Category Archives: pets

Baby Season

Baby season has begun here at Crazy Boy Farm. This year we did things a little different. We waited until our females actually went in heat before putting them in with our males. So this year we actually sort of knew when the babies would come. So we were watching for signs and doing night checks and trying to be as prepared as possible.

Our first batch of babies was piglets. Their mother Elsa had really struggled last year (her first farrowing) with breech births and long labor and ended up only giving us one live baby. So this year we really weren’t sure what to expect. We were just hoping that it would go easier for her and hopefully some live babies.


She ended up giving us 10! Being a purebred Berkshire Hog (a heritage breed or old breed) she hasn’t been bred to give lots of babies. At the most we were hoping for 8. So when 7 and 8 came out together we thought we were done, but then about an hour later number 9 came out and 3 hours after that 10. Effie in particular is very happy with the piglets as you can see above. And Avril has really made a wonderful midwife for the animals learning how to clean the babies and make sure they are nursing and thriving.


One is missing in this picture. It is still pretty cold around here so we do have heat lamps for them.


The piglets are already a week old and some of them are joining their mother for a walk outside. I love this picture because it looks like she is talking to them. In all honesty I think she does talk to them. The range of vocalizations between them is impressive. I also love how they will look at each other when they are talking.


Then last night we had baby goats born. I had been watching Pearl, the mother, for two days. I checked her at 9 pm last night and she was calmly eating, then at the 10 pm check there were 3 babies. The last one was still in the sack and I tried to revive it but was not successful. Then while I was there she gave birth to a 4th one! this is highly unusual. The final baby was breach and was also born in the sack. I actually had to use my fingernails to ripe open the sack and free the baby. This one survived. So Pearl gave us 2 boys and 1 girl. We checked them often last night since it was so cold and they also have a lamp. They are all doing well and nursing, though one of these will likely be a bottle baby and it is hard for mothers to nurse triplets.


This little guy is the children’s favorite.

I am so pleased with how the season is going and how much the children are enjoying it. I actually don’t have to beg them to help with chores and sometimes they are even ready before I am.


Somehow Mavis even manages to look fashionable when she is out working with the animals. They make it all worth.


The Animals of Crazy Boy Farm and Open House

For years now we have been saying we want to do a calendar. But you know how it is and other projects keep pushing it to a back burner. But as we are loving this spring weather and all the animals on our farm (who are also loving the spring weather) I got an idea for a post–the Animals of Crazy Boy Farm.

But first I wanted to invite all you to our spring open house on May 31st, from 1-4:00. We will have tours, up close encounters with some of our animals, tasty food (we will provide the main dish, please bring a dish to share), great conversation and more. Hope to see you there. And don’t forget we still have some CSA shares available here.


Avril and Buddy, the pony we were given last year. Avril is training him as part of her 4H horse project.



Avril practicing backing Buddy up.




Mavis would love a pony of her own but we are working on being content with what we have and what we do have is a mini donkey. Donkey (his name was Jack but since we already had a Jack he became Donkey but now Mavis has decided he needs a better name so she chose John) came to our farm 2 years ago. For a long time he was the biggest animal we had. He loves the attention but is still stubborn.


Mavis and Avril practicing “ground work.”


Berkshire hogs joined our farm last year. We are expecting babies in June. Here they are waiting for dinner.



In this post we talked about jersey calves joining our farm. Well here is what they look like now. It was a rough winter and we have learned alot along the way. Out of the 5 we have 2 left but they are going strong. As another farmer friend told us when farming with animals “the learning curve really stinks!” But we are very happy with these boys.





It is now goat season. These 2 were born yesterday and we actually got to see it. All the children except for the baby were there to see at least the 2nd baby born. As Two said, “boy the miracle of life is messy!”






Then of course there is Jack, our constant companion. He is loving this warm weather and a quick role in the leaves.

A Sick Kitty

It was quite the weekend–a teaching weekend to say the least. On Saturday morning our chicks arrived. Though I have done it couple times already it still makes me nervous handling those little chicks and dipping their little beaks in water and releasing them into the brooder. Exciting but scary.

Then we had a sick kitty to take to our vet. Remember here when I talked about getting two kittens for the children right after Mavis was born around 4 years ago. Those kittens became babies and were carried around the house just like them and became part of the family and the children’s best friend. Well one of them had been loosing weight and vitality. I hadn’t really noticed the gradual change since I see him every day. Then it got to the point that it was too noticeable to miss. And we were off the vet with a sick kitty right after being up early with chicks. I thought maybe he just had worms, but after some tests the vet thought he might have feline leukemia or liver problems, but we would have to wait an half hour to find out. So we did our weekly shopping and it was seriously the worst shopping trip of my life. The children kept asking about Austin and I am the type that imagines the worst so I am thinking we might have a dead kitty by the end of the day.

Of course when you have children it is not only your own grief you have to deal with but model healthy grief to teach your children how to deal with the sad things in life they will inevitably have to encounter. I was praying like crazy for the strength to deal with not only my own grief but the childrens.

After the tests came back it was the liver but not a chronic problem. So we are trying to flush him out with fluid and getting him eating and drinking and some energy. This means hourly feedings and some fluid injections. It was quite the weekend, but better then I expected. At one point Avril said to me, “Are you doing all these things for Austin because he is my cat and you know I love him?” Yes baby yes I am.

But also I want to model the care and service that will give you a fulfilling life. Nothing like saving a life over the weekend–even a cat’s life to make you realize that a life of service is not a drudgery but very rewarding. I hope that I can teach to children that taking care of the gifts God has given us is definitely the best use of our time. Austin is not out of the woods yet, but he is successfully eating and drinking through a syringe and I am hopefully that with continued assistance he will soon be his old perky self.

Livestock–Chickens in the City

About 2 years ago I heard about a growing movement referred to simply as “chickens in the city.” This movement was of urban families keeping chickens in the backyard. I knew there was at least one rooster in our neighborhood. My first interest was as a writer. The Hmong people I knew personally and through work would be really interested in this I thought. However in the course of studying up for my article and interviewing the then leader of the movement I became hooked. In April 2008 we bought 4 chicks at a local feed store–a Rhode Island Red, Patridge Rock, Blue Cochin and Americana. I didn’t know there were breads of chickens!

We brought them home (no cats at the time) and let the kids play with them. I was completely fascinated as well. I loved the way they walked and watching them for any signs of change. As their feathers started to change from down to their adult colors I finally got to see what they would be like when were older. Oh and when they laid their first egg I had to call everyone and tell them.

One day my big tough brother-in-law was over. By now the chickens were in a coop behind the house. He dared Two to go get a chicken. Two walked over grabbed one and brought it to his uncle, who immediately changed his tone and said, “I don’t want it.”

I do have to admit there was a turning point for me as well. The bigger they got the more nervous I got. One day when we had them in a pen on the porch waiting to transition to the outside world I went out to feed them only to discover they had escaped and were perching on the side of the pen. I had a momentary panic attack and was ready to go get Proeun to put them back when I realized, “if I am going to live on the farm I have to be confident handling the animals. I can do this.” And so I did. Now I am the primary one to handle them.

It is hard though to care for only 4 chickens. Most books about housing and such are geared at least towards a hobby farm with more space then we have. The other “chickens in the city” folk view their chicken different then country folk. We are having negative temperatures here and have had them for about a week with no end in site. We did go buy a heater for the coop but last year we used only a 100 watt lightbulb for heat during the day. Others on our google list advocate bringing them indoors as according to them chickens can’t handle the cold. However the main concensus is that they are doing just fine.

Also we had a period from October to December when 2 chickens were molting. They don’t lay when they molt. The 3rd one was not  laying either whatever her excuse was. So we had only one chicken laying and she didn’t lay everyday. We were in conservation mode. Finally I had to buy a dozen eggs. Now luckily they are all laying again even in the cold weather. One nice thing about having different types of chickens is you can tell what eggs have been laid by which chickens. Here is a picture of our bounty.


Two and Best Friend Carrie

Two and Carrie taking and afternoon nap.

Two weeks after Mavis was born we were out running errands. Proeun’s paternity leave was almost up and we wanted to get as much done as possible so I wouldn’t have to go anywhere by myself during the first weeks after her birth. One of those errands was to pick up some chicken feed. We had seen a small independent place not too far away and wanted to try it out. When we arrived we saw some animals in a rabbit hutch by the door, I assumed they were rabbits and kept walking. Of course the children didn’t.

Turns out they were a couple litters of kittens that someone had dumped at the store. When Proeun asked how much the cats were and reply was, “they are free take them all if you like,” I knew we would be leaving with at least one cat. In the end we decided on 2 one for each of the older children.

Two had his eye on a cute gray one. Proeun was eyeing a black and white tom that showed particular spirit. We had been having mouse problems in the spring and fall and wanted to ensure that we had at least one mouser. On the way home Two announced that their names were Austin and Carrie.

Both have been beautiful additions to our family. While they are a little extra work the pay off is much higher. For weeks the children had their babies and I had mine. They carried their kittens around the house like proud parents. Carrie and Austin grew to be highly social with each other, our dog Hiro and us. But while Austin spreads his love around we noticed pretty early on that Carrie preferred Two and Two alone. She knows who her boy is and loves him to death. Two also knows who his cat is, he told me, “Carrie is my best friend.”

The two even sleep together at night and for naps. If for some reason we don’t nap at home or miss a nap Carrie is especially eager to sleep with Two the next day. I have been trying for days to get a picture of them sleeping together and yesterday I finally got one.

We haven’t seen any mice since they moved into our home.