The Farm on Oak Creek

Wicked Week

I did not miss last week’s post because I wanted to.  In fact, after a trip to Prescott Monday morning to help a friend, I rushed home and sat down at the computer to begin writing my post.  Then I looked out the windows and had a panic attack. The Mason Ditch (the stream/irrigation ditch that runs through the center of my property) was well on its way to being empty.  Like “down to a trickle” empty.

This was a crisis of massive proportions. Why? Because without water, the bridges at either end of my property turn that stream bed into an animal superhighway–both coming and going–and I hadn’t yet seen my remaining two piggy girls since returning. I rushed out and scoured the property.  I didn’t see them anywhere.  Removing the handy panel that pig-proofs the gate in my western fence,  I made my way toward my neighbor’s house. This is the most likely direction they would have gone had they chosen to go on walkabout. I know this because this is the direction their mother went the few times she escaped.

handy panel in front of the bridge opening

One bridge blocked

There was no sign of piggy hoof prints. That sent me back to the front barn where I grabbed a handy panel (oh, how I love handy panels!) and shoved it in front of the east bridge, just in case the dogs were considering going eastward to visit my friend Jacquie’s chickens (never a nice visit for her birds). It took a little work to get it in place because it’s wider than the gate I usually put there when the water is off.

Why, you might ask, wasn’t I using the gate I usually put there? Because it’s buried in mud under the platform my ex built for the waterwheel that I may never get installed.  Why is it buried in mud instead of stored in my barn for future use?  Because the Mason Ditch people can’t remember to warn me before they restore the water. By the time I notice the water is on again, whatever was in front of the bridge has been knocked down and buried in rock and mud. I do believe this gate is sitting on top of the previous gate. I’m hoping that the guy who’s coming to do ditch repairs will dig it out for me.  I really want it back.

After putting my handy panel in place, I grabbed two more and started down to the bridge at the far end of the property. This barrier is a little more complicated to construct, because the bridge is wider and I can’t drive a t-post into any part of the ditch bed. As I’ve done in the past, I instead dragged a twelve-foot section of pipe fencing to the back bridge, turned it upside down, dropped it into place, then tied the handy panels to it with baling twine.

Now, mind you, the whole time I’m doing this, I’m panicking because I still haven’t seen the pigs. This is really unusual. They considered the back of the property “theirs” and, being curious creatures, like to inspect what’s being done. They also like to help.

So, once the barrier is in place, I again walk the property only to find them making their way back from who-knows-where to see if the turkeys had been fed yet, because we all know that pigs need to eat what the turkeys eat. Whew.

But by then it was time for evening chores and my window for writing this post had disappeared. I figured I’d do it early on Tuesday morning, but Tuesday I did something I never usually do.  I overslept…all the way to 6:00 AM.  That left me too little time between waking up the computer and moving animals to write anything. Tuesday morning is always limited due to a standing appointment that restores body to full, working condition. So I had my eye on Tuesday afternoon, but a web client had an emergency. That was the end of my free time for the day.

Wednesday was out because I was slaughtering piggy #5, only Wednesday took a turn and I ended up slaughtering #5 and #6.  Sigh. I’ll miss my piggy girls.

By Wednesday evening the slaughtering was done, but I was toast. Friends who love me were kind enough to bring dinner. But I still had a carcass to process on Thursday. Then Thursday evening another friend dropped by unexpectedly and we had a great dinner. I have finally decided I like pulled pork, at least when I make it with my pork.  Friday went by the wayside because my sister came up from Phoenix to come visit, which was fabulous as always. And yesterday, Saturday, I could no longer avoid my clean up chores. kitchen is scoured, the barn floor, trash cans and stainless steel table have all been power-washed, the compost pit is full and topped with dirt and rock. All the primal cuts have been turned into edible portions and vacuumed sealed. I do still have 30 pounds of scrap to turn into ground pork, hams to brine, bacon to cure and another 20 pounds of scrap to turn into dog food. But I’m close enough to done that I thought I’d grab this time to finish last week’s post, which will also be this week’s post.

I’m hoping that finishing this is a sign that next week will be easier.  That said, I still have 13 turkeys to process before Christmas and a book to finish before New Year’s Day. Perhaps 2018 will be an easier year?

© Denise Domning, 2023