Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mulefoot +3

The snow was beyond beautiful. Bella made a snow angel. Daniel and Jude made the biggest snow ball known to man. The white blanket covering the world even makes it quieter, with folks staying off the road. Sammy the wonder dog like many Washington drivers, took off at full speed – so sure and confident, not realizing that the breaks are not as reliable in the snow. It took him a few slide crash and burns before he got his snow feet. Before the snow we had a big box of plastic grocery bags from a former life when we used to go to the store. These all became holey boot liners, and lasted the whole storm! Sorry, you can take the boy out of Hilltop, but you can’t take Hilltop out of the boy. I had never in life had so many folks notice my foot apparel as when doing this particular survival ritual. Reactions generally fell into two categories – those very few who said hey that’s a great idea, and those who were completely perplexed. Thats OK, bag in the boot boy is used to being misunderstood. The Pigs did not think twice about the snow. Without having ever seen it before, they all knew to eat it heartily. I guess that is because it fell into thier favorite category of food - "anything". We put out a more robust shelter with walls, as opposed to their warm weather tarp. Late in the evening they would retire here to form a steaming pile of pigs in a box. They just spent the day rooting and grazing like nothing changed. Except I think they were eating twice as much to keep up the body heat. Sometimes when working the fences I had to stop and pet them so they would defrost my hands with their radiant heat. The snow did pile up on our polywire fences, but the charge stayed strong. I spent a lot of time knocking off what looked like clear rock candy from the whole line. The rest of the time I spent praying that the snow would melt before I needed to switch pastures, because my other posts and wire were under a white blanket buried who knows where. So it was beautiful, peaceful, But it was hard. A lot of work gets put on hold, or just takes a lot longer. Truck doors are frozen shut, and fingers are too cold to properly grab anything. I am trying to get caught up and cleaned up before it hits again. To add to the chaos we let the chickens out of the tractors so there are 200 free range birds piling on my feet whenever I am trying to do anything around the barnyard (they did great in the snow too). As far as I know we haven’t lost any to predators yet. For the most part they sleep on the haystack in the barn at night. There was one who slept alone in the snow the first night. We named her snowball due to the ice ball attached to her tail for the proceeding two days. We eventually cut it off even though it prevented us from recognizing her any longer. They are doing their best to scatter around any cleaning up I do, and cover it up in chicken doo. Sammy can’t handle the temptation anymore. Three times I have caught him with yellow feathers on his tongue. He doesn’t eat em, he just wants to show them he’s boss. This will be the last time we let that many birds run amuck. Next year we will be doing a day range system for a study with WSU. I kept saying that the Mulefoot litter was due around Christmas, but the piglets could sense the chaos, and decided to add to it by coming out today! That is OK, we welcome the surprise. It was a very small litter, only three. But that is OK being Pigerella’s first litter, and the Mulefoot’s are expected to have smaller litters anyhoo. I have to say these are the cutest piglets yet. Tiny solid hooves and big ears. Kid Pig is very gentle, and calls them just as Pigerella does. Pigerella is a fine mother, cautious not to sit on the tiny babies smaller than her nose. She had them nursing right away as well. She lets me come in and pet the piglets without a gripe. One did squeal when I pet it with my cold hand, and she let me know that would be enough. Mom and Babies are doing great. We gave them a celebration dinner of Cheese, bread, and vegetables. Their breakfast tomorrow will be mostly a bunch of sod clumps, which will help the piglets get the iron they need without having to inject shots like the norm. They actually come out of the womb knowing exactly what to do with dirt and grass, so why complicate it?

1 comment:

  1. You Blais'are the best. I am facinated. Love you all.
    S. Spiro