Awash in Eggs

This year we’ve had far too many eggs.  And we’ve had far too few eggs.  Now we’re back to too many.  The undulations of egg production leave me a bit seasick at times, sloshing from peak to trough in production, never able to precisely meet our customer demand.  The lesson I’m learning is that even if I expand my laying hen flock, I’m always going to need a relationship with another egg producer to allow me to buffer the jagged edges of my production curve.  I’m fortunate to have Oliver and Shauna Aeschlimann… Read More

Finding the Right Hay for Pigs

The whole idea of feeding hay runs counter to the prevailing wisdom in swine production, where feeding anything other than supercharged grain rations is considered foolish.  But in farms like ours where there are concerns beyond simple feed conversion calculations, hay feeding has its place.  But I’ve always wondered:  what is the right hay for pigs?  We know from all the old books that pigs do quite well on alfalfa pastures.  So a few years ago I bought some nice alfalfa/clover baleage and the pigs thought it was just OK.  Given the… Read More

Thanks, Tolstoy

“But he (he knew very well how he must appear to others) was a country gentleman, occupied in breeding cattle, shooting game, and building barns; in other words, a fellow of no ability, who had not turned out well, and who was doing just what, according to the ideas of the world, is done by people fit for nothing else.”  Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina I didn’t set out to do it purposely, but looking at my Audible account apparently I’ve been on a Russian and Russo-American kick this year.  Of all the quotable… Read More

Wintering

Sorry for the last week of postlessness, but I’ve been running the farm solo while the family goes a-visiting friends and relatives for a few weeks, so blog posts don’t often make it up to top priority on the daily to-do lists. The weather has been crisp with lots of below-zero nights but not too much wind.  Interestingly the pigs, even the little ones, choose to sleep under the stars in rolled out bales of hay rather than sleeping indoors.  So I’ve been keeping busy feeding hay to all the animals, feeding… Read More

Pigtail Post Extensions

Bale grazing works well when we can reliably exclude the cattle from bales and ration their access to fresh bales throughout the winter.  We learned early on that trying to cross fence with step-in posts was not ideal since the frozen ground makes post insertion impossible without using a masonry bit, and later it makes post removal impossible until spring thaw.  Frozen-in-place posts have a high probability of being destroyed when cattle use them as scratching posts after the electric fence wires are removed. The better solution is to spear the posts into bales…. Read More

The Good Steak

I was unpacking steaks today and came across some nice looking ribeyes from an unlikely steer:  he was a three year old Shorthorn-Devon cross.  We bought the steer as a bottle calf a few years ago.  He never looked “finished” (the term used to describe the physiological condition of an animal that has slowed their frame growth and started to put on fat) because his topline was always peaked and his tailhead wasn’t fatty.  But the steaks tell a different story. What makes a good steak?  Take a look at the frozen ribeyes… Read More