We welcomed spring with our neighbours and a bonfire this week. It has been a hell of a week already and it's only Thursday. We've had 12 litters of piglets so far this year and have been very busy weaning them and getting them all off to their new homes. Now, catching pigs is a tricky business on a good day but this time of year it is especially treacherous and we find ourselves slipping on the layer of sheer ice that is often hidden under 6 inches of mud in all the high traffic areas of the pastures. We had to move a LOT of pigs on Monday and by the end of the day I was so completely covered in smelly mud that I had to be hosed off with ice cold well water before I could even go inside and clean up. Yes, it is a glamorous life we have chosen, all right! But it's all good because in a month, the snow, ice, mud and puddles will be gone and we'll be moving into the most beautiful time of year here.
The newest resident at Blue Sky Ranch isn't an adorable piglet. We have a young bald eagle who seems to have made himself at home here. This sets off such a conflict for us because on one hand he is SO beautiful and majestic and we just love watching him but on the other hand, we know he's trouble. He has been admiring our chickens all morning and our 7 month old kittens would make a nice, light snack too. The youngest piglets we have out in the field right now are 4 weeks old and I don't think he could manage one of them but we have more coming and he could easily make off with a younger piglet. So, I think we will have to encourage Mr. Eagle to move on. There is plenty for him to eat out here, especially once the snow melts. Hopefully he will content himself with wild game and leave our domestic animals alone.
We had a much better winter this year than last year. Temperatures were much milder although we did still dip down below -20 a few times. We still had a few challenges with the new fence but we were able to trouble shoot that. Had some frozen pipes too but nothing compared to last year's troubles. The only real issue was a lack of sun. The milder temperatures were brought on by more cloud cover so in the dead of winter when the days were really short, it wasn't possible to charge our solar batteries enough and we ended up running the generator more than we would like. We plan to add some more panels this year so we can capture more of that precious winter sunshine.
We have two more litters of piglets coming in the next few weeks and our cow, Penny is due to calf in early April so we're very excited about that. Fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly. Hopefully we'll have cute baby calf pictures for you in the next newsletter!
Happy Spring everyone!