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  • Writer's picturePatrick

Well this summer didn't exactly go as planned!

I'm sitting on our front porch looking over the pond, lambs grazing, and listening to the gentle bleating of lambs and goats as I blog about the summer adventures on our little farm. Sounds idyllic. Exactly how I thought I would spend my mornings in the country. Not exactly! I'm procrastinating, avoiding moving 12 cords of wood into the barn, while Paul busily cleans the barns and cares for the animals!

"Well, it seems our major projects are coming to an end and we hope to find time to enjoy our life at he farm a bit more over the summer. We'll see! Time to enjoy our fresh produce and meat, BBQ, relax a bit, enjoy the animals ,and hopefully see lots of friends and family". This is how I left off two months ago. Well, this summer didn't exactly go as planned!

Soon after I last posted, Nellie severely sprained her leg. Not sure if it was broken, the vet came out. Picture a 110 lb. young woman trying to inject an 800 lb. cranky sow. Then picture us trying to x-ray her leg. None of this worked out well! Nellie did heal. We were worried because she was pregnant. We did not want to put her down.

Two weeks later, Maggie went into labour right on track. Perfect. Well, not so fast. Two days of labour in brutal heat and humidity, she had still not delivered. The vet came out and Maggie was diagnosed with uterine torsion (a twisted uterus) which is extremely rare in pigs, of course! After injections of oxytocin to bring on contractions, talks of dong a caesarean (in Guelph!), and expecting to lose both mother and piglets, the vet pulled 12 live babies. Maggie was beat. We had to cover her in ice packs. She wasn't able to stand for days which meant that it wasn't safe to feed the babies for five days. That's right. Paul and I had to supervise feedings every few hours until she was able to be left alone with them. We got through that! Next, the babies got the scours (diarrhea) so the vet was called out again and we dealt with that for a week which also included injecting 12 piglets. Done. They are all healthy and they are all weaned, tagged, and waiting adoption.

Next Nellie, who hadn't started producing milk, delivered her litter unexpectedly on another horribly hot day. As her milk wasn't coming in, we had to give her twice daily injections of oxytocin. Of course that involved another vet visit. It worked a little but the milk supply was very small, not enough to support a large litter. We bottle fed piglets that were open to it but others would not take the bottle. The scours again, another vet visit and more injections. This went on for weeks and only the strongest piglets who were able to nurse successfully survived. What a heart breaking ordeal!

Our other 5 pigs successfully went to market. What a day that was! 250 lb. pigs (thanks to our Amish neighbour, Norman, the pigs were fed lots of wonderful garden scraps) are not easily moved. I pulled while Paul and a friend pushed them onto the truck. Lots of squealing from all involved. Getting them off the truck was a little easier. We said goodbye and gave them a pat on the head and a little rub. The first time is difficult.

We picked up over 1,0000 lbs. of ribs, chops, roasts, sausage, bacon, tenderloin, jowls, and tails. Some has been delivered to J&P Grocery and some to private orders. If you need chops, sausage, or bacon, you can always visit us at the farm too! It is delicious! Different than conventional pork, it is very juicy and flavourful.

Kit has just joined me, which reminds me that with the unending pig saga the other animals have gotten only the essentials - good care but not a lot of attention. We did find a neat invention to help us with grooming the sheep. It's called a sheep deck chair and it works. A bit like a hammock, you back the sheep into it, they fall on their backs and you can clip nails no problem! The new lambs are fine and Georgia and Lily will be permanent residents of the farm. The goats have been especially well behaved this summer. I can't wait to get them out into the fields for some exercise and a change of scenery. We also have a new batch of laying hens (another long story!) and turkeys. Our experiment with our "meatless" meat chickens continues.

And the geese! Victoria's eggs didn't hatch. I also ordered fertilized eggs to add to her nest in case hers were not fertilized. They didn't hatch either. She has this habit of getting off her nest for a little walk about after she has started sitting. So after 30 days Paul noticed that the eggs were getting pretty smelly. I found three 2-day old goslings on Kijiji. We brought them home and while Paul enticed Victoria out with some kale, I switched the eggs for the goslings. A few little peeps later Victoria ran back and, being none the wiser, thought her eggs had hatched. A happy ending! I almost forgot to mention that as I got the eggs out into the sun, they exploded allover my face and clothing. Nothing like rotten eggs all over you. What a stink!

As everyone has experienced, this has been a wild summer weather-wise. Extreme heat and humidity with no rain characterized the first six weeks of the summer. Trying to keep the garden growing was a challenge let alone trying to get grass growing in the areas of last fall's construction. Then, rainstorms with up to 70 mm of rain at a time followed. Still lots of heat and humidity continued and there were often power failures as well. The yard and gardens are now looking looking great and the garden is overflowing with every vegetable imaginable. We've already done crazy amounts of canning with lots more to come.

We did get to spend time with family and friends here at the farm. We had several visits from former colleagues, BBQs with friends and family, and a big Rittinger family get together!

So, I guess we accomplished some of what we wanted. It was hectic, hot, frustrating, exhausting, and upsetting at times but also filled with many accomplishments and happy moments. I still haven't hit the hammock yet! Time to move that wood.

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