Merry Christmas from Chubby Dog Farm!

Merry Christmas from Chubby Dog Farm!

Happy holidays, everyone! It's business as usual around the farm, but with a little added sparkle in my eye that only December can bring. The halls are decked. The dogs are jingle bell collared. The yard is feelin' the spirit. The Christmas music is playing at all times. Most of our presents are ordered. Cookies are baking. I'll just ride this wave of holiday joy for the next few weeks.

November was the month of all things goat milk soap around here. I sold close to 150 bars, packing the flimsy small flat rate boxes past their limit. I haven't made any batches in a couple of weeks, but I can certainly take requests, suggestions and constructive feedback. I heard that many of the labels were smudged when you received them. I can only blame myself for that, as I was in a mad dash packing them up over a few days, and in my haste, I fear my soapy hands were just oily enough to smudge the ink on the labels. I've paid careful attention to the bars I have sent out since, and they all looked good when packaged. Also, I will be adding more essential oils to each batch in hopes of extending the life of the fragrances.

There are plenty bars left here if you need any last minute gifts or stocking stuffers, and I can make any of the soaps into soap on a rope, which are cute gift ideas. The bars are $5 each, and they are made with the best ingredients I can get my hands on, including organic coconut oil, goat milk, and GMO-free rice bran oil, and no synthetic fragrances, just essential oils. Flat rate shipping for up to 6 bars is $6.80, $12.99 for a medium box that probably holds close to 20. That's a lot of soap. You can pay using our email address on PayPal, medderskc@sbcglobal.net.

We still have lots of pigs available for sale, whether weanling pigs to raise or whole pigs butchered. The gift of meat is always an excellent Christmas gift. We are offering whole pigs for $5.50 per pound based on hanging weight, which includes delivery to butcher within 50 miles of Grapeland and butchered/packaged. We are asking for a $300 deposit to go towards the Texas Natural Feeds, a non-GMO/non-soy feed. They will be ready to butcher by the end of February or early March. Contact us for pricing on weanling pigs, which are available now.

We understand that it takes a lot of faith to invest in a whole animal since this is our inaugural pig project. Come visit the farm. See where our pigs live. See the food we feed them. See how we love our animals. You'll appreciate the love and attention they get daily, the land they have to root around on. They are able to be the animals they were meant to be, as opposed to factory farm animals. 

In March, we plan to have a few pigs butchered by a USDA approved butcher, so we will have cuts of pork for sale. We hope to sell individual cuts at farmers markets, to farm visitors and possibly a meat share. We will provide more information when we actually have them butchered. Stay tuned.

Please let us know if you have any questions about our pigs or soaps, goats, chickens or eggs. Or give us a holler if you want to visit the farm. Merry Christmas to everyone!

Love, Karyn

Hard Farm Decisions, plus... Reserve Your Forested Pork Now

Hard Farm Decisions, plus... Reserve Your Forested Pork Now

This past weekend was the 2016 ETGRA's (East Texas Goat Raisers Association) Fall Sale in Fairfield, Texas. We thought long and hard about which goats we could give up in order to better manage our herd since we are concentrating on pork production now. We didn't thin the herd as much as we probably should have because we LOVE them so, but we did take six goats to the sale, hoping to get good prices for them.

Well... we didn't even break even with the price we paid for our lovely and unique does, Pepper and Bailey, and we definitely didn't make back any price for feed and miscellaneous costs. We sold four goats in the auction, made an after-auction deal for Bailey, and came home with Queen's Princess Buttercup because they were offering an offensively small amount for her.

Hard decisions have to be made by farmers daily, and with Calvin working his day job, there simply aren't enough hours in the day for us to manage the amount of goats we had in the deep east Texas climate, plus pigs and chickens AND have any time left over. We want to ENJOY our goats, and frankly, not have to trim hooves, take fecal samples, and worm every single free moment. We're down to our absolute favorite, easy-keeping fourteen goats.

Jimmie Dean's seven remaining orphaned piglets were moved down to the main pig pen yesterday. They will be fed twice per day like the other pigs, with large doses of milk in a big pan, as well as free-choice pig grower feed. The mommas, their piglets and Apollo have been banished to the forest, where we feed them over the fence, and their babies are fat and happy.

Jimmie Dean's pigs are the light colored piglets with random spots.

Jimmie Dean's pigs are the light colored piglets with random spots.

Whilst we are on the subject of pigs... we want to remind you that we will have GMO-free/soy-free forested whole heritage red wattle/mangalitsa pigs available February 2017. We have a Buy Now PayPal button where you can reserve your pig here, and we ask that we receive your deposit by the end of October to help pay for their Texas Natural Feeds. Our preferred butcher is in Madisonville, Texas, but we can discuss other options as needed. We are also working on a basic list of cuts of meat from that butcher. Please let us know if you have any questions in the meantime. Love, Karyn

Chubby Dog Farm Clean Pork... Reserve a Pig Now!

Chubby Dog Farm Clean Pork... Reserve a Pig Now!

Our beautiful red wattle sows (and tamworth sow who orphaned her babies) had their babies the first week of September, so Chubby Dog Farm red wattle/mangalitsa or tamworth/mangalitsa pork will be available for sale in February of 2017 at their prime slaughter weight. Our pigs are raised on 4 acres of deep east Texas woods, and we supplement them on non-GMO and non-soy Texas Naturals Feed and non-GMO produce. We will be offering WHOLE pigs for $5.50 per pound based on hanging weight, which includes delivery to butcher within 50 miles of Grapeland and butchered/packaged. We are asking for a $300 deposit to go towards feed by the time we wean the pigs which will be the end of *October, as Texas Naturals is much pricier than conventional feed.

We are reactivating our Square App to be able to take credit card deposits, or you can send us a check for your $300 deposit. As of right now, we have 25 pigs with a few already reserved. Contact us soon to be put on the reservation list. We are also working with Appleby Community Farm, a CSA in Nacogdoches, to market our pigs to like-minded people who want healthy, humanely raised animals if you are in that area.

This is our first effort in selling pigs, as we are a new and growing farm. As Michael Pollan wrote in The Omnivore's Dilemma, "... our food dollars can either go to support a food industry devoted to quantity and convenience and 'value', or they can nourish a food chain organized around values--values like quality and health." Our initial goal was to grow our own food... to know what was in our food and feed ourselves the best possible. Now, we have the capability to share our healthy pork with our friends and neighbors. Help us do just that. Reserve your pig today. Love, Karyn

Pate and babies eating.jpg

Wonders of Nature... Piglet Edition

Wonders of Nature... Piglet Edition

Chubby Dog Farm is approximately 26 piglets richer this week. What an adventure we have been on, good and bad. Nature is so amazing, especially when all things work as intended with no outside interference. But sometimes, there are no other options.

Paté, in all her grumpy-faced glory, had 8 beautiful piglets Wednesday, August 31st. She found the thickest, darkest corner of the 4-acre forested paddock and made her nest to birth her babies. Every move she has made has been for the love and safety of her piglets. They are well-fed, disciplined, and guarded as only she knows how to do. We couldn't have been more excited to see what the next two sows had up their sleeves.

Thursday night, Jimmie Dean didn't come to the whistle for dinner, so we searched for her for an hour to find her bedded down in a thick nest, heavily breathing and in visible labor, a trance-like state, almost like nature's epidural. We knew it would be a while, so we planned to check on them the next morning.

Friday, as I took the doxies out for their morning potty break, I saw Jimmie Dean lying down by the fence where we feed them. We dropped everything, including my own morning potty break and teeth brushing and went in search of piglets. We immediately found two dead piglets, but we had high hopes to find more, alive or dead. After a couple of hours, we found five piglets strewn throughout the wooded paddock. 

We fed the babies colostrum replacer, took a short break, and then went to feed the other pigs and look for piglets again. In the end, after many hours of searching and oinking and getting scratched up in the brush, we found ten live piglets, five female and five male, as well as three dead piglets. The final three we found had traveled 200 yards from the nest to the pen, tracking their wayward mother on their senses alone. I find it heartbreaking that Jimmie Dean had thirteen babies, and that genetically, she was ill-equipped to care for them. So... we're nursing ten beautiful piglets hopefully to weaning and beyond.

And tonight, I witnessed Maple, our third and final sow, give birth to at least eight piglets, and the sight of it made me almost want to vomit... and weep at the very same time. As Maple gave birth, the babies cleaned each other AND their mother while looking for her teats. Natural perfection!

This brings us to a topic that most non-farmy folks probably have never thought about... that the pork may be farm-raised pork, but the genetics may scream "factory-farmed" pork. For breeding stock, genetics means everything. For many factory-farmed pigs, the ability to mother and even breed has been bred out altogether. So to see Maple's piglets working together to clean each other... and mom, while searching for their dinner tells me that they are not only getting something nutritionally that they need, but also using their instincts to survive.

We trust that whatever happens with these pigs going forward will be destiny and valuable knowledge gained. New electric fencing will help keep the pigs in and predators out. Sassy and the LGD's barking will help keep predators off of the homestead hill. The momma pigs will do what their intuition tells them to do. And we will care for the orphaned pigs to the best of our ability. Jimmie Dean will soon fill our freezer, and we will invest in more of the red wattle sows, who clearly have superior mothering abilities. As always, we appreciate the emotional support from our good friends. Keep sending those positive farm-y vibes. Love, Karyn

Chubby Dog Farm is now a REAL farm! (from Tumblr archives April 04, 2015)

Chubby Dog Farm has gone from raw land to a livable barndominium to a working small farm. We moved into the barndo in October of 2014 and out of the 21 foot travel trailer we had been living in since May of 2013. What a relief! The barndo is not complete, as we still need to install the reclaimed wood flooring in the office loft, railing around the loft and complete the stairs, finish the laundry room and larder, but what is complete is beautiful. A walk in shower, black vaulted ceiling, exposed duct work, 6x9 island, a 6 burner gas stove… we’ve got it all.

After the new year, we contacted a lady, Diana, on the Facebook page for the East Texas Goat Raisers Association about buying one of her LGD’s, livestock Guardian Dogs, or rather a puppy born in November. We set up a day to visit her farm, and came home with this.

The puppy is Mathilda, and the Boer goats are Rhoana and Sannah. The ladies are ornery, and Mathilda is a natural guardian, but she was bored as the lone puppy in the herd, as puppies naturally get. She wanted to play with the goats, and goats don’t play like puppies, so we had some trouble with her chewing Rhoana’s ears. We bought a young wether, Gravy, and she did the same to him. We tried to train her to not play via shock collar, but she was only compliant when we were outside with the remote control in our hand. 

Luckily, Diana, who we purchased the puppy from, has kindly become our mentor. She lent us Mathilda’s momma, Sheba, for a couple of weeks to see if she could “entertain” and train Mathilda to stop playing with the goats. Worked like a charm. Diana had 3 puppies left that were reserved for a friend of hers, so we asked if we could possibly buy one of the females if the friend would agree to it. She did graciously. Now, we have a lovely pair of sister LGD pups who are doing a grand job, Mathilda and Beatrix. They have great instincts, although they still have at least a year of maturing to do. We are fortunate to have several layers of protection… Sassy is our farm guardian, electric fencing, and the goats sleep in an enclosed shelter. We hope that this will give the girls time to mature as exceptional LGD’s that their parents are.

We are also caring for 114 baby chicks. We have 50 each of Black Jersey Giants and New Hampshires, and a handful of Buff Orpingtons, Red Jungle Fowls and Ameraucanas. We can almost see them growing right before our very eyes. They were born around March 17th, so they’re 19 days old today. We are building a 12x12 chicken coop in the electric fenced in area with a chicken run in hopes that our LGD’s can one day guard the chickens as they free range.

In the meantime, we have planted 70 rows in our spring gardens. I say "gardens" because we have one at the top of the hill and one at the bottom of the hill that I call upstairs and downstairs, and we also have a popcorn patch.We've planted all of our favorites and tons of cream peas, which seem to sell very well at the local farmer's market. I foresee a summer of canning madness.

This is Hank, the newest member of our doxie pack. He is a beautiful, stocky and active dachshund mix who needs a lot of attention, ball throwing and lap time. He was jealous of his momma’s baby and let her know about it in no uncertain terms, so his momma was kind enough to ask if he could come live on our farm. We adore him, and he has brought a new life to Bella and Hunter, our other doxies.

All of this tomfoolery has taken place as I have two herniated disks in my lower back. I pushed through the pain last year while building the house, not seeing a doctor so we could save money that was allocated to the house fund. I’m quite stubborn and frugal. We decided that it was time to fix all that ailed me this year with our huge $5000 deductible, so I will probably have back surgery soon, and later for carpal tunnel syndrome. I’m way to young (42) for this ridiculousness. I’m ready to be functional and pain-free again. Calvin has worked harder than he should, but he’s a kind and loving man with big dreams for this land.

As much pain as I’ve been in, we are having a blast! We sit on the porch, beer in hand, and watch the goats and pups in the evening. We feed them and love on them and laugh at their silliness and get stinky together. We clean the chicks feeders and waterers and watch them in wonder of how quickly they grow. We build shelters and garden together. I love that quality time.

In a million years, I never thought I’d be a farmer, and if I did, I never thought I’d enjoy it. I don’t want to do anything else. I want to always have food growing in the ground. I want to always have animals. I always want to appreciate the hard work that goes into putting food on the table. Chubby Dog Farm is the life for me.