Friday, February 28, 2014

Try taking a selfie with a pig...

First off, I would just like to say that I have no idea what happened to this week. Yeesh.

And now...pig selfies!


And rescue hen LeMay was fascinated with my iPhone...

Totally photo-bombing my pig portrait!

Let's try another pig selfie..

I used part of an apple as enticement. Ha!

Isn't LeMay a pretty girl?

She is one of our five new rescue hens from the OSPCA. The five of them are super sweet, very friendly, nice birds. Bonnie lets me pick her up and cuddle her!

How about another pig selfie?

I do need to wash Ophelia's filthy face! The pig vet came yesterday and said Ophelia is doing great. Apparently pigs tend to have runny eyes, particularly a barn pig who's always burrowing into straw. I will take a warm washcloth down sometime and spruce her up. Her hooves are a little long but the vet thought they would wear down on the concrete floor of the barn. If not, we'll do a trim! Her weight is good and she only needs deworming around the start of May.

The vet is used to looking after large herds of pigs on bigger farms than ours. He seemed quite pleased to see our happy, spoiled swine. He said her pen is palatial, a veritable "piggy heaven." I got the sense that he really likes pigs and was chuffed to see one living the good life.

When the vet arrived, Ophelia was completely buried in straw, so he put his hand under it and gave her a scratch until she poked her head out. He wasn't going to disturb her (it is really cold right now!) but all of a sudden she popped up out of her nest. He felt her over and said her weight is just fine, and that we are feeding her the correct amount of miniature pig chow. He thought she weighed about 70 lbs.

I really liked the vet! He's living a James Herriott sort of life, doing his farm rounds. It's a relief to know that he's there should Ophelia ever have a problem.

It is super cute the way Ophelia completely buries herself in straw when she sleeps. We are having another cold spell (already -20C here at suppertime) and I always worry about the animals when it's like this, but she seems cozy in her pen, with her straw and blanket.

Pigs, as I've heard, are very clean animals. Ophelia only does her business in one corner of the pen, which we clean out every day.

The vet told me that she'd be better than a rototiller in my vegetable garden, and that I could set her up in there with a "hot wire" (one strand of electric fencing) and a little shelter and let her go at it. (They can and do dig right under fences.)

I'm looking forward to spring now and warmer weather. I think all the animals will be happy to spend more time outdoors!

Meanwhile, in the barn...

LeMay and Ophelia eat some spilled grain together. It is so cute the way the five rescue hens seem to remember their friend Ophelia, and happily hang out with her. She seems to like them too!

The guinea fowl are not as impressed. There has been a lot of their screeching going on lately!

The two fluffy butts in the front are LeMay and Debbie. The two in the back are Bonnie and Carol. I named all five of the new hens after women who work at our OSPCA shelter. :)

Let's try another selfie!

I just love this pig! Whenever I come in the barn, she grunts hello (or she might be saying "WHERE'S THE FOOD?!") As the vet said, if you gave a pig a mountain of food, she'd stand on it and eat it all. They really are completely obsessed with eating.

Case in point...

Helping Debbie and Carol clean up some feed!

ANd cutie LeMay!

This one cracked me up.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Pig alert! Pig alert!

Ophelia  came home yesterday! She has a nice new pen in our barn...

She won't be stuck in there all the time. I will let her out in the barn, and when it's a bit warmer, she can go outside. Today I let her wander around the lower barn while I watched her. The chickens and ducks all gave a collective gasp at the sight of this strrange pink beast, but the five hens who lived with Ophelia in her previous life (all loose together in a barn) went right up to her like she was a long-lost friend! It was very cute how they hung around here, like they were happy to be reunited.

Pigs, even pot-bellied ones, can and do eat chickens, so I will be keeping an eye on things, but I'm not too worried about Ophelia, who apparently lived in harmony with chickens in the past, according to the agent who rescued her. Some PB pigs do fine with birds, and I suspect Ophelia will be one of them. After all, if she didn't eat chickens during the few days she was without food, I'm not sure why she'd start now!

And here she is, enjoying a nice scratch against the plywood!

Busy doing some rooting.

Aaaand some more rooting! We found a farm vet who looks after pigs, so we are going to get Ophelia checked out. I suspect she is a tad overweight, and no doubt needs deworming. She definitely needs to have her hooves trimmed. Her eyes are a bit weepy too, so we'll get those looked at. Apparently she and the birds (and the goat and her kid that our friend Tammy and her beau have taken in!) were found in a cold barn where they had been without food or water for a couple of days. The goat had recently had twins, but one baby unfortunately died. The kid my friend adopted was at the vet's for several days. He had frostbite on his ears and feet and had to have the bottoms of his ears amputated! But he is doing well now and being bottle-fed four times a day. He is super-cute. His mama is a sweetie too.

Ophelia must have had somewhere at her old place to burrow in and get warm, since she fortunately has no frostbite.

She moves pretty fast!

I read that pigs love blankets, so I took down an old dog blanket yesterday and hung it from that shelf in the corner. When Gordon went to tuck her in last night, he came across this scene:

Yes, there's a pig in there.

Peek-a-boo!! She covered herself in straw and the blanket and snuggled in for the night.

Today she was quite animated.

She just LOVES to be brushed. She stands perfectly still and lets me brush her all over with a bristle brush. She's a very sweet pig and we are already in looooove. Today Gordon made her some unbuttered, unsalted popcorn as a treat. We hid some in her straw so she can root around looking for it. We are going to get her some pig-proof toys as well.

Meanwhile, over by the rotisserie...

The hens were wondering if winter will ever end this year!
And tomorrow is National Cupcake Day for SPCAs and Humane Societies. Gordon and his Cornwall Courthouse Cupcake Team will be selling cupcakes at the Cornwall Courthouse (in the Lawyers' Lounge and the Duty Counsel Office.) We baked a few dozen cupcakes this weekend. I made these cookies-and-cream ones:

As you can see, icing is not my forté! I belong to the "Just cram it in your mouth and don't look at it" school of cupcake design.

Gordon made this lemon-coconut delights with cream cheese icing:

But check out these amazing cupcakes our friend Ronna made and donated for us to sell:

Whimsical and beautiful! I'm sure they will be snapped up in no time.

I'm helping out tomorrow, so if you need me, I'll be at the courthouse. Or here bonding with my new pig!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

New chicks on the block

As well as adopting a pig (Ophelia is coming home today. Pictures later!) we also took in five rescue chickens from the OSPCA. Here are four of them:

Julie in front, LeMay with the black speckles, and Carol is the big white one, and Debbie is the one hiding under the others. They are all named after shelter workers. :)

And Bonnie, who likes to be held!

After their brief quarantine, Bonnie was the first one to come out and integrate.

Here she is hanging with her new friend Becky, in our lovely redneck coop. Panelling, foil insulation, cardboard, a tarp... Martha Steward would not approve!

The new chickens are all a little thin, as they were found in a barn with no food, water or warmth. But they otherwise seem very healthy, so I am working on getting them fattened up a big.
Off to pick up Ophelia the pig.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Big machines

Well! look who's coming up our laneway.

They are finally starting work on the duck pairing pond in our back pasture. This is a joint project by Ducks Unlimited and the Raisin River Conservation Authority. Basically they are building a watery love shack for ducks who want to get it on. They are also putting in nest boxes for ducks and basking platforms for turtles.

The pasture is close to the river and gets very wet in spring and even summer, so they have to dig in winter so that the machinery doesn't sink into the ground.

The high hoe took a careful route between the barn and the granary (pic taken through filthy bathroom window!)

And down through the fields! Later on a bulldozer joined him.

As you can see, they cleared an impressive path through our woodlot.

As it turned out, the ground under all the snow was still too wet for the high hoe, so the bulldozer pushed back a ton of snow. They are going to wait a week and hope the ground freezes so they can come back and dig the pond.

It looks like we're building a new subdivision back here!

I am guessing that the huge layer of snow acted as an insulator on the ground, keeping it from freezing hard? Once we get over the current warm spell, I think the ground will harden up sufficiently for the project. Let's hope so, because otherwise I don't know what they'll do.

Tristan was tired yesterday and had to stop for a few breaks on our walk, but he was very happy to be out and about. He has gained a bit of weight this winter which I am working to get off him. He was less active and we didn't adjust his food accordingly.

Here's the start of the pond, which will be up to an acre in size:

I had to keep the dogs well back from it. It's full of muddy water. We got permits to take water from the Beaudette River. I don't entirely understand how it works, but the professionals do! :)

Tristan taking another break!

Sophie enjoying all the good smells stirred up by the bulldozer.

And then we walked back through the woodlot...

The iPhone takes surprisingly good panoramic photos!

I had to break through snow to retrieve my wildlife camera, which contained all of ONE PHOTO of me, because the damn batteries died. Augh!

The dogs soldiered on!

Sophie of the aerodynamic ears.

The snow is very deep here. The dogs are not sinking through to the bottom of it by any means!

Tristan needed another rest! And he decided to snack on some snow.

They do love it, though.

Little tracks! Looking through my Animal Tracks of Ontario book, I think maybe they belong to a Woodland Jumping Mouse but if anyone knows, please tell me! There were no tail drag marks and they were very small. Front feet ahead of back feet.

And another rest for Tristan on the way back!

The workers have parked their giant machines here until they return!

I'm guessing that shovel is NOT for digging the bulldozer out if it gets stuck! :)

You can see how huge the shovel is next to Tristan.

"Can we please go inside now?"

And my new snowshoes, which got me there and back. I am very pleased with them!

Construction started on the pig pen yesterday and I think it will be finished today or tomorrow, so we are hoping to move Ophelia in this weekend.

And now, we have a heavy rainfall warning to contend with before the temperatures drop again. It will be delightful dealing with 30 mm of rain on all this snow!