Thursday, March 31, 2011

Providence's Perpetuation Provisions: New Piglet "Pebbles"

Recently, Wilma, our gilt started to look very pregnant; so I put the farrowing "runners" in the shed; and we looked forward in anticipation to the day.

Well, this past Monday evening, I went out to feed the pigs; and lo and behold, a little piglet was running around:


Wilma the Duroc Sow in Labor


We were excited the process had begun. However, minutes went by, then hours, and no other piglets. We started to look online to try to investigate the situation: some sites said they should be coming out every 15 minutes or so, some said up to and hour, some longer. After several hours (which included the several it looked like had passed before we even found the piglet, as the piglet was very dry, and its umbilical cord was already dry), we decided to try to check if we could find a piglet in the birth canal and pull it out. We found it about five to six inches in, but were unable to grab onto it in any way. We solicited help from the Bunkers, who have dealt with pulling animals before; and they worked for a couple of hours trying to pull the piglet out, but could not. We even tried using salad tongs. When we couldn't get it out, we thought we'd leave her for the night, and see how things were in the morning, as maybe she would pass it. We also pulled the born piglet out of the pen and took it with us, so it would be warm (as there were no other piglets and her mother was incapacitated and in labor) and not get squashed or that other harm might come to it.

The next morning, there was no change. I called the vet, and he suggested we either need to get the piglet out, or bring her in for a C-section, or euthanize her. He also suggested that by then, the unborn piglets were probably dead. We weren't going to bring her in for a C-section (he even suggested we not do that for economic reasons); and so we tried various other things, including pliers, to try to get the piglet out, all to no avail.

At this point, there wasn't much left. We spent several hours going back and forth, trying to decide if we let things be and see what happened, because maybe she'd pass it; or butcher her, losing the sow we had thought maybe about having for a couple of litters. After prayer and lots of indecision, we made a decision. This video could be a little rough if you're not used to this. Sadly, this part of the process didn't go as we had hoped -- it usually goes better than this:


Slaughtering Wilma the Duroc Sow


As I mention in the video above, the plan was to kill her and quickly get to the unborn piglets, in an attempt to get them out and breathing. Here was that process, which I believe no one around here as done before (at least with the people participating). If you're squeamish, this one is pretty intense:


C-Section of Wilma the Duroc Sow


And then it was to the butchering station:


Butchering Wilma the Duroc Sow


It was a rough couple of days. Sue was up about every hour the first night (and has been similarly since) tending to the piglet, and the whole ordeal was fairly stressful.

But, the Lord, in His graces and mercies, allowed a successful butchering, which appears to have yielded quite a bit of meat and fat; and He has graciously granted a new piglet -- His providentially perpetuating the species. The new little piglet didn't have to be the first one out -- she could have been behind the stuck one, and so we are very grateful.

And yes, I said "she" -- it's a female piglet; and because her sire's name was Fred, and her dam's name Wilma, we're calling her Pebbles. And here she is:


Wilma the Duroc Sow's Piglet Pebbles


I know some of these videos could be somewhat shocking if you haven't seen or been around these kinds of things before, but I wanted to include them so you all could see some of the experiences that are part of life here on the farm.

Another aspect about being here on this farm is that we are part of a community of like-minded brethren. I was able to put out a short-notice solicitation for help with the processing of Wilma the pig, and many folks showed up, representing every household that had someone available. That is a lot of the reason we are all here: Christians serving their (spiritual) family.

Finally, once again, we thank the God of creation for His graces and mercies, and allowing us the provision of this new piglet; and we pray that He might grant this little piglet to grow and be a productive part of the homestead and community, as He might will.

-- David

Friday, March 25, 2011

Homemade Top Bar Bee Hive

In our desire to live separated from the world, we need methods of food preservation; and one of the methods is via sugar. One of most practical ways we could obtain sugar is from honey, which of course comes from bees. Well, in our hopes to be able to produce honey, for its preservation use and for its health benefits, we needed a bee hive. We had heard top-bar hives were better than regular stacked hives, in ease of use for us and the bees; and so rather than purchase one, I found a design on the Internet, and decided to try to build one. The following is the process based on the design provided by Backyard Bee Hives, at http://www.backyardhive.com/images/backyardhiveplans_a.pdf.

Here are the sides and bottom. As per the instructions, the angles were 13 degrees:

Homemade Top Bar Bee Hive Side and Bottom Pieces


And here are the sides and bottom put together. I used 1 1/2" wood screws and wood glue. Also, notice the window hole -- I cut this out before joining everything together:

Homemade Top Bar Bee Hive Side and Bottom Together


For the window, I cut a piece of plexiglass to fit over the hole (I used similar plexiglas to what I used on our solar food dehydrator). In working with the plexiglas, I pre-drilled a small hole, and then bored it out just slightly using a larger drill bit, the same size as the head of the wood screw, to allow the declining angle of the head of the wood screw to fit almost exactly in, making the top of the head of the screw flush with the plexiglas:

Homemade Top Bar Bee Hive Top View with Plexiglas Window in Place


And here's a close up:

Homemade Top Bar Bee Hive Close Up of Plexiglas Window


This is a view of the front side, where you can see the entrance area at the bottom:

Homemade Top Bar Bee Hive Front Side


After getting the main box together, it was time to build the top bars. To make these, I ripped (using a table saw) 1x4s to the width of the top bars, and then cut those "strips" of 1x4 to the width of the hive box. These would be the top of the top bars. For the bottom of the top bars, I ripped 2x wood at probably somewhere around 26.5 degrees I believe for a 1 1/2"-wide top bar (you would need to figure the angle out based on the width of a top bar) down one direction and then down the opposite way, which basically created long strips of the pointed top bar bottoms (with the point running down the middle of the top bar); and then I chopped the end of those at 13 degrees (beveling each in opposite directions) to be able to fit inside the top of the hive box, accounting for the width of the sides of the hive:

Homemade Top Bar Bee Hive Top Bar Pieces


And here they are put together. I glued them and used wood screws:

Homemade Top Bar Bee Hive Top Bar Bottom View
Homemade Top Bar Bee Hive Top Bar Top View


Here is the false back that's part of the design. Moving the false back up to the last bar with comb on it during the Winter creates a smaller space in the hive to help the bees stay warmer:

Homemade Top Bar Bee Hive False Back


And here is the false back and some of the top bars in place. I had to file down some of the bottom parts of the top bars to get them to fit into the sides of the hive box:

Homemade Top Bar Bee Hive with False Back and Some Top Bars in Place


And then here is the hive with all of them in place, including the front and back handles that book-end the top bars. For those, I installed one handle first, placed all of the top bars in place not too tightly, and then installed the other handle up against the top bar next to it:

Homemade Top Bar Bee Hive with All Top Bars in Place


I changed the lid design a little, making it gabled instead of just flat. This was more complicated, but allows for the use of 1x wood for the top instead of plywood, and hopefully will allow the rain to run off easier:

Homemade Top Bar Bee Hive with Lid On


In joining the boards at the roof peak, I drilled pilot holes from one board to the other, and drilled out the hole a little more with a larger bit to allow the head of the screw to sink farther in; and for this part, I used 3/4" wood screws:

Homemade Top Bar Bee Hive Lid Joined with Screw at the Peak


I also angled downward the tops of the edge pieces of the hive top to allow for better water run-off:

Homemade Top Bar Bee Hive Lid with Angled Edges


And here's a picture of the end of the lid:

Homemade Top Bar Bee Hive Lid Side View


Once built, to weatherize it, I painted all of the external parts with water sealer. After that was dry, I caulked the lid on the outside and inside to help keep water from getting into the inside of the hive:

Homemade Top Bar Bee Hive Painting with Water Sealer
Homemade Top Bar Bee Hive Underside Painting with Water Sealer


Once painted, I attached the window cover with hinges:

Homemade Top Bar Bee Hive Side Window Hinges


Here it is open:

Homemade Top Bar Bee Hive Side Window Open


I also added wood latches I cut to keep the door closed. I originally tried aluminum butterfly latches, but those were pretty flimsy and bent easily:

Homemade Top Bar Bee Hive Side Window Latched Closed


We are grateful to the Lord for allowing the provision of this hive; and we pray we are able to husband bees well, to His glory, for preserving food, and having more bees to keep our gardens and trees pollinated.

-- David

Friday, March 18, 2011

Orange Day 2011

On March 17 of each year, we have a tradition around here of having an orange party, with orange being the somewhat official color of Protestants, in protest of the Roman Catholic St. Patrick's Day and their green color. Some time ago, Protestants in Northern Ireland and Scotland took the color orange in honor of William the III, also known as William of Orange, and for his stands against the Roman Catholics, especially on July 12, where he defeated the antichrist Roman Catholic forces at the Battle of the Boyne (see the "Antichrist" section on our "Soul Info" page regarding our belief that the Pope and Roman Catholic Church are the Antichrist and religious system of Antichrist).

And so, last night we met at the community center and celebrated with a meal and fellowship:

Mar 17, 2011 Protestant Orange Day Gathering
Mar 17, 2011 Protestant Orange Day More Gathering
Mar 17, 2011 Protestant Orange Day Food
Mar 17, 2011 Protestant Orange Day More Food
Mar 17, 2011 Protestant Orange Day Eating the Meal
Mar 17, 2011 Protestant Orange Day More Eating the Meal
Mar 17, 2011 Protestant Orange Day In Remembrance
Mar 17, 2011 Protestant Orange Day In Remembrance


And may we pass along these remembrances to the next generations:

Preparing the Next Generation for Protestant Orange Day


Mr. Bunker also talked a little bit about the day and our homegrown tradition of this day; and he read the following poem, in remembrance of those Protestant Waldenses killed at the massacre on them by the Catholics in Piedmont in 1655:
Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints, whose bones

Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold,

Even them who kept thy truth so pure of old,

When all our fathers worshiped stocks and stones;

Forget not: in thy book record their groans

Who were thy sheep and in their ancient fold

Slain by the bloody Piedmontese that rolled

Mother with infant down the rocks. Their moans

The vales redoubled to the hills, and they

To Heaven. Their martyred blood and ashes sow

O'er all th' Italian fields where still doth sway

The triple tyrant; that from these may grow

A hundredfold, who having learnt thy way

Early may fly the Babylonian woe.

Amen!

-- David

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tractor Fixin'

The last time we blogged about our tractor, it was in pieces after a rear axle had sheared and the axle casing had cracked apart when trying to chisel-plow a field here on the land.

Well, the Lord, in His mercies and will, saw fit to allow us to find replacement parts at a fairly local tractor salvage yard; and so after I was able to go get them, Mr. Gillis, a local friend of the community, graciously offered some more of his time; and we began to work on putting it all back together.

We used the engine hoist to pick up and maneuver the new axle (the combination of the axle and housing really made that piece heavy):

Preparing to Install Farmall 806 Tractor Axle


Here we are trying to position it. Notice that we had placed a new gasket, which I had to obtain from a local Case-IH (the company that now owns Farmall) dealer, in position (the new gasket is the greyish outline on the tractor where the axle casing goes):

Positioning Farmall 806 Tractor Axle for Installation


Mr. Gillis had me cut the heads off of a couple of bolts so that we could use them as positioners, sliding the axle onto them to get it into place while holding the axle up against the tractor. The first time we slid the axle on the bolts, we unknowingly did it out of position; and then the new axle casing appeared as if it was the wrong part! But after getting the holes aligned correctly, it was the correct part (thankfully!!):

Installing Farmall 806 Trator Axle


And here is the replacement axle in place. Notice, though, the large hole behind the chain in the front of the axle casing (you can see it in the above pictures a little better):

Replacement Farmall 806 Tractor Axle in Place


Well, that large hole in the front is where the drive gear goes. We thought it went in after the axle went on; but once the axle was bolted, we realized we couldn't get it to fit in, which meant removing the axle again. Once on the ground, we still couldn't get it into place, and then realized that the main "bull gear" (which is the large gear shown in the last picture of the "Tough Tractorin'" blog post above) needed to be removed to get the drive gear in place. However, that couldn't be removed without removing a new replacement bearing we had pounded into place onto the axle. Sadly, removing that bearing didn't go too well; and I ended up cracking the casing; and so, we just broke it off (it took over an hour to do that), and had to get a new bearing (which meant stopping for the day that day). Once we got a new bearing, we put the drive gear and bull gear in place, installed the new bearing, and were once again ready to go. You can see in the picture the drive gear in place now:

Farmall 806 Tractor Axle with Drive Gear Installed


And so, we reattached the axle, and then started putting everything else back. Here you can see the axle and the brakes re-installed (the brake drum went over the drive gear):

Farmall 806 Tractor Axle and Brakes Installed


And last but not least, we put the wheel back on using Mr. Gillis' front-loader on his tractor and a chain:

Farmall 806 Tractor Axle Replaced and Wheel Installed


And there you have it. When I first drove it after all of this, the center cap of the brake drum had pushed out and disappeared, and there was a small amount of smoke and flakes coming out of it as I would drive. I eventually figured out one of the brake pads had slid onto the drive gear crooked; and with a little bit of pounding effort, I was able to straighten it out, install a new center cap; and the tractor seems to be working just fine.

We are thankful to the Lord for allowing us the continued intermediate means of the tractor as we endeavor to work the land so as to be able to separate further from the world. I would like to put forth a big push this year to try to get our fields under control, including getting our upper field in a perennial pasture grass, which in my estimation requires the use of a tractor; and so, hopefully we'll be able to do that, as the Lord wills. Once again, we are grateful for God's graces and mercies in these temporal provisions. And thanks also to Mr. Gillis for his time and effort.

-- David

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Providence's Perpetuation Provisions: New Chick, and More Chicks

One of the hens we got last year went broody some time in December, and sat on eggs in our barn for weeks on end, including through the big cold front that went through in February. Well, just recently, I went to put a little food and water next to her as I would do each evening, and from underneath her I heard a "cheep-cheep"! With William, our cat, running around, we knew we had to get her into our mini-chicken tractor (see the middle of that blog post); and so we moved her and the chick in there; and here is a little video of them together in the mini-tractor. (I say in the video we first heard the chick in the mini-tractor; but that was incorrect, as we first heard it in the barn, and then moved the hen and chick into the mini-tractor from there):

Video of New Hatchling and the Mother Hen


We don't know what breed the little one is, so it'll be interesting to find that out eventually, Lord willing.


New Araucana Chicks

Also recently, a lady in a nearby town had some new pullet chicks available for purchase (she indicated that for the most part we can know they are females by the fact that they have even-length feathers on their wings; she said it may not be 100%, but has worked well for her in identifying the sex of the chick); and since we were looking for a few more female chicks (using the wing-length method, we think the hatchling is a female), and since this lady's would be about the same age as our new hatchling, we thought we might pick them up and put them in with the mother hen and the new chick, hoping the mother hen would adopt them. Well, that didn't work at all -- the mother hen actually attacked them pretty violently; and so, since our new hatchling was at least a week and a half old, we decided to pull the mother hen out and put her back with the rest of the flock before adding the new chicks with the hatcling. This seems to have worked pretty well, as the chicks all seem to get along, although the mother hen has spent a lot of time around the mini-tractor trying to get back with her chick.

Here is a picture and a video of the new young flock. The new chicks are Araucana breed, which lay green eggs; and we picked up all 10 of them that she had:

New Flock of Araucana Chicks and New Hatchling

Video of New Araucana Chicks and New Hatchling


We are grateful to the Lord for granting a dedicated broody hen, and the bringing forth of a new chick; and we pray the broody instinct was passed along to this new chick. We are also thankful to God for allowing the provisions of the other new chicks, and we pray He grant that they become productive resources here.

-- David

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

David's Digest: Quick Quiz

Quick quiz:

Who invented Agrarianism?

Answer: God
Before the fall: Gen 2:15 - "And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."

After the fall: Gen 3:19,23 - "19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. 23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken."

Who invented Industrialism?

Answer: Man
Jer 17:9 - "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"

Prov 4:23 - "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."

Prov 14:12 - "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."

Agrarianism or Industrialism: it's God's way or the highway.

Learn more at www.offoffgrid.com

-- David