Chicks and Piglets

We have some new arrivals. Our wild hen–the descendent of an Old English Game hen the kids’ grandparents gave them–hatched out nine chicks recently. It is her third successful batch, and they’ve all made it so far. Cracklin’, the sow who farrowed this past winter and then adopted another sow’s litter (18 in all), is taking great care of the 10 piglets she farrowed this week. And we are expecting more any day.

18 Piglets in the Snow

Today the grower pigs are snuggling in their half of the greenhouse, the breeders are burrowing into their hay piles in the field and the most pregnant of the sows have made their nests and are finishing the farrowing of their litters. Gronkle and Cracklin started to build their nest last night, but Gronkle was a bit ahead so she kicked Cracklin out of the nest this morning and went into labor.  Cracklin didn’t bother building a new nest in the hut we provided but climbed up on top of the hay… Read More

Haven’t heard from us lately?

The snow is blowing in and, as usual, we could use an extra few weeks to get ready for winter. It is time for the pigs to start heading back toward their winter quarters.  The smaller pigs have already arrived at the greenhouse.  The larger ones will come up to their winter area next week, and the boar and sows will be making their move shortly thereafter. It is time for the cattle to make the last passes through the fall pasture rotation before moving to the winter store of hay bales.  They have about… Read More

Alonzo and the Cows

Alonzo, a registered Devon, came to hang out with the cows for a couple of months.  He settled in just fine the first day, went to work the second day with a red Angus heifer, and has been courting another of the black Angus cows today. When a heifer (female bovine who has not produced a calf) or a cow (female who has previously calved) goes into heat/estrus, everybody in the neighborhood knows. Such mooings! Such commotion! She is restless and mounts the other cattle, and they mount her–heifer, cow, or steer…. Read More

Three Bull Calves and a Heifer

Sprout gave birth to a bull calf this week. Though we tried to watch our heifers giving birth each time, we were always a wee bit late until Sprout.  We could see from our vantage point on the hill that she was in labor in the early afternoon, so we grabbed the camera and jumped on the four wheeler. She didn’t go away from the rest of the herd, but she was restless. Unfortunately we were called away just before the calf dropped. By the time we returned, Sprout was licking her… Read More

Birth and Death

Yesterday we noticed the very pregnant sow was in distress and realized she was trying to give birth.  Two stillborn piglets lay near. A sow usually has her piglets in fairly quick succession so when two hours passed and no more appeared, we knew it was time to intervene. Carefully sliding a hand into the vagina, we can usually tell where the problem is. It was immediately evident we were in trouble because the distance between the sacrum and the pelvic bones was so small that my clenched fist would not fit…. Read More

Of Mud, Pig Pancakes and Wrestling

It should have been simple.  All we needed to do was open the gate of the pig’s winter quarters and let all but 5 out into a lane that led down to the prepared pasture. We began the process a little after 8, took a break to give a tour for a family who came to pick up some meat, and then ploughed on. We were tired, sore, thirsty and ready for lunch when we got in a bit after 3 0’clock that afternoon. It was quickly evident that I couldn’t carry… Read More

The Cattle Begin Their Spring Pasture Rotation

We bale grazed 5 cattle through the winter, and raised 5 calves on milk.  Recently we brought in 4 heifers from another farm in the area, and this week we brought in a heifer and a steer from our neighbor. We want to keep the calves on milk a little longer, but we don’t want the main herd to be held back from the pasture, so last week we ran the cattle down to their first rotation area. It went as smoothly as we could have wished, unlike yesterday’s crazy pig move…. Read More

Aw, Nuts! The Bulls Become Steers

Curious about the nitty gritty on the farm?  If you can stomach it, come along and see what happened here today. Castration might make you squirm, but it only takes a few minutes and it is absolutely necessary in maintaining (containing) a herd. The pictures tell the story: let’s go! Thanks to Dave Rainbow for helping farmer Dave while I took pictures. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Newest Bovines

Yesterday Dave went to an auction to buy some heifers he had previewed a few weeks ago.  Three of these ladies are due to give birth in June.  One is a stocker for meat. They came off the truck at a run and covered in dried mud. Our herd greeted them with bellows from another pasture, and the pigs were quick to get to know the new girls. We will let them get familiar with the place for another week before introducing the other cattle. Once they have learned to get along,… Read More