Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Day in the Life of Me

Did I mention I got fired?

Yeah, it didn't work out at the last place. Politicy stuff, ya know? So I moved back to the farm and focused on that stuff and got a call from a big jewelry company that they needed help and heard my name from someone I buy supplies from. Coolio. So I'm working that job as an apprentice jeweler. Last week I learned the "real" way to rip-tip stones and then I rebuilt some broken prongs and set stones. cool stuff.

So my morning starts around 7:30 feeding the animals, then milking the sheep. By 8:15 I am back making breakfast and getting cleaned up for work. If I have time I will run an errand like picking up more feed. Then I'm off to work by 9:20, work until 6:30. Pick up free veggies for the pigs from a grocery store, get home, feed the animals and try to muster up the energy to feed myself. Since my day typically doesn't end until 8:30 I haven't been putting much time into the bench.

This will change one day. One day I will be back here more frequently. Until then, forgive me for I am tired.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Farm Blog!

I decided it was time to start a blog focused on my farming and return this one to jewelry. That means, yes, there WILL be less baby animals pictures here. BUT fear not, for if you come over to there will be plenty.

In jewelry news I have decided not to do a booth at the CMAG spring show this year. I may get around to putting some pieces in the gallery, but I don't know if I will have time to make something new. I don't know if I mentioned the bench jewelry job i got in december didn't work out? Yeah, various reasons i don't need to go into but I did just land a new one with the official position of "apprentice." Thats great: that means the other jewelers KNOW I'm supposed to be learning. It will mean 40 hours a week so fitting that into the farming and all...well, good thing I have lots of energy!

Anyway, I'll leave you with a picture of my bottle baby lamb, Blaze. She is totally sleeping on the couch right next to me at the moment. (If you want to know her story follow that link)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Got my studio half put back together: I had many comings and goings over the last few months that left the space in disarray. Unfourtunatly, some of the ex's cats took to peeing in my studio and I can't sit at my bench without to the distinct smell of cat urine.

Despite the stench I trudged on (with the help of a scented candle). I had the neighbor girl over tonight to learn the basics of jewelry making. I started her on just hammering metal, then onto sawing. By the end of the evening she had made a cute copper dragonfly.

So I have a jeweler in training...hopefully she'll will help me battle through the cat stank by actually WANTING to be in the studio.

(dogs rule, cats drool. :P)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Farming and stuff

Well my friends, I have been up to alot. I moved back onto the farm and have been working non-stop to get it fixed up. among the happenings: I picked up a new sheep named Polly. She is and East Friesian x Lacaune which means another milker. She is a month or two younger than Ash, which seems to mean she is about a month behind in her pregnancy.

 The ram was REAL excited to get to meet her, so I tried locking him up for a day to let him cool his jets while the girls bonded. This was him trying to crawl under the barn door.

 She's spotted, so I'm hoping I'll get a good color when I cross her with a Jacob. Check out the cool spots on her ears: they are ringed like agate!
 The adorable friendly piglets were so curious about the newcomer! She was interested in them...not so interested in Rosie (who walked over to say "Hello.")

Good ol' Rosie. Being a mom is hard sometimes: I guess she needed a pick me up when she tried to drink my coffee.
The piglets are getting big fast! I built a creep feed to help let some pressure off Rosie. They are starting to root around and eat worms and such, but they harass mom nonstop in the barn for more food while she eats pulling at her teats...puts her in a bad mood fast. So at breakfast time I give them a small amount of pellets with milk. They enjoy that while mom eats in peace. Then we all play. I feel like with giving them a little extra food they've been growing even faster...I already had to lift up the bottom electric line on the feed so they could get in. I am disappointed that she sheep haven't lambed yet and the piglets arn't getting the sheep milk: that was the plan. Didn't happen...guess they get powdered milk instead.

In the less than two weeks ive been back I have: repaired the barn walls Rosie punched out, replaced the rotten/broken board on the barn door, got it to open and close again, and reinforced it. The wood piled in the barn is mostly cleaned up, I built a creep feed and a simple pen for the sheep at night. Painted 2 rooms in the house, cut 1/4 a cord of wood (burned most of it already, too), cleaned up the front and am now getting the gardens ready. I need to build a self-feeder for rosie so the sheep stop stealing her food, then I am on to fencing. I am also about to start reorganizing my studio and working on my jewelry again. yay!

On that note I will be moving my farming stuff to a new blog soon and focusing back here on jewelry. I hope you guys have enjoyed reading about the animals, but its time to move this content onto its own site. I'll let you know the new blog as soon as I come up with a proper name. Any ideas? ;)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Two Weeks!

As of yesterday the piggies pasted a milestone: two weeks old! And what a happy, healthy, energetic bunch.

And what little trouble makers! They knocked over a glass pane and broke it, then they found this plastic and have been playing with it. Any piece of trash they find they put in their mouths (i guess how piglets learn is through their mouths). This property was covered in trash when we bought it and I had thought I did a decent job cleaning up. Nope, not enough for babies!
 They started going outside when they were 5 days old...seems early but I guess not!
 Now they are starting to root around like mom.
 Rosie looks very satisfied with life.
 Lots of joy, energy and jumps with the piggies are outside.
 This is the only one I dare name: Peppercorn has lots of spunk! She might become a breeder in fall.
Look at those pretty piggy lashes!

So now we have our piglets out of the most dangerous age. Only lost one the first night. While I had hoped for 10, 7 healthy lively piglets is still pretty good for a first time 'round.

Now on to the lambs! I think Ash is going to drop anytime. She is uddering up and laying down alot. I've been pretty nervous because no one is there to keep an eye on her during her first lambing. Shawn has been trying to move out so he hasn't paid much attention to the sheep. I am moving back in today so hopefully she has put off lambing until I'm back. We will see. I don't know when I am going to get my sheep from our shared Jacob flock, so I went ahead and bought another sheep. She is a milker like Ash so it seems we will have a mini dairy going. hopefully I can pull off this milking thing. We shall see!

Either way I'm excited to be  moving back "home," living next to my animals and getting back to *my* personal bench. Yes! that means jewelry will happen again!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

2013 Seed Order

So Shawn was to be the gardener. Alas, now the task falls to me. To be honest neither of us really got any beds in order. By now the pig should have rotto tilled the garden space, then amendments and cover crop should have been added. However, only one small cool crop bed has been prepared...everything still is covered in grass. The pen the pigs were in during the summer had cover crop seed, but it never took. I'm hoping to muck Rosies pen out and put all her dirty straw back there, but im not sure if i can: she jammed the door closed while puncturing a hole in the bottom of the door. So pigs can use the door, just not humans. This means I have to throw everything over the fence and climb in. Thanks girl.

2013 looks like it wont be the most successful garden year, but I can learn alot regardless. I'm trying to follow the advice of Steve Solomon about high yield growing in Cascadia and eventually move towards more Sepp Holzer style permaculture. (Assuming I can afford to keep the place)

My soil is very rocky clay which is not ideal for many plants. Over time one can build up humus by mixing in organic material...but that takes time. One of Holzer's methods is to build 4 to 5 foot hills hills, rather than raised beds. The hill may have a log underneath to add stability and slowly rot to release nutrients. The hill has greater surface area than a raised bed, and plants can be placed so they don't block each others sun. I won't get to building any hills this by summer, but I can use this method to combat clayey soil buy creating a loamy hill on top. It will also help with drainage.

I just got a bunch of sample sized packets from Territorial Seed. Shawn said they arn't as good as they used to be and their germination rates are down from what they used to have. I figure I'll give them a shot since most their seeds are grown in this bio-region, but next year I may try out Victory Seeds out of Mollala.There are a couple other seed companies I hear good things about like Johnnys Seed Co. and Fed Co...but both are from the East Coast which means the plants that fruit seed well there may not do as well in the West Coast weather.

Of the more interesting things I will be planting: I am going to give quinoa a try. The leaves are apperently edible, too. After reading how international popularity of quinoa has made to too costly for the poorest Bolivians I would like to see how it grows in Oregon.

Other plants I will grow will be Japanese favorites like edamame, kabocha, Japanese cucumbers, and edible crysathamum. My old Japanese Restaurant said they'd buy from me if I could produce enough for them. That means I'll meed 40# of cucumbers twice a week to keep sushi supplied. I'm starting out small this summer to see what I can handle for them, but that may be my niche. We'll see. I'm excited to get started, though. Luckily the animals are keeping my farming bug satisfied.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

3 Day Old Pigglets

 Rosie seems to be picking up on this mothering thing.So without further ado: lots of pigglet pictures:
 Everyone seems to be doing well with their appetites
 This little girl, though, as a big nasty cut on her leg. Luckily the straw is clean and the weather is cool so hopefully it won't get infected. Just gonna have to wash it every day and keep an eye on her. She's the most energetic of them all.

 Rosie looks very happy and contented.
 Looks like a few are getting daddy's floppy ears!

Yum yum yum
Bouncing around being happy babies. Looks like 2 boys 5 girls. Turns out Rosie did have 8, but it died the first night and got buried in the hay. Next time I'll change the pen so I can get into both sides and grab any injured babies. Other than a few with scratches they all look pretty good. They went outside for the first time yesterday. it is really amazing how quick they develop. I swear each time I look at them they are bigger.

Also, why arn't you people following Rosies twitter account? The more people follow the more "she' will tweet

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


It finally happened! Rosie had her first litter yesterday. My mother had to go to the farm in the morning and Rosie seemed to be acting funny. She gave her some fresh hay and Rosie immediately started to try and make a nest with it and seemed to be having an occasional contraction. I got a call from her at work "Rosie seems likes shes gonna pop!" By some chance I got off work early that day and decided to go up to see how she was doing.

I went in to find Rosie like this:

 Breathing calm, but pretty clear contractions.  I didn't know how long she had to go, so i got her to flip over so the piggles could get to her tits. Look and her boobies! Ay, I can't imagine how bad its got to feel to have 14 sore boobies!

 Regardless, she seemed calm and I think happy to have me there. I encouraged here and gave her some space for a little bit. I came back with some water mixed with raw apple cider vinegar: she loves to drink that! Its good for digestion and she gulped it right down.
 After she had her water and she flopped down again I noticed he water had broken. About 15 minutes later she started really heaving. I looked back and there were little feet!
 Then with a little push it came out a little further....
 Then went back in. The little feet see-sawed back and forth for a few minutes and I considered the possibility her first on might be breech so I decided to time it. If it took longer that 15 minutes....just as I looked at the clock *POP!* out it came! Rosie's very first baby!
 I got one shot with the flash when Rosie heard it squeal and jumped up and turned around. That's when I realized I was in a bad spot: in order to possibly help her with a breech (okay, okay, and to see the first one happen~!) I had gotten in her pen and was boxed in to the sides and even ceiling and the only way out was by Rosie and her new born. Any other pig would have killed me. Rosie gave me the stink eye, but was also confused by the squirming and squealing thing.I managed to slip by her by making it clear I wasn't going to touch the little "thing." I tossed my camera aside because it looked like I might need to get in and grab one if she decided to flop down one.
 The next three popped out in fast succession. I was really surprised: maybe five minutes between each one? Rosie still wasn't sure what was going on and now she had 4 things squiggling about trying to nudge her. A few times she nearly trampled them to death. One of them kept screaming bloody murder whenever he fell over which would terrify Rosie so she'd hop up and start spinning around and everyone else would start screaming...She was having a very hard time of it. She was lying on her stomach wide eyed keeping an eye on the little things. She was so upset and the piglets were all over the place. It was below freezing and they were trying to find something warm: one got buried deep in the hay pile.

I finally decided to intervene. I got back in the pen with her and started petting her. She of course rolled over for a belly rub...and finally one of her piglets got to her nipple and latched on! THAT is what she needed! She started calming down and eventually the other piglets found their way over and latched on. You could see her relaxing with the situation and she started rolling over to give her teats to her babies.
 As she relaxed then next few piglets came out of her. We still had one in the hay. I was afraid to move it because anytime she heard a piglet squeal she jumped up and started freaking out. She seemed relaxed, though, so I gently uncovered it and moved it out into the cold. Of course it squeaked and Rosie saw it. Once again a panicked look came over her face, but this time she looked down at the piglets suckleing by her side, then at the straggler slowly moving towards her, then at me-then, unlike before, she stayed calm, looked at me, then at her baby and called to it without bothering her her other babies. He stumbled over to her, nearly going behind her, and Rosie stretched her head out to meet him and guide him gently to her belly. Rosie became a mother.
I left after she had #7...she seemed to be getting the hang of this mothering thing and I was freezing! I was dressed in my work clothes not knowing I'd be spending the evening in the barn. Shawn was finally back so I left him in charge. He did a nice job creating roll bars out of logs!

 Not living back at the farm yet means I don't get to see Rosie until I have time off work, but I guess she didn't have any more. My mother went by in the morning and she was protective of her new brood, but let her get a peek. Today they were running around, apparently. Can't wait to see who has floppy ears and who just has giant ears!

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Great news: Rosie is pregnant! Mr.Pig did his job just before he left, apparently. I assume the summer heat disrupted her cycling or made her miscarry...either way once things cooled down she must have finally taken. I was the one saying she wasn't pregnant when everyone else said she was, and thoguht she was pregnant when everyone else gave up. I guess thats what I get looking at her anatomy ALL THE TIME. Plus, she's been acting CUH-RAZY since early October. So fellow first time pig breeders take heart: it is hard to tell with some pigs if they are pregnant. Some people say look at their back end and if their vulva is pointed up, she is pregnant.

Well, not with Rosie. My clues were: stopped having heavy mucous breeding cycles, nipples were still small but pointed funny directions, wanted LOTS of grass, wasn't as interested in being friendly, and her attitude was just...a little crazy? But her vulva looked pretty much the same the whole time.

She sure is lucky that her teats are developing because she was juuuuust about to be sent to the slaughter house. So these babies will be a white meat (roast, tenderloin) breed (Yorkshire pig) and a red meat (bacon, ham) breed ( Gloucester Old Spot) making the pigglets Yorkshire X Old Spot. Apparently its an amazing combo, so we will see.

Thanks Mr.Pig, I'm sure your babies will be crazy cute!
In other news, I crutched Ash the sheep aka gave her a Brazilian. I didn't get any pictures of the process, but if you arn't going to shear before lambing it is pretty important to crutch. By cutting the wool away from the anus, legs and stomach mom is cleaner and the lambs don't mistakenly suck on poopy wool instead of her teats. When I turned her over and started shearing her tummy I saw her udders were caked with poop and urine. GROSS! The waste gets stuck in the wool and dirty tags grow bigger and bigger. She's all cleaned up now and ready to have her lambs. Also, I won't get as much crud in the milk. Her udders didn't look too big so I assume we are still a few weeks off. I hope so because I want to be moved back in before she lambs.

So the farm is really a farm!

Saturday, January 12, 2013


Hey everyone! Things kinda changed for me recently. The whole "fiance" thing didn't work out, so I moved out for a while and got me a real job as a real bench jeweler. Or, at least they are training me to be one. It is a very high end shop in the area and they are great people. So I work 5-6 days a week there...thus, I am not getting much of my OWN jewelry done. And I guess I get to be a weekend farmer.

Now, the farm. We got the farm by buying through my mother (she applied to the banks) and we paid the mortgage. The ex is being kind enough to move out peaceably by the end of the month (this whole thing has been stretching on for a few months, mind you). I, personally, am ready as all hell to be back on the farm. LAMBS!!! I SHOULD HAVE LAMBS SOON!
East Friesian X Jacob....what will it look like?
I have this dream of creating an Oregon milk sheep by crossing the highly productive East Friesian breed with the hardy, old, goat-like Jacob breed. This will take many, many years and alot more land and alot more sheep. This will be my first generation and I am very curious what physical traits will come out: Ash's black wool is a recessive gene: will her babies come out white? Spotted? Will they come out with horns or no horns (I personally like horns because I feel like it gives them a leg up in chasing coyotes)? I believe the polled trait tends to be stronger, but Ash looks like she nearly has horn buds.

We'll see what happens, but my goal is to create a breed that produce sheep more productive milk wise with less health problems. As the average conventional sheep produces 100-200 lbs of milk vs East Friesian which produces 900-1,100 lbs of milk in a lactation. Big difference, eh? If I could breed a hardy breed that produces 700 lbs a lactation I'd be very happy. Interestingly, I am discovering this is not a NEW idea...lots of places use crossed Friesians...but I am looking to make an actual breed. We'll see how it goes in about 25 years. (I'm sure in 25 years I'll be laughing at my naivety....or rolling in dough from my brilliant idea! hahaha!)

It will be an interesting experiment. Now my other Jacobs are still stranded at another farm. Luckily, being Jacobs, they don't typically have birthing problems. So all those pure breeds are on their own for now. Not ideal, but it is what it is. Wish I could have all of them at my farm as I want as many babies as possible...but I guess I just have to settle with what Ash gives me.

Looks like our pig didn't breed. She had 3 months with Mr.Pig. I assume she is broken somehow. :( Very sad, I gave her a little extra time to walk this earth because her teats looked funny....but while they are going every which way if she doesn't drop some babies in the next week she's done for. Oh well. She guarded my sheep well so I don't regret having her stick around for an extra while.