Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Patch O' Blue

I was feeling pretty discouraged this morning. After successfully fighting Colorado potato beetles, I am now waging a fairly unsuccessful war against squash bugs and blister beetles. So far the latter are staying on and in the marigolds and are chewing them to bits, but I wonder if they will move to the tomatoes before I can get my hands on some neem. Forget hand picking them--there are too many and they burrow deeply into the marigold heads. I wonder if I will ever have a successful garden, or if the weeds and pests will just continue to beat me down every year.

The pullets still aren't laying, but they are getting big and ought to start soon. That would be nice, as we are averaging only one or two eggs a day from the 3 older hens.

The cow, of course, is still dry. Store bought milk tastes flat and flavorless. And that's the whole milk! I can't even imagine 2%.

At least the pigs are going to the butcher tomorrow. We loaded them up this morning, and as usual, it was a big pain in the neck...we have not perfected our technique of hog-loading, and to make matters worse, it rained cats and dogs yesterday afternoon, and so the usual, dusty moonscape of a hog pen became a big mud puddle riddled with foot-deep pools. I came out to let the chickens out to forage, and I knew I was in for it when Bret called, "Nadja, put on your boots!"

I like pork loin and shredded pork, bacon and sausage. I like having a garbage disposal for my kids' leftovers that doesn't make me feel guilty about waste. And I like pigs--they really are smart and are rather dog-like in disposition. They run in circles with excitement when our van pulls in and they like to be scratched and wet with the hose in hot weather. but I hate loading them. I hate it because whatever we do, they always get away from us and break loose, and Bret ends up fighting mad and wanting to shoot them on the spot, and they squeal at the same decibel level as a jet engine, and frankly, I hate the struggle and I sympathize with them. I'm not sorry about sending them to the butcher, mind you, but I don't like to upset them and frighten them.

I had to throw everything I'd just put on into the washing machine, and Bret had to shower and call in late to work. Una was asleep, or else I'd have had her take some photos of the struggle, which I'm sure looked pretty ridiculous.

Not as ridiculous as the time one of our big boys, a 300 lb hog, broke loose when Bret was at work and night was approaching, and I had to rope and drag him, fighting me all the way, back to his pen. Did I mention that I am 5'3" and 105 lbs? I thought I was going to die. My children thought so, too. Every time the hog pulled me onto my face the kids would start crying, so I had to send them inside. I got him in, though!

Sir Francis Bacon, last year's whopper (we wanted bacon, so we let him go on growing until the weather was cold enough for the Mennonites to smoke the bacons, and he ended up being 500lbs.) was a bear to load. He tossed Bret up and over like a toy--a day after Bret had been to the doctor for back pain.

Anyway, they're on the trailer and I don't have to think about loading pigs for a while. I'll get Boston butts and picnic shoulders and maybe the loins, and the rest is sausage. It won't be the cheapest pork we've ever raised--these are two of the leggiest, skinniest pigs I've ever seen.

I'm feeling a little less discouraged right now. I'm hungry. And I'm thinking about sausage...

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