Thursday, March 31, 2011

Heritage Pigs - Part 1

We will be adding some weaner pigs to the acreage this spring.... I am determined even though I am having a really difficult time finding any. Who would have thought that this would be such a difficult endeavour. I have everyone I know looking out for piglets for me (I figure it's not what you know, but who you know). I have been in contact with a lady through the Alberta Chicken Etc forum from Tatlayoko Lake - she may have a couple of piglet for me, though I won't know for sure until later in April. Should it pan out, I'll be driving down to Williams Lake to pick them up... but that is just fine by me. I will consider myself lucky to be able to get some pigs!

I have been doing a bit of investigating about heritage breeds of pigs. One day I would love to add some to our little acreage for breeding purposes (though I'm not sure that Husband is in the same mind). I'm amazed that the two breeds (Gloucestershire Old Spot and Tamworth) I'm interested in, are either not available in Canada, or are in such small numbers that they are very closely related.

Gloucestershire Old Spot - I found a farm on Vancouver Island who had brought two in from the US, but has been unable to find a sire, or import semen. She has in turn cross bred them to Berkshire and Duroc pigs and the resulting pigs do retain their spots.

The GOS is a very early English breed and is sometimes known as the 'orchard pig' as they traditionally grazed on orchards and ate the fallen apples. Old Spots tend to be very calm, good-natured animals, another trait that makes them desirable to homesteaders and small farmers.

Tamworth - The Tamworth is listed on the Rare Breeds Canada website as on the critical list with less than 100 registered animals. I have found some breeders around, but again, most cross breed as there is a shortage of genetic diversity with the the pigs have too many common ancestors. In Canada, many farms had a few Tamworths until the 1960’s. Regulations against keeping pigs in barns with dairy cattle, new systems of grading pork and the introduction of confinement rearing systems contributed to the decline of the Tamworth in the last 40 years.

Tamworths are the oldest breeds and is the most direct decendant of the European wild boar. The Tamworth is a very hardy animal. Its background as the forest pig means that it is ideally suited to outdoor production, even in rough woodland. A rugged and thrifty animal particularly suited for grazing, salvaging crops or following behind grazing cattle.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


With a wonderfully warm and sunny weekend, Huband and I pulled out the box of vegetable seeds to assess what is need for this year's garden. Some are left over seeds from last year and some that we saved ourselves. We also looked over our gardening notes and have decided on certain plants which failed or did not produce and that we will not try again.

I have tried again and again to put a list of the vegetable varieties here, but Blogger refuses to let me make a list which formats properly, so I have given up.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring is coming....

The days are getting longer and warmer. We still have approximately 1 meter (3 feet) of snow in the yard, but spring is breaking through anyway! Below you will see a crocus blooming outside of our diningroom window - it is close against the house and between the wall and the bank of snow. Amazing!

Warmer days mean BARBEQUE!

A lovely dinner on the grill consisting of steak and roasted veggies, accompanied by garlic bread.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Yesterday I saw four very large shining white birds flying against the sunny blue sky. It took me a minute to realize that I was seeing Trumpeter Swans. Swans over-winter a bit north of here, and I have seen them on the rivers, but never flying. It was quite a sight.

A short time later, I witnessed a beautiful mature bald eagle circling overhead.

Today Husband and I broke down and purchased an egg incubator... the Hova Bator 2362n. At $219 it wasn't cheap (cheep - ha ha - pun very much intended)

Isn't she a beauty?

We have been thinking about this for some time and will try to hatch some of the Amercauna (chicken) and Khaki Campbell (duck) eggs.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Complaints and Updates

Okay, okay, I'm getting complaints that I haven't posted anything to the blog in such a long time. Not that I haven't thought about it, and I certainly don't want to ignore it, but I have been so extremely busy with work that I really only have had time at home to eat and sleep. Needless to say I'm very worn down and have felt ill the past couple of days.

So here are the updates:

Weight Loss - Husband and I have both lost about 13 pounds since January 1st. My exercise goals unfortunately have falled by the wayside over the past three weeks. I have managed to get out and walk the last two days as it was only -7c and sunny. I have to admit it was wonderful to get some fresh air and for the stress relief (desperately needed).

Weather - Snow, snow, snow, and, oh, did I mention snow? Last week we had tremendous amounts come down and that is the talk of the town. Here are some photos taken Feb 28th (since then it has snowed at least another 15 cm (6 inches):

The sundeck (snowdeck?)

Front of house

One of the greenhouses just peeking out

The side of the house with my car

Cooking - I have purchases a few Cleaning Eating magazines and have been cooking their recipes. I often don't like the flavours of 'diet' recipes or they often use unhealthy food alternatives, but these recipes are nutritious, low calorie and extremely tasty.

Animals - all doing well. We have discussed adding some pigs to the acreage this spring and will raise some extras for friends and family (you can guess what that means - and it doesn't mean as pets) We will have to finish building the pole barn and get some fencing done once the snow is gone - but it looks like that will be awhile. I would also love to add a heritage breed of pig that we could perhaps breed in the future.

Garden - Husband is dreaming of plants. He's planning on building a new system for starting the seeds in the garage. He wants to build a multi-shelved trolley on wheels in which the grow lights are mounted above each shelf. Hopefully this will take up less room in the garage and he can wheel the plants outside to harden off.

Extras - Husband and I finished the intermediate class for ballroom dancing at the end of February. It was lots of fun as always. Now we need to practice all the dances we learned so we don't forget them. I'm planning on making a playlist on iTunes so that we can let the music run and dance in the livingroom once a week. Last week we started East Coast Swing (jive) lessons.