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

California Farrows

California came out of the pasture five days ago in order to set up for her farrowing.  Tuesday evening she kicked from the red hut the two smaller sows with their piglets and began building her nest.  The two homeless sows found warmth in Gronkle’s hut where all the piglets now cuddle between the three mothers. California took all day to bring in hay and make a thick, dry nest.  Last night around 10:00pm she gave birth to her first piglet.  By 2:00am, Dave came to bed saying she had had 6,… Read More

Dairy Calves

In the winter, we could lighten our work load. The cattle are bale grazing and require as little as  breaking ice, opening a section of fence for the next bale, or just checking on. The pigs’ whey troughs need to be filled daily and any supplemental food (veggies or organic grain) are easy to spread in their large yard. So how can we be productive with all of this “time off” the normal pasturing chores? One way we have found is to raise bottle or bucket calves. Calves who are born in… 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

Hernia

Donning our veterinary hats today, we wrestled an uncooperative piglet (actually, there are no cooperative piglets) into a manageable position and applied what we hope to be a healing bandage. The piglet’s intestines had begun to bulge in the belly button area, so we pushed them back in and placed the rounded half of a tennis ball into the area and duct taped it.  By the time the piglet rubs off the tape, we hope that the problem will be resolved. Immediately after being returned to the herd, this guy went back… Read More

AJ’s Pay Off

You may remember that AJ’s responsibility this summer was to raise the chicks.  That story here. Despite losing many of them to predators (can you imagine the disappointment of a young kid when he finds chick parts strewn outside the coop?), he received his pay off. His final job was to load the chicks and deliver them to the butcher. You can see the satisfaction of a job well done. This week, the laying hens moved away from their undergraduate housing and began roaming freely with the mature hens. He is thrilled… Read More

Piglets Aplenty: Simultaneous Farrowing

We were nervous yesterday when we found a piglet dead and ripped apart in the field. We knew it had to be California’s and we were disappointed she had abandoned it. This concern deepened when we found a live piglet abandoned. She wasn’t fully developed and died shortly. This morning I combed the field to find any evidence of birth but came up empty. We began making arrangements for “Bad-Mama Sausage” out of the sow, thinking she had eaten her piglets like she did back in March during the snow storm farrowing…. Read More