Monthly Archives: March 2016

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.



What a wonderful change this year has been. We have already enjoyed almost a week of 60 degree weather. This is VERY unusual for Minnesota. Even though this week is a bit cooler the break in winter weather (hopefully the end, pretty please) has been so refreshing. But with the change in weather comes other changes to the farm.


I really have no business complaining. Really Mud season is not that bad; except that it is very had to walk and all that cold mud is really hard on the animals, but it is heralding something much better. We just came off 3 days of rain so we are super saturated but hopefully it will start to dry out now.


Meet Zelen. One of our goals with moving to the farm was helping to get the children set up. We wanted to show them ways to avoid debt, make extra income, and be as self sufficient as possible. So Proeun II has started his own cattle business. Zelen is a 3 year old Galloway. We purchased her bred and will hopefully have a calf this June. She is accompanied by Claire who is a year old this month. We are so excited to start this process with the children. II will be showing Claire at the fair this year.


Scout and Tiger. Really good mousers are worth their weight in gold and we try hard to colonize at least 2 cats in each of our out buildings but with spring these 2 guys were getting into more fights and Tiger had been taking off for longer and longer periods of time. At one point we really thought we had lost him. So we decided that it was worth the extra money to invest in their health and they have both been fixed now. All the cats on our farm have now been fixed (except for one female we hope will give us kittens so the children can experience it once before we fix her).


Avril is hoping to start her own business this spring as well–sheep. And with sheep come sheep dogs. I actually was feeling the need for some herding dogs every time the goats got out but it really wasn’t in the budget. Then we came across these 2 dogs. They are actually Amish dogs and a mix of herding breeds (Australian Shepherd, Blue Mountain Heeler and Border Collie). They were just right. Avril will be joining II in Dog training this year through 4H.

DSC_1278[1] DSC_1273[1]

We have also begun growing for our CSA. After several years on our own farm it is nice to have some systems set up that make the work more routine. We now have our cooler doing double duty as a germination room and our small greenhouse up that we use for early season. It is so fun to see the very beginnings of plant babies.


We are also waiting on our animal babies. Elsa our Berkshire hog will farrow again any day now. And the goats will start after that. I do love spring.

Land Stewardship Project Comes to Northern and East Central MN

We have been a part of the Land Stewardship Project (LSP) ever since we got started farming. We were introduced to them by the Minnesota Food Association and have enjoyed attending their various farmer training programs and been a part of their CSA Directory for many years. But I am sorry to admit that I really haven’t been aware of their work on policy issues until last night.

LSP is opening a new office in Duluth. They hope to cover the whole state and one of the major issues they are working on is affordable health insurance for farmers. And then there is the Farm Bill. This lengthy document is produced every 6 years in Washington and details much if not all of the policy that affects farms, rural communities and anyone who eats food in the U.S.

I don’t understand this document. I am completely at a loss and I am beginning to realize that we can not depend on media in this country to accurately report the issues that affect us most.

So when I got the invitation to attend a LSP policy meeting that would actually be held in my neck of the woods I realized it was a must.

Last night I joined around 25 other farmers from the area who are interested in legislation that will “support family farmers and sustainable agriculture. Promote the next generation of family farmers on the land. And Stop corporate controlled agribusiness from hijacking the next farm bill.”

Of course the inevitable debate came up–the chemical debate. Some farmers were absolutely against any chemicals, another had a large no-till operation that used herbicides to control weeds. However the organizers, Kaitlyn and Tom, were able to reframe the conversation. Small farms have an uphill battle, and we shouldn’t fight so much about the method. As I have said before I firmly believe that no farmers want to damage the land. They all have decisions they have to make for their land, family and businesses. Often times those are hard decisions.

The debates over method can drive us away from focusing on moving forward. Tom said, “the things we can’t do alone we can do together. . . .we can move policies, legislatures.” The key therefore is, “organized people, ideas and resources.”

Since 1996 LSP has been working with the Farm Bill. In 2002 the Conservation Stewardship Program (one that promotes conversation efforts on rural land) was included, while a ban on Packer (meat packers) owned Livestock passed in the Senate but not the House.

In 2008 funds were allocated for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Programs and in 2014 amid a “really hostile enviroment,” Kaitlyn said their goal was to maintain the programs that have already passed and expand them nationwide.

Currently their main goal is to prepare for the next Farm Bill in 2020 and oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership. While this may not sound like a farm related issue, this agreement between 12 pacific rim countries was negotiated in private and would allow multi-national companies to sue governments (federal all the way down to municipal) for infringing on trade rights. These trade rights would take precedence over all else. One farmer named Mike said that this issue particularly concerned him, “It would affect our way of life. Everything from wages to conservation and our ability to function as a democracy.”

I am so glad I went to last nights meeting. I think if there is one thing I am learning this year it is that I want to be more aware of what is going on in this country and involved in politics. Before I left last night I committed to calling my representatives.

Of course there is still alot to be done around the farm, but if I want to be able to maintain the life I love so much then I need to be involved.


Kaitlyn educates on the farm bill.