111: RAQ #6 – feeder pigs, ghost stories, kid chores, teaching butchering, and Facebook

111: RAQ #6 – feeder pigs, ghost stories, kid chores, teaching butchering, and Facebook

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It’s another random audience questions podcast episode (and blog post) where I pull five questions from my giant mason jar of topics you’ve sent in. Today I answer your questions about feeder pigs vs raising piglets, ghost stories, people’s opinions about kids and farm work, teaching other homesteaders how to butcher, and my thoughts on being away from Facebook.

If you’d like to add a question to my jar for a future episode please email it to [email protected].

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1 — Feeder pigs vs. raising piglets

We are considering getting into pigs and are curious what went into your decision to buy feeders every year vs doing your own piglets. The husband and I are at odds about this and we’re hoping you could give some insight into why you don’t do your own piglets. – Ellen

Farm babies are adorable, but in our couple years of doing piglets and goat kids, I learned that farm babies just aren’t my thing. Keeping a mama pig means overwintering a pig. It means breeding that pig—which means keeping a boar, borrowing a boar, or doing artificial insemination. Having babies means dealing with all the extra worry that comes with having babies (and all the extra steps to dealing with those babies). And then you have to find new farms for those babies—which means dealing with people who think they want those piglets.

There is nothing wrong with trying the whole piglet thing out, it’s the only way you will know what works for you and your farm. We tried it here, and our experience taught me that I’m totally okay with paying someone else to deal with moms and dads and piglets.

2 — Ghost stories

You’ve mentioned in a few episodes that you believe in ghosts and that your kids don’t. Tell us a ghost story that you’ve experienced. – Nita

To be clear, I’m not a “hey, I saw a ghost floating in the cemetery” kind of person. It’s more of a “there’s something else here” kind of thing. I will tell you two stories; a spooky one about a house we looked at to buy where my dad and I had the same experience in similar rooms in the second story, and sorta charming story about a kid who used to leave green crayon marks all over our house…before we had kids.

(Listen to those stories on the podcast by pressing the black player button at the top of the post and finding minute marker 8:27 — they’re too long to write out here!)

3 — People’s opinions about kids and farm work

I’m wondering how you figure out what jobs your kids should have around the farm? I seem to be caught in the middle of half my family saying that I make my kids do too much and some of the rest of the family says that kids can do more than we think they can. I know you moved to the homestead when your kids were younger, how did you decide what they would help with? And did you ever internally struggle with they’re doing too much/not enough. And what did you say to people who said they were doing too much or not enough? – What To Do?

This is an issue whether you live on a farm or not. This is just a thing that boils down to people always feel the need to comment on how other people’s kids are raised.

How do you figure out what your kids should help with? You know your kids. You know what they can handle. You know what you need them to handle. Parenting is finding that balance between what’s too much and what’s simply a challenge they need to surmount. That’s everything from can they collect eggs without dropping them to can they carry a knife around the farm to are they big enough to do this particular job on butcher day.

Helping on the farm is about helping them grow as people, not about what your mom sister brother fellow homesteader thinks is enough or too much for them to do at whatever age they happen to be. It’s okay if you don’t tell other people what your kids do and don’t help with.

Answering your random questions today...and I even get to tell a couple ghost stories!

4 — Issues with teaching butchering skills to a friend

Our friend is new to homesteading and is looking to expand her farm next year to include pigs which she wants to butcher herself. She wants to stand in and watch us butcher our pigs this year so she can learn the ropes before she tackles it herself. I am fine showing her what to do, but the issue is she wants to make it a family event with her, her partner, and their three little kids. She’s of the opinion that everyone should be involved because everyone can help. What I’m wondering is this: I have no problems showing her and her partner what to do, but am I a jerk for not wanting little kids there? I never had kids of my own, so maybe I’m just a jerk. How do I nicely explain that it needs to be adults only…or should I let the kids be involved? – Jerry

I think the answer for how do I explain that it needs to adults only is simply because it’s your farm and that’s what you want the setup to be during butchering. People don’t get to say I’d love for you to teach me what you know, but I’m gonna set the parameters of how it happens. That’s not how it works in my world.

So we’ve had people come over while we’re butchering to learn the ropes for themselves but I have never invited kids to be part of that process, and there are a couple reasons why that is:

Safety: Butchering involves blood and knives and mess. I want to do it fast. I want to get stuff done. And I don’t want to have to worry about the kid that’s under the table that I’m cutting on or what they’re grabbing off the table. 

Kids attention span: I don’t know how little her little kids are, but little kids get bored. I can’t imagine being 4 years old and going to someone’s house so they can show my mom how to cut up a pig, because I’d be like “hey, look at this cat” and “hey look at this bucket of blood” and “hey I wonder what…” I used to help cut up deer when I was little enough I had to stand on a chair to be tall enough to help at the table. But if I got bored, I could go in my room and get out my crayons and color.

Mom’s full attention: Mom pays attention when little kid isn’t distracting her. And mom who is supposed to be watching or helping me cut this piece of meat but she’s chasing after her kid or yelling at her kid to get out of the whatever isn’t helping anyone. And it’s very noble that she wants everyone to be involved in the process, and maybe at their house they will be. But their house is their terms and when they get frustrated they can call grandma and have her watch the kids or they can send them in the house to watch Paw Patrol so mom and partner can get stuff done. 

If you don’t want kids there, I would simply say for safety and speed it’s adults only, and just leave it at that. If she wants her kids to be involved, they can make some hot cocoa and sit around the laptop and watch YouTube tutorials together.

5 — My thoughts after leaving Facebook

Can you give us some of your thoughts about being away from Facebook? – Christina

Full disclosure: I didn’t draw this question, I saved this very recent question knowing it would need to be discussed in this episode.

In September 2020 I mentioned that I would be leaving Facebook, and I deactivated my account on October 1st (you have to be deactivated for 30 days before it can be officially deleted.)

If you listened to epi 110 you know that my itty bitty thought was a story about a stray dog that showed up, and I played 2 truths and a lie about how that whole adventure all went down. For those of you who are keeping track, it was section 3 that had the lies in it: 

“I knew that I could find her owner without the use of social media. So, instead of swallowing my pride and biting the bullet and reactivating my Facebook account, I went door-to-door showing people a picture of the dog…after going to 249 houses…”

So yes, here I am with my tail between my legs to fess up to you that I reactivated my Facebook account for a dog. (And the 249 was how many shares my “is this your dog?” post got, not how many houses I visited.)

The dog showing up was actually the last event in a list of nudges I had to reactivate my account. But long story short, here are some things I learned:

What I learned by not being on Facebook:

Facebook is my easiest and fastest way to connect with people locally. I still don’t like a lot of the stuff that Facebook does, but it’s where people are. And when a dog shows up at my house, I can have 249 shares on an “is this your dog?” post in no time at all. I can’t get that on MeWe or Parler. I can’t get that through email or text.

It’s sort of like this: when I travel I prefer to take back roads. But sometimes you have to take the highway because it’s the only way to get to where you’re going.

From a prepper aspect, considering where I live and the community I have built, I’ve realized it’s really stupid for me to not have access to Facebook. Whether I like it or not, if shit hits the fan and I need to be able to contact a lot of people really fast, it’s Facebook that will work best for me. 

Facebook is how I know what’s going on, locally and beyond. I do not watch the news, I haven’t for years. And without at least being able to scroll past current events (local or otherwise) on Facebook, I didn’t know jack about what was going on. I can’t tell you how many times my husband or sons would reference something, only to have me look at them with a totally blank stare.

That seems like it would be funny. Or cute. Or enlightened. It’s not.

Ignorance can be bliss, my friends, but it can also put you in some odd situations. We do not need to know everything, but living in a box with your fingers in your ears only works if you’re actually going to live in a box with your fingers in your ears.

All platforms have issues. One can get very high and mighty about the awesomeness of other platforms, but the truth is they all have issues. And from what I’ve seen, the more “underground platforms” seem to draw a lot of people who I don’t necessarily want to fill my feed with. It’s as if “there’s no censorship here so I can say what I want!” turns into permission for people to be absolutely obnoxious and horrible.

To be clear, I am all for freedom of speech. I also believe (for the most part) you are in charge of what you allow on your feed. But pretending that moving from Facebook is somehow going to automatically make your feed richly superior is a joke. I think Facebook’s fact checking is ridiculous, but I also get tired of spending way too much time on other platforms delete/blocking people who think because they can say something, they should say something. 

Lights have to keep shining. I don’t care what platform you’re on, there is a lot of anger and negativity right now. It’s exhausting. And disheartening. Like the Swamps of Sadness that people are trying to wade through. It’s easy to get sucked down into it. But I’ve been thinking (and doing a lot of old school blogging) and I’ve decided something. If I’ve got it in me to give people something good to read or something positive to look at or some decent words to listen to, then maybe that’s just my offering to humanity, regardless of what platform they’re on.

So yes, I’m back on Facebook—albeit with a different purpose, I think. I’m glad I had the time away from Facebook because it clarified a lot of things for me, it allowed me to catch up to myself in a sense, and now I can move forward in the right frame of mind.

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