Along with being OMG-winter-is-here-in-t-minus-one-day-and-we-aren't-ready time, it is Holiday Time.  Those sacred days when one is supposed to eschew normal evening activities and instead joyfully whip up a batch of wassail, trim the tree, feel pressing guilt that one may be old enough for Christmas cards to be required, etc (such guilt is successfully drowned in wassail, by the way.  a handy holiday tip...).

New October Growers
Don't get me wrong -- I love my wassail and I love my trimming.  But also, I need to castrate piglets, winterize the orchard, bed down the garden, etc., with a time limit that is NOW; as for the Big Man's "to do before winter" list...don't even get me started, but it involves a backhoe.  We are scrambling, all the while still trying to find our winter gloves and decide what actually needs done before the mud becomes brown cement for three months.

Holiday time is also visiting time, and so, in the interest of both giving visitors-to-be some background information and getting our winter planning ducks in a row, now is the perfect time to remind ourselves just how many of everything we actually have right now.   This is actually not an easy question: it changes with births, slaughters, and mishaps with amazing regularity.  So let's count.

Little Red family portrait

1 boar, still fat and happy, although stuck outdoors;
8 breeding sows: 4 with the boar on pasture, two nursing new litters in the barn, and two locked away in virginal, boar-free towers;
13 "growers", born from Scar and Spot in August;
12 new additions: grower pigs born in late September and bought in from two local farmers just yesterday, meant to fill a hole (ahem, Little Red's non-existent August litter) in our farrowing schedule as we ramp up;
23 very fresh piglets; thirteen surviving from Little Red's litter of fourteen on the last Sunday in November, and ten surviving from Missy's litter of twelve in the first week of the month (it is possible she had eleven...we've had an extraordinarily difficult time counting her piglets.  Missy's also included, just for fun, two piglets that needed some major kitchen counter stitching with a gash on her leg, and one with a giant around-the-middle slash that almost had us leaving him for dead.  So really I want to make her number 9 because each of those really adds up to .5 viable piglets.) in hay-filled farrowing stalls in the barn.

Surgery mise en place for Missy's piglets
1 rooster, Bernard II son of Bernie, glaring at me from the shadows of the coop;8 hens in the henhouse, four originals from last year and four of the tree-hen's secret eggs, snatched out of their tree;
4 roosters locked in the greenhouse, tilling the manure and waiting to become stew meat;
4 feral chickens still unable to be caught or shot (so far), who actually sleep in turns and have lookouts and sophisticated escape strategies.  The roosters are on the "Oh, you have spare time; let's practice your shooting!!" list for the next couple weeks.  The hens I am still planning on somehow swooping up to fritter into the coop.

Missy family portrai

1 buck rabbit;
3 lady breeders;
17 that have been recently weaned, growing;
And a box of recently born tiny rabbitlings -- probably 6-12.

That's 55 porkers, 17 cluckers, and somewheres around 27 nose wigglers...PLUS 2 barn cats, 1 house cat, 1 ridiculous dog, and 2 busy humans who just can't wait for winter to finally snuff out 2011's projects and force us to catch up on all the books, tv and movies we've missed in the last 9 months.  Just please not until we finish up just these last few projects.