JAZ Farm is officially full up.  There is no vacancy and no more room at the Inn – unless you want to sleep in the camper!

The farm is set up in sort of a “U” configuration.  Permaculture dictates that you lay out your place in zones: the house area being Zone 1, the parts of the homestead that need daily attention (like gardens and livestock, etc, thus the shortest walking distance away, being Zone 2, and Zone 3 being things that require less attention, like the orchard and pasture, etc.  We call our daily routine in zone 2 “doing the stations of the cross”.  Go outside and deposit compost, walk over to the coop and get eggs, take care of the boy goats, tend the pigs, and make sure everyone has food and water and is healthy and happy.  Then take a walk around to the west to feed and water the donkeys, then the turkeys, then the girl goats.  After breakfast, go out and work in the gardens.  Do it all again in the evening.

As of today, all the stations are full again!  After having a conniption because my piglet supplier had forgotten me and promised an entire litter to one person, she called and admitted she had forgotten and felt really bad!  GOOD!  Evidently, she has a new 4 month old girl spawn.  Remembering back the 24 years ago that happened to us, I was willing to be a compassionate grandpa figure.

Anywho, she held two little piggies back for me.  As usual, with farm things, I didn’t expect to be getting them today.  At 2:00 this afternoon I found out they were available.  At 5:00, they were in their pen!  I scrambled to rake out the hut, lay down fresh straw, get to the feed store to get something for them to eat, and get water in one of the buckets.  Then off I went in my little POS run around car with a dog crate in the back. Got there ok, and it is always fun to see the mom who sprung ’em.  As usual, she was the size of a Buick and endowed in a way that would make Stormy Daniels blush.  Would guess momma sow to weigh in at 6-700 lbs.

We were also going to get a “gilt” (baby girl pig) to keep for future breeding, but the breeder didn’t have one due to forgetting about holding them for me.  But, after seeing her pregnant future mommas, she told me that there will be many available around the end of June.  We aren’t in a hurry and that should work out fine.  Considering the scarcity of pork that is on the horizon, I’ll take what I can get.

These are the youngest little guys we’ve had (6 weeks).  Today was weaning day so they have never been away from mom before.  If you have ever done the rhyme “This little piggy went to market, etc., etc.” The one that is the little toe:  “Went Wee Wee Wee all the way home”, must have been made up by a farmer.  They SCREAMED all the way home.  I think I need to go to an audiologist.  We’ve experienced it many times before, but there is something about a freaked out pair of baby pigs, in a dog crate, in the back of your car, that really drives the point home.  SQUEAL!!!!

So JAZ Farm is full up.  The tally is thus:

  • 2 and sometimes 3 bipedal humanoids
  • 2 Labrador Retrievers.
  • 2 Barrow piglets (castrated males)
  • 2 Nigerian Dwarf boy goats (bucks)
  • Two donkeys
  • 3 Nigerian Dwarf girl goats (does)
  • Half a dozen Bourbon Red turkeys
  • 35 laying hens
  • 26 broiler chickens
  • 8 turkey eggs cooking in the incubator
  • Depending on the day anywhere from 2 to infinity barn cats
  • Half an acre vegetable garden and a work in progress fruit and berry orchard

That ought to keep us plenty busy.  If you need anything take a number and we’ll try to act like we are concerned.  Leave a message, someday we’ll get back to you.

Tomorrow I’m going to have to go out and rig up one of the dog fences around the pig hut.  These little dudes probably don’t even weigh 3 pounds at this point so they can likely squeeze through some of the fence holes.  They are secure enough for now, but once they get over being freaked out, they will start exploring.  Right now they are even shorter than the lowest electric wire 12 inches off the ground..  Thank goodness they grow fast.

Here are some initial pictures-  Not very good ones as they kept trying to hide under each other.  They weren’t feeling too photogenic.

PS:  Zina found out we got them and drove all the way out here to see them, just walked in the door.  Could have predicted that one!  Let the worrying and fussing begin.  She loves the creatures!




Why We Are Going To Be Making Piggy Babies


Just wait until the Midwest flooding and livestock losses get factored into this as well.  You ain’t going to be eating bacon everyday for breakfast anymore.  Remember, China OWNS Smithfield foods.  They will ship the pork back to their country and leave us with the manure lagoons.  Futures up 60% YTD!!!

>>Demand from China is surging as African swine fever, a contagious diseasethat is nearly 100% fatal for domestic and wild pigs, has decimated that country’s hog herds.<<

“The global market won’t have enough pork to supply China,” Ma said Tuesday in an interview in Beijing. “The deficit won’t be filled even with poultry or other meats.”

“Today, Smithfield sends more than a quarter of its pork abroad, especially to China, which received nearly 300,000 tons in 2016. Part of what made the company such an attractive target is that it’s about 50 percent cheaper to raise hogs in North Carolina than in China. This is due to less-expensive pig-feed prices and larger farms, but it’s also because of loose business and environmental regulations, especially in red states, which have made the U.S. an increasingly attractive place for foreign companies to offshore costly and harmful business practices.”

Why Is China Treating North Carolina Like the Developing World?


Are we Going To Be Great Goat Parents?

Little Ginger was crying at the corner of the pasture fence closest to the boy goats.  I was working in the greenhouse getting the beds ready to plant and also in anticipation a semi load of planting soil arriving next week.  Taking a break I saw our little one year old bottle baby yearning to be over with the bucks.  So we obliged. Now we wait!  Will we be grandparents to goats?  We’ll know in September.  Ginger went back to the girl flock to show the other does her engagement ring and Dozer broke out the cigars and pranced around looking smug.  Here we go again!  We candle the turkey eggs on Sunday to see how they are doing and now we will be keeping a watch on a goat belly.  155 days seems like an eternity!  Don’t they make the cutest couple?  D9F8F41C-318A-4827-968E-F1D2421CE35D98E2B680-2547-4B4C-B273-CAD199DCA2E116F3C4B9-01D1-43F7-BD85-F535AB376E11302576E8-2442-4E3A-BDB2-5EFDC1A884381A428831-D7DF-4A7A-89BA-A184228A6AAFE7657B44-F625-44E2-BDFF-7E86A2517ACE

The Piggie Count Down Has Commenced! Turkey Babies Are Cooking.

Because of all of the potential for a food disaster in the mid-west due to all of the flooding, the grumpy farmer has heeded that warning.  My sleep schedule usually follows the sun these days.  Rarely am I up past nine, and usually awaken around 4 am.  Laying there this morning, I started thinking about what this spring flooding (which NOAA says is just getting started) will mean nationally.  Bottom line, meat, bread, eggs and Doritos are going to be rarer and more expensive.  Keep in mind that Smithfield Foods, that was one of the largest pork producers in the country, is now owned by the Chinese.  If pork, in this example, becomes more expensive to produce, that company will likely supply its own country of ownership first.  After all, the Chinese don’t have any pretense of following the fallacy that we have of some kind of “Free Market” System.  One article I read referenced our Secretary of Agriculture who said that up to a million calves could already have been lost in Nebraska.  Meat will never be cheaper than it is right now.  Go buy it, freeze it, smoke it, can it or Jerky it.

Because of this, I started shopping for oinkers on- line, on my iPad, at 5 am on a Sunday morning.  By 7:30 I had a response and have secured 3 pigs to be picked up in about two weeks.  Piglets get weaned from their mothers at around 8 weeks so they have a couple weeks to go.  We will get our usual two that will go off to freezer camp in the early fall, and we are spending a little more money to get a show quality female to keep as farm pet and breeder stock.  We had one previously, but I couldn’t handle her because of my back injury.  Now that we have some more infrastructure, and I’m back to living horizontally, we are going to likely try to breed her later in the fall when she is full grown.  Pigs take 115 days to give birth so it stands to reason that we will have piglets next spring!

As long as we can get corn, some feed, and the produce and bread scraps we get from a food bank, we will be able to stay meat sufficient.  We can produce pork at a fraction of the cost of the grocery store, it’s organic, anti-biotic free, and it’s non-GM feed.  Besides!  Piggies is cute!

pig 21 2015

The incubator is up and running.  We are cooking up some turkey babies.  We will candle the eggs next weekend to check to see if Mr. Tom is doing his job correctly.  Whichever eggs show themselves to be fertile should arrive as fluff balls in 28 days.


Between planting, animals, brooding out this year’s chickens, finishing the hail covers for the gardens, the impending visit from Zina’s brother and his wife, teaching gardening classes at a nursery near our old house, and trying to finish a weaving project, things have been anything but dull.  When people are on retreat, don’t they usually just sit and stare at a Lotus flower?  I think I’m not doing this correctly.

Behold!  The grumpy farmer man teaching the city peoples how to grow food for the Zombiepocalypse!


It’s Spring and We Are Back To Normal…..ish.

The animals are all out and about.  Ross the Ferrier was here to give the donkeys a pedicure, the goats are hopping, the chickens are chickening, the little roasters are downstairs growing by leaps and bounds, the tomatoes are loving the grow room and the turkeys are laying a bunch of eggs!  Still looking for pigs, but it’s still pretty early.

We have a pretty good handle on the “cycles” of the Nigerian does.  April won’t just be known for April Fool’s Day (Both my father’s and BIL’s birthdays) and tax deadline day, and, I guess, Easter. It will also be JAZ Farm goat breeding season.  First up will likely be Cumin and Dozer.  After that, we may wait awhile for the others in order to get them on a spring kidding schedule.  If it takes, she will kid at the end of September (155 days).


In the picture above, Cumin is the one on the ground.


Above:  My fave.  Dozer

When we raised our first turkey flock, it was with the intention of hatching their eggs and using them to provide a meat source.  I’d have to do way too much infrastructure work to have cows, and we aren’t trying to feed a multitude.  Ground turkey is quite good and has made a great addition to our pigs, and chickens.  In the last 6 weeks or so, the birds have been getting their turkey on.  We get a few eggs a day and we have been scrambling them.  Tasty!  We held off on incubating them because they were eggs from very young birds and an, ahem, inexperienced and clumsy Tom.  Now that they seem to have their groove thing going, we are collecting eggs and will be putting them in the incubator this coming Sunday.  That way none of them will be even a week old.  They are supposed to be viable for up to 10 days, but anything longer than seven days and things get iffy.  It would be fun to let the hens raise their babies, but we have found, and the literature confirms this, that their motherly instincts aren’t too strong.

Of course, if we have a new dozen birds hatch at the beginning of May, we need a place to raise them once they come out of the brooder.

I did a stupid thing last night.  We went out to dinner at our local taco joint.  Because I’d been working pretty hard, I downed a couple of large glasses of iced tea.  The caffeine kicked in and I lay in bed not being able to sleep.  Zina wanted to know where and how we would raise the new birds up.  It was exactly that that my mind latched onto and I spent the night trying to figure it out! (Obsess much?). That’s my thing.  Thinking things over and over until it’s perfect in my mind before a single board is sawed or screw driven.

Fortunately, we figured it out.  When all is said and done we will have 4 different coops and a chicken tractor.  This time the answer will be made of dog kennel chain link panels and a hog shelter we already have.

I have once again been working myself to exhaustion.  It must be spring. I have been meeting my Fit Bit steps goal without any trouble.   All is well and this spring is FAR wetter than last so the gardens will have a fighting chance vs the severe drought we faced last year.  Plants will get planted. The orchard will get developed.  The broiler chickens will get raised.  The goats will be bred.  The layers lay with epic volume.  The donkeys do their donkey thing, and the farm will do everything we have hoped it would do when we drove the first post to make a dog run 6 years ago.

Of course, we are expecting March snow this weekend.



The Latest Conundrum

So the storm is over.  The mud has begun and the roads are horrible.  There is a big Caterpillar front loader down the road from us stuck to it’s axles in the mud, and from what I hear, Nebraska is already flooding severely and they are monitoring the water levels around a nuclear plant. The locals at the cafe were expounding how they have never seen the like;  But thats nothing!  Everything is well for everyone else;  We have GOATS!

Goats like to be up high.  No.  They LOVE to be up high!  Just like mountain goats, they are climbers.  The bucks have the bomb shelter to hop around on; BUT, now there are a whole bunch of new high places to play on!  Snow drifts!  And, of course, the snow drifts have completely buried sections of the fences!

I went out to feed this afternoon and I turned to look, as the boys were calling to me like they usually do, and there they were…. on top of a drift at the edge of the fence line.  I think there is only one reason they didn’t walk over the top, down the other side and off into the big wide world:  Electric fencing.

Because the fence is essentially buried right now, the hot wire is grounded out.  They wouldn’t get shocked if they touched it;  But they do know what it looks like and what it does.  I think it was enough of a deterrent to keep them from stepping over the top and going off into the great wide world.  But wait!  That’s not all!  The same thing is true in the pasture where the girls live!  Not only is this a problem with the goats, turkeys also like to get up high.  Their drift is right next to a tree line (roosts!) and is as tall as I am.  This one buried the fence completely!

Nigerian Dwarf goats come into heat once a month.  So maybe they didn’t escape today, but two of the girls are still due for March and we could look out one day and see out of control Foat Gucking right out in the driveway!  Trust me, they will move mountains and swim oceans to “satisfy” their needs.  Worse than teenagers.

Then… we have two yellow labs!  Bird dogs!  They like chickens and would love to play with the goats!  Sage has already found the entertainment value of running up the drift that could give her access to the chicken run.  There is never a dull moment when it comes to the critters!  As we have also had some trouble with foxes, now the access to the chicken free range pasture is now open to the public.  Chickens, as well as all the other critters, stay put until these things shrink (supposed to be 60 next weekend).

Quick thinking and problem solving needed doing.  We have the ability to separate the big chicken coop into two coops.  So I did it and put the boy goats in that side of the poultry barn (Should have done that during the storm too.  Live and learn).  They now have part of a small barn and half the fenced in run to goof around in.  They will be fine and I won’t have to try to rope two rambunctious goats running down the county road – I’ve already done that with piglets, wouldn’t recommend it.  Because chickens are stoooooopid, the bucks will be sharing the space with one chicken that refused to go over with the rest of the flock.

The girl goats are sequestered in their pen in the barn and the turkeys are in their coop, also closed up.  There will be no free ranging for awhile.  Zina thought we could keep them in their pens until we have a chance to plow out the drift.  Nope.  Its WAY too muddy and because it is warming up, the snow is too heavy.  So until these drifts melt down some, the playgrounds are closed.

Julio and Donovan, the two gray Gurus, just stand there looking at me like I’m a mental deficient.  All they want to do is roam the pasture, but it is a mud hole so they just hang out in the barn.

As if two days of a land based hurricane wasn’t enough; This melting is already a mess and yesterday it was still a storm….. oh ya, there’s a chance of another round next weekend (probably rain this time.. oh joy).

It’s always an adventure.  Golf…. I guess I could sell it all and go play golf.  Nah.  Too many people, my back doesn’t bend that way anymore, and its a game that is almost as stupid as the chickens.


(Above) Boy goats and chicken free range pasture. You can see the bomb shelter in the back (the cinder blocks and railroad ties).


(Above) Girl goats, turkeys, donkeys.

We also have a new neighbor husky dog who’s owners think its ok for their dog to run all over creation.  He/she can get through those trees.  I’ve seen it sitting there drooling over the turkeys.  I’ve warned the neighbors that I’ll shoot it if I see it in the pasture chasing the goats and turkeys (The donkeys would stomp it if it got too close to them).  Now it has a ladder straight into a turkey dinner.  All of my defenses have been breached!!!  Melt, damn it, melt!

Out To Feed. Hope That You Never Have To Bug Out In This!

The wind howled all night.  Thumps and bumps kept us wondering what will need to be fixed.  We can’t tell yet if the snow has stopped and is just blowing around now, or if it’s still coming down.  I posted yesterday that this wasn’t the biggest storm I’ve been through but it is in the top 2.  The biggest was when I lived at 8200 feet back in the 80’s.  The drifts are as tall as me.  I’m 6’1” with my boots on.  Zina is dwarfed by them.  Many of the fences are completely buried as you can see on one of them relative to the T Post.  I took a few pictures this morning until I started to frost bite my fingers.

The snow was pretty wet while it accumulated and the 40 mph winds glazed everything with ice.  I could walk up onto the drifts and then sink as the ice gave way.  It was aerobic work just to get to the barn to feed.

The critters are all fine.  The boy goats took the brunt of it.  The wind swirled around their hut and some came inside.  We gave them a whole bale of hay this morning to both eat and curl up in.  Tank had ice on his fur and Dozer had a frozen hairdo.  Tough tough little buggers.

Tank and Dozer’s struggle through the night gave me Prepper pause. So many blogs about having to leave or “bug out” because of an LCE (Life Changing Event) seem to revolve around the non-winter months.  I’m tellin’ ya, if you had to bug out, or survive in this……. you wouldn’t.  I’ve snow camped before.  Folks would only find a human popsicle with a lot of neat gear.

The girl goats and the donkeys and the turkeys were all sequestered in the barn and are fine.  We discovered where the barn isn’t air tight.  The blizzard found all the cracks.

The chicken coop is completely drifted in and we couldn’t open the door to get eggs.  Once this blows out of here we will go shovel it out.  Fortunately, with the blowing snow, the chicken wire cover didn’t get loaded down.

For all the hassles we went through to get our greenhouse, you won’t hear me complain about it.  It took this wind, drift weight and snow with no issues.

This was one for the JAZ Farm history book.  I guess we are making up for the drought from the past 2 years.  Some of these drifts will be here for weeks.


The greenhouse is still standing!!


It seems we won’t be camping soon.


Those are 5 foot posts.




Nanook of the worrywart clan.


What drought?


Taller than me.  That brown isn’t just the ground.  It is dust encrusted ice.  Very slick.


I don’t think the dogs will be using their huts any time soon!