘mother’. I decided that I should start more vinegar, this time in the five gallon crock instead of the one gallon. I’ll give you many more details about the vinegar once the first batch is ‘finished’ and I find out if it actually worked. For now, know I am once again experimenting on us an hope it works and doesn’t make us sick. That is always one of Frank’s concerns, and rightly so, but I just tell him we’re not dead yet.


The pigs really, really like the pears, and so do the chickens. I am truly grateful for this abundance of food, for us and the animals, and the people that are so willing to share. I hope I am able to share something with them sometime that they will enjoy as well.

Until next time – Fern

Homestead News, Volume 16

When I sit down to write about the news from our place, I always look back at the last article to see what I wrote. I was surprised to see that the outdoor kitchen was still a slab of concrete, and that the antenna towers had just been put in the ground. It seems like much has happened since the last edition, so much so that I won’t remember it all.

We ended up with 77 quarts of pears. I had to do some rearranging on the pantry shelves to get them in there all together. That wasn’t such a terrible task.

I’ve canned another 6 pints of green beans this past week. Six jars aren’t a lot, but I’m still surprised that the Missouri Wonders are producing this time of year. I will be canning a few more pints  along with a few beets, maybe tomorrow.

Yesterday I picked the last of the tomatoes. We have temperatures forecast in the mid 30’s on Saturday and Sunday night, which means we will probably get a frost here at the house. We were really surprised the first time that happened. The house is in a small, low dip in the land, and the barn is on a small hill. It will frost at the house, but not at the barn when the temperatures are in the mid 30’s. That means the tomatoes, green beans and okra will die this weekend. I was surprised at the number of tomatoes we harvested. Most of the vines are suffering from some kind of wilt and are dying anyway. Today I will wrap a bunch of these tomatoes in newspaper and tuck them in the pantry to ripen. 

I was also surprised at the number of carrots we still had in the ground along the tomato trellis. After the rains pass through today, I will dig up the remainder of the carrots along the green bean trellis. I have really enjoyed being able to go out and pull a few carrots for a salad throughout the summer. Carrots are something I have finally figured out how to grow. Now if only I can learn how to grow onions, and store them.

I used to be sad to see the last of the garden die out for winter. This year, all of the new growth in the greenhouse has replaced that sadness with a continuation of ‘gardening’ activities. Many of the new seeds I planted last week are coming up, including the Austrian Winter Peas. I look forward to adding them to our salads and picking a few for the chickens as well.

 Since we are expecting a frost, I dug up one sweet pepper and one jalapeno plant to see if they will survive the transplanting and live in the greenhouse. They have been blooming and producing more peppers, so I thought if the frost was going to kill them anyway, it won’t hurt to experiment with transplanting. I

had mentioned these plants to a friend of mine that encouraged me to try this. I know she’ll be watching their progress or demise, whichever comes first.



Frank has been working on giving some of our trees and shrubs haircuts. The new antenna set up will be a little different configuration, thus the trimming activities. We have made several trips to the brush pile to keep the yard cleared. 

 


 

 

We have another rainy day today which is very good. The soil has gotten very dry over the past few months and we appreciate the nourishment the rain brings. We hope to get several inches today. The hay we put down last week to cover the bare parts of the garden have worked out very well. That was a very good use of old hay. Now it looks like we will be getting some serious weather later on today.


 

The structural portion of the outdoor kitchen is finished. Now we need to paint the plywood walls to protect them from the weather. When that is finished we will start ‘installing’ the stove, grill/smoker, rocket stove, sinks and cabinet/workbench.


This water tank has been lurking around here for about six years. Our original plans for it have long since gone by the way side. Our latest plan was to put it up on a platform by the outdoor kitchen and attach it to the sinks, but that just never seemed quite right. You know those ideas you get that seem to be pretty good, but just don’t quite come together in your mind? Well, Frank and Henry discussed the placement of the tank there by the kitchen one afternoon with plans to build the platform the next morning. That night when we went to bed, we were talking about the next days work and a new idea emerged. I had already asked Frank to put a 55 gallon drum under the guttering down spout by the greenhouse, then I could dip out the water easily. Well, our late night idea was this. Put the 305 gallon water tank here instead. Looks great, doesn’t it? It will be connected to a short run of guttering, with a faucet of sorts for accessing the water. It’s a few short feet from the greenhouse which will be wonderful.

 

In the next few weeks we will be showing you the installation of the water lines. Emmet has been back several times digging the beginning of the ditches required for water and electric lines. This will allow the gentleman to come and dig the lines without worrying about the barn, fencing or existing water line. I have some really exciting pictures on here, don’t I? Holes in the ground….

A few days ago Frank commented on how many acorns one of our oak trees has dropped this year. These are larger acorns than many of the other trees, large enough to affect your footing if you have too many of them underfoot. Until this year, they have been a nuisance to contend with, this year they are turning into meat. Seeing all of the acorns brought a vague memory to mind, something about pigs eating acorns. We researched oak acorns and pigs to make sure they were safe, and found not only are they safe, some people consider pigs raised on acorns to be some of the best pork available. So yesterday I began collecting acorns. It only took about 30 minutes to pick up this many. I gave a few to the pigs yesterday morning and at first they didn’t pay much attention to them. We thought it might be necessary to crack the hard outer

covering, but it’s not. Last night all of the acorns were gone and this morning I saw one of the barrows crunching away on one. It’s interesting how perspectives can change. There are lots of things I now view as meat, meaning food for animals that will turn into meat. Many of these things have lain about for years going to waste, but now with a little effort, they are increasing our food supply. Speaking of pigs, for the rest of this week Liberty has come running into her pen each time I feed. She starts out in one of the ‘outside’ feed pans, but as soon as I pour out her feed and call her, “Come on, Liberty”, here she comes running. Every so often one of the boys tries to come with her, but they’ve figured out that this is not their food. This has been very interesting to me.
 
I thawed out the leg roast I saved from the last goat butchering. We tried cooking one of these roasts, but it was really tough. This roast was sliced yesterday and marinated in soy sauce and pepper so we can try another batch of jerky. Frank didn’t care for the first batch, and I have to admit it is really tough to chew and doesn’t have a lot of flavor. It’s okay, but we hope to improve. One thing I am doing differently today is starting it in the morning so it won’t be left in the dehydrator overnight, which was too long the first time. We also hope the soy sauce improves the flavor. If not, I’ll go back to sea salt and add more than I did the first time.

Easter & Patch

Our buck moved to a new home yesterday. Since we kept his daughters, Easter and Patch, we wanted a new buck for breeding. We have yet to find a new buck, though, and will be borrowing Faith’s new buck in a few weeks. One Stripe and Copper will give us another set of kids from the buck we just sold, but Easter, Patch, Lady Bug and Cricket will all be bred to Faith’s buck. This will give us the chance to add some new blood to our herd. We will keep looking for another full-time buck for our next round of breeding in May. We are still trying to have year round milk, which means two ‘breeding seasons’ per year. It makes things a little more complicated, but we think it’s worth the effort.


Enjoy the blessings of these peaceful days. On the surface, most things seem calm. Don’t let the depth of the swift undercurrent pull you under. The decisions we make today will help determine our ability to survive in the future. Choose wisely.

Until next time – Fern

Fern, the Pig Trainer

Just typing the title for this article makes me laugh. If you’ve been reading here for long, you’ve read that I hate pigs. I’m afraid of pigs. I want to raise pigs for food, but don’t like them at all. I’m just not a pig person. Or wasn’t until recently, as recent as May 15, 2015, five and a half short months ago.
 

May 19, 2015


Well, after we decided to add pigs to our homestead for the benefits they will provide after the SHTF, I decided it was time to change my tune. So I did. Now we have pigs, and they’re decent enough animals. I’m not afraid they’re going to bite me all the time anymore. I’ve realized that their behavior can be shaped, similar to any other animal, whether it is a dog, or a goat, or a pig.

I admit, I do pay more attention to Lance, the boar, and Liberty, our gilt, than I do the barrows, our future dinner. We plan on having Lance and Liberty around for a very long time, so we want them to be relatively tame and easy to work with. This is very similar to the way I treat the goats. I pay a whole lot more attention to the does and very little to the buck or wethers. It’s just the nature of things. American Guinea Hogs are smaller pigs, 150 to 250 pounds full grown, and known to be slow growers. We originally thought about butchering the barrows in December when they will be nine months old, but there is just not a lot of meat on them yet. For now, the plan is to wait until February or March when they will be close to a year old.

barrow


We still feed the pigs very little grain. They get scraps from the kitchen, stuff out of the pantry we don’t eat anymore, like macaroni or cereal, old powdered milk mixed with water or the liquid from a jar of green beans or squash. Stuff like that. In the morning they get two small green bean cans of dairy goat ration. We don’t by pig feed specifically for them. They graze to their hearts content in their one to two acre pasture, and appear to be healthy, happy pigs.

We have been asking folks questions about pigs, their health and behavior, since we have never raised them before. The consensus appears to be that Liberty looks pregnant, which is good. We are hoping she is, and have a rough guesstimate of a January 10thish due date. With that in mind, seeing how she is low pig on the pecking order, um, make that oinking order, I wanted to make sure she is getting enough to eat so not only can she feed her growing babies, but continue to grow herself since she is not an adult, or sow yet. Thus the title of this article.

Pigs are strong, quick, scrappy creatures. Once the feed is poured out in the pan, it’s every pig for themselves. Since we haven’t raised pigs before, I’m not real sure how to think like a pig yet, but I’m learning. Lance is the largest of the four and can easily move the others out of his way to get the most food. I noticed this a month or so ago and started feeding in two pans instead of one. This resulted in Lance eating out of one pan, while Liberty and the two barrows ate out of the other. I used this observation to try to develop a way to feed Liberty by herself.

I moved the feed pans over by the pen we have set up. If I could get Liberty to go into the pen to eat, I could shut the gate, let her eat, then when she was finished, let her out. First I tried feeding everyone in there and running the boys out. That definitely didn’t work. Then I tried feeding everyone right outside the pen in one pan, and trying to get Liberty to go into the pen to eat. That didn’t work. I ended up waiting for her to be on the pen side of the feed pan, they always go around in a circle as they eat trying to get to the ‘good stuff’. At first I kind of lifted Liberty’s front end by the shoulders and aiming her at the pan in the pen. This didn’t work for a day or two, then all of a sudden it did. Yea!

Lance

The next day, Liberty walked right into the pen and I shut the gate, fed the boys, but when I opened the gate to feed her, out she came, not to go back in. Humphf. Now what? Keep trying. I did the lifting by the shoulder thing for several more days. Sometimes she was willing to go in and eat, and sometimes she wasn’t. After about 10 days there was around a 60% success rate. Not bad for a novice pig trainer, I thought. I realized that if I put food in the pan closest to the pen, then in the pan farthest from the pen, Lance would go to the far pan and the others, including Liberty would stay closer to the pen. I stayed consistent in this routine for a few days and it worked.

Liberty

For the last few days I have been pouring out some feed in pan #1 by the pen, then pan #2 for Lance, then pan #3 in Liberty’s pen. As I pour out Liberty’s feed, I tap the side of the bucket to draw her attention, then I walk out and pat her on the shoulders and tell her to come on. For three consecutive feedings it worked great. Then, this morning as I was tapping the side of the bucket, in walks Liberty to the pan at my feet and starts eating. Hallelujah!

Twirling barrows
Liberty

At first Liberty was fussy and anxious when she finished eating and found herself penned up alone. Now she just talks to me as I come back to let her out. Once I open the gate she walks right up to me waiting for more food or a pat on the back. Now that we’ve reached this point, I’m hoping she continues to trust us a little more. It will be very interesting to see how birthing and raising piglets works out. The docile nature of this breed of pig is well documented. Most folks don’t even separate the sows and boars during, or after the piglets are born. Since Liberty is getting used to eating alone, I should be able to continue this routine while she is nursing, insuring adequate nutrition for her and the piglets, at least that is my theory for now. Again, we’ll just have to see how it all works out.

Fern, the pig trainer. I never thought in a million years I would ever be doing anything like this, or writing about it either, for that matter. Just goes to show that you never know what life will bring you. Sometimes it something that will increase your chance of survival, and in that case, it’s a gift for which I am truly thankful.

Until next time – Fern

 

This is not Liberty.

This is not Liberty either.

This is Liberty.

Homestead News, Volume 15

It’s raining here today, which is expected to continue for a number of days. That’s good, because it was very dry here. Since we have been doing a lot of tractor work in and around the garden and antenna tower locations, much of the ground was just dust. We didn’t want to have any of our new topsoil wash away again like it did in the spring, so I took what was left of an old bale of hay and spread it out pretty thickly in the bare places. Then we turned the sprinkler on for a little while to mat it down and hopefully hold it in place. We got a good rain last night that wet it down even more. So far so good.

Lance, the boar

Our pigs are doing well. Their behavior is acceptable, and they like their routine. I have been watching Liberty, and petting her more than the boys, to see if there are any signs of pregnancy. She seems to be getting rounder by the day, and if I’m not mistaken, I think her teats are developing. Maybe some of you that are experienced with pigs can give us your opinion of these pictures. I can only guess at her condition based on a goat’s body, which is woefully inadequate since one is a ruminant and one is not.

Liberty, our gilt

 

In between antenna towers, the steps for the outdoor kitchen were built. The two posts to the right will host a handrail once the concrete at the base of the posts cure. The metal for the roof and lumber for the framing is in. Depending on the amount of precipitation we get early next week, we may see more progress on the kitchen.
 

Tower #2


Antenna towers. We now have three concreted in the ground. The main tower was the last to go in since it necessitated taking the radio shack off line for a while. We had our third Survival Radio Relay Net this week with another increase in participation from around the area. There are even folks that are starting to try to contact each other every evening at the same time, just to check in and see how well their radios are working.

 

Tower #3

 

We will do an indepth article on the changes in Frank’s antennas, the towers, their installation hows and whys, when we complete this project. If you have any questions beforehand, please post them so he can address them in the article. Our current set up surprised us with the number of people we could reach and the distance some of them are from us. We can’t wait to see how the taller towers will affect our communication abilities. This is a very exciting project indeed.

Bucket with a hole for watering trees

When we put the lattice work up across the front porch, we had to move a small jungle of trees that had lived in pots for a couple of years. Most of them had died due to neglect, but some of them made it by growing out of their pots and into the ground. One of them was this mulberry. We had to lop off a very large root to move it out of the way, and I wanted to try to save it. We really expected it to die. I pruned it severely, planted it by the chicken pen, and watered it regularly when we watered the chickens. The leaves all gradually died and fell off, but then the other day there were new leaves. Yea! This tree can provide berries for us and chickens alike, and will also provide some much needed shade for the pen in the heat of summer. 

Our wonderful Pearl


Our critters are doing well. Here is a glimpse of a few of them.

The chicks are growing.

The chickens like pears.

Scruf is funny.

Patch

Lady Bug
Okra blossom

I have one more day of pear canning ahead of me, hopefully tomorrow. I have a few more green beans I can put up as well. It won’t be long before the first frost comes and puts an end to the outdoor garden. Then I will really concentrate on learning to grow our winter food in the greenhouse. I already have visions of seedlings for spring lining the shelves. But first, we all need to weather the coming winter and whatever it holds in store. 

We continue to appreciate each and every day that we can live these comfortable, ‘normal’ days. That gives us one more day to prepare.

Until next time – Fern