Saturday, August 30, 2008

Went to Mass in the morning yesterday. After Mass we dropped 3 rolls of film off at the Rite-Aid 1-hour photo and took the kids to Dunkin Donouts to celebrate the anniversary. Then to kill a bit more time, we went to Mrs. Curley and the girls' favorite store: the local Goodwill Thrift Store. The boys always give Mrs. Curley a hard time about it because she and the girls always come out with bags of stuff (usually all together purchased for less than $5). Today it was turnabout. The boys walked out with 'cowboy' vests and Mrs. Curley could find nary a thing.

So we go back to the "1-Hour" photo (note the quote marks) and pictures haven't been started on. "Please give us another hour". So we did some exploring around and about and came back a couple hours later ... "Please give us another hour". By this time you get to the point where you don't know whether to cut your line or hang on for one more go-around. We hung on and were finally rewarded. Some good pictures and a few of the pig slaughters.

So be warned, you are in for a picture parade the next few days. I'll only treat you to one today as I am busy trying to fix the lawn tractor (I spent last Saturday doing this in vain. All morning was a wash, but I have one more thing to check before I am stumped and call for help (again.)

But, just a preview (and these will post later at The Rosary Box Maker ), here are a couple boxes I made this summer. Will post some more later...

Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Beheading of John the Baptist

This feast has a special significance for the Curley family-it is our (my and Mrs. Curley's) wedding anniversary. For some reason the kids get very excited. Some years we have done nothing, some years we have done something.

On one anniversary many years ago, I rented a limo and we drove to Nantasket Beach (on the South shore near Boston, MA) where we had spent many hours in our summer of courtship. We went into the arcades across from the beach and played air hockey, ate fried clams and then went home. (As I recall we had everything possible turned on in the limo, and it broke down on the way.)

One year we went to see "Phantom of the Opera" when it came to Boston. One year we went to dinner and dancing. However, most years are simple. Hopefully (like this year) we will start with Mass. I am taking the day off from work, (even though the fall garden tilling is calling) so who knows what may happen.

Back to John the Baptist. When we moved to SC 13 years ago, the fact that the diocese of Charleston is under the patronage of John the Baptist, we took as a sign. (However, in the late '90's when we almost-but-didn't move to Front Royal, VA we almost took the fact that the St. John the Baptist Church is the Catholic parish in Front Royal as a sign-but didn't at the last moment.)

I have always been fascinated by the story of Elizabeth, Zachariah and John the Baptist. Just one speculation: how much did Christ and John talk growing up? Did they plot together, or did they not see much of each other?

But here is my dream: I would like to see the story of Zachariah dramatized on stage. I can see him now, dumb, but his speech released as he writes, "The name is John", and thus he begins: "Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel..." He praises God as family, friends, and the village stand in wonder. And then Zachariah goes to Elizabeth and snatches the babe John from her arms as he looks down at his down son and speaks, "And you my child shall be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way...."


Upcoming events:

October 11, Kingstree, SC: Diocese of Charleston Rosary Celebration at Our Lady of Joyful Hope Shrine -details to follow.

December 6, Lancaster, SC: Folk Art Festival (1st annual). -details to follow.


Finally, this morning, I find I have a sister (who is a Sister) who has a blog! Go check out Windows to the Soul.

Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

More on NAIS

Found this article article by Ron Paul on NAIS. Here's the money quote:

In typical Washington-speak, NAIS is “voluntary” – provided USDA bureaucrats are satisfied with the level of cooperation. Trust me, NAIS will be mandatory within a few years. When was the last time a new federal program did not expand once implemented?

Further on down the line-and more important: I hear they are already putting microchips in soldiers to monitor their whereabouts. How soon will they be slipping them under the skin of newborns in the hospitals so everyone can be tracked?

Oremus pro invicem!

From the headline, at first I wasn't sure (read this story ) whether it was the parents or the school who were concerned about the short skirts on the cheerleaders-turns out it is the school, the parents are outraged:

Monroe Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli told WLWT TV that cheerleaders were instructed to wear long shorts and T-shirts underneath their uniforms at a pep rally Friday.

"The skirts that the cheerleaders wear are very short, and they're very tight and they're slit so they can do the gymnastics that are required of a cheerleader," Lolli told

Lolli said the skirts are allowed only during assemblies and games.

"You want to have students wear appropriate clothing during the educational period of the day, and then after school, wear the appropriate clothing for the event," she said.

The uniforms have not been an issue in previous years because the district's dress code was not specific on required length for shorts and skirts. The policy was clarified earlier this year, requiring that the bottom of shorts and skirts be no more than 3 inches above the knee.

Parent Becky Daniel said the school's dress code should not apply to cheerleader's uniforms.

"My daughter is a senior, this is her last year," Daniel told the station. "We paid for uniforms and they should be able to wear them on game day."

Can you believe it? Where are the fathers to protect their daughters?

My foray into teaching at a Catholic high school a couple years ago had a similar situation-but no controversy- the administration was NOT so particular about the dress code when it came to cheerleaders. My objections to the skimpy outfits (whether in or outside the classroom-not to mention a couple of their routines) fell on deaf ears. It was disappointing to say the least. (But woe to the boy who was missing his tie or had his shirt untucked. Immodesty=Okay; untidiness=detention.)

God help us and have mercy on us!

Oremus pro invicem!

The National Animal Identification System had not been on my radar screen-but now it is. I am not too sure how concerned I should be. Here's the deal: one of the responses to 9/11 was concern for our food supply. Thus some bright guy came up with the idea of keeping tags on ALL livestock in the country. (Never mind that we only inspect a minuscule portion of the crates which enter our ports-let's track ever chicken which may be used to contaminate the populace.)

Of course any mass contamination is a product of our big-Ag system anyway-just as the recent and recurring spinach, tomato, etc e. coli and salmonella outbreaks demonstrate. If livestock farms were small and local or at least regional, the nation wouldn't be susceptible to these dangers anyway. But we can't let anything get in the way of letting the government micromanage our lives.

Of course it all says the NAIS is voluntary... yet get these quotes from the NAIS in a Nutshell Brochure (my emphasis):

NAIS consists of three voluntary components:
1. Premise (or site) identification
2. Animal identification
3. Animal tracing.

And the second quote from the same brochure (again, my emphasis):

If the animals are for your own use and don't leave the premises you will not need to identify them, but you do have to register your premises using NAIS.

Sounds real voluntary to me. Here's another money quote from the USDA NAIS site:

USDA maintains limited premises information and will protect individuals' private information and confidential business information from disclosure.

... just like our Social Security numbers would NEVER be used as personal identification numbers-oh yeah!

There is a small pig farmer in Vermont who is trying to fight NAIS; here's the website.

Do you know that in SC it is illegal for me to trade half a pig to my neighbor for, let's say several months supply of vegetables? Things are way out of hand folks.


My sister and sometimes Requiem Press author Agnes Penny has an article up this morning at CE, here. Read an The Story of Our Lady of Victory and sample the pictures at The Requiem Reader.

Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, August 25, 2008

One of the pigs came up lame yesterday morning. I don't know if it is broken or some other injury. No sign of a wound. It is certainly sensitive to the touch, but "Fred" won't let me get a good look at it. This morning I was basically sitting on top of him, but he covered up the hurt leg (left front). I am afraid I'll hurt it more if I work too hard at examining it.

I guess I will wait a few days and see how or if it gets better. Eventually if it doesn't, then "Fred" becomes sausage sooner rather than ham later.

Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, August 22, 2008

We didn't get to Mass this morning as was our intention on this feast of the Queenship of Mary, so we did Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours together.

It is cool and overcast today. After feeding the pigs I finished tilling the free pig pen. I will plant turnips in it tomorrow. I don't anticipate much in the way of fruit-the pig manure being so fresh. But the turnip greens will be large and a delight to the goats.

I also started tilling a new patch of lawn this morning. We had spread pig manure around a 200 or so square foot area of lawn at the beginning of the summer and then fenced it in with chicken wire. (It caused quite the discussion around town. One neighbor we had never met drove up and asked if we were doing an experiment. In fact, we fenced it in because our dogs like to roll in fresh manure.) I will till in some old cow manure, and this will be a major part of our fall garden.

The chickens have all but quit laying (we are getting only 1 egg a day) even though the weather has been cooler this past week. Not only don't we have eggs to sell, we don't have enough for ourselves. One neighbor has suggested withholding food and water for a day to shock them back into laying. Hmmm.

Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Check out a new website: ifitjams. I will be adding it to my sidebar soon-along with some other updates (new sites and culling some others). The author of this new website is already on my sidebar under Self-Publishing. He self-publishes his own books (one on self-publishing) and thus his experience and advice sometimes can translate well to a small publisher like us.

But this new site has a lot of what I have been doing these past few years-fixing things in any way possible-just so they work again for the least amount of dough.

Now back to the sordid business of making money .... Oremus pro invicem!

Interesting article this morning here on funerals, embalming and the like. I have told Mrs. Curley that I would like to be waked at home, unenbalmed (dry ice works very well), and then buried here (lowered into the ground and covered by my sons) on the property where everyone will have a daily reminder to pray for my poor soul.

The home wake is especially important. In former days, friends and/or family members would stay up all night praying for the deceased. This practice has ceased in America with the advent of funeral homes. No doubt the Protestant culture that is America contributes to the overall neglect even among Catholics of praying for the dead.

Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It's Here!

Good-bye to the Buckley saga for a couple weeks while I immerse myself in The Gulag Archpelago. I don't know how I am going to get through 700 odd pages of parts I & II before it is due back to the library (after all, I am no TS). Even the first couple pages are gripping as AS pulls you into the desperation of being arrested-something most of us never think about.


Speaking of being arrested, I guess yesterday was the first day of school in some of these parts (bear with me a few moments.) On my way into the city yesterday I was traversing Route 20 East. In the right lane, there were several cars going well under the speed limit of 70 mph, thus myself and the 18-wheeler in front of me decided to pass in the left lane. As we are chugging along (my truck won't do 70 and the 18-wheeler wasn't setting any speed records either) passing the slower cars, a gray SUV speeds up on my tail and starts flashing his high beams. I understand he wants to pass-but what am I to do? The right lane is full and I can't just bowl over the 18-wheeler in front of me. When I was safely past the cars in the right lane, I moved over. As the SUV went by, he gestured me with the universal sign of displeasure....

Not 30 minutes later (at 7:00 AM) I was traversing a strange part of the city (for me) going 34 mph in a 35 mph zone and got pulled over. I didn't see the flashing school lights indicating the school zone (25 mph). My fault yes-but the irony of it all.


And finally this morning, this sordid business of making money: I have to spend most of my day doing it, instead of working to get the fall garden ready or to finish some new fencing etc. Ah, well. Such is the struggle.

Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

In reading about the Buckleys, I am reminded that when my father died in 1999, one of my sisters wanted to write the story of his life geared toward children, so the younger grandchildren would know of him. Each of us could contribute stories which Dad told-which were many. I still think it is a great idea, but nothing has ever come of it.

However, to start some sort of preservation of some of the stories I remember, I relate one or two now.

Dad signed up for the Navy in the days or weeks following Pearl Harbor. He was 21 years old in 1941. He joined the Naval Air Corps because he figured being a pilot was the fastest track to becoming an officer. He went so far as memorizing the eye chart to make sure he got in the program. (The results of this are chronicled below.)

I recall him telling of those classmates who said, "Boy I sure hope the war is still on when I get my wings!" My Dad thought such sentiments were crazy. He knew more than one air cadet who died in training. He himself had some harrowing escapes.

Two stories in particular come to mind. In one he was doing a solo in a trainer biplane. It caught on fire, and he had done the prescribed dives etc. to try to put the fire out-but nothing was helping. So he started to climb out on the wing to jump but contemplated that although he was wearing a chute, there was no guarantee it was on correctly or tightened properly (he said the parachute training was not particularly conscientious). Thus he climbed back in the plane and landed it safely.

A second time he was doing a solo in a trainer (this one not a biplane-it escapes my memory which plane it was-I think the US Army version was called the Texan) and the landing gear would not go down. Again, he began to get ready to jump. But once again he decided to take his chances and landed in a field without the gear down.

Eventually his poor eyesight was found out. Dad had bad depth perception-a trait I share (finding out when I applied for a USAF pilot slot when I was in college at The Citadel.) He didn't always know where the ground was-especially when he was required to land without instruments. More than once he stalled the plane when he thought the ground was closer than it was. This finally washed him out of the program.

My understanding is that Dad spent most of the rest of the war as a trainer (including dismantling booby traps) on an island somewhere in the Caribbean. He left the Navy some time after the war ended as a petty officer (I can't remember what 'class'.)

Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, August 18, 2008

The rest of the weekend

Update: I forgot to mention #2 and #4 son went fishing with me Sunday afternoon. #2 caught 2 seven inch or so Bream in about 30 minutes. #4 son (who is usually our most prolific fisherman) came away empty. All the others were home making a 3 minute short movie based on an episode in a Zane Gray book. Good times...

Butchering the pig went quite well on Saturday morning. We started at 8:30 or so and were finished by noonish. DE and son came over to help butcher. Mrs. Curley wrapped meat, and CT again took the lead in making the cuts. (I took my turn at the hack saw when required and otherwise trimmed sausage meat-and observed, for next time is my show.)

A few notes on Friday's slaughter: the books say to get your best marksman to shoot the pig. You wouldn't figure it like that-after all, it is a close shot right between the eyes. But pigs move around and can weave their heads while eating. An inch or so off and you have to take a second shot (not to mention the pain inflicted). I really took my time this time. I would have like to been a 1/2 higher, but it went down properly.

We are learning. With less man power (and a heavier hog) we rigged up a pole and come-along to hoist the back end of the pig so we would have to lift the whole pig onto the truck ourselves. Our slaughter house could use a drain and a shelf (not mention lights that don't flicker, or just plain go out, when the AC surges...)

I think we are all agreed that in the future, pigs under 200 lbs are big enough. This last was easily over 280 lbs.

We had the picnic shoulder off the freshly butchered pig for Sunday dinner. Wow! It was good. CT brought over some bacon from the last pig (from the jowl). We will have it this morning.


Have finally finished Third Ways by Allan Carlson. The final quote I give is similar to the previous one-this one coming from the conclusion.

All of these Third Way architects faced the same dilemma: In the face of coercive violence, do we hold to our ideals and so fail? Or do we bend democracy and abandon nonviolence in order to save both in the long run? The first questions was usually answered "yes" with tragic results.

This is the way of the Christian and not just Third Way agrarians and/or Distributists. (For example: How does a Christian combat false accusations, jealousy, gossiping tongues and back-biting? Hopefully with love and prayer-and often silence because the only way to fight back effectively is to become one of them.)

So where are we?

The new slavery triumphs, just as Chesterbelloc predicted. Rather than liberty, it aims towards security. The newly enslaved are allowed the illusions of freedom and independence-illusions nurtured by a popular culture promising sexual delights. This marks the cruel genius of the triumphant Servile State.


Have also been reading An American Family-The Buckleys by Reid Buckley. I have never read anything before by my fellow Kershaw County resident, but am enjoying it. He has many footnotes-apparently so he can impart some further information without disrupting his own narrative. However, he interrupts is own narrative often enough that I am not sure it wouldn't have been just as fun to put the footnotes in the text.

Of course I grew up in a family of twelve children. The writing bug is not so prominent in my Irish Catholic family as in the Buckleys, but it is there. Two of us have books in print. Three of us have published articles here and there, and one of us (separate from the others) is a published poet (she really should write more.)

I really need to get through the Buckley book quickly. I have ordered via inter-library loan the first volume of Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago. It is due in any day now. I have never read anything by him; it is time.

Oremus pro invicem!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

One shot-this time (and I took my own sweet time cause I wanted to get it right.) and the pig went down. CT made the cut and blood poured out. The skinning was so much easier. Unstressful pig death changes a lot. We finished at 10 PM last night (as opposed to close to midnight last time.)- but still too long.

We only had CT (who is become a master at skinning) to help, so Mrs. Curley was out there helping to move the hog carcass: What woman!!


More importantly-we may have fixed the septic problem-looks like it was a blockage between the tank and the distribution box. With some back water pressure, I think it is cleared. At any rate, we are back on showers again, so everything smells a bit sweeter around here.

Butchering today, so gotta go. St. Stephen of Hungary-pray for us!

Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

It turns out that between WWI and WWII Agrarianism as a way of life and a political force made a comeback in Eastern Europe: Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, Czechoslovakia. By the early 30's though, most of these parties had failed and were driven from power. Third Ways by Allan Carlson details their rise and fall and explains their demise:

More fundamentally, the agrarians failed because they were too honorable and decent. Fully committed to democratic rule, they refused to smash their national constitutions in order to hold onto power. Firmly believing in pacifism, they abhorred and avoided whenever possible the use of violence. Moreover, as Mitrany explains, the peasant political program in its social conception was "as revolutionary as Socialism, and in the face of ruthless obstruction, could have carried through only by equally ruthless political pressure. " Tragically, but also to their credit, this the agrarians refused to do.


As we move through our latest crisis (septic system) Mrs. Curley commented that everything seems to happen to us. But I don't think so. When we lived in the city, just as many things happened, but there was a difference: I called a plumber, or electrician, or the mechanic, and they took care of it. Now we have to do most jobs ourselves either because of money or because we live in the middle of nowhere. So every bump in the road seems a little bigger. But we thank God for it!

Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Got back from the city okay last night-but not without a little concern-blew another fuse and thought I was broken down again. Changed the fuse (which I had with me) and got home okay ...

... only to find out the drain field on our septic is failing. We have a pool of liquid bubbling up from the septic tank (better than backing up into the house). Either the line to the drain field is clogged, the field is saturated, or the field has failed.

Blogging will be light as we figure this out-pray for us!

Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Whew! Got the fuel pump changed on Saturday but it turns out there was more to it. It seems some wires were resting on the exhaust manifold and burned through and shorted out. I was looking for something like that (I was also checking sensors on the fuse that kept blowing.) Number one son actually found it-he was invaluable in the whole project.


Getting ready to slaughter another pig this week. If you recall from my post on the last slaughter, we used the book: Home Butchering and Meat Preservation by Geeta Dardick for guidance. It is the best book on the subject and covers poultry, goats, pigs, and even cattle. The copy we used was from the library, but purchased a used copy online (it is out of print). It arrived last week.

Interestingly enough, the author commented on this blog about her book on the pig slaughter post:

I am so glad you found my book, Home Butchering and Meat Preservation, so useful. It is 20 years since my husband Sam and I wrote and illustrated that book, and the good news is that it is still in print in Australia and New Zealand; however, it is out of print in the USA, but there are lots of copies on the net. I like to say that it is the only "high consciousness" butchering book ever written.

Off to the city-have a great day! ---- Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, August 11, 2008

A review of Russell Shaw's latest book Nothing to Hide (Ignatius Press) appears in this month's Catholic World Report. The reviewer, Anthony Esolen writes:

For a genuine father raises his sons to share with him the responsibilities of the family business. The good father not only consults his sons for advice. He makes sure he is always raising sons-and daughters-from whom he can expect good advice. A good father not only tells his sons what to do. He raises sons whom he need not tell what to do, because their loving obedience and his loving authority have become one, and they enjoy authority in their own right, in and through mature obedience. (emphasis in original.)

I read this just before number one son and I tackled the fuel pump in my truck together. I am a good one for giving orders to my sons-but not so good at listening to their advice. But son number one had some some good advice during our job, and I am glad I read this and listened.

Much to think about here. I never really thought about raising children "to share with him the responsibilities of the family business", but I should have, because this has much to do with the family economy.

More on this review later, but I wanted to get this thought in writing before I forgot.

Oremus pro invicem!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Quick Notes for Saturday-before the action starts

Let me preface this story by noting that I almost always were a hat when out. Except for the summer, I wear a fedora style had-for want of a better word. In the summer I may wear my straw hat, a baseball cap locally, one of my worn and stained fedora when working around the holding, or a cap (how to describe it-okay a picture) except mine is a faded denim.

Well, I was picking up some flax seed and other items at the organic/nature store in the city earlier this week and wearing my denim cap. The cashier was a young man whose arms were literally covered with tattoos and who had at least one, but possibly more ear-rings (or other-rings) about. As he rung me up, he commented, "Nice hat-especially the denim." Nothing particularly notable other that I can now say I am fashionable with the youth of America.


A new excerpt up at The Requiem Reader


When I got my truck towed on Friday I called a local man. I had never met him but had driven by his place many times-it is only about 6 miles up the road towards Kershaw. His place is distinctive because he has cars from every generation on his lot in various states of repair (and disrepair). I have always wanted to stop in cause I love cars from the 30's to 50's.

When he came to tow the car I was surprised-I don't know how old he was, but you don't often see men of his advanced age (maybe 70+) working wreckers. (But then again, around here you do. I have a neighbor in his upper eighties who I still see driving his tractor in the fields regularly.)

I spent a little time talking to this gentleman who has spent all his life in Bethune. He knew the original owners of our place, and he has a passion for old cars.


On government regulations: Some weeks back I was exploring taking one of my hogs to a butcher. I have in the past transported my pigs in a cage/crate on the back of my Chevy S10 pickup. The butcher told me that this could pose some problems. You see my pickup bed is 30 inches off the ground and the maximum height of the chute at the butcher's is 14 inches off the ground. Federal restrictions (I was told) say the pig has to move from the vehicle of transport to the butcher's chute with no ramps or assistance of its own accord. Can you believe this? As one friend commented: people had to write this and debate it!

Now I am sure this regulation had worthy origins, but it is a symptom of an overly regulated society lacking common sense. In a Distributist society government regulation of small business would be low-but this doesn't mean no regulation at all. As I understand it, the Guild system would be in place where local Guilds would both support and police each other. hmmm.

Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, August 08, 2008

On the peasant "family labor farm," however there are no wages, only hours of labor expanded. the family uses its labor power to cultivate the soil and receives as the result of a year's work a certain amount of good," something very different from a wage....

Peasants seek subsistence, rather than accumulation. Chayanov builds his model "on the concept of the peasant farm as a family labor farm in which the family, as a result of its year's labor, receives a single labor income and weighs its efforts against the material results obtained." ...

...the work motivation of the peasant is not entrepreneurial. Rather it operates the same as the "piece-rate" system, where the artisan would be paid for each unit produced, not by the hour. This allows the peasant "alone to determine the time and intensity of his work."

From Third Ways by Allan Carlson.

The material above in quotes comes from Alexander Chayanov a Russian economist, who "though no Bolshevik, he was an active participant in the Russian Revolution of 1917". He was for a time Deputy Minister of Agriculture in the Soviet Union in the 1920's. However he fell out of favor with Joseph Stalin over his peasant economic theories, was arrested in 1929, sent to a gulag, and died there in 1939.

The previous chapter in this book was on the history of the family wage, arguing the dramatic demise occurred circa 1970 (although it had its beginnings earlier.) Unfortunately I can't go back now an re-read this chapter just for blogging purposes. You'll have to get the book and do it yourself.


On the home front: tomorrow I am going to attempt to replace the electric fuel pump on my 1987 Chevy S10 pickup. Even though I have to remove the gas tank to do it, I am told it is not too bad of a job. Maybe for some....

Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Moving Pigs

Well I never did make it into town yet this week, but boy things have been exciting around here!

We finished the new pig pen finally yesterday. Time to move the three pigs.

Mrs. Curley came out at noon and asked when we wanted lunch. I told her, "It'll only take us 15 minutes to move these pigs, let's do it and then have lunch".

2 and one-half hours later, we had moved two pigs and still there was more to come. Here's the story.

We had borrowed a trailer (the new pen is on the other side of the goat pen) and I had secured my pig cage to the trailer. Because of our pen system, the three little pigs have to go through (briefly) the larger pig pen (still holding the two large pigs) in order to get out to the holding area where the trailer was parked. With an extra hog panel held temporarily by two sons, we excluded the larger pigs from the doorway, allowing the three little pigs to exit into the holding area without too much trouble. The hog panel was then removed. Here's where the fun started.

Now the holding area is about 15' x 10'. We have a few sunflowers growing there, but otherwise, it is just grass. We thought we had blocked off all exits to the greater yard.

I had hoped with a few peanuts and a little watermelon, the three pigs would just march right up the ramp into the cage on the trailer. Foolish man! They wanted no part of it. (In hindsight, we should have had a the way blocked so the only path was into the trailer, but instead they had the run of the entire holding area. And run they did. Three of us chased them around the area with exasperation.

Finally, I got hold of the smallest one's back legs and stuffed him into the cage.

At almost the same time, the biggest of the three (just over 100 lbs) wormed his way under the trailer. It was too small of a space for him to get out into the yard, but neither could he easily get back into the holding area. He finally did, but with plenty of squealing and some pretty good scratches.

After some more time of chasing, I finally got hold of the back legs of the Duroc. This pig is at least 75 lbs. There was no way I could stuff him in the cage as I did the other.

First I gave one back leg to number 2 son and grabbed a front leg. His (the pig's) mouth was flailing about. I was sure I would get bit. But just then, one of the large pigs from the pen (coming to the gate with all the commotion, some how jiggled loose the latch (we usually have it double-latched, but somehow this was overlooked in the heat of the action) and wandered into the holding area.

I took over both back legs and smallest daughter came running with a watermelon. Number one son (who was holding the cage door shut so smallest pig wouldn't escape) tossed watermelon just inside the pig pen. Number 2 son managed to get large pig onto the watermelon and then pushed him in and secured the gate. Now back to Duroc.

Somehow-it is not clear to me now, we grabbed three legs and tossed him in the cage, secured it and took a breather.

We decided two was enough for now and shooed the biggest of the three into the large pig pen with the other large pigs (who are now over 250 lbs.)

The rest of this part of the operation was largely uneventful. We drove over to the new pen and with a little, but not overwhelming difficulty, unloaded the two into their new home.

At this point we were all ready for lunch-it now being after 2:00 PM. However, we noticed that the two large pigs, the male in particular, was not taking kindly to their new mate. He chased the younger one around the pen every time the younger one went after food or settled in their shelter.

So I decided that I would move the young one back into his original pen. Number 2 son worked the gate as I tried to shoo him in. Apparently however, the large pigs got the idea that I wasn't friendly to their new mate. They cornered him and attacked.

We saw the ferocity of pigs. They cornered him, jumped on top and attacked. I am not sure they could open their mouths wide enough to take huge chunks, but they were on top attacking and there were plenty of grunts and squealing. There was nothing I could do. They were on top of him and trying to bite-it was scary-don't know why I didn't hop the fence, but I tried to get them off him by kicking and pushing.

Finally Mrs. Curley threw a watermelon in the pen on top of one of the large pigs. It distracted one of the big pigs, and the little one managed to squirm away. Shortly thereafter I was able to shoo him into his original pen. He looked much the worse for the wear, with cuts and bruises and breathing hard. I thought he was going to have a heart attack. But he eventually started eating and moving around, so I hope he'll be okay. (The thought occurred to me to just take care of him this weekend. After all he is over 100 lbs and we are just about finished with the 1/3 of the pig we slaughtered a few weeks ago. The large ham and the sausage meat and the bacon is still untouched, but the rest has been consumed.)

What a day! Of course now I have pigs in three pens-granted I have pigs on grass-but I don't have a pen ready to grow back. And of course, I lost my sunflowers in all the commotion.

Talking to my neighbor last evening, he said they used to rope the front legs and drag the pigs when they needed to move them. Something to think about.

Oremus pro invicem!

Update: After all that, I guess I should have read this before we started!

Monday, August 04, 2008


Was repairing a tree saw we have here the other day and I noticed it was made in Chico, CA. I think this is near St. Isadore Ranch.

Got a milestone finished on a paying project today-but we didn't get the new pig pen finished, and thus didn't move the pigs. Everyday they are on mud instead of grass is $ out of my pocket.

We've had RAIN! again, and Mrs. Curley's eggplants are thriving. We still have some dim hope for some cucumbers, but not much else. (I have been harvesting summer radishes-the greens going to the goats, the fruit to the chickens.)

On the road tomorrow.

Oremus pro invicem!

The Weekend

Saturday we spent the morning finally fixing up the pen and temporary housing for the 50 chicks that arrived two weeks ago. Up til this time they were in special chick houses we had made for their first week of life. But time has passed quickly and they were still in them. We still have to get some permanent housing for them, but they are good for another 2 weeks.

The boys (and I a little) started on the new pig pen on Friday, but made little progress on Saturday. In the afternoon we picked up Mrs. Curley who had returned from Charleston.

Mrs. Curley brought me home a surprise ... a new hat. It's just like my last one-a gray Lite-Felt crushable. These type look good enough for all but the most formal dress occasions, but are durable enough to wear all the time without worrying about it. (And they are much cheaper than a typical dress hat.) Thanks, Mrs. Curley!

Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, August 01, 2008

1st Friday Mass (and Fr. John back from Ireland!); Mrs. Curley off to Charleston with friend for the weekend, and a busy day here in the office finishing a project, and on the land. We are building new pens for the pigs today and tomorrow to get them on grass again by the end of the weekend.

A couple items of interest in the ongoing discussion of "engaging the culture". See Jeff's latest post here. I like the imagery-but what else can you say about Chesterton.

And see this (scroll down past the toothache) from Stephen Hand on Re-engaging the world.

If you absolutely need more to read, buy a Requiem Press book!

Oremus pro invicem!