For our Kickstarter Stickers Hope helped me pick out the photos to use on the stickers for the Kickstarter rewards which have been shipping out. I wanted a Kid’s View when selecting stickers, many of which I suspect will be enjoyed by children as well as those young at heart and dreaming a bit of farm dreams.
Here are some of the back stories on the images…
Abby and Piglet Resting
Abigail Faulkner was a witch, according to the town folk. She was dutifully tried and convicted of witchcraft but escaped the death penalty by miraculously becoming pregnant just in the nick of time. She was one of my many ancestors who escaped the hangman’s rope, drowning and burning during the hysteria of the 1600’s at Salem and other places.
Abby, one of our sows, was named for my ancestor for similar resourcefulness. Here she is shown resting in the sun with one of her new piglets clambering over her head like a jungle gym.
Big Pig’s Piglets, Chicken & Sheep on South Field
Big Pig was one of the four original sows that started our main line herd a decade ago. Big Pig was, well, Big! She was 50% larger than Little Pig when they were piglets and a couple hundred pounds more at here peak of 950 lbs. Her name described her.
These are some of her piglets with sheep and a chicken on the lower south pasture. We do multi-species grazing because each animal eats a little differently. Together they do the job better than any single species would do. It takes a variety of mouths to mow the field.
The brush here shows what our pastures looked like ten years ago. Note that there is also a lot of moss in that pasture at the time this picture was taken. Now after a decade of grazing with the sheep, pigs and chickens that pasture has lush grasses, alfalfa, clovers and other good forages. The cherry brush is almost totally gone without any need for mechanical bush hogging – not when we have the real thing to do the job. The mosses are also gone since the pH of the soil went from the extremely acid pH of 4 to a sweet 6.5 without any liming. This neutral pH encourages the growth of clovers, grasses and other pasture plants. As the extension agent from UVM told us 15 years ago, the simplest, although slow, way to improve the pastures is grazing them.
The cherry brush is to be noted. According to the books cherry is ‘highly toxic’ but the reality is that the animals simply don’t tend to eat it. They might chew a branch but it tastes bitter, as is common with toxic things, so they don’t chow down on it unless very hungry. Over time the cherry dies out because of trampling. The same was true of dogs bane that was present in another of our pastures and milkweed which is gradually getting eliminated from our pastures. Now we have virtually none of these ‘toxic’ plants in our pastures without us having to do much in the way of eliminating them. Managed rotational grazing is very similar to the natural grazing patterns and establishes pastures filled with desirable forage plants.
Calendar Girl – Gilt Piglet Resting with Sow
Brownie has the face of a calendar girl, pretty as can be. Red is a recessive coloration that shows up time to time. I’ve selected for it a bit so now we have more red pigs in our herds. The color is very beautiful when the pigs are young. As they age it turns to a dark mahogany or even a deep umber so dark it is almost black in all but the brightest light.
Some of the chickens in our fields are born here on the farm. We also buy in new chicks every few years. These little ones are newly arrived from the hatchery. They fare amazingly well through their trip in the mail.
Livestock Guardian Dog Cinnamon
Cinnamon was the son of Coy, our founding sire in a long line of livestock guardian dogs who have herded our sheep, pigs, chickens and geese, protecting them from the strong predator pressures of bear, cougar, coyotes, ravens, crows, hawks, eagles, fishercats and other would be diners for nearly 25 years. Cinnamon looks just like his father Coy and like his own son Napoleon who guards goats down in Pennsylvania.
Cystine was a miracle pig. One of those ones you don’t think will survive. She was born with loose skin that ballooned up making her look like she had elephantiasis. That’s quite the trick for a pig as their skin is normally bonded very tightly to their body, unlike a sheep, rabbit or dog.
Over a period of months Cystine gradually began taking on the aspect and shape of a recognizable pig until by the time this photo was taken you would not think anything was unusual about her at all. Other than that she was still very cute.
Alpha Livestock Guardian Dog Kavi
Kavi is one of the K series livestock guardian herding dogs on our farm. Kavi, Katya, Kira, Kimsa, Kia, Kita, Katrina… All the K’s have the same general tri-color marking patterns. Kavi is the grandson of Cinnamon and an even better herder than his grandfather Cinnamon and mother Kia. He is currently the alpha male in our pack although he is no longer the largest of the current at just 75 lbs now that his son’s have out paced him.
Kavi, and all the dogs, love to hang out on high places where they can watch the goings on of the farm. Hagrid would lounge on the the roof of our hay shed, which we tore down in 2009 in order to build our butcher shop on the same foundation. Now the dogs love climbing up on the high scaffolding that surrounds that structure where they can look out over their domain. At 24′ tall the building is high enough now that they don’t do what giant Hagrid did: jumping down from the roof when he wanted to investigate things.
Livestock Guardian Kia with her Charges Charlie and Mark
Our son Will captured this wonderful photo of livestock guardian dog Kia with two of her charges in the north home field. They look as if they have been sharing a good joke. This is one of my favorite photos from our farm.
Mother Goose Fostering Eggs
Goose Goose was setting on a communal nest of eggs when I surprised her. Both she, the chickens and the ducks had all been laying in this single nest. Rather unusual. It made for a many colored clutch of eggs. You have to love the expression, perhaps of consternation, on the much smaller Rhode Island Red hen who’s looking on in the background.
NH Red Rooster, Hens and Guinea
I caught this NH Red Rooster with a variety of hens and Guineas in the field. He is quite the looker. The poultry eat plants and produce a great many eggs but their biggest value to us is their munching down on insects all through the warm season. They and the ducks are why we have so few ticks, black flies, mosquitoes and other flying pests.
If you go about 750′ beyond their roosting spots you get outside the range of the poultry. Then the numbers of flying and biting insects skyrockets to the normal levels found in Vermont woods and marshes. I greatly appreciate how they, and the bats and dragonflies, make summers much more pleasant. This is especially important since we live just up hill from a marsh and have lots of streams and small ponds.
Tamworth Sow with Piglets
This is one of the new Tamworth sows that joined our farm in early 2012. In the photo she just gave birth to a fine litter of piglets up on the highest terrace of the north field.
This field around the sow is another good pasture forages shot. A decade ago it looked just like the shot of the piglets and sheep, filled with mosses, cherry brush, some grasses, milkweed and no clovers. Now it is luxurious, tasty, nutritious pasture all without ever using mechanical mowing – just the managed rotational grazing.
Calendars are almost all mailed out to everyone who ordered one on Kickstarter. Next we’re packaging other goodies that don’t involve meat orders. Watch your mailbox!
Outdoors: 29°F/24°F 6″ Snow
Tiny Cottage: 64°F/62°F
Daily Spark: Carpe Librum -Anon