8.26.2015

Iggy meet Sweet Pea

Iggy is 11 years old. He was my first 'livestock' purchase. He lived in the house for about 4 or 5 years till he knocked over my refrigerator and ate all the contents. He still comes in periodically for a nap. But he knows the minute he knocks something over or re-arranges the furniture out he goes.

Sweet Pea is 6 months old and she so far hasn't figured out how to knock things over. ...yet.

Over the past 2 weeks I've been letting them get closer and closer together. 

Iggy doesn't want anything to do with Sweet Pea.

Sweet Pea wants to make friends with Iggy.

Progress....



First it was like this. I ignore you, you ignore me. Life is fine. 



Sweet Pea gave in first. Ok there you are. Wanna be friends? 



With the help of the tree, Sweet pea makes her move. Iggy tries to kill the tree.



Here comes the peacemaker... 




Finally, Sweet pea gives up and goes to graze with the goats. 
At least THEY aren't chasing her away any more...

At this rate. Sometime in the next couple years they might become pals...



8.11.2015

extraordinarily blessed or good karma

I'm a firm believer that doing good comes back on you. I'm not so sure, when I hear people who use it negatively, as in Karma, will get them in the end, for all those terrible and negative people in the world. I think Karma is meant for do good, be good, receive in return.

Positivity thrown out into the world is far more productive then wishing ill on others. Maybe its like sound waves, they can bounce back. So, make sure its for wishing good, not bad.

I've had an extraordinarily blessed month here. Not in terms of income. The opposite. The months of June, July, August are brutal for this farm. The Snow birds are gone, the green markets over, and the only way to survive is creatively coming up with getting product sold. Creatively feeding animals, and/or going without....On the design front, slow as well. Summer is a time for slowing down and enjoying the outdoors, for most of the country. In Florida, its just avoid the outdoors, altogether. I look forward to September every year. And when everyone starts to think about whats next!

As the school year is starting again, so are the orders, customers coming back from wherever they were, and my emails are full of "whatcha got? " August is that one last hump to get over...

Two things that I won't get too specific about - Karma brownie points coming back, me thinks. This one particular piggy shows up and well....Sweet pea needed spaying. Whether she was staying here or going to a new home there was NO WAY she was leaving here again un-spayed. But the window shrinks the older she gets. I have no cash for doing this... I asked and received. Humbling. And forever grateful to those that did help. (full account on Facebook)



My FPL bill was just out of control high. Still is. And it was snowballing. I don't know how to solve it...But for some reason the Utility gods came down and just wiped it away. I qualified for some grant help and well....  Totally grateful and again humbled by the help. It doesn't solve the problem of high bills. But, it helped me not have to decide feed the animals or feed the monster. Thank you!






Mortgages, ugh! what a nightmare they are. And trying to get it modified? 3 years in the making. Yes, 3 years and 6 applications later.  Finally, getting in on a trial period and the company so far is holding steady. The process is not easy. I had to make a decision at one point to stop paying and that is when I realized all could be lost. But there came a point where I just said FU and that the rising costs of everything ie. insurances, taxes, escrow increasing something had to give. I'm still in the modification "trial" period. But hoping the final contracts come back soon... Hopeful and thankful. (btw mortgages both first and second halved) woot!

The goats... wow. Love my girls. I think they are just doing awesome in this heat. They are consistently producing and we need to thank a certain 'farm girl' that helps out and makes sure the water buckets are always clean and their owner (me) stays on track... In the heat of the summer going into the next kidding season if the girls aren't looking too good this is when I would start considering drying them up. This year I'm going to keep it going to December. Last year I was being rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendix bursting. The year before we just couldn't get a handle on the heat and parasites. This year we're ahead of the eight ball. And with all the issues tackled, I'm hoping we roll into the winter still fat and ready to kid...

This is just one of those posts I want to put down on paper to say Thank you! to the people, friends, universe, karma.... and say to those that wish bad on others, don't. Karma is for good. Wish good things, do good things, and see if the universe shows you some kindness in return. Well, that is how I like to think about it. There are so many more things to be thankful about but i'll stop with these four biggies.


Thank you!

7.22.2015

Pot belly pigs


Sweet Pea my house guest

Piggies are the cutest things ever. 

But they remind me of fine wine you need to learn to appreciate and understand. Like training your palette for caviar. Not everyone just one day eats caviar and proclaims LOVE IT... You have to really learn to want to appreciate it, and learn all there is about what makes it so fabulous. Well, the same goes for piggy's.

They just aren't a pet for everyone. When I started researching these wonderful creatures 14 years ago, I learned that they were going to be high maintenance. I think the same holds true today. And now that i'm a little wiser, I'm a bit more discerning with regards to these wonderful creatures. Not everyone should have a pot bellied pig as a pet.

Back then my research didn't stop me from getting Ignatius C . Potbelly (iggy the piggy), but now 11 years later, (yes he's still here)...  I can honestly say these guys are just not for all. And they should not just automatically become outdoor in the paddock pets. Not if you want to be able to handle them 10 years from now. In the beginning, they need constant correction. Constant attention. And constant care, so that they learn what it is you expect of them.

Over the years have wrote many blog posts about growing up with iggy.  (see past posts here)  

Look at how cute they are at this age. This picture below was of Iggy the piggy, his first month here... How could you NOT love that face. Get attached. It's easy.



Ignatius C. Potbelly


What isn't so easy is long term care of these masterful manipulators. What? How in the world could something so cute be so devilish? Hmmmm. 

Add a dash of 
cute + smart+ really really smart + devious + tenacious + obstinate + loud = pig

It also equals piggy parents that will likely give in and cower to their wants and their needs just to shut them up at times.... And yes.... I did it too! But learned early on that had to stop. I was willing to do what's right for the pig no matter the consequence.

There ain't a pig in the world that won't squeal like you are killing them when they don't want to do something. You can't strong arm a pig. Well, you can, but then phone calls from neighbors ensue. LOUD... piercingly LOUD. The only way to get a pig to do what you want is to outsmart the pig. And though one would presume how hard is that? try it. 

One of the things about these guys is not only are they food motivated. but they literally live their entire lives thinking about their next meal. I've never seen anything like it. No sooner have I fed Iggy his full days' ration, and he is out rooting around for more. He is trying to figure out how to get to the front yard, so that he can get to the garage door because he knows I stack feed in there. And yes, he can open a 400 lb garage door with only his snout. He can also knock over a full refrigerator. Move generators. And if you aren't paying attention re-arrange the house furniture.

He tests everything. Everyday. For the past 11 years. EVERY DAY. 

Good example: 
About 8 years ago it was time for piggy to go on a diet. I mean he was obesely going to die fat.... I had the 'genius' idea that I would make him walk for his food. So every morning before letting him outside, I would walk around the four corners of the property and hide nuggets of food. I did this for a few months. Just enough for him to realize he's got to work for it. Hence expend energy. Lose weight. 

Guess what? 

8 years later and he still goes to those exact same places I hid food, just in case the game has started up again. It hasn't. He's not deterred.

Pigs are a great pet to have on small plots of land, because they need the time to root around, and as long as you don't care about a few things. Screens come to mind. Fencing is another. Cute little potted plants is another. He's destroyed them all.

He also wants and always strives for top hog status. He's scared away more then I can count farm help. He likes to see who will stand up to him and who won't. The ones that don't, game on. He will chase them off the property. Great for home invasion patrol. Not so great when grandma comes to visit. And if you think an 11 year old geriatric pig can't catch you? ha. 

What i'm trying to impart is that I think these guys are just amazing. But you have to be just as amazing to keep up. They aren't going to be like a dog. Once a dog is trained, thats pretty much it. Possibly a refresher course every so often ... With a pig?  they will push you to your limits, daily. They will bully you, charm you, annoy you, till they get what they want, unless you set a firm and constant hand... They will try to outsmart you as much as you let them. And its your fault when you have this whiny, biting, mean, annoying pig 1 year after you got the cute, cuddly, funny, loves belly rubs piglet.

Putting a young pig in a paddock and thinking that this is going to be just like it is now in a few years is nonsense. They need stimulation. Constant attention. Human companionship... if you want them to be amazing pets in a few years,  then you need to work with them at the size they are manageable, now.

And one healthy tidbit a parrot owner once told me that I utilize with all the animals here:

'Don't spend any more time & attention now on an animal  you can't envision doing so for the rest of its life'. 

Meaning don't be spoiling this pig at the onset, if you don't plan on dealing with a spoiled pig for the rest of his life. And while this is a simplification of training its a pretty true statement.  

Why am I writing this all now? Well... you see.... there is this piglet that has been here for a few days and I'm remembering all the things I went thru with Ignatius. And pretty true to form this little girl is a devil. 

But what fun!

Here is something I wrote eons ago about them:

other posts on iggy:

Here is an excellent link for more pig knowledge:

7.01.2015

Fireworks and Livestock

Every year right around July 4th (or January 1), I start to worry. 






The fireworks... 

Livestock and fireworks just don't mix...

Maybe this post will help people understand a little bit about what happens here, what happens to the animals and the detrimental effects of setting off fireworks around livestock.

Our area in the Acreage/ Loxahatchee is a prime location for setting off fireworks.  Every street has that one person who spends a bunch on the loudest, biggest, brightest fireworks. The problem though is they don't take the animals into consideration...This is a problem for people with livestock. 

One of the things we all know about our dogs is that their hearing is so much more discerning then ours. Livestock are the same. The dogs can be brought in the house, livestock can't... I can't bring my goats, horses, pigs in. Dogs can be prescribed medicine to calm them. Livestock can't. Even if there is something on the market that is OK to give food animals, great, but when you have 30 of them? Costly.  Livestock don't get used to it. I see that the older they get the worse their reaction to it is. Older animals and young stock are the most concerning. Events like this can scare them to death.

Here is what I do on the afternoon of July 4. I grab all the milkers and lock them in a stall after I've milked 4 hours early - my second milking is around 10 pm so, its done early that day. I move the horse to the full half acre paddock. She runs and panics. More room for her, the less she can hurt herself. I can't put her in the stall with the goats as she kicks, bucks, and generally makes the goats worse, and can hurt them. The pig, bucks, and kids go in to the chicken coop, they get locked in at dusk, if i can catch them before the fireworks start. I have to wait till all the chickens go to roost for the evening. And then we wait... for the onslaught of noise, lights, etc. 

My whole day is shot. It's a waiting game, and I never leave the farm these nights. When the fireworks start I might throw hay hoping it takes their mind off it. This depends on how many are in the stall, and level of fear starting. Herd animals don't think individually, they think as a herd. So if one starts, the others will, too. If i'm not there with them, its worse. 

Every year without fail, I get hurt in some way. Every year without fail, a goat gets hurt in some way. The pony gets stressed out and loses weight. The dogs bark incessantly, get stressed out, overheat. Panic. In the house or out of the house. It doesn't matter. 

And then we wait... until its over.

Here are a few things that would greatly help your fellow livestock neighbor. 
(I know fireworks are going to happen, just keep us in mind, please!)

- We expect you to set them off at a certain hour. On July 4, 9 pm or 10 pm (an hour or so after dark)... or January 1, at midnight. What we don't expect is hearing them the day before, the day after, and weeks after. We don't expect them at 4 am, 10 am, and so on...

Please understand that people are riding their horses, grooming, doing daily chores and while you are setting off fireworks at noon on July 3, that noise can set off an animal and truly hurt the person, or persons NEAR it, not to mention the animal. 

- We expect that you will fire them off in groups. We don't like to see that there was a giant 40 round display taking an hour or so to finish, thinking its over, go in the house, and an hour later you're at it again. No Bueno! Do it once. And don't be the neighbor that waits till everyone is done to start your display at midnight. 

- When you are firing them please go UP, not into the trees, over others houses, down the street, or over paddocks. I can't tell you how many times, over the years, I am picking up used fireworks in my yard, on my house, in the paddocks. It's dangerous. Know where you are firing them and more importantly WHERE they are going to land. It is funny ...how those that fire them don't want them over their own houses.

- Have some courtesy and fire them away from those of us with livestock. If you have livestock across the street, fire them in the back yard, or side yard- furthest away from the livestock. Not on the street right in front of them. Yes, 50 yards does make a difference in sound.

- When firing off your fireworks. STOP and LISTEN after you set a few off. LISTEN and learn. My street has two farms on it. The street in front of me has 1, behind me 2....and all have livestock that panic. Stop and listen. What do you hear? You can hear mine crying, screaming, neighing, running, snorting....you might here me trying to calm them. If you hear that? have some courtesy. STOP. Last year in particular, I wasn't prepared for round 4... I finally thought it was over, it wasn't. As I was letting animals out and, one more 3 am check, another round of fireworks went off. They panicked, and I was getting trampled. You could hear me swearing 4 streets over. STOP. 

If you're firing off fireworks I bet you're not really an animal caregiver or lover. Because if you saw the fear in their eyes, the scouring the next morning, the drop in weight for a week, the general distress, loss of production, or the extra work you put us thru, you wouldn't be firing them off.

- Not all animals are afraid of the lights. Pretty lights in the sky... I can lock up the worst of the fearful animals, so they can't see it. What i can't do is shield them from these fireworks that are no lights, but giant booms. If i had a say in what you could purchase, it would be lights and little booms. Just like training any animal, if they associate light, then boom, thats more manageable, they will start to expect it. It doesn't lessen fear, it does help them prepare for what is next. What i can't train them for is BOOMS without warning. 

Also, livestock, particularly goats, cows, pigs, they don't remember year after year what happened last year, and comments of, 'they should be used to it'... does not apply...

- Pick up after yourself. My goodness people... after its over go find the refuse and clean up your mess. And yes, that means in the lot next to you that no one lives in. Who knows what toxic mess is in that paper refuse and now its in my paddocks, front drive, front lawn. Empty lot. Animals nibble on things all the time. I wonder how many care that the refuse can make an animal sick.

For days after the display of fireworks the farm is still suffering the after effects. Scared animals are stressed animals that can become sick animals or worse physically hurt. My milkers drop in milk every year. Without fail it takes me a week to get them back up to where they were July 1. My pig stops eating for a day or so. The horses, if not physically injured are more irritable and jumpy for days after. And the dogs. Barking at anything and everything. 

I do my best to prepare for the holiday. I do enjoy properly done, well managed, not too long, (or all day /night) displays. I really wish people would pay more attention to the surrounding area, and what they do and how it affects those with livestock. 

And please be safe when firing them off. 

Happy Fourth of July!








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