Home, Monthly Updates

Married, Honeymooned, Home (and it’s snowing!)

We got a couple big events checked off our to-do list in September and October. Get married – check! Honeymoon – check! And now, we’re home, relaxed and ready to tackle our next steps, and excited that our lamb and pork are just about a month away from going to market! Below are a few of our favorite wedding and honeymoon pictures.  Maybe not the typical farm website post, but hey, we hear some of you would like to see some pictures, and it is the biggest happening on the farm of late!

First things first though.  Keep an eye on the Markets and Products sections of our website as they transition from summer markets to winter and as we transition to our full line of products, adding pork, lamb, and rabbit to our product availability!  This Wednesday will be our last farmers’ market day at Asheville City Market – South in Arden. SO, come see us from 2-6 to stock up your freezer with chicken and buy a few dozen eggs (they really do last 4-6 weeks!).  Get ready for football season with a freezer full of chicken wings! Supplies of all cuts are limited so come early!  We’ll have plenty of fresh whole chickens as well.  We might very well have some chicken recipes for you to take home. Graham and I cooked a large whole bird last Wednesday, and have four recipes we made with leftovers to pass along: whole roasted bird, chicken burritos, chicken salad, and chicken soup (then broth!).

Also, we’re in dire need of egg cartons, so if you remember to bring them along, it’ll make Wendy’s day to get stacks of cartons!!

Last week and this weekend at the farm were all about preparing our animals for winter’s sudden onslaught. It was 70 degrees last week, and now as I’m writing, the view from our window is gray and dreary, with trees bending in the wind, shedding the last of their leaves and just starting to show the white dusting of snow.  By tomorrow morning, our farm will be under its first blanket of snow since becoming “our farm”, so we spent the past couple days making sure our ewes can sit out the storm in their shed, out of the wind, that our hogs have plenty of dry straw to bed down in, and that our hoses and water troughs are set up to handle a hard freeze.  As for Graham and I, the next couple days are office days, and when the snow clears, this week’s big project is working our ewes: checking for parasites and the twice yearly task of trimming hooves.  I, for one, am very happy we have a headgate and tilt table now, so I don’t end up sore for days from plopping each ewe back on her rump to trim hooves, like we did last time. I didn’t need any convincing that a tilt table was a good investment after that experience!

And now, picture time: Wedding and Honeymoon.  Our wedding was a wonderful celebration, full of friends, family, love, laughter, tears, sunshine, a downpour, pig wrangling (yes, the piglets got out on the wedding day), and rainbows.  It was truly perfect. All but two of the wedding photos below are from one of our photographer, Jaclyn Morgan. Find more of our wedding photos and more of her photos at http://www.jaclynmorganphotography.com. We highly recommend her! Also, our cake was made by Holly from Sweet Monkey Bakery. Best wedding cake imaginable! Seriously, who’s ever heard of a delicious wedding cake? This was was as delicious as it was beautiful! Alright, that’s it for the wedding plugs.  Actually, anyone looking for a caterer should consider Black-Eyed Susan Catering in Black Mountain. Stress free and absolutely delicious. Ok, now that’s it for the plugs 🙂

We spent a week afterwards in the British Virgin Islands, spending the first four days on our own rented sailboat (with Captain Graham Brugh at the helm), and the last couple days lounging on the beach.  It was great to get away and to realize that we CAN go on vacation and that typically, nothing too drastic will happen while we’re away (there were a few small things that didn’t go perfectly).  A relief to know that vacations are still an option (as long as we find good farmsitters!).  Here you go: pictures.

Monthly Updates

The Good, The Bad, and The Beautiful

It’s been a fast and busy summer, and we’ve been blessed with a lot of good, a little bit of bad, and several beautiful additions to the farm as well as reminders of what a beautiful place we live and how lucky we are to be doing our work.  Wendy’s still trying to learn to set aside time to write things up and keep our friends posted about farm life. It’s been a long time since the last post, so long that this update will include the fact that we’ve had our next batch of piglets (sadly, a very small one)!  Our first farrowing back in June brought us a total of 18 piglets (9 per sow), who are now happily out on pasture, separate from their parents and growing like weeds!

For those of you who don’t have time to read a whole post and want some pictures, scroll down to the bottom!

I’ll start with the good and the exciting.  Front and center in our lives right now are the Farm Tour, coming up this weekend, and our wedding in 11 days!  Dry Ridge Farm got its first press this week in a feature about the upcoming Farm Tour. You can check that out here (though the fantastic picture of Graham with one of our sows is not in the online version):  http://www.mountainx.com/article/45346/Come-out-for-Buff-Orpingtons-and  (we’re near the end).  As promised in that article, Farm Tour visitors will get to see week-old piglets. Clementine had her first litter on Friday, and she, like her two sisters who gave birth in June, is an excellent mother; she’s extremely calm and non-aggressive toward us, which is a wonderful genetic trait to have on our farm!  Unfortunately, we made a mistake that led to three piglets “disappearing” (we didn’t notice a hole in the farrowing stall… that’s a seriously dumb mistake we won’t make again!). So we have five tiny little piglets now.  Exciting, but far fewer than we’d hoped.

Our lambs and piglets from our June group have set out on their own and are rotating through separate pastures and getting ready for market (can’t wait til late November to taste our first pork and lamb!); we also moved our last batch of meat chickens for the season out of the brooder and onto pasture. No more brooder until February, and while it’s been great to have chicken for market this summer, it’s also very exciting to think that we won’t have to work with them for several months!  They just not as rewarding as our other animals.  Hogs and lambs and laying hens all have personality; meat chicken… Not so much.

Finally, we decided to grow our lamb production more quickly and added 16 ewes to our flock of 22 back in July.  We bought a ram at a Dorpor auction in late July and we put him to work about 6 weeks ago. He seems very happy surrounded by his 38 ladies, and we’re very happy at the prospect of having more lambs in late January!

Life at Dry Ridge has truly been wonderful.  About once a week, I (Wendy) will be driving around doing chores and get hit by how lucky I am to be doing the work I do and spending my days surrounded by animals and beautiful land.  That doesn’t mean we don’t have bad days though; they come with the territory. Most of those bad days have been due to the fact that where there is a lot of life, there is necessarily death.  Ideally, we’d like for that to come only when we plan for it, but life doesn’t always let us control it to that extent.  We lost one of our ewe lambs to a virus shortly after weaning in early July; there was little we could have done, and so we could accept it as an occasional and natural part of our business.  Our tougher loss to swallow was a little ram lamb two weeks ago, whose parasite we didn’t catch early enough to treat.  It reminded us of how much we still need to learn and the habits we still need to form, but we also keep in mind that we have 23 other lambs who are doing wonderfully.

Our worst day to date, was August 27th, the day our third sow had her litter.  We’re not sure exactly why, but she had her litter over a week early, she only had five, and all were more or less stillborn (there was one that survived a few hours but wasn’t really viable).  We contemplated the idea of having sausage for market earlier than planned, but have decided to give this sow a second chance; she seems to be eager to breed again, and we figure we might as well try again while we wait for our female piglets to grow to breeding age.  It was a seriously sad day, and puts a hitch in our pork plan six months from now, but again, it goes with the territory.

Our only other bad news was that our tomato plants all got late blight… but so did every other tomato in Western NC, and we had hundreds of tomatoes for two months, so we’re certainly not complaining much about this year’s tomato crop!

Finally, our beautiful news:  Most exciting are the “treasures” we get to collect every morning as part of our chores.  We have eggs galore these days!! We’re getting about 8 dozen eggs a day, so come by market soon to buy them up! They’re delicious, with bright orange yolks, and our hens are still young and getting used to laying consistently, so you can rest assured that you’ll probably get a double yolk in each dozen of eggs!

A bit of size variation and deformed eggs at first!
Three days worth of eggs!

The current pride of our farm is our ram, a seriously gorgeous Dorpor we purchased at auction, who was born at Locust Creek Dorpors and sent to auction by Windy Acres Farm in Tennessee.  I find it funny that I started saying things like “wow, look at those wrinkles” in a completely serious voice, referring rams’ face wrinkles (a sign of high testosterone), and it was fun learning about ram length and things like wrinkles.  The sheep at this auction were seriously beautiful creatures.

His harness has chalk on the chest, to mark our ladies’ rumps. He wriggled out of it on ewe number four and on day 2 with them. We didn’t find the harness but figure that 4 ewes in 24 hours means he’s doing his job! Look at those wrinkles! (I call him Worf, after the Lieutenant).

Finally, I’ll leave you with a few other beautiful images from this time of year, when rain and sun mix and when days start cooling and the time comes to save a bit of summer for January.

Who wants to guess what’s going on here? (Carleton Biology majors should be intimately familiar with this image).
The most obviously evil spider ever!

Can anyone enlighten us on this one? What’s this plant? It’s awesome!

A typical afternoon

Thanks to you all for your support through the summer, and I’ll try to keep future updates frequent and shorter.

Hogs, Meet our animals, The Beginning

Piglets, piglets, piglets (x8)!!!!!!

They have arrived!!  We had our first gilt become a sow this morning, with her first litter! Graham even had his first experience watching momma in action, since she’d had four when he went to feed her this morning, and now seems to be done with a grand total of ten piglets born (for the majority of you who have no idea about such things, ten is excellent for a first time momma).  Two of the wee ones were born in bad shape, and didn’t make it, but we’ve got 8 right now, and Mom is doing an amazing job caring for them… responding to squeals, easing herself slowly down as she readjusts to feed them.

Enough chatter… here are pictures. Hands down the most exciting day on the farm yet! (Lambs were exciting too, but man, these little guys are adorable). Meet our five new boys and three new girl piglets.

Piggies have their ears all slicked back when they’re born!

Eating like champs!

A bit more spread out after we returned the male piglets to their momma. It’s easier on everyone to get some things done as soon as possible, and we don’t want five boars in our herd! Momma accounted for everyone, then eased herself down where she knew her babies weren’t under her. We’re excited she’s a good mom so far!

Another great day at Dry Ridge Farm, with an ever expanding family!