Sunday, August 29, 2010

Let's get a pig!

For the longest time I wanted to add a pig to our farm but my husband kept saying "we have enough and pigs get so big." He was right, they do get big but surely there are smaller pigs out there.  I had thought about the potbellied pigs and read a lot about them online. They were the big craze in the 90s, and many have ended up in rescues (if they were lucky enough).  I know potbellied pigs root in the dirt, as most pigs do, and that worried me a bit.  Well, while we were at the beach last August, we bought a chicken magazine.  As I was browsing,  I saw this ad for a kunekune pig. The ad said, "small, people friendly, and grazing pigs." Grazing pigs, now that was interesting. I immediately googled it to learn more. I found out it was a smaller pig variety that originated in New Zealand. They had big personalities and loved people, plus they would graze on a pasture as opposed to rooting in the dirt. I was hooked.

I called the folks who ran the ad and learned more. Once I shared the news with Richie, he was in. We sent in our deposit on their next litter.  On December 27th, we got an exciting e-mail.  A new litter had arrived and our gilt (baby girl piglet) was one of them.  They sent us pictures and we chose a beautiful black and white spotted with two wattles (little pouches that hang down from each side of their jaw).  They asked us if we wanted to bottle feed her. Hmm, bottle feed her?  Ok, that sounds like a great idea.  I had never had children so what a great opportunity.  "Yes, we want to bottle feed". Two weeks later, the pig was ours.

Over the course of two weeks, Richie and I batted around names. I wanted to name her Petunia but he thought that didn't suit a black and white pig.  My friend Jan Posey suggested we name her Posie (after her).  Richie then suggested Pansy.  Ok, Pansy sounds like a great name, how about Pansy Posie?  The husband agreed so Pansy Posie it is.

The big day came and I drove to Virginia to meet her.  I couldn't believe how adorable and tiny she was. The pig's owner explained all the vaccinations and feeding routine to me and gave me a bottle with a bag of formula. I quickly found out how the old phrase "you eat like a pig" came to be.  Pansy would grunt when she was hungry and that was often. We kept her in the house for about three months.  My husband and I were doing round the clock feedings with her.  I was really getting that newborn experience.  She would play and take naps with me and loved to get into the dog food bowl anytime she was in the kitchen.  Shew grew quickly.

In the spring, we built her a little house and her very own fenced in pasture.  This little baby we had bottle fed and slept with was now going outside to her own little house? It was like going from infant to college in a short peroid of time.  Our baby had grown up on us.  Richie took her out and introduced her to the new place.  She liked it and immediately went in to her house.  We didn't sleep much that night for fear of something happening to her but she has been happily residing there for five months.

We can't imagine our farm without kunekunes and have decided we want to have more. We are working on that now and have a mail ordered boar piglet coming from California.  We will share many more stories about our pigs and couldn't love more our adorable little baby piglet called Pansy Posie.   

Monday, August 23, 2010

Welcome to Verde Farm!

Hello and welcome to Verde Farm. My husband Richie and I bought this wonderful, old property in 2007. We had lived in the suburbs and always dreamed of buying an older home and fixing it up. Once we found this place, or it found us, we knew it was 'the one.'

We started restoring it right away. A wonderful old barn was on the property, and our first idea was to fix it up and have a man cave for Richie. There was also a spring fed pond near the barn, but over many years it had grown up in cattails and brush making it hard to recognize. It had never crossed our minds we could have animals and start a small farm. Through hours of work and restoration, the barn and pond returned to their previous glory. A little voice told me, "we are ready for a life of our own."

My husband raised biddies when he was a boy and I knew he would love to have a few here. I was also having visions of ducks and ducklings walking in a row to the pond and quickly started looking for our first residents. I found a farmer who had both chickens and ducks and drove out to visit him shortly after.It was heavenly. His barn was full of wonderful sites and sounds. It stirred my soul and my vision started to grow.

I chose two roosters and three ducks. My farm knowledge was slim to none. To be honest, I didn't even know the difference in a chicken, rooster or a hen. I assumed a duck was a duck and had no idea what to do with them, but I brought them home anyway. Richie lit up when he saw our new residents. I knew that little boy inside him was still in there and ready to care for these beautiful birds. We named the Bantam roosters Buckie and Mack and the ducks, which turned out to be Muscovies, were named Blue, Jenny and Belle.

From that day forward, our farm came to life. We knew we didn't have a lot of room with only 12 acres so we looked for miniature varieties of animals. Our first livestock were miniature meditteranean donkeys and we went from one to five in a year and a half. We chose the kunekune pig for it's wonderful size and beautiful disposition. The original roosters were Bantams, which are small chickens with big personalities, and our little farm continues to grow today.

We find Verde Farm to be a special place. Sharing Verde with others through our blog, animals and tours is something we knew we had to do. Our journey here is one of continuous trial, error and learning. We read, google and guess a lot since our first two chickens and three ducks arrived. We've made many mistakes and had many heartbreaks but the joy and laughter far outweigh the sadness. We look forward to sharing our journey with you through this site and anticipate meeting new people and learning new things along the way.

Our best to you and hee haw, oink, oink and cluck, cluck from Verde Farm.