April 2014- insane weather

Blood Moon

The other night, I thought I got up and saw the eclipse. We’ve been on a really weird sleep cycle with midnight and 3 am duckling tending; monitoring, feeding, watering. I stay up late to do the last check, and then Andrew gets up for the early morning check. When he crawls back into bed usually I am fast asleep, but on the blood moon night I woke up and he told me (I think he did, maybe it was part of my dreaming) that he saw part of the eclipse. As I fell back asleep, I dreamed I got up without my glasses on and stared out the crystaline window at the eclipse happening and was frightened. Someone shared some crazy religious preacher’s rants about this blood moon signifying the end of the world, and maybe that got into my subconscious.

Then THIS morning, I got up at 6am and as I looked out the window, I thought I must be hallucinating/dreaming again. There is SNOW all over the place! It had just finally all just melted! Give me a break!image

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I did the mid morning rounds and let the ducks out and then collected the late eggs. The snow was just pouring out of the sky- wet, heavy, wind-whipped snow. I went over to check on the pigs and see the shelter Andrew had made for them yesterday (oh we moved them outside 2 days ago, and it has been pure hog heaven over here- didn’t blog about it, whoops,) and only 3 of the pigs were by the trough. Now, they have about 2 acres of land to traverse, but I wondered where the other 13 pigs were. The shelter was empty, and my heart raced as I worried over our ultimate fear, the pigs getting out. With my clumsy big yellow boot galoshes, I climbed over the 3 foot high hog panel and set off into the pine forest to hopefully find the other pigs. As I crouched under a snow laden pine bough, I saw them. They looked confused, like they were searching for something. They saw me, and started making their way over.   Philomena, the big black pig with white spots and 2 different colored eyelashes came up first. She was talking, there is no other way to describe it. Huff-grunt-bellow communicating. I called to the other pigs and they came over, trotting in a line. They were all soaked and cold and shivery. I went into triage mode and looked around for materials to block the wind and snow so their shelter would be more cozy. It’s hard making things for pigs because they are so strong and destructive, but this didn’t matter right now. These pigs were cold and needed to get warmed up FAST. We’d given them a couple of broken up bales of hay for bedding, but they were now soaked. Cold and wet bedding = potential hypothermia.Trudging through the snow over to the 200 bale hay stack, I pulled down 4 bales and one by one lugged them over to the pig shelter. I opened them and fluffed the hay up, covering the pile of shivering pigs. I found a metal xheet panel to block the main wind and blowing snow, and wired that up. Brought more hay and arranged it around the pigs to ensure everyone was well covered. They grunted and groaned as they all got into place. I hate being cold, and I could tell they did too. Pigs exude a lot of heat though, so a pig pile was their smartest move. They’ve been practicing this skill since day one, luckily it comes naturally to them! For the past 3 hours, I’ve been going out to monitor their progress, and they stopped shivering, but stayed in their pile, in the shelter until just now. Andrew brought them hot water to go along with their soaked grains and goatmilk, and they all got up and ate. Wheew.

I really hope this shitty weather ends soon. The one and only bright note about snow versus rain is that it’s a much more gentle method of moistening the ground for the spring vegetable seedings I did last week!

The ladies broke a new record today. This is my life, I’m so grateful.

The ladies broke a new record today. This is my life, I’m so grateful.

I get all “marmy” over our plants and animals, i think I picked the right job!

brace yourself

This morning as I walked from the duck barn into the house, with two super heavy buckets of eggs, Andrew said. “I want you to brace yourself.”

Oh boy. He does not say things like this, ever. When he’s got something to say, he’s more of an upfront and super direct communicator- not a theatrical, drag-it-out type. Instantly, my mind flashes to every possible horrible thing that could have happened. Pigs are gone? Dogs killed the baby goat? Ducklings massacred? Geese nests destroyed? Tractor stolen? A dead bald eagle hanging in an apple tree? The well pump exploded?

None of the above, thankfully! He just wanted me to prepare myself for the fact that the weather is going to be super Shi**y for the next week; cold, rainy and windy. I really, really hate windy cold wetness. It’s a mother’s worst nightmare. Our ducklings are just starting to get their feathers, but are still mostly covered in just down, which they manage to soak as frequently as possible. They are ducks after all, even if they are babies, but they need extra care and monitoring when it’s cold and windy. The pigs’ situation is cozy and excellent now, but no one likes cold wet windy weather. And no one thrives in it, they just try to get through it. The lady ducks are absolutely rocking this weather, they could give a flip what it is like outside- they are in it and happy. We’re really excited to have them start trying out their new and improved pasture rotation, once we finish installing it.

Yesterday was absolutely the most lovely kind of spring day- warmish, cloudy then sunny. We worked on the duck paddocks and fencing, which is going to be much more extensive than ever before. When I got tired I went to take a break with the pigs. They are doing so well! I climbed in their hut with them, and all 16 crawled around me and laid back in the hay to nap, one chunky chubster climbed across my lap for a tummy rub and fell asleep on me. Wish I’d had the camera. We got mostly caught up on the garden work as per my planting calendar, with round 2 of outdoor seeding completed. The soil was a bit too wet, but we had to get that next succession of radishes, baby lettuce and turnips in. Now the seeds are swelling with moisture under the soil, waiting for the warmth of the sun to germinate. We happily observed the results of my seeding a couple weeks ago; spinach leaping from the soil, miniscule lettuce leaves hugging the ground in a rainbow of color variations, the sort of 4 leaf clover shape of the arugula and radish babies emerging, and the chartreuse tips of sugar snap peas poking up out of the soil in search of the light.

Today, avoiding the weather, I’ve also been working on getting my blog-a-book project going again, and I was very happy to see my tomato seeds are sprouting in the germination chamber, these are my super-grandbabies as some of them are now into the 4th generation, seeds saved year after year after year.

One last thing- We’ve decided we cannot afford to build that little home we were planning for and dreaming of, not this year. Cash flow will be nilch as we keep investing back in the farm business. We can only hope this will start to pay off next year. Big dreams take big hopes and big risk and big work. Go do it!

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