T and E Acres Grows

We Have a Bacon Emergency

 Erin C

The Good pig

My husband and I were just getting going for the day, him finishing up his breakfast, and I going in for my second (or third) cup of coffee. As I walked into the kitchen, I could hear the ducks loudly losing their minds, which, for our ducks is not unusual. They loudly panic over just about everything, including butterflies, hawks, crickets too near the food, the deaf and elderly neighbor dog that wants to eat their poop, and each other. So I didn’t necessarily think anything was wrong when I heard the duck alarm going off.  It’s when the chickens joined them that we knew something is actually going on.  As I reached for the coffee pot, the chickens also started to freak out, so I looked out the kitchen window into the backyard and that’s when I saw her:  the big, red pig trying to squeeze into a chicken door 10 sizes too small for her. 

“Babe, we have a pig emergency,” I told my husband as I tried to grab my outside slip on shoes.  I got to the back door and saw the other pig headed in to also try to find a way into the chicken coop.  In the pigs’ defense, they really do love eggs, it is their favorite treat. And they had discovered the source, so who wouldn’t want to try to get in there?  I put a pocket full of duck eggs in my apron and headed out, hoping I could lure these two escapees back into their pen with just a couple of eggs and some luck.  But they were not interested; why deal with a middle man when you can go straight to the source?  The white pig came over the find out what treats I had for her, and to also get her ears scratched. She had found a huge mud puddle and proceeded to shake off like a dog and rub the remainder of the mud on my jeans. 

 When luring them didn’t work and pushing them didn’t work, my husband tried something as a last-ditch effort; we found a nylon rope and put a loop around the white pig’s shoulders and then a loop behind her rump. While my husband half pushed, half cursed the white pig back into the pen, the red pig got the idea that amazing things were happening without her, so she hauled bacon across the backyard into the pen. All in all, with everything around our property, this was a lucky catch on our part. On two sides, our property is bordered by soybean fields. This discovery on the part of the pigs would have spelled doom for us. The house sits pretty close to the road, too, so if something had happened that they wandered out into the road and one of the neighbors hit them, I have a feeling that offering them pork chops and ham wouldn’t ease neighbor relations. 

Since this incident, the pigs have escaped two or three more times, the last of which turned into a huge ordeal. I ended up hitting my head and my husband took a tool to the face. We were bleeding, covered in mud, and mostly unable to lift our arms above our heads. But as exhausted as we were that particular day, we had to finally put into place fencing updates to keep the girls from escaping again. We use hog panels and simply went around the whole yard, reinforcing the fencing at each panel with a t-post in the middle of the panel. When we first got the pigs we were well aware that pigs exist for two purposes:  eat and escape.  But we were hoping that since we use a rotational fencing system, they would be on enough new ground every couple of weeks that they wouldn’t feel like they needed to escape. We almost made it to butcher day without any escapes.

We moved the fence again recently to give the hogs some new ground and they are very appreciative. We have also been taking them pears from the trees that are right by their yard. And they still get eggs, because that is their favorite thing. It won’t be long now until we are butchering and packaging these two hogs. My husband has been studying how to make perfect bacon and we are trying to figure out the freezer situation. Honestly, when the day comes that I can’t walk out the back door and immediately get barked at by the pigs wondering where their treats and ear scratches are, I will be a little sad. Bacon tastes good, and we eat a lot of pork chops, but I will miss these two, and their antics. Even though they are new escape artists.

New Arrivals 2

First Aid First Priority

Erin C 

After the cut

“You’re a nurse, why can’t you just pop a couple stitches in it?”

“Well, because usually I’m taking them out, not putting them in. I have never stitched anybody  in my life.”

This was the conversation my husband and I were having as he stood bleeding in the bathroom, me trying to clean up his cut.  We were butchering chickens that day and he plunged the end of a dull knife into the palm of his hand.  He needed stitches, that's not what I was doubting; I didn’t want to be the one to do them. We have a pretty impressive first aid kit, and it includes sutures, but I really didn’t want to have to stitch him up.  I did it anyway.  For one thing, I couldn’t get the bleeding to stop.  For another, it was gaping. So I put a butterfly closure on the bottom half, which stuck beautifully, and I put a single stitch in the top half because I couldn’t get a second butterfly closure to hold. That lasted most of the day until he decided to take out the stitch and see what happened.  It started to bleed again, but it had held together long enough so that the butterfly closure we slapped on it held. 

As I was digging through the first aid kit at the time, I realized that if we were more remote than we currently are, there are many times we would be in trouble. We are a five minute drive from the nearest emergency room at the moment, but when it comes time to purchase our forever property, we want to be far away from civilization. That week, we spent some money upgrading the first aid kit and added multiple suture kits, butterfly closures, steri-strips, and a lot of gauze. I already had multiple kinds of tape, Coban, Kerlix and other wound dressing items, but we needed the ability to do stitches quickly and correctly.  My husband makes knives, so he works with sharp blades, and some heavier tools.  Plus, he’s a little accident-prone. I also found a practice pad online for suturing different kinds of wounds.  I have been practicing my technique and can say the next time I have to stitch anybody, I’m ready. 

First aid is a priority on a homestead, with knowledge and supplies being equally important. And we not only have tools to work on the people who live here, we also have tools to work on the animals. If you can’t get to a doctor or a vet in a hurry, it’s imperative to have supplies on hand and some amount of know-how to respond to emergencies on your property.

I have an advantage, honestly, because I’m an registered nurse. I work in a hospital intensive care unit and have worked in the ER before.  I have helped work on gunshot wounds, all-terrain vehicle accidents, broken and dislocated bones, and cuts requiring multiple levels of stitches. But practice is important, and so is having a preparedness plan for emergencies. In my first aid kit, I have multiple sizes of gauze, numerous suture kits, different kinds of bandages, quick clot, and disinfectants such as alcohol, chlorhexidine, and iodine. I have Blue-Kote for the animals. I have saline to wash out wounds and Coban to hold bandages in place more securely. I also have different sizes of needles and syringes, either for giving medications or for puncturing an abscess. I have products such as iodoform for packing wounds and abscesses, and Xeroform for covering open areas.  We have Neosporin and Tylan and the vet told me where and how to give an injection to a chicken.

A couple of days after we added items for bleeding injuries to the kit, my husband was making dinner.  When I heard him start cursing and running water over his hand, all I could think was, “I don’t have anything for burns in my kit.”  Burn treatments are on the list.

Every home needs at least a rudimentary first aid kit, but if you live or work on a homestead, especially one that is fairly remote, that kit may need a boost. There are priorities for sure, and as such, we keep items to help control bleeding, splint a break or sprain, aspirin for chest pain, Tylenol for fever, and some way and form to get electrolytes into human or animal to stave off dehydration.  Personally, I would also suggest a CPR/first aid class. The Red Cross holds courses designed for non-first responders, etc., and most colleges or community colleges have CPR courses. Check the availability in your area. Being careful and aware are essential to preventing injuries and emergencies, but none of us live in a bubble, so the second best thing is keeping a well-stocked supply kit and knowing how to use the items.