Enough of the doom and gloom....lets get happy!!! Trying to bring the joy back to our little farm is easier said than done sometimes but I can honestly say there has been much more if it lately. When we made the decision to downsize....or should I say, I finally agreed with my husband that we needed to reorganize and simplify our farm, I felt a big weight lifted off my shoulders.
My first real taste of that was having 5 pigs go off to the butcher. Pigs that had been kept through a hard, long winter, now off to fill families freezers. Our first taste of freedom from this pig burden we had created. We have plans to sell 3 sows here soon and 1 more to go off for sausage. That one hurts a little. A sow kept from my favorite pig, Luna. Our best momma and somehow she had a terrible mother for a daughter. Maybe, I shouldn't say terrible. Just not careful. She had 2 litters with us and was always very clumsy and not attentive to squealing babies that she was laying on. Now that her 3 remaining piglets are 4 weeks old, she nurses and cares for them as well as any other piglet that wants to nurse on her. Very frustrating and heartbreaking. Her sister Claire will be staying with us as long as she has a good sized litter. This last winter she only had 3 piglets, which her sister then laid on. So many tears were shed, holy moly....But then she took on her sisters remaining 2 piglets and Percy, our house piglet who's mom was going through a terrible bought of pneumonia. She was a fantastic, attentive, and careful just like her momma! So many pigs and so many circumstances. Hard to keep it all straight, sorry! The point being here is that we have a game plan. We are getting things done. Piglets are also starting to leave for their new homes and things are moving along for getting the pigs organized.
Now for the fun bits! Our newest livestock guardian dog, Mor'Du, another Anatolian Shepherd, has of course won our hearts. He is a love bug and is proving to be such a smart boy. We put him in with Ayla, our oldest and best LGD, so that she can train him. She has trained our 2 others and does a great job at keeping the youngsters in line. We were a little unsure of exactly how we wanted to set the 2 of them up together. Our goat fencing doesn't keep little puppies in since it is 4 to 5 strands of hotwire that they can duck under until they are big enough. We have our sheep in the portable electric netting but our sheep had never been with dogs. And our 2 oldest ewes have horns. Our best option was to put Ayla and Mor'Du in with them and see how it went. Ayla immediately tried to win the sheep over with her submission and licks to the face. They were unsure at first but they all get on amazingly well! I am always shocked when I see Mouse and Merida, the 2 older ewes, letting Mor'Du lick their faces and try to cuddle up with them. It makes my heart so happy to see it! It makes me love these dogs and these sheep even more. They have become such a peaceful and happy part of the farm.
We have had lots of surprise babies born on the farm recently. Or hatched I should say. We had a hen come out of nowhere with 11 chicks! She is a fierce mom too. 300lb pigs respect her and the dogs fear her. Our Ancona ducks also came out of the blackberry bushes with 2 different batches of ducklings totaling 20! There are some lovely markings and colours in the group too. Once they are old enough to tell male from female I will be offering them up for sale. They are great layers, foragers, and fantastic moms apparently.
Fair is just around the corner so the kiddos are getting their animals ready and we are planning for our busiest year yet at the Skagit County Fair. Jaelyn is entering 3 chickens and 3 ducks. JW is entering 3 chickens, 3 ducks and 2 lambs. One of the lambs he will be auctioning off at auction and the other lamb he will be showing. Iris, our bottle lamb and first sheep we purchased, will be the lamb he shows. Billy Bob Joe is his Suffolk wether that will be going to auction. He has worked really hard with his sheep and we have all learned a lot from this first time experience. I have faith in him that he will do well even if our lambs don't. I am already proud of what he has done!
Once fair is done, we will anxiously be awaiting the arrival of our first Jersey calf to be born on the farm! Tilly is due the end of August and I am so excited yet very nervous! I have a lot of prepping to do and really need to organize things so that we are set up for success with this. Having a milk cow will be a whole new venture. We have wanted this for at least 5 years and now that it is almost happening, I am questioning my sanity! But the thought of fresh milk, cheese, cream, butter, etc, etc, brings so much joy just thinking about that we have to try it! Plus, have you ever loved or snuggled up to a Jersey? Those big brown eyes just melt your heart! We love our Tilly girl.
As I am typing this I realize it doesn't really sound much like downsizing! Haha! But reorganizing is really the best word. We want our farm to be our happy place not something we are a slave to. And all this little changes and new additions can make it that when done correctly. We may have to change some more as we figure out what works and what doesn't but that is all part of it. Part of this farm adventure! I will be sure to share all of our summer adventures with their outcomes. It is bound to be exciting I'm sure!