April started off with Easter services at church! John David is employed at our multi-site church as the Weekend Services Coordinator. We don’t typically go to church together since he is usually at different campuses but we did manage to take a family Easter picture after service!
I made several batches of lye soap this month. Since we have a lot of lard from our pigs, I made simple soaps made with just lye and lard. I experimented with adding oats and salt to the basic lye soap recipe and have been pleased with the results. I’m selling the lye soap for $3 a bar and other soaps which are made out of other oils like coconut oil, cocoa butter and such are $4 a bar.
I started making soap late last summer and it’s so neat using soaps that I made – we have them in our bathrooms for showering and hand washing as well as in the kitchen. I also love giving soaps as gifts!
Sweet little Laura is my chore tag along most of the time. I’m so thankful for a comfortable baby carrier that allows me to wear her on the front or back.
John David built a smoker for smoking hams and bacon! He built it using salvaged materials.
On April 10, some friends had a baby lamb that the mother wouldn’t accept so we acquired our very first bottle lamb. The kids love her and have named her Blossom. She spent several nights in the dog crate near the wood stove but has since been moved outside. She’s a sweet little lamb.
April was gardening mode month – we got our garden beds prepped and paths chipped. The local FFA chapter had a plant sale on April 13th and we purchased a lot of tomatoes, peppers and some herbs for the garden. We had to wait several days before getting everything planted because April was pretty chilly.
Cecilia loves Blossom.
On April 14, I was in our upper garden working on prepping the garden beds and I looked up to see our pigs running around in their pen. It was unusual because they usually move very slowly and are quite calm. I started walking towards the pen to see what was going on and saw two pit bulls chasing them down. I started yelling at the dogs to stop and for John David (who was off but inside taking a nap because he’d spent all morning prepping garden beds). I got down to our basement area and both dogs were attacking our mama pig. I yelled at them, got their attention and she managed to get away. At that point, I was scared for my own safety so I ran up the basement stairs inside the house and to get John David up.
I ran back outside. He gets up, grabs a gun and heads outside. When I get back around, the dogs have attacked one of our baby pigs and a neighbor comes running through the woods since he’s heard me yelling.
The dogs killed one of the baby pigs and the other two babies, the mama and our other pig, Evergreen, ran away. The only pig left on the property was our boar.
A few minutes later we heard a gun shot and our neighbor said “I bet someone just shot one of your pigs.” Sure enough, he was right. Another neighbor shot Evergreen. (He said he thought she was a wild boar.)
To make a long story short, we called the police and filed a report because this was the third time these dogs have attacked (they killed several chickens at our neighbors on two separate occasions). We ended up with one baby pig killed by the pit bulls and a sow shot by a neighbor. Another neighbor found our injured mama pig and we were able to get her home safely and treat her wounds and the other two baby pigs came home at sunset that evening.
It was a traumatic and scary day, hearing that baby pig killed was horrible but I was just so, so thankful that it was just a pig that was killed and not my children. My children play in those woods. We felt so very safe here on our property and let the big kids roam freely and even let baby Laura play outside. Things could have been so much worse.
(And, I’ve always been pretty neutral regarding pit bulls until now. They wanted to kill. Our Australian Shepherd sometimes enjoys chasing our chickens and would probably enjoy chasing our pigs if allowed the opportunity BUT she has never, ever tried to kill any of our animals – much less take on a 150 pound plus pig.)
After the pit bull attack, we had another pig to process. We were able to get her within 10 minutes of being shot so thankfully there was no waste. It was an unplanned slaughter and we just made a lot of sausage instead of curing anything or doing any specialty cuts. The kids were big helpers when it came time to package the sausage. Cecilia loves putting labels on the packages.
The boys both do a good job working the grinder.
The kids were so helpful making sausage. They helped their daddy with the grinding, mixing in seasonings and packaging from start to finish.
Our kiddos are growing too. This picture was taken April 22. Cecilia is 4, Weston is 6, Laura is 11 months and Paxton is 8 (as of April 16th!)
On April 27th, we put our meat birds out on pasture. They have done very well. Aside from the few losses we had during the first couple of days, we didn’t lose any other birds.
We had 40+ broilers this time so we divided them between two chicken tractors.
Laura loves Blossom. She has enjoyed feeding her the bottle. We’ve been pleased with how well Blossom is doing. We have never raised a bottle lamb and we were very excited that she survived the first week.
There’s a lot to look forward to in May – a first birthday for Laura, chicken processing and watching the garden grow!