On this day celebrating our independence from the British Empire I am RESTING! Lately, with the mini farm coming up, I don’t have time to “rest”… it’s a mad dash from 0545 to 2100 to complete all daily duties before bedtime. With 3 days off from work and the weekend ahead I decided today was a good day to take naps and sit in air condition for a while.
Creating and establishing my dream of raising our own food is a lot of work! It all began to become reality when I picked up those 12 chicks from Tractor Supply in March. While my littles hung out in the brood box growing like weeds I was cleaning out the old hen house (a repurposed horse stall) and dreaming a little more.
When I lived in Kannapolis at my dads home place I read Organic Farming magazines my mom bought for me. One of the magazines had a really cool article about pigs that didn’t rut and need mud pits, they liked to sleep burrowed into hay in clean, dry space. It was a heritage pig that was just barely escaping extinction; the pig was mid-size growth wise, a family pig that was great for small farms. This image of the pig and article stuck with me and I’ve been hoping to raise some myself one day.
Craigslist to the rescue! I love love love Craigslist! And Facebook Market… but Craigslist is a great resource for finding local farm animals and supplies. While perusing listings one day I came across a post about KuneKune pigs in Smithfield, NC. I reached out to the contact and immediately established a great bond with Caroline, the owner of As We Go farm. They work diligently to raise healthy, happy and quality bred KuneKune’s as well as chickens, goats and Malamute dogs. A week later Marty and I were off in the truck for a 3hr drive to Smithfield to pick up our first breeding pair of KuneKunes!
Sally and Fat Back now live with us here at the farm! They are super cute KuneKune’s with perky ears and a turned up nose. KuneKune’s were brought to New Zealand at some point in the past, as they began to become extinct there (as faster growing, larger pigs became popular) there was an effort to save the blood line and several were brought to the U.S. There is actually a KuneKune registry to ensure bloodlines are pure and since our pigs are part of the registry they each had DNA sent to California for proof of lineage. Thankfully these two pigs are for breeding so they get to stay with us forever and I can become attached to them… within reason.
Sally and Fatty love their swimming pools, they love all food and are pretty much bullies with the other animals if food is involved… but take food out of the equation and they love to have their backs brushed, a good ear scratching and Fatty will sit for you and eventually roll over for a belly rub! They are pigs so their sounds are pretty intimidating until you learn that they’re all bark and no bite! Sally is older so that we didn’t have to worry about Fatty getting her pregnant too soon, once Fatty comes into his manhood Sally will be old enough to carry her first piglets — hopefully we’ll have our first babies this fall/winter!!
Through Craigslist I’ve also found a close chicken resource in the neighboring town Polkton, Easter Egg Farms. Molly supplied me with two beautiful New Hampshire Red laying hens so I could go ahead and have fresh eggs until my chicks mature. As well, I bought two Silkie roosters from her for fun. Uncle Bob and Ray are pretty hilarious and make me think of cartoons when they chase each other. My adolescent roosters are just coming into their roo so Uncle Bob doesn’t have much longer to be dominant, but he’s enjoying it until the end. My Reds are pretty dominant as well and actually rule to the roost. Molly’s girls handle all of their chickens daily so they are very friendly and don’t mind being picked up. Now I work hard to handle all my Henny Pennies so they stay friendly! We have 2 New Hampshire Reds, 2 Silkie Roos, 4 whites, 2 Cochin, 3 black laced Wyandotte’s, 3 reds, 4 Guineas.
Mr. Olson, a friend through a friend, in Kannapolis keeps Nubian dairy goats. He loves teaching and sharing his small farm with families so I’ve been out in the past to visit when he has goat kids, as well visit his chickens and bee hives. When his nanny dropped two buckling kids this year I jumped on it and asked if we could adopt them. After visiting and speaking with Mrs. Olson about goat milk and how much they enjoyed it I began thinking it might be a great addition to our growing farm. As I began learning more about goat milk and its many uses I talked with Marty and his parents to determine if we’d all be on board to use it. The consensus was a resounded “yes” so I found Amy, at Laurel Hill Farm in Gastonia raising beautiful, ADGA registered Nubians! A week later we drove down and picked up our two sweet girls Hot Lips and Klinger. They come from a strong dairy line and mommas that produce a lot of milk on a daily bases. They were 12 weeks old and had quite the personalities! Hot Lips is pretty social but talks and bosses around all day long. Klinger is shy and not so sure she enjoys being petted; she’s also incredibly accident prone and broke her leg within a few weeks of moving to our farm. An emergency vet visit, PVC pipe splint and follow up visit she is doing great — actually, we finally get to take the splint off this weekend!!
Marty has been very supportive and helpful as I began my mini farm. He spends his weekends helping me build fencing, fixing up the hen house, working on tools for me, working in the garden or walking around Tractor Supply pricing supplies and listening to me spout off ideas. His only request was a fainting goat… well, I found us a buckling in Salisbury and off we went to pick up Hawkeye. He’s the cutest buckling, black and white with tiny horns. Pretty quiet for 7 weeks old and very docile. I fell in love, he was so tiny compared to the Nubians, and he was super chill. Edgar and I were working down with the goats and Edgar made him faint the first time — I called Marty and told him all about it!! Then… no more fainting, Marty and Brea tried everything, I even went down with umbrellas one day and Hawkeye was fearless!! Finally, several weeks later Brea was visiting, we were hanging out with the goats and Marty made Hawkeye faint! (There is a video clip on my IG) Now he tends to lock-up fairly frequently with the other animals, primarily in the morning when I’m letting them out of the barn, but he’s learning and getting better about controlling it. He’s still a sweetie but he is learning from Hot Lips how to talk more!
And finally… Nigerian Dwarf goats. After a wonderful night at Twisted L Horse farm in Richfield, at a women’s night out (Women, Wine and Equine) I met Jessie and her husband. They have lots of dairy goats and horses, were pretty awesome people and I eventually bought a breeding starter set of Nigerian Dwarf goats from them. They too are ADGA registered and from a great farm family that want to raise quality, healthy animals. Two 3 year old females, Zeva and Halo came to live with us along with a 2 week old buckling, Radar. Radar is a bottle baby so I’ve been spending the last several weeks quite attached to him… he tends to act a little more like a dog than a goat, but these days he’s spending entire days with all the goats so he’s growing. Zeva is incredibly social and wants to be petted constantly, Halo is a little shy but after she warms up to you she likes to squeeze in close and have her neck scratched.
After the last addition I had to reach back out to Mr. Olson and ask him if he had any others interested in his wethers, as our farm exploded and I no longer needed wethers (bucks who have been castrated). He did end up having someone else interested, so his two wethers won’t end up here. I’m excited to explore the dairy goat world and look forward to having fresh goat milk next spring. My plans are to breed one of the Nubians and one of the Nigerian Dwarf goats to bring our girls into milk next year. I’ll start with two and if it goes well, we enjoy the milk and I can manage the work load maybe we’ll breed the other two as well.
So… there is where we stand with animals.