to market, to market, to kill a fat pig

Last night I went to bed utterly exhausted but at 1 am I woke up wide awake. I had sipped a Diet Coke all day yesterday, and the caffeine was having its way with me. Immediately I began to worry about loading the pigs up this morning to take to the butcher. How in the world were we going to convince two 250-300 pound pigs to step up into a dark trailer? It seemed so unlikely. Especially at 1 in the morning.

So I got up and began watching youtube videos on 'how to load pigs into a trailer.' And then all my fears were confirmed. Each video talked about how their first few times loading pigs were complete disasters. I watched story after story and the "lessons learned" were all things we already couldn't reverse. They said, "don't ever introduce the trailer the morning of the big load." Whoops. They said, "begin feeding the pigs in the trailer a week before you take them away so they are used to being in there and hop up gladly to be fed." Trouble was, we just got the trailer the night before from the butcher shop on loan. They said,  "Don't feed them the day before so they are extra hungry to hop in the trailer." Too late. They said,  "Load them up at night so you can sleep and don't have to worry about how it will go in the morning." No kidding!

I sat back at my computer and asked God, "Lord, what are we going to do?" And for some reason I felt I should make brownies. The thinking was that they would smell the brownies and want to go into the trailer to eat them. So I made brownies. At one point I saw the oven numbers. They said 350 and I realized I didn't know if that was the time or the oven temp. Because it was about 3:50 when the brownies came out.

Finally I went to sleep, only to wake up at 6:30, nurse Alden, get up, milk Darcy and then head to the pigs. We had neighbors come to help us and it went pretty well. The first pig, having smelled my brownies, got into the trailer no problem. He gobbled that brownie and I felt very satisfied and proud.

But the second pig saw his buddy up in the trailer and seemed wise and knowing. No brownie was going to coax him. He got close a few times. He got his front legs in the trailer many times. But never those last two legs. We tried many things but to no avail. Rory ended up taking the first pig to the butcher and came back home to try again with Biggie. That's what I started calling this pig. It was actually AbraHam, but today I called him Biggie...likely 300 pounds of big pig.

Biggie wasn't having it though. He had us figured out. And even though I had baked a chocolate cake while Rory was taking the first pig to the butcher, he still wouldn't be seduced into the dark trailer.

Rory continued to wait him out, baiting him with his water and feed in the trailer but by noon he decided he had better call the butcher to tell them he wouldn't be making it in. He had been at it since 7am. But they offered to send a worker out for $20 to help us. Brilliant. Best $20 spent. Ever.

They guy came and was built for moving pigs around. In fact, he made the comment that living pigs aren't nearly as heavy as dead-weight pigs. He ended up putting a five-gallon bucket on Biggie's head getting him good and discombobulated while tuckering him out. In the end he and Rory were able to push Biggie's hiney into the trailer. It was muscle against muscle but I think Biggie just could smell my delicious chocolate cake in the back of the trailer and decided to give up the fight. The sweaty, muddy, exhausted men might say it was their brute force and determination that got him in there.

Either way, it ended well. And we are so glad. We have SO MANY experiences like this, learning on the fly, trial and error, failing, trying again, learning from mistakes, watching videos, reading books, asking questions. It's a humbling way to live! It would be great to know all things about all things from the start. But every experience is brand new and at the end of the day we can lay down and say exactly what we learned that day. It keeps you on your toes. It robs you of your sleep. But there will be a day come August that we will eat a BLT and the B the L and the T will all have come from our own farm. And that is the reward for the exhausting, exhilarating and memorable days like today.

hattie helper

Hattie is busy. She is on the move. She has things to do. Mostly she needs to get outside. Right away.

And she is so earnest. Last week I went out to change the chicken's water and said to the kids as I left, "when I come back in I'll start making eggs for everyone..." I was gone maybe four minutes and when I came back in I found the 18-count egg carton precariously hanging off of the kitchen counter. And all of the skillets were out of the corner cupboard on the floor. There were forks strewn all across the kitchen table and Hattie was standing on a chair having gotten the salt and butter down from the cupboard. She looked at me so proudly while licking gobs of butter off of her fingers.

That sums her up. So is so helpful. It's just that she's 2 1/2. So depending on my own mood, I either see that mess as darling or as really, really exhausting. Because it is like that all day long. She never quits. She never stops. Hattie is always helping.
This morning I had her help me water the sun flowers. She loved it. She ran the hoses and filled the buckets and was so proud. And later she showed her sister that she knew how to turn on the hose. And how to point the hose at Elsie...

Local Woman Boasts Mother's Day Gift is Still Alive

On a farm in Minnesota, a mother of four is proud to report her little marigold is still alive. Given as a gift by her five-year-old daughter, planted in a pot with the glitter glue still wet, this little seedling may one day bloom. "Honestly," said the mother, "I was amazed it made it home without someone spilling the pot of dirt between the end of the service and the time we actually loaded up the car. That unto itself, is impressive." But survive it did. And even though the mother only remembers to water it every week or so, one little shoot is still showing serious promise. "I'll be honest. There were five seeds that started in this pot, and this last one is my saving grace." She commented that she is grateful for this little marigold shoot because her daughter deeply cares about the survival of this plant. "I don't know what she'd do if this seed doesn't eventually flower. There is a lot of pressure on this whole thing to succeed...on the flower and on me." The pot is a stunner though, with the use of every color of the rainbow in a lovely design of glitter and sparkle. "Hats off to the Sunday School worker who decided to whip out the glitter glue with the 3-5 year olds. That's not lost on me here." When asked what other gifts she received for her special day she replied, "My son set the breakfast table with forks, knives and spoons and made place cards showing where we each should sit. And when I came in from doing chores he said proudly, 'and now all you have to do is make eggs and toast!' And I gladly did. Just as I will gladly continue to nurse this little seedling until it flowers." (Photo Above: The special Marigold next to a tupperware filled with dirt, weeds and a walnut that the mother has also been faithfully watering as requested by her five-year-old.)

well that was a good idea

For Christmas, my sister gave my parents tickets to the Guthrie. And then for my birthday I got a ticket to the Guthrie. And then in April she texted us all to tell us she had purchased our tickets to see West Side Story in June. And then June came and we went!

It was such a special night. I drove to my folks and then we drove to Annika's and then we all drove to a great Thai restaurant right across the street from the theater. We shared wantons and main dishes and then mom said that she thought we had time to walk for ice cream before the play. And I shouted excitedly that there is just no doubt these people are my birth family! Bone of their bone, flesh of their flesh, I come from these people. (There never was actually any doubt. Except for when I was little and asked if I was from Mars because Mat told me I was an experiment baby from another planet, but if I told Mom and Dad, they'd have to send me back. Still one of my favorite stories of all time.)

So we walked to Izzy's ice cream where a cone cost an incredible amount of money and I enjoyed every bite. When we were done with our ice cream my mom said, "Well that was a good idea." And I told her that we will write that on her gravestone one day. Because she says that after every treat, and it is always true. And it usually was her idea! I remember so many family vacations when she would announce it was time for ice cream. And it was. Ice cream always helped moral and turn everyone around. And then she'd say, "Well that was a good idea."

Then we went to the play, and it was great. It was an updated 2018 version of West Side Story, while still using all the same music and lines. It was really well done. Theatre is so fun. There was a graphic #metoo scene that makes me pause from giving it my full endorsement, because I think you can leave more to suggestion and still give the scene it's full weight. But this didn't leave much to the imagination and I wish I hadn't seen it. Annika agreed. But the other 97% of the play was great and well done and musical theatre is always so impressive to me!

The very best part was just being with my family. We had a really great night together and it was so fun to be out and about with them. We missed Mat though. Next time we'll have to schedule this sort of thing when he is in town!

I crawled into bed a little after midnight and Rory mumbled something about Ivar getting sick. Elsie was sick late Sunday night, but I had chalked it up to staying up too late and eating too much sugar. But then I woke up at 2 with the flu. And then Hattie woke up at 4 with the flu. Yesterday was very miserable and we have been laying low ever since.

Also, have you ever milked a goat with the full-blown flu? Not recommended, really. We pumped and dumped, if you will. Tossed the milk as soon as we were done, but it had to be done and Rory hasn't tried his hand at it yet. This morning I woke up and had vertigo (I often get it after laying horizontal too long) so I did my vertigo exercises and went out in the rain and milked a goat while spinning with vertigo. Also not really recommended.

It's been a rough 24 hours. But when I look at this picture above, I feel very, very happy. Thanks for a great night Annika. I hope and pray the three of you perfectly healthy now...

dressing the part

So I got bib overalls. I bought them brand new. I did a lot of online searching before I found the pair I wanted. I started out looking for a pair of coveralls to wear over my every day clothes. But that just seemed so hot. I didn't actually want a double layer of clothing, I just wanted to stop ruining my normal clothes.

I have been weeding so much this spring and the knees in all of my jeans were all thinning. And I've been out with the animals much more than other years...it just became time to get something that functioned on the farm.

If you look up "overalls" on amazon, you will see that the models pair them with a pair of high heels. I don't do that. I pair mine with rain boots.

And I will say they are totally and completely practical. I took apart an animal stall with the impact driver and held every screw that I removed in my upper pocket. I love them because I never have to hoist them back up after bending over and they are just flat out the comfiest things ever.

Today I woke up, took my pajamas off, put my overalls on, went and milked the goat, changed into every day clothes, and then Rory needed my help so he could give a lamb a shot. So I put my overalls back on to hold the lamb. After, I spent some time in the garden and then came back in and switched into my normal clothes again. This can happen a few times a day and it sounds like a little much, but it's better than ruining all of my normal clothes.

I had a funny dream while in the midst of making my decision between coveralls and overalls. In the dream I ran into my best friend from high school, Heidi. And I told her, "Guess what I'm going to get?!! Overall shorts! They're so functional! They're not hot, but they stay up and I'm so excited." And in the dream she said, "Bec, I don't think grown women should still be wearing overall shorts." I replied, "But you wore them in your senior pictures!" And she said, "Yes, but at was 1999. And I was 17 years old."

That dream still makes me laugh because I was crestfallen. And though I never was actually considering the overall shorts, in the dream I was so disappointed. Also, I fully recognize that overall shorts may be all the rage right now, totally in style, but I would never know.

All this to say, I got bib overalls. Just like my Grandpa Bredberg who wore them every day that I knew him. Except when he was at church or at Family Bible Camp. And since Grandpa B was cool, I'm pretty sure this means I am cool too.

You can see a very unflattering picture (I believe this is because bib overalls are not intended to flatter!) on Rory's blog, where he wrote one very, very kind blog post about all we've been up to on the farm this spring.