This little piggy went to market – with a little help from our friends

I’ve often stated  “It’s who you know that gets you where you want to go” and sometimes where you didn’t necessarily know you wanted to go.

When I noticed now retired Mother Earth News editor Cheryl Long sharing our Facebook post about our sow Abigail taking a walk with her new little piggies I was pleased to see it. I had met Cheryl when we exhibited our Gloucestershire Old Spot hogs at the Mother Earth News Fair in Topeka last fall.

So, it was nice to see that she saw our Beeman Hollow Farm Facebook post that day and took time to ‘like and share’.

But, it wasn’t until the next day when my phone started blowing up with notifications about people liking and sharing our page. It was then that I saw that Mother Earth News, with their two million plus Facebook fans, shared the same post on their Facebook page.

Beeman Hollow Farm sign

What a difference a day makes! I think I had about 518 fans on my page before that day. By that evening we surpassed 1000 likes on our page! It grew through the night and a couple hundred more trickled in.

I was going to do a shout out to our 1000th fan.. and maybe give them a voucher for some pork or something… however, they were from Romania and everything was in a foreign language on their page.

I began to look further and to my amazement there were tons of folks from all over the world that now were following Beeman Hollow Farm. They hailed from Cambodia, France, South Africa, Romania, Korea to name a few. Some, I noticed, were attending agriculture universities. Some, I couldn’t read the language, but still, they connected to Mother Earth News which connected to our little farm in the Ozarks in Beeman Hollow. It was all because of Mother Earth News being a friend and a fan (and vice-versa).

By the way, I so much wanted to go to the Mother Earth News Fair this past weekend in Belton, Texas.. but we decided that cleaning out the barn, separating pigs and taking hogs to the processor needed to be done more than going to the MEN Fair to learn about farming. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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Therapy weekend for homesteaders at the Mother Earth News Fair.

We went to the animal fair, the birds and the bees were there… Remember that old children’s song?

Well, going to the Mother Earth News Fair this past weekend wasn’t exactly an animal fair for all concerned, but it was for us.

We were invited to bring our Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs to exhibit near the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy stage.

Since the hubby and I have been Mother Earth News groupies from way back in the day and members of the ALBC, we were all for it. I had actually already purchased advanced tickets for the MEN Fair so hooking up a trailer, gathering up feed, feed pans, water pans, along with other tools, hooking up a trailer, loading uncooperative pigs at dawn and pulling it a couple hundred miles was just no big deal. Some people might look at that as too much trouble.. for me – it’s my kind of therapy.

The pigs were – did i just say “not very cooperative” early on Friday morning as we had to hurry up and load up early so we could get to our appointment at the vet to get a quick health check and health papers to cross state lines with these oinkers.

Interestingly, our veterinarian, who had actually inspected some of our pigs in the past, says he never heard of this breed of pig. The talker and educator that I am proceeded to overload him with all of the wonderful things about the breed and since he was a vet I figured he would appreciate talking genetics and gene pools and semen and the lack thereof. I was right, he shook my hand and told how much he thoroughly enjoyed the education.

My daughter-in-law, who I have been mentoring about all things farming, came along for the adventure to MEN Fair. I thoroughly enjoy her company and love her enthusiasm about learning. (And, having a hand to help unload pigs and such was nice, too!)

We got there mid-afternoon and unloaded our pigs in their pen, which was just down from the American Livestock Breeders Conservancy stage.

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There were some itty bitty Idaho pasture pigs down the row from us, some Cheviot sheep and over in the pack goat exhibit there were the largest goats I have ever seen in my life! And, in the same exhibit were a couple of mammoth mules. They were absolutely beautiful!

Tons of visitors came by to talk to us, pet our pigs and talk pig with us. We do love to talk pig .. and for that matter goat, and sheep and turkey and chicken… it’s a beautiful language. There were a few interesting people, but heck, who can not like a big ol’  bearded guy wearing a kilt and a pig shirt.

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We made a lot of good contacts and a lot of people signed up to receive emails about our next litters.

It was a good show for us… but our biggest thrill was having Joel Salatin come by and visit with us – the father of the pastured poultry, hogs and grass fed beef movement. I’ve spent many hours reading his books, watching his videos and learning from him.

Joel Salatin

Mother Earth News Editor Cheryl Long also came by for a chat… I was enjoying talking to her so much I forgot to get a picture… not like me at all.

This is a dangerous love –  these trade shows, networking with “my people” and road trips. I wish someone would have purchased these hogs from us while we were there  – at least it would have helped with expenses…but it’s OK, it’s what we like to do with our money.

So, I was just adding up the expenses for this weekend adventure and here it is:

$30. health check for interstate travel (For the pigs, not for me! 🙂 Had to clear that up)

$ Gas fill up for trip to Topeka: $40.

Grab another coffee for the road after finishing the first cup I brought:  $2.

Hotel room for 2 nights (hot breakfast included): $249.

Books purchased at the fair: (with my 25 percent off coupon at the MEN Bookstore): $76 -$19 discount equals $57. Of course, my daughter in law bought about the same amount of books (maybe more) so we can share.

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Killing cone and a boning knife for chicken processing after being influenced once more by Joel Salatin’s demonstration: $65. (I wanted to come home with the whole processing outfit)

MEN T-shirt: $15.

Renewed membership to Shaklee and a bottle of Basic H (for worming livestock) : $25

Dunkin’ Donuts (I’ve quit donuts but that’s because they don’t have Dunkin’ Donuts where I live): $10.

Dinner at the Irish pub: $20.

Dinner at the hotel restaurant Saturday night since we were too tired to go anywhere else: $10 (a real bargain for a ton of food)

A Topeka Capital-Journal Sunday paper so I can read the coverage of the MEN Fair… and then finding there was no coverage: $2.

Tank of gas for the ride home: $40.

I’m sure i’ve missed some of the miscellaneous food and other such items, but going to the MEN Fair, so we can promote our farm, the breed and get away and meet some people of our same “tribe” (as Joel Salatin calls it) $565. (And that’s not counting the polos with our farm logo on it that my daughter-in-law made for us to wear – $40… Oh, heck, just add it in and we can bring this total to more than $600.

As I said, we tried to sell some pigs while we were there for $250 apiece, but no one wants to raise hogs in the winter… we aren’t too keen on it either but that’s just how it works out sometimes. We could have at least come out smelling a little better (well smelling better is not a good word because handling pigs does make one smell better).

All in all… maybe I shouldn’t have added up my expenses so soon after my weekend which threatens to compromise my elation.

We had such a good time and it is such therapy to be around so many kindred spirits. Now, I want to build it and grow it and smell it and eat it and compost it all!

Will talk about that stuff another day.

Snow Days

Oh, how I love snow days. Days when I can stay home on the farm, cook a good meal from scratch, make desserts and sip tea by the fire.

Made some good potato soup and cornbread on Saturday. Just sitting and watching the dozens of cardinals out the front window. They always looks so vibrant against the wide landscape.

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Had a baby goat that got scours and was pretty weak, so he spent the night in the house in  a large tote so he could be warmer and we could tend to him and watch him. I wondered how long it would take before he figured out that he could get out of that tote… and I was sure it would be during the night. I had visions of waking up in the morning with little goat pellets all over my house. However, sleep escaped me most of the night as our little guy cried for his litter mate who was outside in the barn. So, I got up in the night to feed him a little bit at a time – very reminiscent of having a newborn. I sure don’t miss that days.

goat in tote

Oh, I actually think I forgot to mention that we had these two new additions to the barnyard. I’ll give them their own post after this baby get back on his feet.

Recipe for potato soup (If I hadn’t gobbled it up so fast I would have a photo or two) 

First of all, peel and cut small cubes of russet potatoes, however many you need for your family.

Cover barely with water, add about a tablespoon of salt and boil until tender.

In the meantime, dice about a 1/2 onion and saute in a whole stick of butter.. use two sticks if you have a lot of potatoes.

Also, fry a few slices of bacon real crisp. Drain on paper towel.

When the potatoes are done, do not drain – just mash them in the water with a hand potato masher, leaving a few chunks for texture.

This is where the the ooohs and the aaahhhs start.  Stir in that butter and onions and then about 2 or 3 cups of heavy cream..(if that scares you you can use half and half)   I get fresh, raw Jersey milk from my neighbor and it has about a quart of cream on top.. If I’m not making butter with it, it is great for potato soup. Then, just for kicks, I add about a 1/2 package of cream cheese (sometimes I say ‘what the heck’ and put the whole 8 oz. package in there – what doesn’t taste better with cream cheese in it?) Then, if I happen to have some, I add sour cream. Now we have the creamiest potato soup you ever wanted to have.

Spoon this into bowls and top with grated cheddar cheese, bacon, and some fresh chives.

Serve with homemade cornbread baked in an iron skillet with lots of homemade butter.

Yep, love snow days.

What are the chances of that? A scenario farm girls will appreciate.

We needed to separate the girls from the boys recently.. gilts from boars that is – that means girl pigs from boy pigs. Well, the strangest thing happened that I am still scratching my head about and I’m certain it wouldn’t happen again in a million years.

The weekend before, all the boys (human boys)  helped to get the gilts to a different area of the farm –  being they are more than 100 pounds for sure we grabbed them, wheel barrow style, and put them in the trailer to move them. Not an easy task.. it’s the stuff America’s Funniest Home Videos are made of. But, we got the mission accomplished. Things are easy when you have lots of help.

The next day I noticed that the we missed one..Ugh!  I’m not sure how that happened.. because it’s pretty obvious who is who from the backside  —  but nonetheless, we left one of the girls in there with all of the boys. I wondered how I was going to handle getting her out of there.. My husband and oldest son were watching football. I knew that a request to stop watching football to move a pig was futile. So, my lovely daughter-in-law and I took to the outside with the kids to pull some weeds, and just enjoy the sunshine. We still wondered if there was any chance that  gilt was going to get moved on this nice sunny day or have to wait for another day, probably when it was cold and wet,  when we had more people willing to help.

As we stood there taking videos of my 2-year-old grandson talking to the pigs and making pigs sounds, here comes a another pig just walking up to us. We quickly realized it was the gilt we needed to move. She must have gotten through the fence in the front pasture somehow and made her way to the girl club in the back pasture. We promptly opened the gate, coaxed by a little feed and easily led her in with the other girls.

Okay, so what are the chances that?

1. The gilft in question would be the only pig that gets through the fence.

2. That she would make her way all the way to the back pasture.

3. That we would happen to be standing there at the time.

I had just been thinking about whether we should be working so hard outside on a Sunday instead taking a day of rest or if it even mattered since it was so enjoyable… and not at all work – more like therapy – a reprieve from the corporate world. So, I figure that was my answer… a directive to not work so hard and go rest…. and let God do the work.

Isn’t that how we are a lot of time anyway?  Trying to do the work ourselves instead of letting God have the plow or the wheel. I’m reminded of what Jesus said in Matthew 11:28  “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  (Not that I would ever have been so bold to ask God to go talk to that pig and tell her to sneak out of the pasture and come to the back of the property to reunite with her girlfriends – LOL ) But, that is just what happened and I am thankful… and amazed! 

My sister lives too far away from me in Virginia. When I tell her these stories she always tells me I should write a book. Well, maybe someday I will, but for now I plan to share a few stories off and on here.

We are just making memories here on the farm in Beeman Hollow.

Miracle pig

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Pigs everywhere

As our Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs were about to farrow, we made sure all of the outbuildings had some nice fresh straw in them for the little piglets. However, when the time came, both of our sows thought they would just have those pigs out in the pasture in the shade. (Sounds like a good idea). One sow was not too keen on us messing with her babies. The other one couldn’t care less. Daughter in-law helped with some routine checking yesterday. Looks like we have a bunch of boars. We will be selling all of our gilsts as they are related to our Dudley and our sows now.

Spring is around the corner??? Maybe.

The farm is shaping up and I’ve mostly been posting on our Facebook page. But, there is so much going on I think I’m going to go back to this blog.

Looking out at the wintry mix coming down really hard, it’s hard to believe that yesterday’s chores didn’t even require a jacket.

I am glad to announce that both of our Gloucestershire Old Spot gilts have been bred, so Lord willing, in 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days from two weeks ago we will have some little spotted baby piglets.

At that point we will be selling some breeding stock and making the rest into pork. We will also 1/2 and whole pork available as a CSA. I will post more information about what a CSA is in another post.

Our turkeys are also breeding, so we are hoping to have enough heritage turkeys in the fall for our own Thanksgiving and to raise a few for some others.

Until then, I’m not sure what happened to spring, but I think it didn’t get the memo. It’s going to be below zero tonight. Everything is fed outside and ready for bed. Inside, cooking up some heritage pork chops, organic potatoes and corn. Then relax and wait for spring.

Here is the link to our Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/beemanhollowfarm

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It’s a boy!

Is this cute or what?

Is this cute or what?

August 2013

If you buy baby bunnies and you think you are buying two girls, it’s a good idea to check them again when they get a little bigger just to make sure. We didn’t do that and now we have baby bunnies! So, obviously one of the bunnies, the one  named Nutmeg by my grandson Keagan, turned out to be a boy.  Cute, cute, cute! But, what a surprise when my husband found them. There are four of them and everyone is a different color. So, guess we’re in the bunny raising business. These are purebred Lionheads, so they are so cute and easy to sell.

Turkey and quail and pigs, oh my!

May 13, 2013

Who needs a truck when you can drive 2 hours with pigs in the back of the SUV.

Who needs a truck when you can drive 2 hours with pigs in the back of the SUV.

Our Narragansett turkey pair were added to the farm last week. They have settled in just fine, enough that the hen has been laying eggs almost every day. We put them in the nest for her but she’s not too interested in setting yet. She might still be a little nervous in her new environment. Of course, Pierre, our faithful rooster has fallen in love the the hen. He stands there all day long looking into the cage – and I really mean ALL DAY. The Tom Turkey, who has no name yet, doesn’t seem to like it.

Sometime in the middle of doing everything else, I managed to bring home five little baby quail chicks. They are noisy, fretful little things. Not like the Buff Orpington chicks. If they manage to not get eaten by raccoons and become full grown, they will be great watchdogs.

This weekend, our little heritage pigs came home. We reserved them before they were born. After much research on heritage breeds we decided on Gloucestershire Old Spots. I love the looks of them, but their temperament and thriftiness were definitely right up there for the reasons we chose them. They are already so calm and friendly. They hardly flinched when the grandkids today pet their noses. Well, not until the kids decided that chasing them would be more fun.

Welcome to Beeman Hollow Farm

After so many years of living the good life in Beeman Hollow, it’s about time I started to share some of the life and times of living in the hollow.

Both my husband and I grew up in big cities, but fell in love with the country about the time we were married more than 30 years ago.

It’s been quite an adventure here in Beeman Hollow where we raised our children to appreciate the country, hard work, farm animals, growing our own food, along with a health respect for the environment and smart conservation practices.

After our youngest son went in the Navy, we took a little time off from farm animals but found that it was pretty lonely on our 40 acres in the hollow without a reason to do chores in the morning.

After milking goats and raising pigs and sheep for many years we are ready to jump back in, not only for our sake but for our three little boys that are our grandchildren. After all, what’s a farm without farm animals.

Our family has been involved with history and historical activities and events for many years so after trying to decide what animals to get to sustain us for the years to come, we decided that we wanted to preserve heritage animals.

After much research, we have decided on raising a heritage breed Gloucestershire Old Spots, a historic pig breed that  sort of look like folk art – very round and spotted. The breed is on the critical list of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, of which we are members. http://www.albc-usa.org.

Our first pigs were born last week at a farm in Kansas and we will be picking them up when they are weaned. By then we should have our new herd of goats and sheep. 

The best part of Beeman Hollow Farm is when kids get to come visit, especially kids that have never been on a farm. We have opportunities for kids to come spend some time at the farm and we will be sharing more about that as time goes on.

In the meantime, check back with us and see how the animals are doing. It’s already spring, we had about a dozen robins outside the window this morning — in the snow.

I started a blog a few years ago but never kept up with it… Brought back such good memories.. I wanted to include it here:

MONDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2008

What’s is all about

I am so excited to start this blog and be able to write down all of the “fun” experiences on the farm and to share pics and updates on the animals that live here. Seems like it’s late at night when I can get to this so if stories sound a little weird, it’s just may be that I’m tired… or maybe they are just weird stories. A lot of interesting things happen here especially when the animals try to mutiny. Right now the Shetland sheep are all penned in their breeding groups… they don’t always like the group they’re in, I know this because they routinely try to get into another group. This usually happens when I am all dressed for work or late to a meeting and then I have to stop and catch up the escapees.
Our little farm consists of, at least today, 12 Shetland sheep, 2 Nubian does, a flock of laying hens, 3 horses, a stone deaf Old English sheepdog named Barney and a young hound named Susie that barks all night.
Of course, there are people here as well, to keep the animals company. There’s me Cheryl, my husband Yancy and my 16 year old son Travis. We have lived here since the 80’s. Our two older children are out on their own now but they don’t live very far away so we get to see them often. God is good to have allowed me to live out here in Beeman Hollow. It’s not too close to town but then again not too far once you get used to it.
I’ll share some pics on here another day, soon.