Tag Archives: piglets

My Life is Ruled by Tiny People

You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way.

— Song of Songs 4:7


With Baby Geer #3 on the way, (oh yeah? Did I tell you?)


I thought I would reflect a  a little, and write a post detailing what my life has become on the day-to-day with two toddlers running around.  So much different than 6 years ago when I was going to parties (aka getting a hangover), rock climbing (miss this), and complaining about being bored (I wish).  So here we go, a glimpse into the glamorous life of the Geer clan.  I’m sure many of you can relate.

Bathroom trips:  Something that is a necessity of life and something all of us do multiple times a day, right?  Well in my life it usually results in crying or death defying stunts. It takes about 5 seconds for them to realize I’ve disappeared and that I will be unavailable for at least 30 seconds.  One of three things proceeds to happen.

  1. Someone sits outside the door crying because I’ve left them out.  This is the ideal situation.  It means no one is trying to die, kill the other, or do something gross.
  2. Someone climbs on top of the table/counter/chair/any high place really so that I have to rush through whatever it is I may be doing. I know this is the case because it’s quiet.  I walked out of the bathroom this morning to find Caroline standing on top of the table.
  3. I am accompanied in to the bathroom where there is the opportunity to play in the shower, unroll the toilet paper, flush the toilet over and over (with me sitting on it of course), or try, to my absolute disgust, to dig through the bathroom trash.  All done juuuust out of reach.


Fun! Fun! Fun Mommy!


Food:  If you didn’t know, now you will, that…

-A banana breaking in half while peeling it makes it inedible.

-If we are at our house a peel on an apple or peach makes it inedible.  I have yet to figure out why this only applies to being at home, because a peel is totally acceptable in public.

-The only reasonable thing to do when we are finished with food or drink is to dump the remaining on the floor (or me).  Same applies to wrappers or peels.  But only in the house, outside I am handed everything. At least we aren’t littering.

-Everything I have is for sharing.  Food, tools, computers, writing implements. This is not reciprocal.

-If I am wearing clean clothes, this is a big freaking deal.  Everything that anyone in the house under the age of three eats, I end up wearing, because…


-My shirt is a safety line.  Worried about falling? Grab on!  Need help standing up?  Here I am! Feeling happy, sad, nervous or devastated? Here’s my shirt!

-The only acceptable thing to grab on to when throwing a temper tantrum is my pants.  Since baby number three has expanded my waist line, most (all), of my pants have elastic waist.  I have a whole new reason to fear tantrums in public, loosing my pants.

-Talking the two year old into changing clothes in the morning is like negotiating a multi nation trade deal.

-My favorite… if you stood outside our house during a diaper change or clothing changes you would imagine we were torturing children.  Screaming, crying, everything you would expect if I was say, poking them with a fire poker.  But alas all I’m doing is trying to keep them comfortable and to not smell bad, but I’m pretty sure they consider this torture.


-I’ve given up trying to sit on furniture, of any kind pretty much.  This includes eating at the table or sitting on the couch.  Someone always insists on joining me, and then tries to dive off. And then they cry, not worth the comfort.

-I have many children’s books memorized, because I read them 20 times in a row, every night.  Too bad Vice articles weren’t as entertaining to them.

-If I do anything I require assistance.  Laundry involves help emptying the clean clothes out of the basket, while typing I always need help hitting the right keys, and I absolutely can not do dishes with out a small person standing under me or staring at me and trying to crawl on the counter.

Every single one of these moments is peppered with humor.  Either of the absurd situations I find myself in multiple times a day, the variety of faces a one year old can make, or the imagination of a two year old.


 There is so much love too.  Seeing them help each other with a task (usually something they aren’t supposed to be doing, but hey?) Give endless kisses and hugs, or the simplest, what would be meaningless to anyone else, gestures that I can never get enough of.  Every moment of this experience is completely worth it and gratifying.  Though I’ll be honest, there are about 50 times in the day I would say I lied to you about this.  I go to bed every night exhausted but overwhelmed with love.



Farm Life

So what’s been going on at L&S Farm over the last few months other than growing a new family member?

Well… life hasn’t been easy, there has been quite a few ups and downs, but things are looking up, dare I say it too loudly for fear of jinxing us.

We have 12 pigs who are coming of age which will be great for business.  We had two new litters of piglets born in the last few weeks totaling 16 new piglets.  They are adorable.  We have one more mama almost ready to give birth and she is huge.  It will be exciting to see how many babes she will have.

We have successfully plowed and planted our large field in preparation for all these piglets.  They will be raised on a rotating pasture system, moving from fenced off area to fenced off area eating the high protein crops as they go. We lucked out with the timing of planting.  Shawn’s been keeping track of the rain and moon cycles for the last few years, and successfully predicted a good time to plant.  It’s rained nearly every day since we put the seeds in the ground and a week later the whole field started to sprout.  I can’t wait to watch the process happen the way I know Shawn has been planning for the last few years.  He’s also been training the pigs to come when called and Caroline has started using the call too, it’s freaking adorable.  How cute is it going to be seeing this little blonde head leading the pigs out to pasture.

image1 [74982]
We’ve also had the opportunity to experience how truly lucky we are to have our people around us here.  The last few months would have been devastatingly hard if it weren’t for our friends.  From helping kid watch, to helping build fences (in more ways than the obvious), bringing us food so we could have a small break, and even just listening ears and solid advice. I feel so blessed and lucky to have these people in our lives.  There were many times their kindnesses had brought me to tears.  So I say from the bottom of my heart

Thank You.


Some interesting links for you:

The life of a Russian Rhythmic gymnast

Today I Lived and You Did Too



She drank from a bottle called DRINK ME
And up she grew so tall,
She ate from a plate called TASTE ME
And down she shrank so small.
And so she changed, while other folks
Never tried nothin’ at all.


It’s funny how time passes.  I look at the clock and an hour passes in what seems like seconds, at other times five minutes feels like an eternity. How is Gus two already?!

Oh!  The dogs are barking.  Is someone here?  Wait, it’s 2 in the morning, I hope no one’s here.  I hope they aren’t chasing the cats.  Should I go outside and check?

Is that someone looking through the window?  Nope, just my plant.

I wonder if Gus is cold?

These are the thoughts and conversations I’m having with myself while I’m up in the middle of the night with a certain baby.  Who hates to sleep.  I may be loosing my mind.  I wonder how long someone can keep it together running on so little sleep, because I don’t think I’ve slept an entire night since Gus was born nearly 2 years ago.  And I’m positive I’ve had, at the most, 4 hours of consecutive sleep at a time since Caroline was born 7 months ago.  Lately (like for the past month) 2 hours at a time is the norm.  And this girl likes to party.  We have little parties a few times a week in the middle of the night.  She will decide that rolling around like a mad women is much more entertaining than sleeping.  Because her crib is too small for such shenanigans, she prefers my bed.  It’s my job, apparently, to make sure she doesn’t dive off the bed or suffocate herself.  Usually these parties last about an hour or so, that’s about the time she tires herself out and we are allowed to go back to sleep.

Good thing she is so darn cute


How can something that feels so rewarding, be so boring, exhausting, and infuriating all at the same time?  Hello parenthood, I hate you and I love you.  But I’d love you even more IF YOU WOULD JUST LET ME SLEEP.

So it’s been awhile since we last spoke, I’ve been trying to keep everyone alive, while also not succumbing to madness from sleep deprivation. Priorities.

We ended August saying goodbye to Sam and Amy.  They became our family, and the moment they left their presence was missed.  We were back to teaching the ways of the farm to new volunteers every couple weeks, I had to adjust to being able to take care of Gus full time.  Amy and Gus went on adventures every morning while I took care of Caroline and worked on my end of the business.  So many adjustments.  Sam knew the ins and outs of the butcher business, and I don’t think we will have anyone cut bacon better than he did. Frankly, life seemed a little empty there for awhile.  You can follow their adventures on instagram at karmathekombi.  I know they will go far, and I can’t wait to watch.

We’ve had some really interesting and great volunteers come through in the last couple months.  Andres and Amy from the U.S. And England.  Cami and Dennis, a French couple.  Tim from New Zealand,  Elaine and J.J. from Ireland (Elaine could be my best friend if only she accepted Tuna in to her life) Sam from the U.S. and Adrienne and Lawrence from Canada.

Shawn and Gus got to go to the United States for a couple weeks.  I was very jealous, and it was very quiet around the house.  The quiet was especially felt in the mornings and evenings.  No one dancing on the couch, asking to go for a walk or play “choo choos.”  (And that’s just Shawn) I thought the quiet would be nice, it wasn’t.  I realized how wonderfully full my life is.  Isn’t there a saying about this?  “You don’t realize what you’ve got till it’s gone,” or “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”  All those apply.

They got to spend time with Grandma Betty, Grandma Jesse, and Gus got to hang out with all of his cousins, Aunts and Uncles, and of course his Nana and Papa.


Isn’t this how everyone travels?


Go Gus! Proud Mommy over here.

Something very cool happened while they were there.  I am apart of a Mommy Group on Facebook. We all have babies the same age as Caroline, well they put together a care package for me that Shawn’s mom picked up.  It really was such a cool and amazing thing.  All these ladies I’ve never met in person pull together and help each other out. So much love and support, I was honored.

While they were gone our good friend Washington helped the volunteers harvest honey from the hives.  So far its been a great year for honey, the bees have been busy.  The volunteers who helped learned a lot and Washington really enjoys teaching.  My house smelled amazing too.


Photo credit to Amy (of Amy and Andres) some honeycombs from one of our hives

We think it was such a successful honey year because we had some late rains at the beginning of the “dry season.”  Ecuador has two seasons, Rainy Season (during the North American Winter) and Dry Season (North American Summer).  The rains encouraged the Eucalyptus trees, which are abundant here and from which the bees get 99% of their honey, to bloom late.

Big Momma had some heartbreaking news (our big sow).  We thought she was pregnant, but as the time for her to give birth came and went we realized something was wrong.  Dany (our vet) came out, turns out it was a phantom pregnancy.  We just can’t catch a break these days. Everything else on the farm is trucking along.  We have 10 “piglets” running around. Everybody had their pastures moved around some, and the rainy season has begun which is always a refreshing change.

image2 image1-1

Caroline has started to eat solid food, sits up by herself for the most part, and is starting to be mobile.  I fear crawling is only about a month away.  She loves her walker and bouncer, and really likes running over her brother.  From his screams you would think it was a train running over him, and he was tied to the tracks because he doesn’t get out of the way. She does this adorable thumb sucking thing too.


First food!


Gus is quite the jabber mouth, he adds more words to his vocabulary every day, and practices them constantly.  We’ve started preparing him for potty training, which has also added some great words to his repertoire. He loves trains, and trucks, and spotting airplanes flying overhead. He will help you out doing anything you ask him to.  Wanna dance? Just turn on some music and he’s there ready to bust a move. He can jump, pretend to be a frog or bear. You’ll know if a dog or cow is within your vicinity as he promptly moos or barks when one is near.  There are quite a few cows and dogs on our drive to town.


Helping with lunch


Finger painting fun


Some of my girlfriends and I are throwing a Halloween party and Gus will get to get dressed up and go trick or treating. I am not going to miss this particular tradition with my kids, and we are so lucky to have friends willing to help. I’m sure I’ll have lots of pictures to share.

The tradition of trick or treating and getting dressed up for Halloween is not something they practice here.  Shortly after Halloween, on Nov. 2nd is the Day of the Dead.  The indigenous bring a meal to the cemetery and have a meal with their ancestors, remembering and celebrating them.  They make bread in the shape of babies and horses, and a drink called Colada Morada out of the tiny wild blueberries that come in to season this time of year.

November and December bring visitors!  An old roommate and good friend is coming down in the beginning of November.  I think it’s been about 3 years since we’ve seen each other. I’m ecstatic to show her around our paradise, and meet her husband for the first time.

Shawn’s family comes in December, and we are going on vacation!  The Mindo cloud forest, sightseeing in Quito, and the beach for a few days, who hoo! We are using AirB&B for the first time, I’ll let you know how that experience goes, but the thought of my two children sharing a room to sleep in is already giving me anxiety. But who knows maybe Caroline will figure out this sleeping thing in the next two months and it’ll all go smoothly. (Hopes and dreams eh?)


Here’s what I’ve been reading/watching:

This fed my adoption bug – The Child I didn’t adopt

This is pretty rad, a language that’s around us all the time as it’s the native tongue of most of our neighbors, this Girl rocks out some Michael Jackson in Quechua.

Cotacachi from the air – so cool

Five Months Under Our Belt

“How do you spell ‘love’?” – Piglet
“You don’t spell it…you feel it.” -Pooh

Ugh, I’m embarrassed I’ve neglected writing for so long. I’ve written this blog, the next one after Gus’ 1 month blog 4 times now! But for some reason I just haven’t posted it yet. SO MUCH KEEPS CHANGING! It’s nuts! It takes me a lot longer to write a blog now (you know, the baby business) by the time I feel like I’m ready to publish, its been a month and life is so different. I can’t keep up. Just when I’ve gotten used to something, everything flips around again.

Gus is officially 5 months old. He giggles, from way down deep in his belly. Probably the best sound in the world. What makes him giggle? Monkey noises, his daddy tickling him with his whiskers, leg tickles, rib tickles, fart noises (which he’s got really good at imitating, thanks Daddy) toe tickles, Ecuadorian ladies fawning over him speaking Spanish to him, little tosses in the air, and playing airplane. We have a lot more fun now that he’s less delicate, and more rough and tumble. The gymnastics coach in me had a hard time in the newborn phase, I didn’t know how to “play” with him, and was worried I’d break him.

Smiley Monster

Smiley Monster

He’s rolled over a few times by himself. He scoots when he’s laying on his tummy. He ADORES standing, and pushing off his legs. He stares at his hands intently, and has found his feet. He will put anything in his mouth, my hands, his hands, my chin, toys, clothing, you name it he will chew on it. I’m pretty sure we will be seeing a tooth sooner rather then later. I’ve given him “tastes” of avocado and banana, which confuses him greatly.
Gus and Mommy

Gus and Mommy

Up until about a week ago Gus didn’t pay much attention to any of the animals. Now he watches the cats intently when they walk into the room. Reaches for them, and touches them when he can.

Gus & Cuddles
We visit the piglets, he smiles and laughs when they nudge him. Piglets and babies, you can’t get any cuter than that.

Gus and piglets

Gus and piglets

After a week long protest he’s back to sleeping 8 hour stretches at night, then back to sleep for 3 more. The week he turned 4 months he woke up every.single.hour. I almost lost my mind. We discovered he liked sleeping on his side, and it’s been a lot better since then. Even with my rocking, walking, and nursing him to sleep, all those no-nos I did, he prefers to just roll on to his side and go to sleep. I almost cried the first time he did it. He was fussing nonstop while I was putting him down for bed, I laid him on our bed to give my self a 10 second break, low and behold he rolled on his side and was out like a light. I pray everyday that all our children have the same sleep habits… Not holding my breath though.
(Of course I took a picture the first time)
Beautiful sight

Beautiful sight

We got to go to Quito and he now has his American birth certificate, and passport, as well as his Ecuadorian passport, and I.D. To get his American identification we had to bring in medical records, pictures of us and me pregnant, Ecuadorian paperwork, and sit through a pretty interesting interview. All the Ecuadorian identification was easy peasy. Less then an hour in the passport office. I am very relieved to be done with it all.
Passport photo

Passport photo

So What’s Been Going On At The Farm You Ask?
We had a new litter of piglets born to CiCi. They were adorable of course. There was one little guy we were worried wouldn’t make it. He was either kicked in the mouth, or was born with a defect, but he had a really hard time nursing. We’ve been feeding him milk in a bowl and he has since started thriving. He’s still the littlest one but he sure has a lot of spirit.
CiCi is the only pig left of her generation. Saying goodbye to Muddy was really difficult for me. I had to leave the farm for the day.
Muddy’s piglets are getting really big. They aren’t quite as friendly as their Mom and Aunts and Uncles were.
We’ve had to say good bye to some cows. Sabastian, Two Horn, Salvador, One Horn, Mercedes, and Josephine have all been sold. We still have Loki and Perdida and are hoping they will make the next generation of cows for the farm.
The garden is back in full swing and it’s beautiful. We’ve been going behind the pigs and planting. Most everything is still seedlings but it’s really exciting to watch everything grow.
Josephine, Mercedes calf

Josephine, Mercedes calf



CiCi and her new brood

CiCi and her new brood

Newly planted garden looking pretty good.  Can't wait for everything to grow

Newly planted garden looking pretty good. Can’t wait for everything to grow

As for me…?
Of course everyone says that the first 6 weeks are the toughest. Things have certainly fallen into a routine, but I don’t think Gus has gotten any easier or harder. What I think changed was me. I became more at ease with what life as a mommy is. I’m not nervous or anxious about much anymore. I no longer worry that he’s sick or hurt when he cries, babies cry. Most of the time he’s just a little bit bored, or teething, or hungry, or tired. All of which I am confident that I can fix now.
Gus - Brent_03

Gus - Brent_02

Gus - Brent_01
Christmas was VERY tough for me. I had this little being and his great daddy, both were incredible, but I was a little lonely and homesick. All holiday seasons since my mom died have been bitter sweet, but this one seemed more intense. I read an article about having children after the loss of one of your parents, it really resonated with me. I can’t find the blog again, I wish I had kept it, but it talked a lot about how having a child reopens the wounds of loosing a parent. I look at Gus and think about how much my mom would have loved him, and how much I wanted her to see me as a mother. As Gus grows more and more people say he looks like Shawn, and I agree, but when I look at his eyes I see my mom, and I’m grateful.Gus floor

One Month Old

Ok, so I’m a little late, he’s now 5 weeks old, and I’ve been trying to write this post for two weeks now, apparently time flies when you’re really focused on something. Like keeping a baby happy and healthy. I’m a little sad that he is a month old already. Then I remember the older he gets the stronger he is, the less I have to worry about, and the possibility that he will cry less.
Speaking of worry, I was a nutcase. Gus had started having a little fussy period between the hours of five and seven. As well as any other time he was crying I had convinced myself that there was something wrong. I’ve spent almost all of my free time googling a myriad of different things, what a terrible idea. Turns out he’s just a baby. A baby who is thriving. (He has a great appetite, and we have this breast feeding thing down, he’s over 10lbs now.) Even though he gets fussy at times he is also getting more and more aware. In between sleeping and eating he sits and watches us and “talks,” completely content. It’s my favorite part of our days.
After coming to this realization I decided to stop listening, well kinda, you know what I mean. I was driving myself crazy. So I stopped. If he falls asleep laying on my chest instead of worrying that he’s going to be spoiled, I’m going to embrace the sweet feeling of this little human I love so much snuggling with me. Who knows how long we can snuggle until he’s too big or too busy. Besides, this is my purpose now. I started to see how much I was missing because of being so worried and uptight. I look around the world at all the “parents” out there, if some of them can do it, Shawn and I can too.
I still have moments when I get frustrated, upset, or worried. It’s usually when I don’t take naps when I can, or something new happens, most notable was our first projectile vomiting incident.
As far as sleeping goes he’s doing great. He will sleep for about five or six hours for the first stretch of the night, after that we are on to two hours at a time. We go to bed around seven and we are up around five. We’re keeping “old people hours,” and I’m pretty ok with that.
Much to my reluctance we have discovered the awesomeness of swaddling. Wrap him up, he complains for half a second, and then passes out. It’s magic. He even puts himself to sleep at night now, we walk him a little until he gets sleepy, then lay him down and he talks a little but falls right asleep. Our mornings are a combo of outrageous cuteness, and heartbreak. He hasn’t coordinated the outgoings of his digestive system yet, so I wake up, not to him crying, but to him grunting, growling, and farting quite loudly. It’s hard to see him struggle, but it’s sooo adorable.
All in all I’m feeling a lot more confident in my new mommy abilities. Learning to go with the flow.
We’ve started the process of getting Gus his American birth certificate, and both his American and Ecuadorian passports. He already has the Ecuadorian birth certificate. It looks like we will be taking a trip to Quito sometime soon. He needs to be present at the embassy, and they also need me there, pictures of me pregnant, picture of the three of us, and medical records. It’s kind of incredible.
The farm has been keeping us busy too (actually Shawn’s been kept busy.) Mercedes gave birth to a calf on Thanksgiving day. She’s also super adorable. The piglets are working hard digging up the garden behind their new electric fence. The farrowing den has been moved and set up for when Cici’s ready to give birth, and sadly Sebastian was sold last week.
Of course I’ll add more when I have time lol!

Photo credit goes to Wendy DeChambeau.  That's why it's a million times better than any picture I've been able to get so far.  We have great friends.

Photo credit goes to Wendy DeChambeau. That’s why it’s a million times better than any picture I’ve been able to get so far. We have great friends.

This car seat was pretty hard to find.  Another item not commonly used here. Gus obviously loves it. This car seat was pretty hard to find. Another item not commonly used here. Gus obviously loves it.[/caption]
Our Little Family

Our Little Family

While We Wait…

Tomorrow is my due date. Like I’m saying tomorrow is THE Official (note the capital O) day this baby is supposed to be born. Everything I’ve read keeps encouraging me to be positive and patient, while acknowledging how uncomfortable and impatient they know I am right now. I want them (whoever they are) to know this encouragement doesn’t help at all. I’m bored, uncomfortable, and I feel like my body and the baby are teasing me. I’m having all these weird sensations, mood swings, random contractions, and obnoxious happenings to my body. I, a glutton for punishment it seems, keep looking these things up on the Internet, and it keeps telling me “it’s a sign you’re close!” Well here I still sit, bored and purposeless, yet tired and unable or unwilling to do much.
I’ve been going on walks around the farm for two purposes really. One: hoping gravity will do its thing and this baby will start to fall out of me, and Two: (the sad one) the puppy we found on the farm two weeks ago has gone missing, so I’ve been wandering around looking for him, hoping he will turn up. We started to encourage him to go outside more, he hasn’t hardly been outside since we brought him in, and was reluctant to leave the house, but I was starting to get frustrated with the gifts he was leaving everywhere, and he was getting stronger. I was hoping he would start to get along with the other dogs a little better as well, be integrated into the pack you might say. We also figured that since he’s been consistently fed and sheltered here he wouldn’t go too far. He had even begun to follow Shawn around, which he was doing the morning he vanished. He was outside in the morning, followed Shawn into the house around noon, he ate some food, followed Shawn back outside and in the blink of an eye disappeared. We have been searching the farm for him since. It’s been three days now and we think he’s either being confined by someone or is lost. Either way I’m pretty bummed out about it.

What else have I been doing during this endless wait you ask? Well…

Shawn’s dad Tom arrived on Wednesday and showered us with gifts and goodies from friends and family in the U.S. So I’ve been washing baby clothes and organizing baby things. On that note, the crib is done! We had a little snafu with it not fitting through any of our doors and had to bring it back to the carpenter so they could dismantle it a little. But it’s back together now and gorgeous. Hopefully the new dresser/changing table will be finished today or tomorrow so I can really put stuff away. Cloth diapers take up a lot of space.

We have processed mass amounts of pig into sausages, smoked ribs, hams, and bacon over the past week. I’ve been helping with that as much as I could, e.g. labeling, organizing, spreadsheeting. Boy, did we have a lot. I am grateful that almost all of it has sold out, there are only a few hams left to be smoked, and we are taking Thanksgiving orders already so we are prepared when the time comes, and things look good.

They (them again) say to enjoy the quiet and peace you have now while you can so I have discovered a few wonderful things on the Internet.
This fantastic blog which had me crying with laughter called Pregnant Chicken
My friend recommended it and I wish I had checked it out earlier. I want one of those t shirts for the next baby.

This YouTube video my sister showed me that every woman, and man, and especially daughters needs to watch.

I’ve been sleeping, and sitting, and staring into space as well.

I’ve been looking back at pictures, and blogs.
Thought you might want an animal update before the baby takes over. Loki is getting bigger, and changing to a darker brown color. He has a little friend as well now. I woke one morning to a weird sounding “moo” and this little white cow walks past my window. We have no idea where he came from, and keep thinking someone will show up looking for him soon. But he’s still here wandering around with the herd. Next time they’re close I’ll get a picture, but waddling around the farm to look for them is out of the question today.
Oh boy have the piglets grown. And they are sassy little buggers. Here’s a comparison picture.

First picture of first piglet on top, bottom two were taken today 11-04-13

First picture of first piglet on top, bottom two were taken today 11-04-13

Until the next time!


They have arrived!! New family members are here. Muddy one of our sows gave birth to five baby pigs, Saturday, August 10th 2013. The first arrived at 9:30am, and the last at around 12pm. This is our first litter of piglets on the farm so they are teaching us a lot. I’ve tried reading up on what was going to happen when the time came, but gathering information that was relevant to us was a challenge. There is tons of literature from universities on the Internet about breeding pigs, but almost all of them focus on the commercial aspect of breeding pigs. I did find a few websites that were helpful, motherearthnews.com which has individual authors write about what they know. The other was homesteadingtoday.com which is a forum based website. The later was the most helpful to me, seems like it was more people just like me, who have gone through some of the same experiences and offer very practical advice.
So here’s how our experience has gone down so far…
We moved Muddy to her new home a week ago. She has a fenced off area to roam, and we built her a farrowing den.

Muddy's new home

Muddy’s new home

I posted about this last week, but it’s purpose is to give her a comfortable place to nurse, and the piglets a safe, warm, place to be so they don’t get crushed by mom trying to stay warm. We have an electric heater on the piglet side and try to keep their half around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. We are trying to keep Muddy comfortable as well and keep her side around 60 degrees. But that’s hard because we’ve had a couple sunny warm days here.
Tigger (my constant outdoor companion) inside the farrowing den.

Tigger (my constant outdoor companion) inside the farrowing den.

She hung out in her new home for about a week so the stress of moving her had subsided, and gave her time to get used to her new home.
We noticed Friday night that she had started to get really busy, cleaning, digging a little, and when we pulled on her nipples, a little drop of milk came out. She was still eating so we thought we had at least a day or so. Saturday morning when we fed her she did not eat, and there was a small amount of liquid leaking out of her, which turned out to be her water breaking. Then about 9:30 Shawn runs in the house to let me know it was happening.
We had a couple of soft dry towels, and wet towels to clean off the babies as they made their appearance. From what I read the whole process could have happened without any human interference, and we actually did very little, but we were all feeling a tad overprotective so poor Muddy had four human observers. The umbilical cords, detached on their own, we cleaned off their nose and mouths as they came out and helped steer them in the right direction to nurse.
#1 nursing

#1 nursing

The average time between births was about 30 minutes, the longest being about 45 minutes, and the shortest six minutes. The first two, who were boys were quite big, the middle two girls were smaller then the boys but still a good size, but the last little girl was teeny tiny. We are still worried about her and her size, hoping she thrives. If she can make it through the first week I think we will be in the clear.
Little girl #5

Little girl #5

So now 48 hours later…
Muddy spends a majority of her time in the crate. We check on her and the babies about once an hour during the day, and let her out when she wants to be let out, but I think she actually prefers to spend most of her time in with the babies, unless she gets too warm or wants a drink or something to eat. She only started eating this morning, but was very hungry. We are giving her unlimited access to food at the moment. When ever her bowl’s empty we refill it. We put her in the crate at night to sleep. If we check on her and the babies are nursing she won’t get up for anything, even to use the bathroom.
Farrowing crate in action

Farrowing crate in action

The babies spend all of their time in the crate, we are a little concerned about one of the dogs getting a hold of one of them, or them getting out of the fence.
We were amazed at how quickly they were up and running. Now they are walking around, nudging the ground with their noses, and even playing with each other. They fight a bit over nipples when nursing, which worries me a little, there are a few scratches in the group. There are only five of them so there shouldn’t be too much competition nursing.
Selfie with piggy.  Best I could do, they start to squeal when you pick them up, and it stresses everyone out

Selfie with piggy. Best I could do, they start to squeal when you pick them up, and it stresses everyone out

Muddy’s timing was impeccable (note sarcasm) the only commitment we had all weekend was my baby shower that was scheduled for Saturday at noon. I was so excited I was up at 6:30 on Saturday and couldn’t go back to sleep. I have amazing friends here in Ecuador, and I’m so grateful for them. Saturday, August 10th, is definitely a day that I will remember for a very long time.

I have a human baby doctor appointment tomorrow and will post in a few days about that and update everyone on how Muddy and her babies are doing.
I welcome any advice on farrowing sows, or raising piglets if anyone has any to offer, keeping in mind that we go for the most natural, self sufficient, homesteading direction possible.
We have also decided to go for the cloth diaper approach with our own baby, and NEED advice on this. There are so many options, websites, and information out there that it is quite overwhelming.

Imbabura mountain at sunrise

Imbabura mountain at sunrise

You Get What You Ask For

It seems like we can’t get any busier! The house construction has started with a whirlwind! It’s been going for two and a half weeks now and the foundation is poured, walls are up, electrical and plumbing is roughed in, and the guys unloaded and carried 17 metric tons of concrete for the walls.

Only PART of the 17.6 tons of concrete the guys hauled on their back, for the new addition to the house.

Only PART of the 17.6 tons of concrete the guys hauled on their back, for the new addition to the house.

Umberto, our maestro, is incredibly motivated, along with quite a cheery guy, so he’s pretty fun to have around. It’s also an experience to hear him speak to the other workers in Quechua. I am saving pictures for when everything is done. I can’t hardly wait, it’s pretty stressful for us. The workers arrive every morning at 7am, and don’t leave until 4pm. We have to gather supplies that are needed, usually with less then 24hours notice, and organize our days around what needs to be done with the house and what the workers need help with.
I was so anxious about starting the house, and worried that it wouldn’t be finished before the baby came. Well we met with Umberto one day and started construction the next. Now I’m overwhelmed by all that is happening, but, I did get what I asked for.
Oh and there has been travelers. Spud finally arrived, about a month late, but we knew he was traveling by bicycle so we were prepared for the unexpected timing that comes with those that travel unconventionally. He fits in quite well, and is a great cook.
Manny and Spud's smoothie making bike

Manny and Spud’s smoothie making bike

We were a tad worried because as Spud arrived, the couple from the U.K. were set to leave, as was Dan, and the couple who were supposed to come volunteer canceled on us. Apparently bikers travel in packs. So on Spuds recommendation a lovely Austrailian couple arrived last weekend to stay for one night. One evening turned into a week. They were great to have around, very helpful in the garden, house, and with all the construction that’s been going on. Funny thing is I’m speaking now as if they’ve left, but I’m here writing with them sitting across from me, “preparing” to leave. Paul’s drinking a beer, and Lizzy’s making a diary. We will see if they leave.
Speaking of leaving, Dan was supposed to leave because his visa was about to expire. He left for about 24 hours, and is back now. He’s been here long enough to plant seeds, and eat the fruits of his labor.
Cuddles, Dirk, and Dan.  Cuddles loves Dan.

Cuddles, Dirk, and Dan. Cuddles loves Dan.

So last weekend we had two Australians, three British, three Americans, and a Swiss guy even rolled through for a couple nights. We had plenty of people around to help out, and I got what I asked for.
It’s a wonderful feeling to know that people feel so comfortable in our home that they don’t want to leave.
Speaking of new homes, being busy, and having a lot on our plates, Muddy was moved to her new birthing den a couple days ago. She’s starting to show signs of getting ready to give birth to the farms first set of piglets. This is one of those valuable learning experiences. From what we’ve read piglets, like other baby animals, like to be kept warm, but mama pigs prefer cooler temperatures. So when building dens for farrowing sows you build a space for mom and a space for the piglets with a heater. The piglets still have access to mom to nurse, but there’s less of a worry of them getting squished while trying to stay warm snuggling up against mom.
Tigger (my constant outdoor companion) inside the farrowing den.

Tigger (my constant outdoor companion) inside the farrowing den.

Muddy's new home

Muddy’s new home

In the garden the corn has sprouted, as have the onions, carrots, beets, and cabbage. We are starting to harvest cucumbers, the beets, carrots, and onions shouldn’t be far behind. We have been eating achoqche’s also. They are this curious little vegetable that tastes like a cross between a cucumber and a pepper. They are an ancestral vine that grows amazingly here. So far we have used them in stir fries, and tried stuffing them, but I’m still trying to figure out what else to do with them.
Achoqche vine and Swiss chard

Achoqche vine and Swiss chard

Succulent in the garden

Succulent in the garden

Part of the garden

Part of the garden

Little Guava tree Sylvia gave me

Little Guava tree Sylvia gave me

We sold our first batch of prosciutto that has been a over a year in the making. An ex pat wrote a book and had a book release party that we provided ham and prosciutto for. It turned out well and was good exposure for the farm. Shawn has also been creating some hard sausages like pepperoni, mortadella, and salami. So far, so tasty.


We have a baby doctor too! We got a recommendation from friends of ours, and went to see him last week. Baby is doing well, he weighs 2lbs, and his due date is still the beginning of November. I also went and got blood tests done. The language barrier will be a challenge for us. But our doctor comes highly recommended, and it’s nice to hear him recommend a more natural direction of things. I feel a lot better now that we have this taken care of.
24 week belly

24 week belly

27 week belly

27 week belly

I know I’ve said this before but I swear this little boy is going to come out running. Even the doctor commented on how much he moves.

Going through all of this makes me miss my mom more and more everyday. There’s always the questions you wish you could ask her, and things I want to show her. The fact that my son will never know his grandmother, know her laugh, and her crazy sense of humor. My grandmother passed away young but at least I have memories of her. The hardest part of all are the small things most take for granted. My son will never have clothes my mom bought him, or get a Christmas present from her, she was always really good at Christmas, she made it really special for us. I am lucky that we do have such amazing people in our lives, but I’ve come to realize through this experience how much I really miss her.