Saturday, February 28, 2009

Random Black Hog Fun

So some of my readers have said I needed to get some more personal pictures of our babies. I keep telling peopl how friendly thay are, and sometimes I am met with a bit of skeptisim. Well, in an attempt to put eveyone's mind at ease let me show the results of proper "post-feeding-belly-rubbing-loving."

The Boar is Sir Francis Bacon. Out like a light. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Lilly (our fullblood Nubian) had triplets today. Two boys and a Girl. Not much to say...enjoy the pictures.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Presidents Day Adventures -- Better late than never

So there I was minding my own business, just cleaning out the Goat/Llama barn (man they put down a lot of doody over the winter), and who should I see? A fellow Large Black Hog enthusiast who goes by the name of Craig. I helped him get a pair of LBHs last fall and have been in touch since then. His wife is an ex-Walla Walla local (my mother-in-law taught her when she was in the 2ND grade) and so it was not a surprise to see them in town for the long weekend. Ahhh...but they were up to more than just visiting.

They were up to sheep. Navajo sheep to be exact. You see they had been looking to acquire some Navajo's (a rare breed like the LBH) and apparently the first arrangement fell through. They found another source in MT and had used the long weekend to pick some up. They were on their way back home to the West side of Washington and wanted to park the sheep on our farm while they rested, visited and then took off Monday (the holiday). I said "sure" when Craig asked about leaving the trailer. The Mrs. commented how nice it was that they (Craig and Co.) were comfortable dropping by. Having neighbors and friends drop by at random is (believe it or not) a really nice side effect of living on the farm. Way more folks just "drop by" now then did when we lived in town. Can't explain it, just happens and we like it. For the record, Craig called ahead...I just never checked my voicemail.

The entire Dalan mob got to see these rare sheep. Several Rams, Ewes and three Lambs. Quite a pile of sheep actually. Apparently the folks in MT who previously owned them spent lots of time getting their herd going, but had (because of ailments) become unable to care for them. Sad happening, but the sheep are on to greener pastures, as it were.

But this is not a tale of the joys of country living...

So we all chatted, kids played, and hog growth was discussed. Craig dropped his trailer and headed back to his in-laws home in town. We went back to the house. Poop scooping would have to wait for another day, it was getting dark and cold. But I figured I should get some pictures of these sheep before dark. After all, they are a critically endangered breed. This is when it all went to...

As I walked down to the trailer with my trusty camera I notice there is a LOT of noise. Baby animals braying. But different than our goats. As I round the corner to the trailer I catch, out of the corner of my eye, two grey/brown lambs running circles around Craig's trailer and crying loudly, their mother crying in return. The door to the trailer was not secured and the little troublemakers must have stumbled out. Of course the door closed most of the way, after the great escape, and (since they're lacking thumbs) the lambs could not reenter. Not great pictures...but not exactly the shots I was planning to take originally :)

So I called the Mrs for a little help. We tried propping the door open and building a ramp into the trailer. When we did that Mom (the Ewe) tried escaping to get to her babies. Can't blame her. So Heather climbed in the trailer to restrain the Ewe. Well those lambs weren't coming anywhere near that trailer with us in it. We needed a new plan. Then I remembered...for small, uncooperative animals I have just the solution. An old nylon Salmon net. If you grew up on the Pacific coast or in Puget Sound, you've seen them. Big, green meshed net with an extendable handle. Worked last year on some less than cooperative pigs. It would work now. I hoped.

So I fetched the net and in relatively short time managed to net one of the lambs. Back to the trailer with that one. That's when the real trouble started. Apparently I did not know two very important things about sheep. #1: They have lousy night vision (I suspect lousy vision in general) and #2 Lambs are alone (can't hear other sheep) they run. A lot. In random directions.

After another hour of chasing a completely directionless lamb, we got the bright idea of hauling the Ewe and the other lamb out so that our remaining escape artist would hear them and return. Well it's a longer story than even this post, but Heather and my eldest daughter managed to drag/carry the uncooperative Ewe out into the field and even though the last lamb and I were some 200 yards away, a crying momma did the trick. Once the lamb found it mom, netting it was no big chore. Back into the trailer with all of them. VICTORY! Check out the tools of the trade and my red superman outfit.
And that's why I don't own sheep. You know what I do when my pigs and goats get out? I pickup a blue feed bucket and lead them back home. I'm really spoiled :)

Friday, February 13, 2009

I'm such a slacker

Warning...this is only a semi-farm posting.

So I have not exactly been timely in my blog updates. Well it is the post season (High School Wrestling) and I am a volunteer coach. So I'm busy. Last week was the League tournament and this weekend (tomorrow) is Regionals. Off to Spokane at 5:15 in morning. The team went up tonight, but I've been gone a lot lately and wanted to hang around this evening. If you ever wanted to know what is going on in the wrestling world in the Northwest, check out the Washington Wrestling Report. Lots of results and rankings of a dubious nature. On another wrestling note, my college wrestling almamater (Yakima Valley Community College) has a #1 RANKED WOMEN'S TEAM. Sweet. Check out the rankings here. I am real proud of what these women and their coaches have accomplished this year.

But what about the FARM!!! Well...we recently had a visit from some nice folks from Elk, WA who needed to see my Black Hogs face-to-face. Great folks and I think they found my beasts almost as engaging as I do! Thanks to my fellow Large Black Hog Association members, I am seeing a lot of traffic to my inbox and phone from people wanting to get their hands on some LBH. Good news for the breed and for us. I'm desperately hoping to add another leg to my Shoal (i.e. Pig Herd) gene pool with a Boar with some European origin. Honestly, if I have to go over the UK and get them myself, I will. But not anytime soon. Stay tuned.

Finally, we have sent our first animals off to be processed. I was here with the butcher crew and everything was quick and clean. Just the way I had hoped. I know in order to get from hay to sausage, this step is needed, but I doubt I will ever have the stomach to do the deed myself. I'm just an old softie. The kids did well (they were warned ahead of time) and I think they will get used to this process over time. However, I hope the sacrifice our critters make to feed us never loses its significance to them.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009's whats for dinner

Here is some randomness. I was going to use these pictures in a previous post about other critters on the farm, but...well...I forgot. So now, captionless and slightly pointless...I bring you...

CHICKENS!!! (and some Ducks)

Getting Legitimate

Well, we're now official. We've been listed on the breeders site of the Large Black Hog Breeders Association. This group includes (among others) some of the very folks who got me started as a LBH fan. As one of the few folks west of the Rockies with LBH maybe I can save some folks from 4000 mile round trips to get their babies.


Monday, February 2, 2009


So I needed some hay. You see my last cutting of grass hay was...subpar. Dirty and over the winter has developed a nice sheen of white mold/fungus inside. It was just to wet when I bailed it. Sigh. So last weekend I decided to shop around. Hay prices being what they are, I wasn't looking for any deals. I didn't think a fellow as late to the dance as me should complain, if I could even find any this late in the season. I talked to a friend of mine, but he is over committed as it is. No problem, it's my fault for not planning ahead better.

So I chatted with the Mrs. about how to proceed (call ads in the paper, check craigslist, capitol press classifies). I decided to give a call to a fellow with a roadside hay stack. He was there and quoted me @ $200/ton for alfalfa and he does weekend load outs in the morning. I hijacked one of the wrestlers from the team I help coach, borrowed a trailer from an office mate and off I went. Sort of.

Load out beings @ 8:30 and the seller said he'd be there until about 10:00. I was late getting the trailer (lights did not work...of course) and it took my wrestler helper longer than expected to find my farm. Anyway we got there and Ed (the seller) wasted no time loading us up. This is not his first rodeo and he has all the right toys to toss bails around effortlessly. Too bad I forgot to check the tires. They were under inflated and the 4000lbs of hay finished the deflating job for two of them. Ed (always a guy with the right tools) had a compressor and we managed to resurrect one of them. The other was having none of it. As a buddy of mine says (when things get tough)..."stupid, stupid, poopy, poopy!"

So we toss 9 bales in the pickup and make arrangements to come back on Sunday to limp the beast home. My helper and I stack our bales and I sent him on his way. He had plans with his pop to take advantage of the liquidation of Circuit City. I completely understand.

So it occurs to me that Les Schwab (my tire place) isn't open on Sunday. I call Ed and ask if I can jump the now locked gate (with my 2.5 ton floor jack in tow) and steal that flat tire to get it fixed. He says sure thing and I start loading the truck. Ed calls back to say he has asked his tenant (Ed doesn't live on site) to open the gate for me. Now that's cool. My old knees appreciated it.

So off I go, and after some cussing and fussing I get the trailer up and the wheel off. I take it to Schwabies and get the valve stem replaced (free as usual) and it's good as new. I tootle back to the hay and put the tire back on. All better.

Sunday morning comes and I meet Ed to finish the load out, pay him and run away with my goodies. Not only does he cut me a discount to $175/ton (because I would take some marginal bales from the top and bottom of the stack) he throws in 6 extra bales. He's got my business. Turns out Ed sells a machine or two from time to time and I may be hassling him for a combine at some point in the future. We'd like to do some small acreage grains every other year, and none of the custom cutters really want to bother with 3-5 acre jobs...I don't blame them. So now I have a source for quality hay and used machines.

So during the pre-game and half-time shows of the Superbowl, I get most of 2 tons in the barn and the critters fed. The alfalfa was leafy as all get out and well received. The Mrs and I are more comfortable now that the critters won't starve between now and when the pastures have enough goodies to feed them.