Thursday, June 16, 2011

Just kidding

Ok, it has taken me a full week to find the time to write and post pictures of the awesome birth that recently took place here on Peaceful Valley Farm! (So sorry, Heidi!!)

After 3 nights of Ginger having heavy breathing and moaning until midnight, she finally birthed 2 kids on Thursday afternoon. It was my first week of Farm Camp and the campers asked me no less than a million times "when is it going to happen?"  It turns out we don't exactly know when Ginger got pregnant, so it was nearly impossible to know when she was due. One of my camp parents is an L&D nurse and grew up on a dairy farm, so has dealt with mammalian labor and birth a few times. Her 5 year old grand daughter said, "My grandma can help her, maybe you should ask" It was so damn cute!  When grandma Kimber came for afternoon pick up, she told me that she would check her if I wanted. I said, "sure", 'cause, what the hell, right?  KA-BAM,she whips out a surgical glove and heads in. Ginger is a little shy of strangers.  Even more so, it turns out, when they are all up in her business. It looked like the kid was in the right position, and Ginger was having contractions, so we were satisfied that everything would be ok.  No sooner had Kimber taken that glove off than Ginger hit the ground bleating and pushing. The camp kids were there, as were their parents by now. I had someone run up to get my girls while I went in to try to calm her down. Our pen is open on two sides and there were all these wide eyes and excited noises all around.  The kids squealed when the "balloon" that we read about appeared because we knew that baby was right behind.  Poor Ginger was such a trooper! The first kid was big and had a head about the size of  one of those cute French melons. After pushing that out, she lay back down and started eating hay, building up her strength to go on.  I had tears in my eyes when I saw that familiar pompadour and squeaked, "she has Fred's hair!" One push and kid # 1 had arrived.  After watching many goat births on U-Tube, I was loathe to "help her" like I saw so many people do, but Ginger didn't seem to know to turn around to start cleaning it and the kid was making gurgling sounds trying to breathe through all the goo, so I gave her a quick mouth swipe and put her in front of Ginger, who caught on quickly. 

  Just as she started cleaning, the second set of contractions started. She got wild eyed (Oh, boy do I know that feeling!) and climbed up into my lap, throwing her head back onto my neck with every pain. I can't even explain how blessed I felt that she would do that!  The second kid was a bit smaller and out in a flash.  I swiped his mouth too, and sat with them for a few hours, until they were clean and fluffy. 

 Don't you hate it when your kids flinch away from you like this, and you weren't even going to hit them??
 I think this boy looks just like grandgoat!
 The girl crawled up in my lap and snoozed, The boy snuggled up to Ginger.  The sun was setting, and we were bathed in Amber sunlight.  Whew,what an amazing experience, not only for me, but for the kids and parents that were lucky enough to be here too!The miracle of birth and growth will never cease to amaze...Oh, the kids are nameless so far.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Piggy Royale

I can't believe it...Today, this little piggy went whee-whee-whee, all the way home with ME!  I love Craigslist.  Al my best stuff comes from ads I find there.  Emma Bean, Sienna, most of my furnishings, and (last but not least) John...

A lovely couple in Aromas advertised 11 week old 7/8  Gloucestershire Old Spot piglets for sale.  One almost never finds these rare and heritage breeds in California, much less in my neighborhood, so I rushed to answer the ad, and today, John and I went out to pick her up.

She's a beauty.

The smallest of the ones available and she still weighs about 50 pounds!  She can be bred when she's about 250 pounds, and can get up to 500 pounds. Yipes!  These are said to be the preferred pork of the royal family, which has kept them from extinction.  Hey, if it's good for the royals, it's good for me!  Our plan will be to take her back to Aromas (in a couple hundred pounds) to be bred, then harvest her and start over with one of her piglets. This little piggy was one of 16 born to her mama! WoW!

When we first got to the farm in Aromas, we were greeted by a gang of dogs.  The 5 of them charged down the driveway, then started wagging their tails and licking our hands. 

There were 3 pups that looked a lot like this, and their mom and dad. When the couple came out to meet us, I said that they were adorable, but not much for guard dogs.  
They surprised me by saying, "want another dog?"  I laughed and John said, "Nooo.." Darn!

We all went down to the pig sty to choose a piglet, and all the dogs followed.  As we talked and I tried to choose (So much harder than I would have thought!) I petted the dogs. The pups were so sweet and cuddly. Especially since these are working dogs. English Collies (I think they said)
who are really useful in keeping their cows and pigs in line, but not as hyper as come herding dogs I have seen. These guys are 5 months old.  
They offered the pups a few more times in conversation, but I really thought they were kidding until the end when she said,"if it doesn't work out, we'll take him back. We just want them to have good homes..."

Ok, if you know me at all, you know how this ends...
I say, "seriously, John, I want one."
He says, "no"
Lather, rinse, repeat a few times until we are headed home with this sweet face asleep on my lap, and a 50 pound piglet in the dog crate!  We are calling him Sam (Sammy for short), and Ms.Piggy Royale is now known as Olivia.

I know, I know....crazy.  But, oh my god he is so sweet!  He is a little shy (I passed on the outgoing cutie-pie, hoping to better my odds of him getting along with the other 2 dogs) and follows me so closely, I'm not even sure he's there. Perfect step, not tripping me up like SOME other dogs do.  He has barked at a few signs of danger, isn't trying to kill the cats, and all 3 dogs are getting along great!  I don't know how these things happen to me. It is just some wonderful, strange luck!  Tomorrow begins summer Farm Camp and now I have even more animals to share and teach the kids about!

Who knows, with Ginger looking like this today, the kids and I may be assisting a live birth!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

So many ways to garden, so little time!

There are a million excuses for not gardening.  Lack of space, time, energy, knowledge. Living in an apartment or having a tiny yard. Lack of money to buy seeds, planters, etc...
Gardening has become very popular, even trendy, so lots of crafty people are finding ways to make it new, cheap, easy. Which means you are out of excuses!  Here are a few of my favorites, some I've tried, some I've only seen or heard about. I think they are all worth a shot!

Straw bale gardening- I have done this and really liked it. Especially because I was enormously preggers so bending and stooping for long periods were not my friend. I like this for shorter crops, lettuce, squash, vines that can fall out and climb up behind. It's super easy and cheap. A bale of hay costs around 10 bucks and the soil, about $5.  This is great for elderly (or pregnant) gardeners, or those with physical limitations. The site above has great pictures and directions.

Planters from recycled materials.  As you know, I love recycling (or, upcycling as it is now called) as much as I love free stuff. These ideas cover all the bases!  Look in the FREE section on Craigslist in your area. It's crazy the things people will give away!


anything that can hold a little soil will work.  Check out these photos for more ideas.  All you have to do is make drainage holes, fill with soil and plants and BAM!

 This guy is making magic with $6. storage containers and he offers his plans for free!

Life on the Balcony has lots of really simple and attractive ideas, like this  pallet planter!

 The Cheap Vegetable Gardener built himself this upside down planter using a 2 liter bottle! He's got lots of great, cheap ideas to share.

It can even be as simple as buying a bag of soil, cutting it open and planting right into it!
I have heard of these lasting for a few seasons. Cha-ching!

See, gardening doesn't have to be expensive or ugly!  Now, no more excuses, get out there and DIG!