Monday, November 15, 2010

Our First Egg

We've been waiting for months, and at last the day has arrived.  Yesterday we got our first egg from our chickens!  The hens are approximately 7.5 - 8 months old now, so I guess that's right about on schedule.  I'm not sure if we should expect very many eggs in the near future, since it's mid-November and the days are just going to keep getting shorter.  But I've read that Orpingtons do sometimes keep laying through the winter, so I guess we'll see!

Our egg is on the right, with a store-bought size "Large" egg and a penny in the photo for size comparison.

I've read that a pullet's first eggs are often tiny and misshapen, but this egg is lovely and perfect.  It's a bit smaller than the store-bought egg, but it's still a respectable size.  It's lighter-colored than the store-bought egg too.  It's exactly the beautiful pale porcelain-pink flesh tone that you'd see on the face of an expensive porcelain doll.

Next came the taste test.  I hard boiled both the eggs, and we shared them for breakfast.
 As you can see, our egg (top) has a much richer color, presumably because our chickens have access to grass and bugs and occasional scraps of fruit, instead of just chicken feed.  Our egg also had slightly more flavor and a less dry and crumbly texture to the yolk.  It also had a noticeably stronger shell.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It's a Pig's Life

The sheep aren't the only ones worthy of a photo shoot.  The pigs deserve some camera time too!

As you can see, our Guinea hog boar Magick works very hard here on the farm, mainly at napping, eating, and being cute:

"Psst.  Hey Dad!  You asleep?"

According to the measuring tape method of weighing a pig, Magick weighs about 280 lbs.  That's pretty big for a Guinea hog!

Magick's mate Cerridwen is slim, fit, and active now at the very beginning of her pregnancy.  I suspect it might have been her bossy, highly opinionated attitude that encouraged poor, lazy Magick to seek out the company of other pigs yesterday.

About a month and a half away from giving birth and starting to get quite heavy, our other sow Circe luxuriates in a relaxing mud bath:

Let's not forget the piglets!  They're getting bigger and bigger.  There are only 4 left here, 3 of which are sold and one that will be going into our freezer in a few months.

It's interesting to me that we have both the slender long-nosed type and the chubby short-nosed type of Guinea hog in the very same litter:

After the Shearing

Since I already posted a series of photos of the sheep in full fleece, I figured I should give equal space to showing how they look now, after they have been sheared.  It took a long time and a lot of work for me to shear the whole flock by myself, so I ought to celebrate a task well done with a photo shoot!

Wish is beautiful with or without fleece:

Xcarlett and Xanadu rest among the fallen leaves:

Tansy sure looks different without her glorious golden fleece:

Pandora is one of the first sheep I ever bought.  She's middle aged now, but she always gives me wonderful, stout lambs:

Willow looks so much smaller with all her lush fleece removed:

As I was shearing, I started to realize I have a shortage of solid black sheep in my flock.  It makes me all the more grateful to have lovely Sapphire, who is one of my favorite ewes:

Tawny strikes a pose on a small rock:

Rowena rests in the shade:

Two photos of pretty Tsarina:

Urbana, Regina, and Paris:

Moriah is the oldest sheep in my flock, 8 years old and still going strong:

Shearing Utopia reveals her excellent, stout meat build that had been hidden beneath her wool:

Although she's a "teenager" now, Xolani has retained her irresistible "cute lamb" face:

Although she is one of my most regal looking sheep, it's hard to get good photos of Paris, because she is very independent and wants nothing to do with foolish human shenanigans:

Let's not forget the rams!  Here are 3 of this year's ram lambs:  Xavier, Xerxes, and Xenophon:

Here are Nicholai, Xaq, Scimitar, and Ukraine, all hanging out together:

Here's Nicholai, the gentle old King of the Flock:

Scimitar is looking stout and handsome:

We trimmed Ukraine's horn because it was growing too close to his face.  We still have to trim the other one:

It was hard to take pictures of Xaq because he kept following me around wanting to be petted.  So far he's doing a very good job of remembering that he has to approach me RESPECTFULLY.  Breeding season is no excuse; I don't allow disrespectful, overly assertive behavior from my rams:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Magick the Teleporting Pig

Our Guinea hog boar Magick, apparently intent on living up to his name, has learned to teleport.  One minute he's scavenging around the yard with his mate Cerridwen, cleaning up fallen pears and acorns that have dropped from the trees.  When I go out to get the mail an hour later, he has somehow reappeared in the front pasture WITH THE OTHER BOAR AND THAT BOAR'S MATE.

With any other pig, or at any other time, that might be a recipe for disaster.  But the other sow, Circe, is clearly already pregnant, so we don't have to worry about an unplanned pregnancy by the wrong boar.  And the two boars apparently had no interest in fighting with each other.  In fact, it seems that Magick didn't stop by to visit with either loving or fighting in mind.  He stopped by to use their bath!

When I discovered him, he was happily lounging in their wallow, with the other two pigs relaxing nearby.  No conflict, no hard feelings.  Just some contented pigs hanging out with their visitor.

I said, "Magick!  What are you doing in there?" and opened the gate.  He got up out of the bath, lumbered out through the gate, and I shut it behind him.  Simple as that.

Then I proceeded to walk the fenceline, looking for the place where he broke in.  The whole fence is very sturdy 2" x 4" woven mesh on thick wooden posts, so I knew it would be obvious where he had somehow shoved his way under.  Only it wasn't.

I walked the entire fenceline of that pasture, and there was NOWHERE he could have gotten in.  No gate unlatched, no fencing shoved up or burrowed under.  No loose wire.  No gaps.

So I can only conclude that one of two things happened:

1.  Magick has learned to teleport, and decided to use his new-found superpower to indulge in a good mud bath.

2. Or, for some unknown reason he went into our hay building (currently empty of hay), walked in the dark all the way to the other side of the building, and took a sudden whim to climb up on the window sill and fling himself out the open window onto the ground below, all for the sake of getting into a pasture that has less feed than the one he was already in.

Frankly, the image of this stout, lazy, slow-moving, mellow boar defenestrating himself for no apparent reason kind of makes the teleportation theory seem a little less farfetched.

Anyway, he's back where he belongs now (or was, last time I looked!), and no harm was done.  But I'm still perplexed by the "how" and "why" of it all.

Magick:  Pig of Mystery!  :-)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Giveaway Winners!

Drum roll please!  Here are the winners for our three big giveaways.

 1 bar of sheep's milk soap goes to:
  • Brooke
  • Natural Garden
  • Susie
  • Ackermari
  • Daneen

The Icelandic fleece goes to:
  • Sleepypinesaz

And last but not least, the hand spun, hand knitted scarf goes to:
  • Zoe
Many thanks to all who participated!  Winners---please email me your contact info so I can send you your prizes!