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

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

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

Measuring Up

To determine if a pig is ready for slaughter or to gain an idea of how quickly it is growing, we need to know its weight. The thought of wrestling a pig onto a scale or somehow scooping it up in a sling is humorous, but the method we use is simple. We take its girth and length measurements with a fabric tape.  Using these calculations, we can find out about how much the pig weighs. Dave measures and I record. Recently I took my camera out with me for the amusing… Read More

The Pigs Move In

…to the greenhouse.  Last week, we put the finishing touches on the pigs’ winter quarters. We spread hay in their yard, installed gates and whey troughs, put up chicken roosts and nest boxes. Persuading the pigs to walk up the hill to the new yard took some effort, but they are happy to be inside, and cozy, and enjoying the convenience of whey right outside their front door.

Meet the Herd

We are happy to announce the beginning of our own beef herd with our first purchase of two Angus heifers. A heifer is a female bovine who has not yet given birth to a calf. The two heifers have been bred to this bull, and we are looking forward to meeting their calves in August of 2014. Meet Professor Sprout and McGonagall. Two steers–castrated males–joined us this spring. Darth is Angus and Chewy is a cross between a Belted Galloway and an Angus. We have, of course, already been raising dairy bull… Read More

$30,000 Worth of Veggies

Not long after Dave pulled into a produce wholesaler to pick up our weekly load of mushy produce, a man approached offering a tractor trailer load of veggies.  The trucker’s reefer had malfunctioned on his trip up from Georgia and his whole load had been frozen: he needed to find a place to dump it. He arrived at our place around 8:00pm that night.  With our backhoe and some chains, we pulled off each pallet, stacked high with boxes of veggies. It wasn’t that simple, of course. It took close to three… Read More

Compost and Apple Harvest

The 6 foot wide strip garden we put in this summer is about finished producing. We have some late tomatoes still coming on, the popcorn and sunflowers are drying on their stalks, and the coriander seeds are maturing. This past week a chicken got run over on the road.  The considerate man got out of his dump truck to tell us about it.  Turns out he was removing manure from a neighbor’s winter cow barn. We ended up getting three loads of very rich dirt to spread over the garden. We have… Read More

New Fence

Making use of these cool sunny days lately, Dave has been building fences. The pigs have plowed through more pasture than ever, so we are expanding. Dave cleared a strip 40 feet wide through a section of trees and rented a post hole pounder to put in 12 posts, stringing three wires two thirds of the way across our property. Every 50 feet he added a supporting post. For now, the wires measure 6, 12 and 18 inches high, but we can easily add more as our use of the pastures expand… Read More

To The Butcher

Some of our pigs go off to a USDA inspected facility to be butchered, and this past week we sent four away.  Our regular butcher slaughters on farm, so we don’t usually need to bother with transporting pigs.  When we do, we like to have the process go as smoothly as possible. After several (not so) humorous and time-consuming loads, Dave built a loading system that seems too easy now. He brings the trailer into position and lifts the ramp into the side door. With a bucket of grain, we lure the… Read More