6.30.2013

Gamboling Piglets

Our new tenants crack me up. They get all excited about treats like milk and strawberry tops, and they get all excited about water because it usually means treats are soon to follow. So every morning and evening, and sometimes in between, this is the action in the pig pen. The sound in the video is the hose, but at the end you can hear the piggies snorting too. Other than that, it's pretty self-explanatory.
video

6.25.2013

Morning Menagerie

Summer vacation is upon us, so Farmer Fin and I got to do morning chores together today. The sun was still gentle, and all the animals were patiently or impatiently waiting for food and water. Here's what we saw:

Thirsty goats

Before: Hungry Piglets

After: Enjoying Some Milk

These Guys Are Always Hungry

More Elegant Birds

6.19.2013

Celeste

Four years ago, in the early spring, we got our first farm animals, six red hens, from the Cobleskill Agway. They looked pretty much identical, so we gave them one name: Celeste. They were great layers, each producing an egg a day all summer and fall. Production went down a bit that winter, but as soon as the days started getting longer, they were back to the egg-a-day routine. 
Celeste in the Early Spring of 2009 or 2010
Over the years, they have died off, as chickens seem to do, from mysterious sudden diseases or hawk attacks, but one of the Original Celestes still exists. I swear she's still laying, though it's hard to say for certain because since then we acquired a half-dozen Barred Rock hens and then, last year, some Celeste impostors, who look like her, but lack the Original Celestes' commitment to quality (and quantity). This spring we went on a sort of Quest for Celeste, and  thanks to the friendly folks at Agway, we found the source of the O.C. and picked up six new Celestes yesterday.
New Celeste, Right, Mingles With the Flock
DestinĂ© the rooster is one happy guy with six new pretty ladies in his flock. There was some hen beef at first, but Destro just strolled up and said bok bok bok, and that was that. He went on to give the new girls a "warm welcome" right away. He's good like that. The new Celestes are still figuring out where to sleep and lay eggs. Farmer Fin found one in the grass last night.  
On the Left, an Egg From One of the Older Hens; On the Right, the New Celeste's First Egg

I guess we will be making some little omelets soon!

6.16.2013

This Moth

This month, we have had 4.36 inches of rain, 2.85 inches more than the average rainfall for June so far, according to the National Weather Service. On Friday, there were flash floods in nearby villages.  Our valley friends in Middleburgh are still cleaning up from a foot and a half of water swelling over Main Street. 

Even on the hill, it's pretty swampy. Luckily we had planned to move the goats' pasture on Saturday anyway. They have been evacuated to higher ground (time for the Cotton Hill Summer Workout), and we humans have had our muck boots on all weekend.

This morning, I found this giant moth with one wing submerged in two inches of water in a seed tray on the stoop. I carefully lifted him out and set him down to dry his wings on the warm stone. I guess he's a male Luna Moth: http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/luna_moth.htm

A little later, he was gone! Hopefully he is reproducing like crazy out there. I guess, I hope, that he is a metaphor for desperate situations in general . Just when things look hopeless, good luck (and being really pretty) can come along, lift you up, and set you free. May we all fly dry for a little while.

6.09.2013

The Swine Are Fine

Ladies and gentlemen, it's official: this must be a farm, because we now have pigs.
Farmer Fin picked up these little piggies on Memorial Day. They were just eight weeks old. It's always a weird relationship with animals we know will be meat one day. Our job is just to keep them happy and healthy for the duration of their tenancy here. They are fascinating creatures. The first thing the girl pig did at her new home was root up a pretty big snake and bite its head off. Unlike the goats, they like to sleep late, and they never ever pee in their house. Their house is a luxurious A-frame and they have a nice little set-up near the top of the hill, food and water and delicacies like the whey from cheesemaking, and they seem pretty content with it most of the time.
Most of the time. Not always. Seems they're pretty curious about the world in general. Smart too. They figured out before we did that the solar charger for the electric fence was no longer carrying a charge after a few rainy days. By the time we got all the kid goats back in their pasture and the new charger hooked up, those piglets were gone. Slipped right under the bottom strand of the perimeter fence and into the (endlessly fascinating) forest. 

Farmer Fin saw them outside the northwestern edge of the fence line. The chase was on. We crept through the forest for about a half mile when, slightly past the verge of giving up and becoming responsible for a new feral pig infestation (or just a tasty treat for coyotes or a fisher), I spotted them, all snuggled up beneath the branches of a fallen tree. I whistled for Farmer Fin, and he slowly approached.

On the count of three, we each lunged for a leg, and fortuitously managed to grab them at the same time. The squealing was unearthly, and also loud as hell. It continued as we, each with 30 pounds of screaming, thrashing piglet grasped tightly in our arms, began the hike back over rough, marshy, unmarked terrain towards where I figured the pigpen was. 

Finally we reached the pen and deposited the piggies there. The piglets curled up in their house and went right to sleep, all tuckered out after their adventure. We humans were pretty worn out too.

But, you know, after the rain, the rainbow. The bruise on FF's jaw will fade, feeling will return to my arms, and someday all we will have is bacon and memories. Bacon and memories.
This Double Rainbow Is Actually From Last Week

6.01.2013

New Month, New Pasture

Happy First of June! It sure feels like summer here. We celebrated by moving the goat pasture again. They are loving all the lush, juicy grass. Look at all those goats!
Om Nom Nom 
Little Juno, Chowing Down