Thursday, November 8, 2012

Jobs, Hogs, and Pregnant Ewes

Ummm, did I really stop blogging for 5 solid days???? My goodness. I suppose y'all are expecting a spanking good update now, for the inconvenience of waiting! And to see to it that I make everyone happy, I shall commence to filling you all in on what's been going on!

Actually, I don't even know where to start... So I'll just be seriously blunt here and state the biggest piece of news: I got a job.

*KA-BOOM!* I know. I'm good at dropping bombs.

With the idea of moving out fermenting away in my mind, my parents wisely encouraged me to look at getting a REAL job. I rather groaned and procrastinated about the whole thing. The last thing I wanted was to be cooped up in some building away from my farm for a whole day, wondering if the goats were still in their paddock, and if the cows had run out of water again. But I eventually caved and started looking for some place to work. For a year I'll do it. I'd like to be working for myself by 2014. But I was still adamantly against working inside a building. It just grates against my nature. I hate being inside. So I set out to find the impossible. If I HAD to have a job, I wanted it to be at a place that I loved going to. I made a crazy long list of everything I would *like* to have. You know, just a weird brainstormed oh-this-would-be-neat-if-I-could-do-this type of list. I wanted to work outside; I knew that much. I really wanted to work on a farm. And an organic farm would be cool. And while we're dreaming up impossible dream jobs, it would sure be neat if the place did things Joel-Salatin-style, or if I could do more dairy work, or possibly even some slaughtering. Vegetables would be fun to do, since I need to improve my skills on that score, but fruits, grains, or just livestock would also be great. 

That was my crazy list.

And to be quite honest, I didn't find anything in my searches that fit the bill.

It wasn't until a friend mentioned that he just recently got a job working at a small, organic, family farm that I got a lead. My ears pricked, and I Googled the farm. The name of the place was Oakhill Organics, and of all things, they run a CSA and are about to start a Full-Diet CSA (and they do things Joel-Salatin style!!). What does that mean? It means they're becoming the grocery store for their members. They do vegetables, fruits, grains, natural sweeteners (honey, and I believe sorghum), meats, and dairy. Holy kohlrabi, if I had to work somewhere, that sounds like the place to be! I sent off an application and nervously waited for a reply...

A few days later I got my reply! They wanted me to come out to the farm for an interview! So on the appointed day I went out to Oakhill Organics, dressed for a day of work. You see, this wasn't an ordinary job interview; it was a work interview. So while moving Guinea hogs, Jersey cows and Katahdin sheep to new pasture, throwing pumpkins to the hoofstock (it seems I need to work on my throwing skills... The desired result was a squashed pumpkin; mine only bruised. Ha.), and harvesting carrots, I talked with Casey, the owner of the farm. I have to say that I really enjoyed the work that day. It was good. It reminded me of working at Polyface. :) After the interview was over, Casey gave me a huge bag of fresh vegetables, and the thumbs up I was hoping for. I was hired.

It sounds like I'll be doing a lot of dairy work there, and that really excites me. They currently have two milking Jersey cows, but Casey mentioned the possibility of getting some more cows. Along with working with the cows, I'll also get to help slaughter their animals for meat, which includes hogs, chickens, and sheep, and I'll be out in the fields harvesting veggies and doing who-knows-what-else.

I was a little dazed when I got back home. Hired? Seriously? I managed to find a job that had  every single thing that I had on my list?? Wow. I'll be working part-time over there for now; probably only 3 days  a week, which is fine for me right now. I'm not sure when I start yet, but it should be sometime around the end of November.

With this piece of news in mind, I decided to dry a few of the goats up. I had five milkers and was getting 2 gallons a day (most of them were already half dried up; I should have been getting 4+ gallons a day). I didn't want to have to get up at 4am every morning to get my animals milked before going to work, so I decided to dry up Lily, Ivy, and Jupiter, which would leave me milking Metty and Trigun, and a daily amount of 1 gallon of goat milk. That was the plan anyway... Unfortunately, I bought two tons of hay from a new supplier at the time of drying the girls up, and the remaining milkers didn't cotton to this new stuff so well. The result? I'm now getting less than a 1/2 gallon each day from the two milk goats! Aargh! So life has been a bit tense as I try to make sure that all of my herdshare members still get their weekly quota. The cow also dropped a bit in production from the hay switch, which has been yet another headache to deal with. At first I was getting 2 gallons a day from her and was just barely squeaking by in having enough for folks. Now she's giving 1.5 gallons a day. Fun, fun, fun.

But life still goes on, milk or no milk. My last post I did on here was a little blurb about how much I am looking forward to the day I can get my own pigs. And I am ultra excited to announce that that's finally happening!! I'm trading Ivy, one of my goats, for a pair of purebred Tamworth weaner pigs! I had been going back and forth for quite some on what breed of hog to go with, or if I should use a crossbred, but I finally settled for the Tamworth. A rare, heritage breed, the Tamworths are also known as the "grazing pig", or the "grass pig", since they are excellent foragers and can be finished out on pasture. Once mine get big enough, they will be moved onto my neighbor's property beneath a large stand of oak trees. The acorns are thick in that little glen, and there should be enough to fatten a pair of grass pigs. :) In the meantime though, they'll get their fill of sprouts, fermented barley (tutorial coming soon on fermenting grains for livestock!), scraps, and once Mattie (cow) freshens in February, then they'll start getting all the milk they can handle. I'm trying to keep this first round of pig-raising as cheap as possible, which is why I decided to trade one of my goats for them. Ivy has done well for me all these years, but it's time for her to move on. That's the way things work here. I don't keep very many animals long-term; they're always coming and going as the farm works its way up in quality and gets closer to the ultimate goal. With luck I will have the little pigs here at GSF in two weeks time!

On the ovine side of life, things are going - ah - swimmingly? I know I should think of some grand pun, but I can't think of one right now. But the sheep are doing great. :) The little brown ewe lamb still stubbornly keeps her distance, but the white wether is getting braver each day. Today I was able to scratch his chin and cheek without him running off. But things may change a bit here too... The lady who I got the sheep from called this morning saying she had another little ewe lamb (she thought she only had the brown one that I now have), and this one was just bred; thus meaning it can't be slaughtered. She wanted to know if I would like to trade out my white wether for a preggo ewe... Half of me is fairly screaming 'YES!!!' at the thought of having lambs scampering around come April, but then the other half of me kind of wants to keep the friendly wether around. So we'll see what happens. Personally, I'd really like to just buy the third sheep and keep a wooly trio here, but seeing as I just bought two tons of hay AND a buck, I'm not so sure I have extra funds to buy a third sheep for fun. Maybe I should get a job or something.... Oh wait.

Well I gotta' scoot now... Dishes to do and animals to milk!

Week #7 of the Basic Broiler Challenge is coming tomorrow!


gz said...

So you'll be getting paid and learning too!

nancy said...


Farmgal said...

So glad I found your blog two weeks or so back on a blog hop, really enjoying it so far, congrats on your new job, look forward to keeping up on all that is new!

Nick said...


That's too funny I think I remember Oakhill Organics ranting and raving about how bad Joel Salatin and his style of farming was a few years ago, and that vegetable farming was the only way to go...maybe animals ARE necessary for successful agriculture.