Sunday, May 29, 2011

Wrecking the county prosecuting attorneys truck. (NOT recommended)

I drove over to Montana to pick up the new stock trailer, and in order to transfer the title we went to the local county seat (the capitol of Teton County, MT), which is located in a little town called Choteau, MT. 

If you click on this link you'll see a pickup truck parked across the street from the county courthouse; that truck is parked in pretty much the same spot as the truck that I hit; but on the day i was there the cars weren't, so it looked like a good place to turn my big trailer around.  I just wasn't used to pulling a 30' trailer on a gooseneck, and I misjudged it, hooking the rear bumper of the truck and pulling it off, as shown above. 

I feel terrible about this.  Its a brand-new truck; still has the temporary paper plates on it.  I look around, and there's no one in the area, so I start writing a note.  "Hi, My name is Bruce King, and I'm sorry to have hit your truck, my drivers license # is...  and my insurance policy is..." and so on, when a woman drives up. 
"Hey, that's my bosses truck!  Let me go get him".  Ok.  Turns out that it's the prosecuting attorney of Teton County, and he was about as nice as he could be with someone who'd just squished his brand new truck.  So he called the sheriff.  "Hey Ray, someone hit my truck.  Can you come over and do a report?"  So the sheriff of Teton County came over and did the police report, and asked me what damage there was to my vehicle.  "Um, nothing that I can see, Sheriff.  " 

I'm guessing that the bumper is $500 to $800, and is a bolt-on repair (hoping it is).  If so, I'll probably pay for the repair out of pocket, as my insurance rate will rise more than that if the policy is re-rated.  No serious damage done.

Guess I'll take those corners a little wider next time.

Airedale puppies - eyes still closed

Kat had a litter of of pups earlier this month; they're doing what puppies do at this age;  wobbling around on shaky legs, exploring with their nose until their eyes open. 

 We've found that it's pretty easy to keep a litter of pups in a bathtub.  It makes cleanup easy, and keeps the pups contained.  A couple of old towels provide a warm place to sleep, and they're easy to launder afterwards. 
 They sleep in a huge pile of puppies, grumbling and whining and moving in a slow rotation; the pups on the outside rotate in, and the ones inside get pushed out. 
 Occasionally they have group puppy dreams.  They'll all be kicking their legs and whining.  They're not awake;  the movement isn't really coordinated, but I think that they hear the other pups and the pack takes over. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Killing your own meat: Mark Zuckerberg

I think it's very important that people know we go from this...-->

Update:  I'm quoted in a news story about this on the abcnews website. 

Noticed a story today about Facebooks' founder killing the meat that he eats.

If you've read this blog you know that I completely support that, and have taught many people to process animals themselves.

If you're going to eat meat, I think that you should hold the knife yourself, at least once, and I completely agree with Mr. Zuckerbergs killing his own meat.

I've been supporting people processing their own animals on my farms for  years.

...To this

Turkey processing class

Pig slaughter class

Suckling pigs for a Tongan Thanksgiving feast

I really like that he's being public about this -- and I appreciate him living his convictions.  I think more people should.

Friday, May 27, 2011

New farm equipment: The big stock trailer

Every fall and winter I worry quite a bit about flooding on my land; and with flooding everywhere being on the news this year, I've thought about it more this year.  So I've been looking for a big stock trailer that I could load all of my animals on in one shot -- a double decker.  Took a while to find this one.

Most of my animals are pretty short -- pigs and sheep -- and so what I've been looking for is a double-decker trailer, and after scouring the internet for around a year, I found a nice aluminum double-decker trailer for sale in Montana, and I drove over there earlier this week to look at it, and ended up buying it and towing it back. 

It's 32' long from tip to tailgate, and has a removable aluminum floor that you can store on the inside roof of the trailer.  The floor is 8" or so wide aluminum planks that fit into a slot that runs the length of the building.  The slam gates in the center are split, so you can open or close the top or bottom independently.  It weighs 6,000lbs empty, and has a payload of about 15,000lbs according to the manufacturer. 

It'll easily hold 60 full-sized pigs, which will be over limit for highway use, but for flood evac should be just fine. 

As with any equipment that you put on the road, the neater and cleaner it looks the less attention you'll get from the authorities, so the plan is to go over the trailer and sand and paint the rusty spots and then give it a good shine.  It's aluminum, and in good shape overall.  Happy with the purchase. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

All paths lead to cattle?

In the last month I've heard two different farms talk about the products they started with, and what they ended up with after a few years, and it seems like all paths lead to cattle. 

The Meat Chicken
  If you'd like to get into farming with the smallest possible investment, meat chickens are pretty much the way to go.  For about $150 you can buy all of the equipment  you need to raise them.  Here's the total list: 

  1 250 watt red heat bulb.  $15
  1 Clamp-style bulb socket (with ceramic socket) $10
  1 roll chicken wire, 50' x 24"  $25
  10 8' 2x4   $22
  1 plastic bin (for brooding chicks) $13

  The chicks and feed will cost you more, but you can easily do chicken tractor chickens for under $300 total investment, and on an average-sized residential lawn, even.  You don't need acres.   And you turn out a new batch of finished chickens every 8 weeks. 

...And that's really the basic problem.  Anyone with a couple of hundred dollars can be your competitor.  And the birds require daily care and feeding, and they're labor-intensive to process.  You don't have to have much in the way of equipment; a pot on the stove and a paring knife, and voila!  you're a pastured poultry producer!

Lets contrast that to Cattle.

The Beef cow
You go to the spring feeder auction and buy some yearly calves; probably $600-800 each.  You put each calf out on acreage, hopefully with some sort of water.  You provide salt block.  If your fences are tight and in good shape, well...

  That's it.  Until October. 

  ...yes, I know that beef guys are gonna give me some grief, but honestly, there's no way that a cow is as much work over the 7 months you feed it out as 4 batches of chickens would be, and considering that a cow produces the better part of a thousand pounds of hanging weight at the end of the year... 

It's all a matter of what you spend your time doing.  Cattle are popular if you're a big landowner because they're much much easier than most other livestock.  I raise both cattle and pigs, and I spend a lot more time looking after my pigs.  It's pretty amazing to me how little time I spend on my cattle.  Turn them out, look at their trough and fence every week or 10 days, and that's about it.  Yep, I could spend more time on them... but I don't have to.

I raise pigs as my primary crop because I like, enjoy pigs.  I think that they're neat animals, and I like the fact that the commitment to produce pigs is pretty big -- I don't need as many acres as beef producers do, but I do require more equipment to handle the tons of food and the collection of the tons of food. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Piglets with a down jacket

 this little piglet went missing, and a quick search showed that it had made a bunch of feathered friends.  A piglet with a down jacket!

The chickens are buff orpington hens that we're raising as a replacement layer flock; everyone loves a warm friend when it's chilly outside. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Feeding pigs meat

Why can't I feed my pigs meat? 

I got this question from a discussion that I was a part of on the web,  and it's something that I think bears discussion. 

Pigs on pasture will regularly go and eat whatever they can catch.  This means things like earthworms, grubs, field mice or slow farmers (kidding.  sort of.  )   They have a spectacular sense of smell, and I've seen them find things that are buried many feet under the surface, apparently by smell. 

So if you let a pig do what pigs do, their diet is as varied as they can make it, and includes as much meat as they can find; they enjoy it and seek it out. 

The two basic concerns for me are learned behaviours -- if they figure out that chickens are tasty, pretty soon I won't have any chickens -- and legality. 

The Washington State Department of Agriculture regularly interviews places that are generating large amounts of food waste and tracks that material to see if it's being fed to animals.  They do this particularly for waste streams that contain meat.  The issue is a concern about disease -- specifically, foot and mouth disease (FMD). 

The last US outbreak of FMD was in 1929.  Here's the quote: 

"...The US saw its latest FMD outbreak in Montebello, California in 1929. This outbreak originated in hogs that had eaten infected meat scraps from a tourist steamship that had stocked meat in Argentina...."

There are both federal and state regulations that cover the feeding of meat to animals, and the basic thing that you are required to do is boil the material for 30 minutes at 212 degrees.  Heating hundreds or thousands of gallons of liquid is expensive.  I don't know of any hog farms in Washington State that are doing that, but RC farms in las vegas, does, and for this reason. 

There are lots of small farms that do feed meat to their animals, and the regulations come into play most if you're selling the pigs, but the public health issue is worth considering as well.

Pigs aren't the only animals industry feeds meat to.  Milk replacer, fed to baby animals (cows, sheep, pigs) typically comes in two varieties -- a dairy based mix, and a non-dairy mix.  the non-dairy mix is usually made with blood.

For an example of the harm that foot and mouth disease can cause, take a look at what South Korea has been going through in the last 12 months. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Hiring farmhands

I spent the weekend interviewing people for a couple of farmhand positions I've got, and this post is a collection of observations and comments about my experience.  The unfortunate thing is that I only need 2 people; i wish I had 100 jobs to offer.  So if you weren't selected and are reading this, please don't take it personally. 

I wrote an ad that I thought accurately described what people would be doing, and what the basic requirements for the position were, and then I posted this ad onto my blog and the local craigslist.  I received the first response less than 5 minutes after I posted the ad, and by noon the next day I had over 100 applicants.   I ended up with 180 applicants before I took the ad down. 

Over the course of my working life I've probably interviewed 700 or 800 people; most of the folks that I interviewed were in the context of engineering -- the company I worked for hired continuously the entire time I was working there, and so I'd often interview 7 or 10 people a week, usually an hour at a time, as well as doing my regular job. 

What I'm after when I interview someone is to get a feel for how they approach their work.  Specific skills you can teach, but you can't teach someone their approach -- my experience is that how they approach their job is a really deeply rooted part of each person, and so my goal is to get a glimpse of that. 

So for an engineer, you talk them through a problem that you know they probably don't already know the answer to -- an example of this might be "How many gas stations are there  in the USA?"

But that's for engineers. For a farm hand, I need a pretty broad individual, who has a basic skill set that allows them to solve the problems they'll run across; carpentry to fix the broken gate or fence.  A good sense for herding animals because they get out sometimes, or need to be moved around.  A positive attitude because this isn't a milk carton -- you have bad days on the farm, too. 

The other problem I had is that I had way too many people apply.  I wanted to have some objective way to feel better about why I chose one person vs another. 

My business experience has been that hiring, especially your first few hires, is crucial to the success of your business.  if you can hire a good person, that person will make your life as a business owner better.  And it's worth the effort to put yourself out there and look for the right person. 

The first thing that I asked them to do is to fill out an application on arrival; I had each applicant carry it with them.  if they didn't work out for whatever reason, they took it with them.  That way at the end of the day the applications I had were for folks that had the basic qualifications.  As they completed each interview step we'd make some notes and they'd carry it to the next step.    So it was a 3 page deal, 2 page generic application, and a third page with an area for notes for my use. 
Basic hand tools used in interview

The first task I had everyone do: 

  "I want you to take a 2x4, and make me a square that is 11.5", as if you were going to put it over an 11.5" square pillar" 

What this told me is whether they could listen to directions, and then translate what they've heard into physical form using basic hand tools.  A saw, hammer and a tape measure, all of which they'd have to use at some point on the farm.   It also require simple math, and (and this is the secret) whether they check their work before they present it.  

I had 5 people walk away at this point.  One woman said "I only gave myself 20 minutes to be interviewed, and I have to go", which I thought was odd.  If you're looking for a job, isn't your schedule pretty clear?  Or shouldn't it be?  
  The first day I'd pass people who couldn't do a box on to the next steps, but on the 2nd and 3rd days, I just told them point-blank -- "good job, you can move on", or "I'm sorry, but this isn't a pass.  Thank you for applying"
  There was one applicant who i really liked on Sunday, day 2 -- personable, good eye contact, just generally a pleasure, and when they didn't make the box work the first time I told them that, and against my usual policy I gave them a second chance.  I think it was harder for them when I said no the second time.   No matter how much I liked someone personally, I did have to keep it clear in my head that I was hiring for a particular task, and i really did need the skills listed.   5 people didn't start, and 10 people didn't successfully complete their box.   
Some of these are good

On day 1 I had a second carpentry task, making a simple sawhorse.    I dropped this on the second day -- people that couldn't pass the box test couldn't do the sawhorse either, and people who did pass the box test were all able to make the sawhorse.  the only new information I got was how fast they completed the chore. 
But i did end up with a bunch of sawhorses. 

The second task was working with the pigs
  Andrea handled the majority of this; we had the people move various sows through our corral and loading chute.  We picked friendly sows, but we needed to know if people had an issue working with an animal that outweighed them 3 to 1 or more. 
  what we found is that we could really tell pretty quickly who had an affinity for animals, and could work with them.  There was one standout applicant that didn't have much experience with animals, but did listen to Andrea, and did what she said.  I was a bit surprised that more people didn't listen to the instructions carefully, but that's part of what we need to know.   Particularly with pigs, we (Andrea and I) know more about our herd than anyone else.  The ability to listen to us about the pigs is crucial. 
5 or so didn't do well in this step.

The third was working with equipment
  We had them hop on a small tractor and dig a little with the backhoe.  Some of the people had obviously used a backhoe before -- and that was noted.  For those without the experience, we looked at how they reacted to a novel experience - and again, how they listened and followed direction.  We want the farmhand to be able to work independently (as soon as they can!) but initially, we'll be teaching them. 
We only had 1 person who didn't do this step. 

And the fourth was the lifting and agility. 
  Farm work requires physical labor at some point or other.  50lb sacks of feed, or minerals.  Bales of hay.  Animals.  Hand tools -- you'll be lifting or carrying or moving something every day. 

We had them move 4 or 6 bales of hay about 20', and then climb in and out of our big tractor.    What we found is that roughly half of the people who applied were breathing heavily after moving 4 bales of hay.  Another 3rd didn't have the strength or agility to pull themselves into the tractor. 

When you're working with large animals, especially in pens, you will need to be able to hop out of the pen, or climb the corral wall, or a gate, quickly, at some point or another.  The tractor showed us who had the basic physical requirements to do that. 

With the heavy lifting, I did ask that folks be in decent shape, and I had to wonder what that means to people.  If 3 minutes of moving bales is going to require that they take a rest break, I'm not sure what they'll do when we're haying.  If you can't lift a 60lb bale from the ground to waist height, you can't feed the cows. 

The range  of background and experience offered was pretty amazing -- but some of the best candidates didn't show up.  The fellow who'd worked on a 3,000 sow hog farm, and had all of the basic pig stuff under his belt -- I was actually looking forward to talking to him.  Noshow.  The vet student who was home for the summer.  The welder who had finished his courses but couldn't find steady work, so was looking to supplement his income.  Mysteries, all. 

This is a deep recession we're in.  I would have never gotten this sort of, or this quality of, responses to this job 4 years ago. 

I wish I had 100 jobs to offer.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Thanksgiving in May

Click on the picture for a larger version

These are representatives of the birds that we'll be selling this thanksgiving.   Clockwise from upper right, broad breasted white turkey, (was supposed to be a bourbon red but the hatchery screwed up the order), Narragansett heritage turkey, bourbon red heritage turkey, black Spanish turkey, broad breasted white turkey. 

I want to get my heritage birds in March to give them all the time they need to reach market weight by thanksgiving.  It's easier to maintain a bird at a weight at the end of the season than it is to have them gain, and the last couple of years it's been very cold and wet, so having the turkeys for an extra month gives us insurance that we'll reach market weight. 

The smaller broad breasted is timed for consumers who want a bigger bird; at this age in may they will hit 20-28lbs (hens-toms) by November.  The black Spanish and Narragansett are for folks who want a good-sized heritage bird, which for me tops out between 12 and 14lbs.  The bourbon red is one of a replacement flock that I'm breeding, to replace my breeding flock this year.  They're not aimed at market, so it's ok that they're tiny at this point.

The hatchery mistake, the bigger broad-breasted birds are a problem.  Given 7 months to grow and all of the food that they want, they'll hit 30-50lbs, which is too big to fit into most ovens.  I'm not sure what I'll do with them. 

I'm guessing what the market will be like 10 to 12 months in advance.  In order to get my turkey orders in and the birds I needed, I ordered some of these a very long time ago. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Help wanted

I'm posting this ad on my local craigslist.  I'm entirely serious about this, so if you know someone who's local to Everett and would be interested, encourage them to apply. 

Farm Help wanted

We're looking for 2 part-time farm hands to work on a small, diversified farm near Everett.  We raise animals for food; if you're a vegetarian you probably won't work out. 

You'll be working with gentle pigs and aggressive weeds.   You will learn that goats will instantly detect any hole in a fence.   You will wear rubber boots most of the time, and at times the mud will be deeper than that. 

You will take Pig Sex 101, 102 and 105, which is particularly good for parents who are not sure how to explain the facts of life to their young children.  You'll handle and treat baby animals.  You'll have to kill them sometimes.  You'll watch them die sometimes.  You'll eat some of your mistakes, you'll bury others. 

 You'll learn to manage your time and work efficiently to get the most done in the least amount of time possible.  You'll be operating heavy equipment (trucks, tractors, backhoes) and working with temporary workers who probably speak spanish during parts of the  year when we need extra help (haying in June/July, thanksgiving).   Some of the animals will appreciate your work.  Some will bite you.  You must treat them all gently.  Swearing is ok.   You will have a variety of work experiences during the course of the day and week.   You will be working around bees from time to time. 

Job Requirements: 
You'll need to have a clean driving record and a current drivers license.  You need to know how to use hand tools (saws, drills, hammers, jacks) and basic carpentry skills.  You need to be able to lift 60lbs and be in pretty good physical shape.   Ideally you have an interest or experience in farming and particularly in animal husbandry.  There are NO horses on this farm.   Helpful if you speak spanish. 

Pay is low, but you'll eat well, and it's steady.  We do offer health insurance if you or your family needs it.  We can not pay you under the table; sorry.   

About Ebeyfarm: 
We're a small farm that raises animals for food very close to Everett, Washington.  Most of what we sell is pigs, but we sell a small quantity of beef, lamb, chicken and turkey.  You can see our blog at

Sunday, May 8, 2011

RANT: Western Washingtons view of what farms should be

An emu was hit on the highway 2 trestle (the bridge that spans the island that i farm on) and it made the local paper, and in a discussion related to that article there were a couple of comments that I thought were interesting because it exposes the attitude that people have about farms. 

In short, farms should be, and should only be, what you see on the side of the egg carton.  The beautiful red barn and the green lawn, with the chickens scratching in the yard. 

Here's a quote: 
"Sorry to hear that the bird was not able to be saved. On another note, Ebey Island looks more like a trash dump than a viable agricultural area. Some of the land owners should invest some time into cleaning up their properties; anyone coming west over the trestle has to see an enormous eyesore to the right side. The trestle is the gateway to Everett and the west coast via Highway 2, which comes all the way from Boston, and should be treated as such. For many people, hitting the trestle is the first time they have ever seen salt water or lowland marsh areas. The last thing they should see is something that resembles a landfill. "

My view?  Piss on you, motorist.   Want to see a view of what he's talking about? 

You can use the street view on the highway to see it from the motorists perspective. 
There's a vocal minority of folks who have a particular way that they'd like to see a farm look, and for the most  part it's non-farmers who make this sort of statement.  They'd prefer that your farm look like a golf course, and they want their meat at the lowest possible cost.  It bothers them to see anything that intrudes on their red barn farm fantasy.   If its shown on a milk carton, why, by all that is holy, that's the way it should look!

So I'm arguing with one anonymous person, and they made this comment: 
"This is really unfortunate about the emu, and agreeably about the property and other animals down there. While that is zoned agricultural and being used for agriculture, it is horribly over populated for that small of space. If there were fewer hogs and sheep and if they were rotated the property could look like the pasture on the south side of the highway where the cattle is pastured. It would be tempting to purchase, but the soil will require several years maintenance and no animals before it's healthy.  "
(has this guy ever seen a plowed field?   What on earth is he talking about?  a single growing season is sufficient for anything you want to grow.  My plan is corn, but whatever.  This is my first clue that the guy is clueless) 

This guy claims that he reads my blog, and further that he's a farmer.  Apparently he raises a goat and some chickens.  Yep, a farmer for sure. 

The land he's referring to is an 800 acre parcel directly south of my farm.  It was donated to the YMCA of snohomish county by a paper company 6 years ago.  The YMCA was given 2.5 million dollars for something that the legislature referred to as "the ebey island project" -- no further details available -- and was eventually purchased by the washington department of fish and game for 11 million additional dollars, making the price of that parcel $13.5 million dollars.   That's $16.8k an acre, when the market price in this area for land is about $4k an acre.  The government paid more than 4 times the market rate for that land, making it impossible for private ownership to compete.  I know this because I offered to pay $6k an acre for 100 acres of that land myself.  This overpayment eliminated any possibility of that land being farmed profitably, ever.   

For many years, In the spring and summer, that land is leased by a local farmer who in turn subleases the grazing rights to hundreds of cattle.  This guy is telling me that if I just managed my land as they do, that it'd be much better.   This lease will not be extended next year is the word I get. 

Lets imagine that a private entity purchased that land, and wanted to make a 3% return on it -- a meagre profit, but a nice starting point -- it's enough to pay the taxes and have a little bit of money to fix bridges and roads and stuff on the property. 

That's $405,000 a year. 

So how many cows would you have to graze to earn $405k a year?   lets make it a simple business.  We'll buy our cows in the early spring, graze them, and sell them in the fall.   Assume that we'll have to hire trucks to go get the calves, erect and maintain fencing to keep the cows on the land, provide minerals and some sort of veterinary care, hire people to do all of this, and we'll have some mortality. 
. Lets assume that all of that is 15% of the sale price of the cows. 

Beef cattle are selling for $1.25 a lb average when they're 600lbs, so they cost $750 each.  They sell for about a buck a pound when they weigh 1000lbs.  So we make a gross profit of $250 on each cow we run, less the 15% overhead, or a net profit of $212.50 per cow. 

So now the math is easy.  $405,000 / 212.50 means that we have to run 1,905 cows on that land to make a 3% profit. 

Wow.  that's a big number.  How much money would we have to have on hand to buy that many cows?  simple math.  $750 * 1905 = 1,428,750.  Pretty close to 1.5 million dollars. 

WAIT A SECOND.  We have to make a return on that 1.5 million bucks, too.  If a business has gold-plated credit they can borrow money at 7%.  7% of 1.5 million is $105,000

So to make the interest payment on that money we need to run another 494 cows.  

Hmmm... that's 2,399 cows.  On 800 acres.  That's 3 cows per acre stocking level. 

One way to look at stocking levels is the weight of the animal, a "unit".  So lets say that a unit is 1,000lbs.  Our pigs average around 200lbs (weaners are tiny, sows are huge, lots of weaners), so it's 5 pigs per unit. 

A sheep weighs in at a little over 100lbs on average (figuring in the lambs) so sheep are 10 per unit. 

figure a single cow is about a unit by itself. 

So my entire farm (40 sows, 4 boars,  lots of weaners, 30 sheep, 4 cows, plus some poultry) would add up to...  15 units of animals.  that parcel is 12 acres.  So I'm stocking at 1.25 units of animals per acre. 

I'm stocking at a rate that is 1/3rd what they'd have to do to make a profit - but they don't have to make a profit.  It's a gigantic tax payer subsidy project over there. 

So goat-and-poultry farmers point seems to be that if I stocked my land in a way that made sure that I'd never make a profit of any sort, he'd approve of it. 

Goat-and-poultry, I think you missed the whole private enterprise portion of our culture.  I'm open to suggestions on ways to make a profit, but when you compare my operation to a huge government project that will never ever turn a profit in any sense -- in fact, fish and wildlife will end up paying for the maintenance of that land in perpetuity, it'll cost the government money -- well....

Piss off. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

This weeks animal control contact

The goat is at the top center in this photo.

I've mentioned in the past that I have regular contact with the local government animal control officers.  These are the guys that are usually called to catch stray dogs or cats, and they're required by law to respond (ie investigate) any complaint that they receive.
The goat has managed to cow most of the pigs. Horns help

So todays complaint was about my goat.  Someone passing by had noticed that the hooves on my goat needed to be trimmed, and called animal control about that.  I usually trim the goats and sheeps hooves every six or eight months. 
It usually picks stuff out of the produce pile that it likes.  It likes roses.

So the conversation went like this: 
"Mr. King?  "  yes? 
"I got a call about the goat that you keep in with your pigs"  ok, what about the goat? 
"well, the caller said that the hooves looked like they needed trimming".  Ok.  The hooves?
"Yes sir, the hooves.  "  ah.  ok.  I usually trim the hooves every 6 or 8 months.   I guess I'll put it higher
on the chore list. 
"Thank you sir, I'm going to write a report that says that I contacted you and that you were cooperative with me".  Thanks, officer.   If you'd like to stop by sometime officer, I'd be happy to show you the farm. 
"There's no reason for that.  I've been down there and seen this goat standing on the pigs, and when it was cold, it was sleeping on top of the pigs".  Yea, that goat thinks he's a pig.  We've tried to get him to hang out with the sheep, but he's convinced and does whatever it takes to hang out with the pigs. 
"yea, he seems like he's in good shape.  Have a nice day"  thanks officer.  talk to you soon.

The house piggit(s)

 From time to time we have a piglet that isn't doing well or needs some sort of special care.   Both of these guys had small abscesses that had to be lanced and drained and kept clean while they healed, so they're the current house piggits. 
 In this case we had two of them, but when we only have one sick one, we'll bring two home, because they really are social creatures.  These two are inseparable -- they eat together, and sleep together, and explore together, and find great comfort in that. 

When they sleep they're restless; twitching and shifting as they dream piglet dreams, and it seems like they're constantly waking each other up; you'll see their eyes open a little, and then they'll settle back and go back to sleep. 
They prefer to sleep against something; here, the sofa, with the little red and black one pressing as hard as he can into the little pink one; the solid touch is what they like.  I see this with the bigger pigs, too. They'll sleep in big circles, packed as tightly as they can be, with ears twitching and the occasional sleepy grumble as someone else moves. 

Andrea and I call them piggits to differentiate them from the other pigs.  So asking "how are the piggits" has a specific meaning -- how are the piglets that are at the house, or the piglets that just returned to the farm from the house.  The piglets that aren't challenged are called pigs.