It is not very often that Richard & I get to see our “piglet babies” grown up in the real as most of the stock we sold was many many miles away. Of course alot of our customers send us photos and we often get phone calls when the girls go into labor. Even as I write this, one of our girls is farrowing over in Kansas & the new owner is nervous & excited but he is there watching the event & knows that he can call for advice if needed.
This past weekend we had the privilege of heading up to the Nutty Pig Farm. Chuck & Janie bought pigs from us way back in the beginning when we were raising both Large Blacks & Red Wattles. They made three trips down here to get the pigs they wanted so it was really nice to not only see them again but also to see the pigs we sold them now grown & producing piglets of their own. Not only that but one of Chuck & Janie’s neighbors, Neville, is from New Zealand & so him & his wife Brenda, came over for lunch & shared alot of “stuff” on New Zealand. Always good to speak to someone who was born & raised there.
Enough talking, time to share some pics. This first one shows Mac, their Large Black boar, out of Hammy & Ginger. It was so nice to see mature pigs not looking too fat. Chuck & Janie have done a great job here – their pigs look great & are in good shape. Obviously with it being winter, things are a little muddy & dirty and they are not out on the main pasture.
Here is one of our RW “babies.”
These pigs are all raised outside with minimal input just like we raised ours. Of course they are fed grain each day but the mamas get to choose where they farrow & are expected to look after their young. This really is the best way to raise pigs – no pampered pets. These pigs are hardy. Chuck & Janie are raising future pork so that is why they have a variety of sizes. That pork is going to be GOOD
All in all a wonderful day & we wish them all the best in their endeavors.
To say that God’s hand of protection was on us during this latest long drive is an understatement. We ended up leaving home at 3pm yesterday afternoon after eating a Roast Turkey Christmas lunch. With the bad weather coming in we decided there was no point relaxing for the afternoon, we needed to get on the road. 22 hours later we arrived at our destination here in New York and had not seen one flake of snow falling from the sky – it was all behind us! Michelle, who is at home, said that they only ended up getting a smattering down there.
We had called ahead this morning to see if we could deliver the pigs this afternoon instead of tomorrow morning as originally planned. Yes! There is NO way we would have been able to deliver them tomorrow morning as it is now snowing heavily. Truly an end of another era for us saying “Goodbye” to the last of our Large Black breeding stock. Like Richard said yesterday after loading them, “The barn seems strangely empty.” Some of these pigs had the greatest personalities so like losing a dog BUT we now look forward to the next stage in our lives.
They are expecting 8-12″ of snow here this evening but of course may not get that much. We will hopefully be able to move on from here mid morning tomorrow once all the roads have been ploughed. The plan is to take the kids to Chocolate World in Hershey, PA for the afternoon.
Tonight we all need some a good night’s rest. The kids are all bathed & sleeping and it will not be long before Richard & I join them. Driving that distance all in one go is hard work.
As the pigs move out of here it feels very weird to have a smaller number of “herds” here, meaning less buckets to fill with feed each morning. Richard took a trip to the airport yesterday & then headed up through Kansas City delivering piglets & from there mature pigs in Topeka, KS. He did 689 miles so was a little tired! Although still physically here, all the pigs are now sold. That is just incredible & we are so appreciative. By the New Year everyone will be in their new homes. We will be left with about 4 gilt (girl) feeder pigs which is fine as we still need to eat for the time that we have left here!
We may not be as busy with the pigs but the sheep are now keeping us hopping. Three lambs were born yesterday & eight today! School went out the window when I rescued a ram lamb this morning that was cold. His mama, Daphne, for some reason had not cleaned him off. He was beside another ewe whilst Daphne was busy with her ewe lamb. We all thought he was going to die as he was really cold & having spasms but he was/is a big boy & has made it through the day here beside the fire. He has had a LOT of attention today from three little children so I’m hoping that means he will sleep through the night. Thankfully lambs are not like pigs who need feeding every two hours, lambs can go through the night. Michelle has been feeding him today. Once he is well established on the bottle he will head to a new home – Daphne will not accept him back now. Hannah named him Jingle!
The count so far is 20 lambs of which 15 are ewes! Whoo Hoo! That is fantastic
A busy day here on the farm but at least we were not the ones on the road. Milked the cows first thing & then it was time to cook breakfast. Cooked up 4lbs of bacon, 4lbs of sausage, eggs, beans, hash browns & fresh bread rolls (bread baked last night.) Feeling hungry yet?! Brent & Matt drove all night from OH & arrived just as breakfast was served. Jim & Cynde came up from Arkansas. Yep, they all came for pigs. Richard & I love to entertain & it is always relaxing to be able to talk around the table along whilst eating
Brent & Matt were the last ones to leave at 12:30pm for their long drive home, we just had a while to sort out some emails, grab some left overs for lunch before the next group arrived. Wayne & Kathy brought some of their kids so our kids were thrilled. They all got to play on the trampoline whilst we took a tour of the farm. Richard had gone to bed as he was on a 24 hour Paramedic shift yesterday & was on a transfer to St Louis all night so by lunchtime he was totally out of it.
The weather was beautiful here today. Can’t quite believe it is Dec 1st & the temps were in the high 60′s! Although alot of the pigs are still here most are now sold. We have just a few left – I think by the New Year they will all be gone.
We had fully anticipated a busy lambing week this week but we were wrong. Poppy had a single ewe on Thursday but that has been it. The girls must be SO uncomfortable & of course it would be really nice if they had them in this warm weather. Supposed to hit 70F tomorrow.
Hope you enjoy your weekend. I am looking forward to some R&R tomorrow.
If you have been wondering why I have been a little quiet this last couple weeks, it’s because Richard & I have been doing a lot of talking, thinking & planning. Never would we have thought a couple weeks ago how life was going to change. Let me share with you a little of the timeline! Firstly let me say that for those of you with orders for sheep and pigs, we will still provide those and be available for after sales support. Read on…
- Monday Nov 5th – Michael called up at lunchtime & talked with Richard. Michael asked him if we would visit him & the family in New Zealand if they moved there. Richard was like, “Sure, if you’re paying!” Michael is really enjoying his plumbing course at college & is learning so much more – welding etc. I think the last time I wrote about Michael he had started working for a plumber. Well that fell through so Michael ended up doing the college course anyways & in all honesty it has worked out much better for him. Apparently there are a lot of plumbing apprenticeship jobs in New Zealand right now. Michael & Jess are big dreamers & are longing to move once his college course is completed which should be next December.
- Tuesday Nov 6th – As Richard & I were going to bed after having watched the election results etc we just laughed & said, “Maybe it’s time to move to New Zealand?”
- Wednesday Nov 7th – The two cows we had been waiting on Johnes & BLV testing came back positive for BLV. He had one cow that was negative but we were not too sure on her & in all honesty did not want to go all that way for just one cow when we really needed two. We just didn’t feel right about it so left it. That, as we would say, put a real spanner (wrench) in the works. Richard was at work that day so conversation was not that easy but talk we did and although Richard is way more ‘cautious’ than me we both knew that New Zealand was in our future. I am not criticizing my hubby at all – he is the one that has to shoulder the main responsibility of this family & make sure we do not do anything foolish. As he often says, he is the string, holding me, the kite, in check
- Thursday Nov 8th – Told Michelle who thought we were totally crazy! (Nothing new there- LOL!) The younger kids keep asking if we are leaving tomorrow! The research had begun in earnest. Of course you cannot just go live in another country unless you have millions to invest & then they welcome you with open arms.
- Friday Nov 9th – Checked out several, very informative books on NZ from the library.
- Saturday Nov 10th – Richard had already started looking at Paramedic jobs. St. Johns Ambulance is the big one over there but there is also another one in Wellington, the capital.
- Sunday Nov 11th thru Thursday Nov 15th – Richard started working on his CV (Resume). Unlike here in the USA where a one page resume is all that is expected, most other countries expect at least 5 pages of detailed history, qualifications, work experience etc. New Zealand is a British Commonwealth – the Queen is on their dollar & it has a lot of British & European influence. Writing his resume, Richard had to change his spellchecker back to English. For us that is not hard and he has written many CV’s over the years & also read hundreds when he was interviewing folks for jobs etc. We have never lost our British Culture and although our accent has mellowed over the years, everyone knows we are not from around here
With the CV completed, Richard started to investigate the visa situation a little more & in all honesty, got very frustrated! He would have loved to have had all our “ducks in a row” before we started moving things on this end but that was not to be. Richard is a very talented guy in the fact that he has a wealth of experience in both the IT (computer) industry plus now in Para-medicine. Although in time we would like to set up our own business over in NZ for now we feel that Richard needs to get a job so that we have time to learn the culture & market over there. He really does not want to go back to working in the computer industry as we have been way too independent for so long that a 9-5 job really is not appealing at all. If he can get in with his Paramedic skills that would, in our opinion, work much better for us. However the “qualifications” are different for each country so he has to talk to someone to see whether NZ will accept his credentials. That person was on holiday this week!
Backtracking a few years here, the way we were able to get into the USA, was due to the USA at that time having a lack of skilled computer/IT workers. The requirements to even apply were a Bachelor’s Degree in computer science or 12 years experience. Neither Richard & I have a college degree BUT Richard just had 12 years experience at that time so his skills/experience was accredited by two college professors & the rest is history.
We are not able to take any animals with us to NZ. No LIVE pigs are allowed into New Zealand unless they have come from Australia. We are in touch with a NZ vet who has given us all the information needed on importing semen which is definitely not the best answer but maybe better than nothing. They do have Large Blacks over there but are very limited in their genetics & crying out for more. We are going to contact an export company this next week, actually know someone from all our LB dealings in this country, to see if it is even financially feasible. Personally we have to go over with no ties so that we are free to travel & find our way. It may be another English speaking country but the language & culture are still very different!
SO back to the timeline:
- Friday Nov 16th. After much more talking we made the decision it was time to get things up for sale. I had actually started clearing out DVD’s earlier in the week. For a family that does not have TV or rarely watches movies we seem to have accumulated a lot over the years! SO they are all up for sale on Ebay or Amazon & are going out of here every day. I am no pack rat, quite the opposite in fact but the more I think about what we have here the more I realize how long it is going to take up to get it all sorted.
We honestly have no idea how all this will pan out. It is a HUGE move – 8,000 miles in fact! All we can take with us are some clothes & a few momentos – photo albums, some school books & other books that will cost too much to replace. Shipping is expensive & when we moved from England to the USA we paid nearly $10,000 in moving fees to bring all our furniture over. A complete waste of money & will not do that again. We even brought a couple electronic things which then we had to build an inverter for to even use! Richard will take his laptop with him so we can communicate with folks but all the other computers will be sold & we will buy new when we get there. As we get closer to the move we will investigate the cost of “needs” over there & decide whether it will be cheaper to ship them or buy new over there.
Over the next few days/weeks the farm & animals will go up for sale. For those of you reading this, who are waiting for lambs, please do not panic. Our plan is to let the girls lamb out & then price them accordingly. You will still get your sheep & we will also have rams to sell to make good breeding “families.” If you have purchased a Breeding Pair of Large Black pigs from us, those are still going to be here waiting pick up. We will keep our For Sale pages up to date so you will know exactly where things stand. Even when all the animals are gone we will still be available to answer your questions & give you support. No one will be left in the lurch. It may take us a year or more to sell this place – we really do not know. The milk cows & chickens will stay here until close to the end as we need them for milk & eggs. Douglas, the bull & the calves will be put up for sale.
We realize that many folks will think we are crazy whilst others will wish they had the chance/guts to do what we are doing. When Richard & I first married (1987) we lived in an apartment above my parent’s restaurant. A year later, they sold the restaurant so we had to move out. We borrowed a 16′ caravan & lived in Richard’s mum’s backyard for 3 mths. I was pregnant with Michelle & we had to go inside the house for the bathroom. Richard & I were both working at that time but we knew we were supposed to leave Cornwall on Sept 30th, 1988 & move to Harrogate in the north of England. That was only 400 miles away but at that time in our lives that was a HUGE move. (LOL! If we had known how life was going to turn out & how many moves we were going to make, we would have gone gray overnight!) Richard had applied for several jobs, been for interviews but received no job offers. Many folks, including my parents, thought we were totally crazy. The Friday we left for Harrogate, Richard got a call offering him a job. When asked when he could start he told them “Monday!” We arrived in Harrogate with a car load of stuff & a hamster! We had put our furniture into storage & it wasn’t until the following February (15th) that we got our own unfurnished apartment & were able to have all our “stuff” delivered. That night, sleeping on our bed for the first time in months, my waters broke & Michelle was born the following morning (16th)!
God has never let us down. That doesn’t mean life has always been easy but HE has always been with us.
Are we excited about this move? You betcha! Is it a little overwhelming? Yep! BUT we know this is the right time of life to be doing this. Richard is 45 & I am 44. New Zealand is not interested in immigrants once they reach 55 so although we have a few years, time is running out. My Dad, although a great man, was always afraid to “move” on things – fear held him back at times. Richard said today that he knows that if we do not take the risk/step of faith here, we will be like Dad & regret it. Neither of us have any doubts that there are going to be some hard. trying times over the next few months. Moving is stressful even if you are just moving down the street! Although we do not believe that this will fail, if it does & we cannot stay in New Zealand then we have two countries to choose to come back to – England or the USA. We are citizens of both. In fact, if nothing pans out visa/job wise before we leave the USA, we will go into NZ on our British passports as that way we can stay there for 6mths. If we go in on our US passports we can only stay for 3 mths.
We trust you will continue to “travel” with us on our new adventure. We will continue to blog & keep you updated. Yes we are leaving farming behind for a while but we hope not for long. We still want to live a self-sufficient life. The thought of having to go back to purchasing everything from the grocery store is not a pleasant one.
Some interesting facts for you:
USA – 3,718,695 square miles, 302,394,000 population – 81 people per square mile
UK – 94,060 square miles, 62,262,000 population – 661 people per square mile
Missouri – 69,704 square miles. 6,0101,688 population – 87 people per square mile
New Zealand – 103,738 square miles, 4,228,000 population – 40 people per square mile
So NZ is just a bit bigger than the UK – lengthwise they are about the same – 1000 miles top to bottom but it has WAY less people living there. Just in the state of Missouri there are more people than in the whole of New Zealand.
New Zealand has a mild climate but is incredibly diverse – there are the glaciers, fjords & southern Alps on the south Island. On the North Island there are active volcanoes, geysers etc. Did you know that there are only three places on earth with geysers? Yellowstone National Park here in the USA, Roturora in New Zealand & also in Iceland. Of course New Zealand is known for its dairy & sheep industry – in most places the grass is green all year round due to the wet, mild climate. They can grow animals very cheap over there. On the North Island it is warm enough to grow citrus fruits. You are never more than 60 miles from the coast, alot of places much less
Please keep us in your thoughts & prayers.
There is a set of piglets that are about 6 weeks old. As there are several altogether we have been feeding them in a pig feeder. These feeders are supposed to be tough! Hah! The pigs just wreck them so that the chickens can eat as much as they like too! This one is out in the field so not so many chickens go out there. These four piglets were looking at me very curiously wondering what I was up to! I had come out to put more feed in the feeder.
Mr Rooster (one of many!) was also checking me out.
With the feeder straightened & more food put in, more piggies could eat
Connie and Pixie are raising their piglets together and doing a great job. This afternoon Connie was out grazing whilst Pixie was babysitting.
When I looked in a few minutes later they were altogether. We just love these PortaHuts – they work SO well for the pigs, even when you have two sows raising their babies together.
As we were down in the woods yesterday Richard snapped these pics of Connie & Pixie out with their piglets. It is a LONG walk for these little ones born Oct 8th & 11th but this week they have just started adventuring out. Connie & Pixie love to come down here to eat all the fresh acorns that drop each day.
Taking a rest:
Here’s proof that the Large Black hogs & the St. Croix sheep do graze well together
Richard took this picture the other evening. Each morning when we let the ewes out, Ginger, Stitches & MaryJane rush into their pasture to see if there are any nuts left for them. Lot of acorns & black walnuts this time of year
On Sunday evening, Connie, Seamus, Pip & Pixie were all crammed into one Porta Hut. Richard had seen some discharge from Connie so was a little concerned that the others would trample on any new babies born. When we went out there they were not going to move & we got growled at. It was bedtime & they let us know!
Next morning, Connie had obviously thrown the other three out & her six piglets (born during the night) were all eating and doing well.
Nick & Nicole arrived that morning for breakfast, farm tour, work morning etc. They had never held a pig before so they got a double blessing as not only did they help us catch the piglets that were due to be weaned they also got to hold Connie’s brand new babies so that we could ear notch them etc.
By yesterday, Wednesday, the piglets were out exploring the big wide world:
Connie is the first Large Black that we have ever had to farrow before her first birthday! Connie turns one on Oct 21st. Connie is the daughter of Claire & Dillon. She, along with Pip & Pixie (Penny’s daughter’s) were down in a bottom pasture with Seamus for a long time. They did not get the best nutrition as the pasture is extremely poor down there but all three girls bred early. Pixie is farrowing as I write this & Pip is very close. We have them all up in the large top pasture now since we moved everyone around a while ago.