June 6, 2011

Wild Things

Bradley doesn’t know he’s a pig until it starts raining. Normally, we keep him in a paddock for controlled intensive rooting and grazing practices. In the past we’ve had two to four pigs in this kind of setup, moving them every week or two weeks, letting them completely clear out an area, then moving them to fresh ground and so on. This was working until Veronica and Hoagie went off for processing, leaving Bradley by his lonesome. You could tell he was lonely and a bit bored, laying down most of the day, staring off into space, getting skittish when we came around. Then the kids came. All five baby goats in 2 weeks. In a flurry, following some intense hail, we moved the kids and their mamas into the same pasture where Bradley’s paddock was located. Think little square within big square.  Shortly thereafter, we had Jersey and Wheezy jumping the fence to eat Bradley’s food, Bradley escaping his paddock to play with the kids, a circus. So we do what good farmers do when things get out of hand. We roll with it. We left them to each other, mostly out of guilt for leaving Bradley by himself. We started milking the goats for ourselves, making cheese, feeding Brad the leftover whey. Then one day when we returned the mamas to the pasture after milking, we watched in awe as Bradley latched on to Jersey. A 100+ pound pig suckled a 100- pound goat. 
The next day Bradley came around the corner caked in red mud after a good downpour, shortly followed by twins Ronnie and Donnie….also covered in mud. Goats don’t even like the rain so to see these two caked was a rare sight. The next rain, all the goats ran to their shelter, and Bradley followed as a good tribe member would, wondering why it was time to go to the shelter. Then he noticed the rain, and dove right out the front door.

This month we also got our very first interns. Erika and Matt are currently working and going to school in Asheville, studying sustainable agriculture and agro-ecology. Living in Thomas’s old camper and working for a meager stipend, great food, and an intense educational experience, they are helping us move as fast as we’ve been wanting to move for a long time. It is truly amazing what just two extra people can do. It helps greatly that their attitudes are encouraging and their work ethic is strong. They’ve helped us create and stick to a regular work schedule and challenged us to eat less and less from the local grocery store. With two extra mouths to feed our grocery bill has actually gone down. That may have just as much to do with our increasing yields…

The heat waves have sent us into summer schedule much sooner than anticipated. We’re getting up at 5:30, taking an extra long and late lunch break and returning to work until dark so as to dodge the extreme heat of the afternoon.  Dewberries are ripe and providing our mid morning snacks and the occasional cobbler. The days are hot and long but our meals are more and more satisfying by the day.