Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
After what seemed like a very long and cold winter, the animals I have been waiting for in earnest are finally here. And baby ones at that, so I’m pretty much on cloud nine. To be washing dishes this past weekend and look outside to see five piglets rooting up the grass fifty yards from my window is still a bit surreal to me. I have spent many an hour trying to come up with schemes about how to get animals, what kinds to get, where to keep them, how to utilize them and how to rearrange things so I could have them.
After living in a purely theoretical livestock realm for so long, I am still a bit surprised that these animals outside my window are real. I was thinking of how to describe their significance, wondering if they are symbolic of the change in my life, but symbolic seems too ethereal of a term for the animals we now have. They are not a symbol of change, but the result of change. Change, for me, can be and has been somewhat daunting and leaves me sometimes questioning my abilities. Regardless of my doubts, I can’t help but march on. I am drawn to these animals and this life on almost an instinctual level and I can’t imagine my life without them. But more on how we got them.
Getting the Pigs
Prior to my heading off to Polyface Farm for the summer internship (we’re at the 30-day mark people!), I have been staying with my parents in Massachusetts during the week while I work and I go to New Hampshire on weekends. This past weekend, Dan and I headed up to Vermont to pick up the piglets. It was rainy and cold, not good weather for much of anything, but definitely not good for picking up baby animals. Since we only were getting five piglets, we had two large dog crates packed with straw in the back of Dan’s truck.
In an effort to keep the pigs dry, we wrapped the crates in a hand me down shower curtain and headed off. This ended up being a bad idea. It turns out shower curtains are not built to put up with inclement weather and wind while going 68 mph on the highway, so this thing was in ribbons after only three exits. Fortunately, we were able to find a dollar store that was open (it was before 8 am) that sold tarps and we were on our way before the crates got too wet. Picking up the piglets went pretty smoothly. They were clean, healthy and loaded into the crates without making a fuss. It was funny to be driving and hear pig noises coming from the back of the truck.
Dan and a friend unloaded them when we got back and we put the crates in the new pen in the hopes that they would come out and go into their new and much roomier pig hut. Not the case. Two of the pigs hopped into the other dog crate resulting in a massive pig pile and all five pigs spent the night like this. We tried bribing them out with bananas and grain but ended up having to dump them out and take the crates away. It took the pigs a day or so to settle down and get used to the electric fence, but they really like bananas now and are doing a great job of rooting up where we want to put the garden.
... And the Chicks
The chicks arrived just this morning. Over the winter, we ordered 50 Cornish Crosses for our meat chickens and they were due to arrive the end of April. Dan got a call from the post office at 6:15am that the live delivery was ready for pickup and they were in their brooder coop by 6:30. Since it’s the middle of the week, all I’ve seen of them is a photo, but I can’t wait to go up and see them.
As I mentioned, I’ll be headed to Polyface Farm the end of May, so it’s coming up quick! I’m really excited. I’m looking forward to updating you all about what we learn and being able to apply all of it to my own farm. I hope you all are enjoying your spring thus far and are working on gardens and animals of your own!