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  • Writer's pictureTina

The Best Laid Plans

Abu is our spotted buck.

THE ART OF LIFE LIES IN THE CONSTANT READJUSTMENT OF OUR SURROUNDINGS: KAKUZO OKAKURA, THE BOOK OF TEA. I often tell my daughter, Jordan, the only constant in life is change. I am a planner. I spent an entire year planning our trip to Disney World. I love to plan parties. I plan for weeks before school begins what she will eat for lunch, how to organize her materials, her wardrobe. I am a planner. I have a lot of ideas, just not a lot of talent or follow through. With soap, I have to plan well in advance for the year. I have to plan my seasonals, my premier schedule, and my ingredient list. I have learned, no matter what I plan or how long I plan or how well laid out my plan is, it will not go as planned! As we start to wind down with market season, we are getting a chance to look back at this past summer and reflect. I still cannot believe the leaves are beginning to be turn.

We had planned on having nine girls bred in the fall, ensuring nine girls to milk in the spring. We took nine girls to visit “The Billy.” For whatever reason only one of our ladies became pregnant. We have been running low on milk all summer. We have enough to make soap and lotion, we just have to plan a little further in advance, and we have not been drinking goat’s milk. This spring Eric sold some of his Hereford, and Hereford/Large Black crossed piglets to a gentleman that raises meat goats. George said that he had a buckling that he was hoping to see someone use as a breeder. I really did not want to have a buck at the farm under any circumstances. After some serious discussion, I realized that we already had five Boer nannies that we needed bred, and we did not need any more Nubian goats to milk the following year. He traded a piglet for a beautiful little buckling we named, Abu. Abu is black with white spots, and seems to be cable of fulfilling his purpose. Our plan for next year is to leave the babies on their mothers, milk half the girls in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. We think that the Nubians will make way too much milk for the babies. Also, the babies will grow like bad weeds with mothers that make so much milk. That is our plan. How it turns out will more than likely be a different story.

Our sows were off schedule to have a litter of piglets that would be the right size for Jordan to take to the county fair. We purchased six commercial Yorkshire crosses in the spring, with the plan of one of the pigs being a roasting pig for “Cinco de Smayo”, our spring time open house and BBQ, usually the first Saturday in May. Eric had to work that weekend so we did not roast the hog. Our new plan for the extra pig, Shawnee, was to just finish her out for the sole purpose of bratwursts. As the summer passed Shawnee became more and more friendly. With her outgoing personality and her “good mama” build, Eric decided to keep her for a breeder. I am actually looking forward to seeing what the babies of Shawnee and our Large Black boar, Boris, turn out to look like.

As we are anticipating the expansion of the goats, Eric has been building more pasture. This year we added an additional 4 acres of pasture. All summer we have had 15 hogs growing out in the new pasture. I thought they would have the entire pasture turned into a mud puddle. They have cleared out around the creek and for the most part haven’t rooted much of the field. Since the acorns and hickory nuts have started falling, they continually make circles all day. They go from the oak trees, to the hickory trees, to the feeders, and then to the creek. We have just gotten back our first half a hog that was raised on the new pasture. It seems like the extra supply of nuts added a lot of marble in the meat, it is fantastic.

Last year at the Ligonier Country Market, a friend from market asked us to get him a wethered meat goat for roasting. When we decided to buy some Boer goat does, we picked up a wether we affectionately named George. The affection for George stopped with the naming. I know, as harsh as it sounds, that a wethered goat that was not been bottle fed has only one purpose on this world. They cannot breed. They are not friendly enough for pets. They certainly have no purpose in the barn aside eating and growing. George grew and created issues everywhere he went. I love animals. I had no love for George. After a year had passed, our friend said he just could not get his friends together to roast the goat. I told Eric, “That goat has to go!” Eric advertised George, nobody wanted George. I never in my entire life had any plans to eat a goat. We have all the pork we can put on a plate. We have an outstanding source of beef. The fields are littered with deer every evening. With that being said, and after much debate between Eric and myself, we sent the goat to the butcher. Our freezer has had ground goat in it for the last couple of days and I am not sure if I really want to try it. I know we will have a lot of meat goats next fall. I know that most of the world eats goat. I also know that I like pork and beef.

Last December Eric had traded a few younger female Herefords for a Large Black Hog boar named Boris. We were getting too many sows to make artificial insemination practical for the pigs. Large Black Hogs have a reputation as being very docile and having an outstanding meat quality. Our first litter that Boris sired was from Scarlett, a registered Hereford. We could not ask for a better outcome. She delivered nine piglets with ease and she turned out to be an outstanding mother. Our second litter from Boris was out of Charlotte. Charlotte is a Hereford, Berkshire cross. She was scheduled to go to the butcher last fall but she showed me how she could sit like a dog to get a treat. I told Eric she could not leave. Charlotte had a healthy litter of eight. Our third litter of Boris babies was to Sugar, our LBH sow. We were exceptionally excited for Sugar’s litter. We would finally have a litter of pure-bred Large Blacks. We could try the difference of having one hundred percent Large Black pork. Large Blacks have a reputation of large litter sizes and being outstanding mothers. Sugar had a litter of five, and could not keep them alive. We have given Sugar another chance and are waiting to see how she does. Sometimes first-time mothers have issues, and are outstanding after that. Sometimes pigs were meant to be sausage and not mothers. I hate the thought of getting rid of Sugar, and would really like to try to find another Large Black Sow if we had to. One way or another, we will have a litter of pure Large Blacks.

Since we have started the website, we have had plans of keeping up on the blogs, doing newsletters, and keeping our seasonal varieties up to date on the website. It seems like there are never enough hours in the day and that always gets neglected. A wise man told me once, “You have 24 hours in a day, just like everyone else. It is all in how you use it that makes a difference.” As our market season is nearly at an end, our plan is to make the site a priority. We are very proud of what we do and how we do it. It just seems like after we are done doing what we do, it is time to sleep, so we can start over the next day. We do enjoy sharing our adventure with everyone that is interested in hearing about it. Hopefully, this is a plan we can make work but I am sure, as with everything else, it will change.

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