Thursday, May 14, 2015

So You Think You Want To Be a Farmer?

Most especially for Teri in Alaska, but for all of you to enjoy!

Free-range pork anyone? This is how my afternoon went just 2 days ago:

I had my car loaded with wool projects for school projects and eggs to deliver in town. I was ready to head out but I thought I'd better check on the 12 new piglets before I left. I looked in the pen and counted 5. Seven were missing. An odd feeling hit my gut! Poof! Vanished into thin air, or the windbreak, which is where I soon found them. I managed to get all but 2 in and figured they'd stick around the others on the other side of the fence and wouldn't go far, so I zipped to town.

Once I was back home I ran in the house to quickly let the dogs out and build a small fire to take the chill off. I stepped outside for more firewood and heard a sound like I've never heard before. I looked up to see A LOT of little piggies near the back yard rooting through the chick feed in the windbreak. I discovered the source of the noise....the llama! I've never heard her make that noise before! She was clearly upset that those things were close to and sometimes IN her pasture. She was making a noise that sounded like a cross between a hog squealing and a mule braying!

So what to do? I had taken 4 small panels and made a little pen for the bum lamb. He comes running to anyone and I am afraid the mailman or UPS man will come and won't be able to get away! I grabbed the panels and made a pig trap. I set one corner on a plastic milk crate and attached 2 bungee cords to the crate. Then I poured goat milk in a rubber pan inside my trap. I caught chickens right away! Naturally the pigs were not interested in the milk! So off they went in their little herd, like a school of fish, following each other and sticking close together. I knew if I had patience, I could just wait and trap them, but the llama was in distress over them just being there and she kept sounding her alarm. Seriously though, how could I be too upset at something as cute as a school of piglets?

I had a I thought that maybe I could lure them into the barn and just leave them there until Chris and Kelly got home to help, so I opened the little door and closed the big one. Maybe they'd get curious? I hoped, for hope and ingenuity were all I had! Not long after that they headed for the barn! I was surprised, but then they walked right by my open door! UGH! There's a little fenced runway area between the barn and the chicken coop and they were all headed down the runway. I went to the other side to try and block them off. My strategy now was to block them off in the runway, but then they turned and all went into the chicken run! All but one! He was lost along the way and didn't know where the others were, so he was running back and forth along the windbreak squealing. The other pigs didn't care!

I quickly ran around and guarded the door. I just stood there. Guarding the door. I couldn't close the door because there was too much chicken poop piled up to close it properly. Chicken poop as a road block and the pitch fork was up against the barn by the open barn door! My arms were not long enough! So I have no phone to call for help and who would I call and what would I say? I have to MacGyver this out on my own. Sitting close to me were 3 black plastic feed troughs stacked on the ground. I quickly grabbed them and stood them upright in a row across the entrance while I ran for the pitch fork. I was then able to level the poop out and get the door closed. I propped the pitch fork up tight against the door and got wire and pliers from the barn to wire the door shut. Pigs are strong. Eleven pigs are stronger! Then I took a board and propped it up against the door and fence for added insurance and off I went to look for number twelve.

I hopped on the 4 wheeler and went out to the pig pen thinking he may have cried wee wee wee all the way home. He wasn't at the pig pen, but sitting near the garden fence next to 4 bigger pigs I have in there. They were strangers to him, but porcine all the same! He knew his kind! I managed to scoot him down and over and into his own pig pen, but he escaped as quickly as he had gone in! Then he headed straight for the barn again! So off I go on the 4 wheeler, back around the windbreak and into the yard. When I got off of the 4 wheeler, he had stopped at the chick feed again. I stood and watched him. He stood and watch me. Then he turned and ducked and went right into my pig trap! I sneaked over and grabbed the bungie cords and pulled the crate out! Down went the panels and I had him trapped, along with 5 chickens, but I got them out and then stood there wondering now what? I was afraid he was strong enough to lift the panels up with his snout and escape again. I looked over and saw our big dog crate! Ah hah! I grabbed the plastic lawn rake and cornered him, grabbed a hind leg and put him in the crate! All twelve pigs were secure. I just needed to wait for my helpers!
I did all of this with what I had at hand, except the goat's milk, which was fresh that morning....sigh! I had to run to the house for that! So even though I get down on myself for having "stuff" around, a lot of this stuff came in handy for my solo pig round-up!
I won't bore you with the rest of the story, but it took all 3 of us to get them back in the pen!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Narrow Passages

That is my daughter, Juliana. This photo was taken by her husband, Johnathan, at Tunnel Falls in Oregon. I created the meme for them because I think the photo is so amazing in so many ways. If you look directly under the L-i in Life, there's a moss-covered cross. No one was aware of it when the photo was taken, but I spotted it later. Symbolic? Yes!

The same day this photo was taken, some guests of the farm stay were winding up a miserable 3 days in the Yellowstone back country with a guide from hell. He was rude, crude, sexist and racist. The things they told me he said and did were awful. Some things they wouldn't even tell me. They were his paying guests. Karma, dude!

So this morning I woke up thinking about how this narrow pathway correlates with his narrow mind and this is my morning Haiku.

Dangerous, scary
Narrow, pathways, vessels, minds
Faith, open hearts, love.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Greatest of These is Love!

Remember 7-up being advertised as the "un-cola"? I guess you could call me the "un-blogger". I have 2 blogs, but just don't blog all that much anymore for various reasons. Once in a while something touches me enough that I have to sit down and write out my thoughts to preserve for more than just the usual fleeting moments.
Today is one of those days in which I'd like to preserve the thoughts that woke me up in the night and kept me pondering for a bit.

Yesterday I sat down and counted all of the different countries our guests have come from and by the time the summer is over, 11 different countries will be represented. For a little old farm girl, that's pretty exciting. I am not much of a traveler and quite enjoy staying home. For me to be able to meet folks from different countries would be virtually impossible without the farm stay and the internet because quite frankly, I don't leave home all that often. Just in the past week we have had Belgium, Scotland and Canada represented as well as the US. Some visiting originally came from India and others from Taiwan. It was indeed a busy week for me with my dad visiting all week, meeting friends and other relatives for breakfast or dinner, more relatives here for dinner who we hadn't seen in 10 years and then having guests on top of it all.

A first for us this week was a 43 ft motor coach that pulled in. This is a family who decided to stop the madness of everyday life and hit the road for 7 months with their 4 children. As some of you know, Chris drove a semi over the road for the first 21 years of our marriage, so our driveway over at the shop is already set up for "big rigs". This motor coach is quite the big rig.
Here is this lovely family heading out for more adventures. It was a pleasure having them. You can follow their trip here. as she writes about their journey.

What has touched me the most is the excitement of those who pull into the farm. They often have big grins and are so excited to be here. It's a life style many are not familiar with and are excited to learn about. Sometimes the parents have wonderful memories of being on a farm and want their children to experience the same. Many live in cities and just don't have the opportunity to visit a farm. It is wonderful to be able to share this with them.

It is indeed humbling and heart-warming to know people really want to come here. So as I sat in my chair having my morning coffee thinking, I realized how blessed I am. I am meeting folks from all walks of life that I would otherwise never cross paths with. If I were to go to their city for whatever reason, even though we might pass each other on the street, we would maybe not even make eye contact. When they come here, there is a bond and friendships are made.

This little family came to camp out in their tent. They were so excited to be here and their little daughter was just a doll. She didn't say much, but she didn't have to. A smile and wave when she saw me was enough. I invited them to stay for our felting project with the 4 Carney kids. Sweeny is a photographer and artist, so they were excited to stay. Little Ila had a wonderful time. They are originally from Taiwan and now live in Seattle. Another treat getting to know these folks!

The common thread that binds us all together is love. We are taught from an early age to love one another. As parents it is our duty. Also as a parent I recognize another common thread. All we really want is what's best for our children and a safe and happy place in which to live. There's no greater love than unconditional love and as parents we certainly know what that is.

If we could all just open our hearts, the world would be a much better place.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. The greatest of these is love.

My heart is full.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


One thing I never thought I'd be doing at this point in my life it teaching! I've been doing quite a bit of it with my Artist In Residency at Longfellow School is Bozeman, the classes through tart in the Emerson and a few personal classes here and there. I got a call from a home-schooling mom who asked if I would do a pumpkin class! Of course I would! What fun! So she put it out on the "wires" and we had a great turn out. We used the Dry Creek School house. It's always fun for me to see that place filled with kids. That's what it was built for, after all. Built in 1901. It's the same place we have our annual Christmas in the Country show. Here are some pics of the kids and moms making their pumpkins. Some made Pumpkin Moonshines, some just made pumpkins. I had my Tasha Tudor book along to share too, "Pumpkin Moonshine".

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Need a hot shower?

I guess I am blogging with the seasons here. Ha! My last post was spring and now summer is about to sneak in on us. I always dread June 21 because from here on out the daylight gets shorter. I love the change of seasons though. We a fortunate that way! So my real reason for logging on here was to tell you about our new shower in the shower house! It's propane-fired, so it's a heat-on-demand shower! It's really quite lovely. I've showered out there twice now and it's very refreshing. The only thing wrong with it is that you don't want to get out of it!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Spring has Sprung!

It's funny how the calendar can change and all of a sudden things start happening! The man who had about 25 of our acres leased for the past few year moved to Idaho to take a new job. They are great people and great neighbors and land tenants and will be missed. This marks the first time in the history of this generation of Stuckys that our land is actually OUR LAND! It's very exciting, actually. We've always had part of it leased out during the 28 + years that we've owned the place. Chris's parents leased it out as well. Chris and his dad have been busy fencing. His dad is 91 and you can't keep him from it! Most days he's just itching to do something, so we just let him. As I type this, there is a very big tractor in the field plowing and getting the land ready to seed. We have decided to plant sainfoin. If you aren't familiar with it, google it or Montana Seed, Inc. They have some gorgeous pictures on their website. The biggest reason we decided to go with it is because there are no worries about bloat. You can graze your animals directly on it. I also started lambing today. I have not sheared yet, however. This is not really the way I like things to go, but you don't mess with Mother Nature. When lambs are ready, they come, shearing or not. I did have to assist in this birthing. The first lamb had one front foot back and then right beside its little white nose were 2 black feet! Huh? Oops, both were trying to come out at once, so nothing was happening. I pulled the white lamb first. It was a boy. Then came the black girl, backwards. I called Chris's dad to see if he would come out and hold the ewe while I trimmed the wool on her belly and around her teats. The lambs are both doing fine this evening. I had to be in Bozeman today for a needle felting project at Hawthorne School. It was an early release day and I was called to do a project with the kids. We made owls. Fun! There were others there who wanted to make them, but with limited supplies and time, I will go back in May. While in Bozeman I got a text message from the company I use to host the sheep wagons, . As it turns out, I got my first double booking for the wagons, yes BOTH AT ONCE for 8 nights! I am over the moon! It's been a long haul here on the farm. Chris was out of work for so long which really forced us to recreate ourselves. It's been at least 4 years since we redid the first wagon. I guess it's time for a change! I am feeling very blessed and very thankful. My best bud, Champ, with the new lamb.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Almost Shearing Time

Mid March brings many things. St. Patrick's Day and then my birthday and not too farm after that the first day of Spring! Along with that is shearing time here. I put my ram in with my ewes on Halloween, trick-or-treat, and should start lambing in April. I had one little brown Shetland Ewe who was getting quite large. She was to the point of waddling. I was nervous and excited to see how many she would have, but I will never know. I came home last night after dinner out for my birthday and she was dead. I don't know why, but I suspect it's because of something called "cast". Here's what Sheep 101 says about it: Cast sheep. A sheep that has rolled over onto its back is called a "cast" sheep. It may not be able to get up without assistance. This happens most commonly with short, stocky sheep with full fleeces on flat terrain. Heavily pregnant ewes are most prone. Cast sheep can become distressed and die within a short period of time if they are not rolled back into a normal position. When back on their feet, they may need supported for a few minutes to ensure they are steady. Heavily laden with lambs! That she was. So sad. I decided to shear her this morning with a pair of scissors and try to salvage her wool. I can tell you that shearing a dead ewe with lambs in her belly is not a pleasant experience. I don't write this for pity or sympathy, I write this to let you know what we go through sometimes with these living, breathing things. Soon the lambs will be popping and bring joy and new life once again to the farm. The circle of life.