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Jackie Clay

Sorry to have missed blogging but this homestead got real busy!

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Piggies

Wow, what a week. First off, our homesteading apprentice, Christian, up and left. You can take the boy out of the city but not the city out of the boy. Homesteading just wasn’t his thing. Then our second gilt unexpectedly began to farrow (we thought she had three weeks to go!) and we spent a hectic evening getting her separated and into a clean house with her babies. She ended up with nine live piggies and is doing a good job being a mom.

Mama-and-piggies

Will has been madly making hay. And breaking down! Our round baler suddenly blew a hydraulic hose and I made three trips to town (30 miles away!) for hoses — it seemed New Holland made a hybrid fitting — part pipe thread and part compression, which nobody had ever seen, let alone had. Finally last night he gave up and cut the fitting off and replaced it with a non-hybrid compression fitting and was back in business for a couple hours, until the chain on the bars that make the bales went POW! That was about 8:30 p.m. End of baling for the day. Today he and Eric are repairing it and hopefully will get it fixed.

Meanwhile, and I went blueberry picking with my friend Dare near her homestead. It was a beautiful dry swamp and we had wonderful picking of huge blueberries. I’m canning them up even as we speak. Ours were pretty dismal. Few berries and hard picking on our ridge as it got hot and dry while they were forming. I’ve also been making chokecherry jam. Love my Mehu-Liisa steam juicer! Takes the work out of making juice for jelly.

Our seminar is coming up in a week and half. We did have another couple that had to cancel due to work problems so if you’d like to come at such short notice, just send me an email.

We had a very light frost last night and I was a basket case, checking at 5:30 a.m. with a flashlight. We really need another 3 weeks or more of non-freezing weather as spring was a month late this year. Luckily our prayers were answered and we only got a little frost burn on our squash and cuke leaves! Whew! Everything looks so good we would hate to have it ruined. — Jackie

9 Responses to “Sorry to have missed blogging but this homestead got real busy!”

  1. Sooz Says:

    Well, God gave you Christian while your knee needed him. :-) Your piggies are adorable, and my daughter only dreams of a blueberry patch so plentiful. Have a wonderful day!

  2. pat rizzi Says:

    I remember haying. It seemed we could never get through haying season without a breakdown or two. You pigs look very contented. Hope things settle down for you a bit.

  3. Ruth Ann Martin Says:

    I also remember growing up on a farm and haying -its a tough job. A funny incident, my aunt was picking wild berries on our property and left a full pail to go pick another spot and when she came back one of the cows had gotten out and eaten all the berries. We kids thought it was funny but my aunt didn’t. I wished I were physically able we would take that spot in your seminar. We have a farm, 80 acres, that my husband inherited from his parents when they passed away but due to my health we don’t live there but rent it out. My husband hunts there and we rent the house to a neighbor’s daughter. It works out ok but we would prefer to live there. Your piggies are so cute = my husband used to raise them in his younger years and we raised them also on the farm I grew up on. Hve you had trouble with your tomatoes not ripening on the inside but look ripe on the outside. This is so frustrating to go to can tomatoes and the inside isn’t done but hard. You get about 1/2 of the tomato ripe enough to can. I think its the weather as we had some problems with that last year too. This year its too cold and last year it was too hot.

  4. jackie clay-atkinson Says:

    Ruth Ann,

    Tomatoes stay green on the inside because they have been stressed and it messes up how they take in nutrients. Some hints to avoid this are heavy mulching and using a soaker hose under the mulch to provide even, thorough watering. You’re right; it IS the weather, but fortunately we can do something to fix this problem.

  5. Mary Says:

    So sorry to hear about Christian and the baler troubles. Homesteading is hard work, but the morning commute has got to make it worth it. I would trade my desk job in our very stressful family business in a heartbeat to be able to smell the morning dew and feel the warm soil with my finger tips. To trade the ringing of phones for the songs of birds would be a blessing. You are right, it isn’t for everyone. You need a good work ethic, a strong body & the determination to succeed. I enjoy your blog and books so very much and have such high hopes of one day being able to attend one of your seminars and meet you in person. You are truly an inspiration to me. Hope your knee is getting back to normal. Thanks for giving me a dream worth dreaming.

  6. Holly Says:

    Jackie, Since you drive farther than I do for parts and I KNOW from your wonderful pictures here that you have a digital camera I have a suggestion you might find helpful. Photograph broken/warn parts and connection points if possible. What my husband calls a part and what the parts guys at X tractor repair shop call it may be two completely different things. Then you can also show them the picture when they ask “Is the solenoid on the top or side of that starter”? I of course, didn’t have the starter with me, but my older – smarter self would have had the photographs!

  7. Beth Says:

    Jackie, I would love to hear more about the pastured pigs, some people say it ruins the pasture, from their digging and the hooves. What is the real story? Are you using stock panels for fencing? Why? How did the pallet fence hold up long term? Our area of southern Ky had lots of pigs 40 years ago. Now they are so rare the sight of one will stop traffic or people will park their cars to come look over the fence!!!! 40 years ago all the small holders were self reliant and grew all the corn for feeding their own stock. Cheap corn prices led everyone to gradually get rid of the wagons and pickers, and then where did the corn prices go??

  8. jackie clay-atkinson Says:

    Beth,

    Yes, we are using stock panels as we are fencing larger areas and just ran out of pallets. They did work fine although our old, big boar, Richard, got so he’d stand up on them and finally after taking a beating from his 600 pound weight leaping up on them, some broke loose and caved in.
    In our experience, pigs will root. It’s their nature. Ours eat plenty of pasture, but in smaller areas, soon eat it all, then dig it up like rototillers. In the past, I used hog rings, two on the end of their snouts and one on each side, to stop this so the grass would grow without being dug up. Now we just move them around to new places and plan on planting their old “digs” with turnips for them to dig up and eat the tops later on.
    I agree; we are really sad that smaller family farms with diversified crops are a thing of the past. In the future, the country will be poorer for it but not many modern folks want to work so hard. It’s a shame.

  9. jackie clay-atkinson Says:

    Holly,

    Usually Will has a part number as we try to have shop/parts catalogs for all our big equipment. But we have also e-mailed photos too if the dealer wasn’t sure what we were talking about. It’s true; a picture is worth a thousand words….or fifty miles of driving!

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