Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Fina is pregnant

I've been watching her thicken a bit, considering it could just be too much food. Since she is very short coated I up her rations this time of year when the cold sets in. But it is her waist and shape underneath that have subtle changes, her ribs have no extra cover. This morning when she sat for breakfast I could see that her teats are just beginning to swell. Pups will be just before Christmas, so we have three weeks left. Fina does not look all that big, so if I had to guess now I'd say a small litter. But then I'm always amazed how fast the pups grow in there the last couple of weeks.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

4 dogs

Good lord I only have 4 dogs now. On Saturday I dropped Vesta off at Jersey West farm in NJ where she'll be working about 150 Churros. Now I actually have two spare kennels and a spare crate in the van. I've had as many as 9 dogs here so 4 is like a vacation.

It was hard for me to give Vesta up, but I think it was the right thing to do. Vesta is extremely relaxed on her stock and quite bold. She cheerfully squeezed between the fence and 3 pigs that were facing her and fought them backwards to me. All nose grips. These pigs had hanging weights of 220, 255, 260 the next day. She'll run out 500 yards with little training. However Vesta can be sloppy in her work, and did not seem to appreciate the pressure of training for precision. I did not feel she would become one of my trial dogs as she would have to be better than the three I have now, all young and all working well. Better to put Vesta where she'll be the number 1 work dog and get to snuggle up with Rebecca in the evening. I could not give her up entirely though, so I'll have a litter with her sometime soon. She's bold, relaxed, stable and friendly, and a good work dog. Those were genetics I was not entirely willing to lose. I just need to pick a male. And of course I'll keep one of those pups so my dog numbers will move back up again!

Friday, November 5, 2010

The fruits of my labor

Last night I went to dinner at the Journeyman Restaurant with my mother, her younger sister and husband from western NY, and my brother, sister in law and their son and daughter. The occasion was my mother's birthday, but the original reservation for dinner had been made to enjoy some of the pigs raised here on North Face Farm.

In short, the food was fabulous. Each course was as beautiful as it was delicious. The selection of flavors on the plate complemented each other. In the myriad of delicious offerings, the one thing that stands out most for me is the very first salad. The pork was delicious, but let me tell you nothing I have prepared from my own pork has come close to the flavors Tse Wei and Diana coaxed from the meat.

The folks at Journeyman visited the farm here late last spring, and have since purchased 4 pigs and 3 lambs. The Journeyman uses locally grown foods from small farms in the area. They took the time to visit the farms and facilities, see how the animals live, and speak to the farmers about the husbandry of their stock. When they arrived I expected idealistic city folk, looking for organically raised stock from postcard perfect farm scenes. I told them my stock is not organic, and to bring boots for the barnyard as it was mud season. They showed up with boots. They walked through the muddy barnyards up the wet pasture hill to where the sheep were grazing along some trees. They asked practical and knowledgeable questions about how the stock is fed, the amount and type of grain used when grain is used, and use of wormers and antibiotics. Since I don't actually have anything other than three sided sheds in my pastures it was clear that I don't confine my animals. I don't raise organic, but use no prophylactic antibiotics or wormers.