Fly Away Home

Though his multi coloured tail is almost gone, The Duke of Kupa is still a gorgeous bird. 

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The tail feathers I am finding now are shorter and fluffier.

The piglets are still exploring their new boundaries and threes times yesterday Ton was sent out to “See the Piggies” . This is his command to find someone. “See John”or “See Daisy.”

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” Ton, See Piggies!.” He will shoot to their run at top speed then race around the corner – head up looking. The moment he sees them he runs back to me then runs back to them. And goes down and watches them. They don’t need herding. I just call to them” Piggie, Piggie!” And they drop what they are doing (usually climbing all over Queenie or playing in the mud around the cows water) and they fly at top speed back to their own pen, Ton right behind the last one, under fences, through gates (Ton goes over the gates once they are all through) and zoom like torpedoes to their bowls where I have left treats. Their favourites are oats, eggs, silverbeet, or tomatoes. I always make sure there are treats there so they get their reward. Either I slam the door shut (which I hate to do as their toilet is out in their little field but they have to be  locked in at night)  or  I just prepare myself for another retrieval. Today I put their new electric fence up.

When TonTon is working like this Boo is commanded to “Get Behind” which means he stays at my heel.  He is too young to be managing animals yet. He is only allowed to watch. Which drives him crazy!


When Ton is not finding giggling piglets. He is guarding the Black Mariah. Just in case a chicken falls out. Can you see him under there?  One chick fell out once (another little dog nose had nudged the box gate inwards a little) and he followed it all over the lawn, trying to herd it, until I noticed it. He is still not convinced that they should be in there.  When the chicks go out onto the grass we will  back the trailer up to the compost heap and just hose all the dirty straw straight out.

I need to tell you that I have decided that Charlotte will have to go. The fights through the gate are escalating and quite  horrendous. Having two huge pigs literally at each others throats is untenable. Charlotte chases everyone out of her field including the dogs and now Sheila is becoming stroppy and bad tempered as well. It is very hard to keep chickens and dogs and cats  out of the fields. This is a difficult but necessary decision for the good of the farm and I probably will not discuss it again. This is a little farm here. Not a zoo. My resources and space for the food farm are limited. It is an ecosystem and must be harmonious. She has had homeopathic remedies and conventional remedies.  But there is nothing physically wrong with her. She is very healthy but out of control. Going on 600 pounds of out of control. Even if I wanted to I cannot breed her again as the Swine Herd will not have a fighting sow on his property. So I must be very tough with myself.


Rough isn’t it.  But now it is time to hand the baton over to Sheila. My original plan was to have one pig. But I got talked into two little piglets by the swine herd. I should have stood my ground as managing two difficult pigs on this little tiny property is proving impossible. I accept responsibility. But I would be hugely grateful if we could just leave it at that. Let’s talk about the successes today.

My new  header is an alfalfa flower in the hay field. This crop will be smaller but it will be the best one if we get it out in time. The field is quite beautiful.


Very promising. I shall call the hay man today and tell him we are almost ready. The field is not too tall but a little flower is an indication that the plant has gathered enough protein.  We do not want too much flower then all the protein will be used up in flowering.

Good morning. Our John is going to have a look in another farm machinery auction place tonight for a hay elevator thingy.  Like this one but closer to home.  They are harder to find than we thought. With his job taking him off the farm so much lately leaving me to work alone, which is wearing me down a bit, so we hope to find one so I don’t have to lift quite so much hay into the barn by myself.

Let’s have a lovely day today. I know some days are better than others but we can always find some loveliness.

your friend, celi



86 Comments on “Fly Away Home

  1. While that is a hard decision about Charlotte it sounds like the right one. I’m sorry you had to face that decision but 600lbs can be a whole lot of dangerous. On a lighter note, I think that is so cool you have a peacock, such a beautiful bird!

  2. Horrible when we have to make the hard decision C, but like you say, it is all part of life. I shall enjoy a glass of wine on your behalf this evening, just to calm the nerves a wee bit. Pity we can’t enjoy a glass together. Maybe some day.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  3. Hard, but the right choice. She’s a danger, and that can’t go on…let’s hope Sheila doesn’t follow suit after she’s bred…Fingers crossed for the hay elevator – it’ll make your life so much easier, and free-up time and energy for Other Things. Like keeping Boo in line 😉

    • Boo needs a very short line! But with heaps of repetitive training he is coming along. How about your new dog? is that starting to settle down? i shall pop over and see. c

      • Making some progress with the dogs…as long as Rufus is on a leash (and with me) Cleo will walk with us (6 to 12 inches away) and there are no spats. She gets nervous if I’m not there, and snaps at him, or runs away – which he thinks means Playtime. He’s so much bigger and stronger than her that I worry she could get hurt…and No Way can the kids be out there with both of them yet…but, there’s hope 🙂

  4. What a boon that hay elevator would be! You mentioned something about layers and meat chicks in an earlier post – I take it these chicks are all cockerels then? Are they then sent off to Iceland before they reach puberty and start fighting each other? Laura

    • They are meat birds, which grow much faster and larger than layers. I bought them as a straight run, which means that they do not sex them first. If they pick and choose there are often left over chicks and I prefer just to take the lot. So they could be either. It should not take longer than 10 weeks to get them to a small roast size. But they will be eating lots of grass as part of their ration so they may take a wee bit longer. c

  5. A very sensible , if hard, decision…will she provide pork chops etc or will she be rehomed

    • Sadly I cannot rehome a fighting pig she would be a danger to someone else, so as one of The Fellowship so sweetly put it she is off to freezer camp. It is the way of things and she will feed a good many happy kids. I have a very good abbatoir, I know the people .. they are small and efficient processing only a very few animals a day. So her end will not be traumatic or cruel. They even have a mud hole in their pen for the pigs. Best we can do really. c

  6. Hard choices have to be made every day and you do it for the good of the farmy. Love the pictures as always today and also the narrative of Ton following and trying to herd a lone chick. That brought a smile to my face. Sending hugs your way today—-I think you might need a couple extra. 🙂

  7. Making a decision about Charlotte is a success of the day. You have made a good decision that is right and safe for the whole farm.Those wee piglets are not so wee anymore, how old are they now? Isn’t it lovely when they all run towards you when you call?
    Baby and her piglets are doing well, I am leaving them pretty much alone, I prefer to stand on the sidelines and support Baby with ear scratches and nice dinners. She is doing well I think, she gets a wee bit stressed when they get under her feet but they are all still intact and growing like mad and you cant ask for better than that. I think they have grown half their size again in one week, can this be possible? The nights are cool here at the moment so they appreciate their heat lamp. Today Baby came out for a bit of free ranging and some grass, I still dont know how many boys or girls I have, they all blob in a scaredey cat heap when I go near them. I know the means to win them over though, they are just not big enough yet for food treats!

    • Oh Baby is a super mother! Well done. All intact, well that is a grand result. Mine are only just at the stage where they like scratches. They are eleven weeks old now. I think, I need to look again. But are all very fat and happy today. I am off out now to run a low one line electric fence. Just at their nose level, with the higher net one behind so they can get used to it. Then they can get out as much as they like. Little monkeys! I need the two that are selling to go to their new home soon so that i am only managing four naughty piglets.! c

      • The ear scratches are for Baby, I cant get near the piglets! The home where the two piglets are going will surely appreiciate that you have trained the to the electric fence. 11 weeks eh, they look fantastic.

        • They are pretty goood with the mesh electric fence, now they are being trained to the rope wire, just one.. but so far they are so exhausted from their last escapade that they are all asleep in the barn and no-one has been out to test it! Baby is a good girl. c

  8. Well, my eyes are all on Ton’s wonderful work and your description of it. Hope Boo is a good student and will follow on. And am so glad about the hay elevator: so will your back be! . . . since I am getting just a wee bit fed up with the Powers who don’t pass on posts, I have has to resubscribe, haven’t I 🙂 ! Grrr!!! Have a good day, dearHeart . . . will be thinking of you in my dreams very soon . . .

  9. what a good boy ton is! i think you are making a good decision. you never wanted two and i think your original instincts were right.

  10. I admire your courage Celi.
    The piglets are certainly growing quickly. It looks like you’ve had some lovely weather lately. It’s been rather hot and muggy in our parts but I’m not complaining, it’ll be winter soon enough — I can wait.

  11. Yet another tough decision but the right one under the circumstances. Will you breed from Sheila instead? As for Kupa, I’ve learned something there in that I didn’t realize that he had all those beautifully contrasting primary feathers on his wings. Such a handsome chap all round!

  12. The Duke is gorgeous – so colorful and beautiful. And well the piggies – you know how I feel about me some piggies 🙂 How is my main squeeze doing lately? She still being ill or has she gotten over that lately? And the chicks – I’ve never seen any up close like that before. I’ve led such a sheltered life here at the Hotel Thompson! I gotta get out more. XOXO – Bacon

  13. I’m glad to here you’re looking for a hay elevator… your post on you doing the job by hand had me getting tired… If you have this cut of hay will you then be set for winter??… the field sure looks good and yep “too much flower, not enough power”… I’m fascinated at the speed the hoekoes are growing… The peacock is a beautiful bird even without his tail… the wing colouring is for me gorgeous…

  14. The field is beautiful – love the flower’s announcement that it’s time.
    Do you think Kupa rather enjoys having a lighter tail? Kind of like when a person feels after getting bang and hair cut after it’s gotten ignored and heavy?
    Love the piggy round-up description ( you are so good with dog training) and the chick babysitting.
    (my post today’s about organic farming certification controversy – know you’ve got some ideas on that.)

    • Thank you gerry, i have just finished the new fence, now I need to fill up the waters (Daisy’s trough has sprung a leak so it needs changing out! And the troughs are HEAVY and ungainly) then i will clean up and be in for coffee and breakfast. only 10.30 so far. And i will go read this poem while i et my breakfast. My spirits are a heavy lift. c

  15. I always knew that farming was lots of physical work– but some of the emotional decisions that go along with it are fascinating to me, a city girl. I don’t envy you, but feel that you have the good of everyone at heart. What an amazing life you live.

  16. Hey my dear friend – you are doing a GREAT job! And have a good head on your shoulders for the right decisions (and that is all I will say on that).
    Phoned the vet yesterday to say that Shelly has completely stopped eating now as she suspects every morsel of food to have the dreaded pill in it! Forcing her mouth open and throwing pills down it didn’t work – she puked them back up!! So I’ve been told to stop giving them to her for a few days to get her back to eating again, Then pull the capsules apart, put powder in a little dish with some carnation milk or coffee cream, suck it up in a syringe, and squirt that down her throat, but only AFTER she has eaten. Wish me luck LOL
    Sam is my herder and will stalk the last chicken and move it towards the gate to their run and hut at night for me. He is really good at it too.
    Just planted 30 cabbages, Kale and Broccoli for the winter. Waiting on the Brussels Sprouts in the green house as I started them a little late. Hot and humid here with tons of bugs, but have to keep on top of my (and three others) garden or winter will be here before I know it! Just wish the rain would stay away as digging potatoes out of heavy wet clay is not fun!

    • What an excellent idea to squirt it down her throat. poor dog. She is having such a time. Can she eat raw meat, maybe some gravy beef would go down well.Or at least as a treat after you squirt the stuff down her throat. Wish we could find you some raw milk, her tummy is probably having a hard time with the Anti.B’s.. maybe you could put the powder from the pill into a pro biotic drink (when you start again) and try and kill two birds with one stone. I hear that pumpkin is good for dogs too as a rebalance but i have never been able to get anyone but Boo to eat pumpkin.. You are going to have a fantastic winter garden. Poor Shelly. c

      • Have you tried yogurt as a pill chaser? AntiB’s kill all the bacteria – and good homemade yogurt with active cultures are perfect for that. Plus, you don’t have any lactose issues with it.

    • I had a dog who was terminally ill and was rejecting his pain medicine. After all the conventional techniques were tried I taught our other dog to lay patiently by for her treat. I just started handing out goodies and if Mr. Sicko rejected them the Good Pup snarfed them up. Mr. Sicko dissected a couple of the treats and then got with the program and swallowed them whole. I would always end with a larger chunk of the treat. Good Pup always got her share for waiting.

  17. I am so enthralled with Kupa…a lovely bird !! Ton is a great dog and
    so well trained C !! Boo is coming right along and I know from training
    my dog it is a huge undertaking to have a well trained dog. Well worth it
    but a lot of work and time !! I am so happy for you and your farmy !!

    Congratulations on such a hard decision… gave her EVERY chance
    and she is miserable. Deep breath and on we go . There is so
    much positive to celebrate. N

  18. Agree with Nanster, you gave her a lot of chances. Sorry for the decision you had to make but it’s probably all for the best. Ton is quite the dog. Don’t know anything about peacocks, is it usual for them to lose their tail feathers?

    • They lose their tail feathers t the end of every summer then regrow over the winter, so he will have a long beautiful tail by spring.. fantastic isn’t it! c

  19. The hay elevator would be a blessing for you, I hope you find one soon. I’m glad you have Sheila, otherwise, you may never have known how sweet some pigs can be.

  20. I am having a lovely day here in the fog, singing and resting and, no doubt, processing apples and pears into things. Charlotte had a good life with Sheila for awhile. Then things changed.

    • Terrible Tempered Tommy bangs. I like that!! I think I read those books too young, i need a revisit.. c

  21. I love your TonTon, love the fact he JUMPS the fence when he’s through herding, and I love seeing him (the teeny-weeny white tip of his tail is all) under the chickens. I love learning that alfalfa has protein. Who knew?? Not me. And that the flower indicates enough. Just amazing. I know horses are fed alfalfa, but I don’t think exclusively. This blog is like an extraordinary four-year course in not only animal but also land husbandry.

    • A very deep thought that.. land husbandry.. we are all learning together and aren’t we enjoying it, loving it, hating it and living it! ..take care.. how is that ipad doing? c

  22. Great header photo, Celi, not just because it’s a pretty flower but for what it means: the animals will eat good this Winter. Success! That Ton is one incredible dog, standing guard under the Black Mariah. I’d ask permission to bring Max to the farmy for a few days so that he could learn a few things from Ton but, heaven forbid, what if the reverse happened? I think they’re both better left with dozens of miles between them. 🙂

  23. I’m so sorry about Charlotte. It’s a tough decision, but you’ve given her every opportunity.

    Good boy, Ton! One day Boo will be as good a working dog as you!

  24. As hard as it is you are making the right decision. We have been there and done that…not once, but more than once. Cows seem to be the worst problem for us—and it didn’t matter if they were milking cows or breeding stock. Bad habits show up in all types of animals and in people. With people we just move on out of their way and try to never be where they are again. (This statement could be a long winded one, but I leave it there.) For animals you MUST make the tough call — there is no other way.
    We had to sell a wonderful milk cow once because she would NOT stop jumping fences. (The grass is greener and all that stuff). After she tore her bag to bits I said…ENOUGH. We had a horse we sold for the same reason. I had to take care of more than one rooster for being mean, meaner, and meanest…you just can’t have that anywhere at any time. I could tell you about an evil sheep and a goat that wouldn’t stay off the top of cars…..
    Hugs! You are on the right track! You first, the health of the farm/land second and if a bad one won’t settle down…..

    • well you made me just LAUGH, which is great. We had a sheep that jumped on cars! Daisy is the worst as she leans on the fences and brings them down that way, but i am going to put up more electric fences to stop that, i am getting quite good at the fencing..How terrible to have a milking cow that jumped fences, that must have been awful. Take care darling .. hope all is well over there and getting better.. c

  25. The Duke has every reason to continue strutting…he is a fine figure of a bird and beautiful whether long tail feathers or no. I’m constantly amazed by Ton, who is such a great working dog and so smart, and I have every reason to expect Boo will come along in his time and be a great partner for Ton as a farmy dog, too. You are a great trainer. Love to see the little peek of him under the Black Mariah. May the rest of your day be lovely, Cecilia.

  26. I do not want to imagine what you have been doing without a bale elevator! We had two. One to get the bales up into the loft and another to run them down into the loft. the 1st one was higher than the 2nd so the bales dropped onto the 2nd one. The haying crew could pick bales off the 2nd one as they went past. We had a quarter section, so we had lots of hay to put up. We were milking 30 head Holsteins when I was young, more later. We probably needed a wee bit more hay than you do now. (Cows – Holstein cows.) You will be sooo gratefull to have the elevator.

    I am sorry you had to make the decision you had to about Charlotte. That is tough. You did do your best and you have had excellent advice, and 600 pounds of pig will be plenty of full flavoured pork chops. I read a talk given by a priest who was dying of cancer. He said he had got to the point where he could let go of his life like we let go when we go to the bathroom – no regrets. I wish you and Charlotte the same.

    the Duke is gorgeous. Does he loose all his ‘eye’ feathers right up to his back? I do hope you can sell your boquet. That would be fun.

    • We had a Holstein once, he smashed every gate he met! Nice animal just did not like gates! That is a lot of cows, I love the idea of two elevators, but one would do right about now! Our barn is small so we should be alright. I can see why you have so much useful info in your head .. growing up on a dairy farm.. I grew up on a beach, I need your head!! c

      • Celi, a Holstein steer? Oh they are the most long legged rangey things! You must have had challenges with him! We had 75 head of cattle total to keep 30 milking at a time. It is a lot of animals.

        I wish I was more involved with the farm when I was young. I hope to retreat to the land when I retire, so you and your blog of people provide a reality check to my fantasies and an inspiration that I can actually Do It in some small way. : )

  27. Cecilia, I love your positive attitude. You pick yourself up, dust yourself down and move onward! You will be in my thoughts for the next few days. The Grand old Duke of Kupa, be he long or short, is a gorgeous specimen.

  28. Thank you for sharing so much of your farmy. It’s all good – the beautiful, the fun, the hard and the sad. I feel closer to the real rhythms of life reading your diary as I sit here in the city.

    So, does the Duke have trouble balancing right after he loses his long tail? Does he have to adjust each year? I think of the times I have cut my hair from waist length to pixie cut. Not that I had trouble walking, but I drowned in shampoo the first few showers.

    • Your hair grows as fast as Mine I think! Kupa does not seem to be bothered, he loses his feathers one at a time!! unlike us!!

  29. Celi, I wish I were as pragmatic as you are. I still have a mean as heck gander out there on the grass. He has to be separate from everyone else. But, at least he has stopped pinching and beating me. Then, there is the difference in size. His 14 lbs is nothing compared to Charlotte’s 600! Good grief! 😦

  30. Congratulations on a courageous decision about Charlotte. I remember so well the day you came home with two pigs, after intending to get only one. Your intuition was right. One pig. You are on such a learning curve and I so admire what you are doing.
    I’m off to the west coast to be pampered on retreat for 4 days. Will return to the farmy on my return.

    • The West Coast on the South island?.. that is my old family stamping ground.. have a lovely retreat darling.. c

  31. I am afraid that farming is about tough decisions, more days than not. My glass of wine has your name on it tonight. Small farms like ours are a world unto themselves.

  32. After the tears and sorrow of a difficult decision there is comfort in the fact that it was a right decision. I’ve personally found a surprising sense of relief also, as if I didn’t realize how heavily the situation was weighing. This all counts as success, sometimes success isn’t fun.

  33. C. Absolutely…you are not running a petting zoo and do not have to justify any of the decisions you make to anyone and since you asked us to keep our traps shut…then that’s all I have to say about that! 🙂
    I loved your post today, especially the part about you possibly getting a hay elevator! No one deserves one more than our Miss C. !!!

    • It would be an enormous bonus, pulling each bale up one by one is just too hard, but good too, for the muscles!! c

  34. Hi Miss C, my Lucerne is just coming in to flower too!
    Did you receive some aubergine recipes? I still have another to send; will do so after tomorrow’s exam. E

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