Wrong Direction Farm

Compost and Apple Harvest

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The 6 foot wide strip garden we put in this summer is about finished producing.

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We have some late tomatoes still coming on, the popcorn and sunflowers are drying on their stalks, and the coriander seeds are maturing.

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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.

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We ended up getting three loads of very rich dirt to spread over the garden.

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We have also been harvesting buckets and buckets of apples.

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In our side yard and in the hedgerows between the fields, we have many apple trees.

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So plentiful is the harvest

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that not only have we put up applesauce, apples and dehydrated slices for ourselves,

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we have gathered many pounds of them to share with our pigs.

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The kids have enjoyed playing in the fields while we pick.

Winter Quarters

With the first frosts behind us,

we are making the transition from summer routines to winter preparation.

We are butchering lambs,

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pigs and cattle this month,

wrapping up our food processing and building the winter pig housing.

The first year, we built a hoop house in our garden area, but I failed to get a picture of it.

The second year, Dave built a dugout.

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This year, we are constructing a green house.

Dave laid out the concrete blocks as a base.

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We attempted to raise the ribs with a crane,

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.

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but decided it would be better to raise the sides by hand and install the peak from atop a ladder.

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Finishing included lots of details–braces

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and duct tape (to cover sharp edges and bolts)

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and some plywood.

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We never lacked for help.

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We will line the bottom with a thick layer of wood chips.

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The pigs will have access to a big yard that will also work as a sorting pen.

Though we appreciated these guys doing what they can,

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we are waiting for the next lucky visitors (Nancy and Jason?) to come by

so we can get a few hands to help us cover the entire structure with our green house tarp.

It might be worth your while.

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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.

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Immediately after being returned to the herd, this guy went back to eating.  He didn’t show any signs of discomfort.  A few other pigs sniffed his new fancy plastic belt, but then lost interest.

Hernias are heritable traits so we don’t want to keep affected pigs as breeders.  This pig came from another farm.  None of our homeborn piglets have exhibited this trait, but it is a problem that we watch for.

Here is more from Dave:

The earliest book Google has on record for hernias in pigs is from 1847, ambitiously titled “The Pig: a Treatise on the Breeds, Management, Feeding, and Medical Treatment, of Swine; with Directions for Salting Pork, and Curing Bacons and Hams.” There William Youatt states “There is little doubt but that umbilical and congenital hernia are of frequent occurrence among swine but as yet the attention devoted to the diseases of these animals has been so slight that we dare not venture positively to assert the fact.”

By the 1870s, the veterinary books recommend using a small piece of wood laid across the hernia and tied around the pig to restrain the hernia. Some spark of genius must have occurred in the intervening 140 years where someone discovered yet another use for duct tape. Apparently the duct tape method is now pretty much ubiquitous. Although I can’t find out when it was first documented.

AJ’s Pay Off

You may remember that AJ’s responsibility this summer was to raise the chicks.  That story here.

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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.

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His final job was to load the chicks and deliver them to the butcher.

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You can see the satisfaction of a job well done.

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This week, the laying hens moved away from their undergraduate housing

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and began roaming freely with the mature hens.

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He is thrilled that he will be eating their eggs in about a month.

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beauty

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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.

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This concern deepened when we found a live piglet abandoned.

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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.

But another check a bit later showed she was building a nest.

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Gronkle has proven to be a good mother,

and she was already entrenched in her birthing bed.

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While Gronkle showed her rank and displeasure to curious younger pigs,

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she welcomed California.

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After several checks, Dave called us out around 3:30 to view the first two good piglets born one to each mother minutes apart.

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Mostly, they took turns shooting out the babies,

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and by 7:30 the last piglet and afterbirth slipped from each.

That’s the story, but I want to show you even more pictures.

Gronkle took several bathing breaks during her early labor.

Gronkle took several bathing breaks during her early labor.

California delivered an immature dead piglet that the kids' called JellyBelly.

California delivered an immature dead piglet that the kids’ called JellyBelly.

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birthing position

birthing position

The piglets don't seem to recognize a single mother.

The piglets don’t seem to recognize which is their mother.

Here you see them on Gronkle while California has another.

Here you see them on Gronkle while California has another.

We wanted a boy from California to raise as our boar's replacement.  Since we weren't sure how California would mother her piglets, we encouraged this one to get to know Gronkle immediately.  Later it became apparent that wasn't necessary.

We wanted a boy from California to raise as our boar’s replacement. Since we weren’t sure how California would mother her piglets, we encouraged this one to get to know Gronkle immediately. Later it became apparent that wasn’t necessary.

the male piglet

the male piglet

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The small black piglet seems to be blind.  Dave set up a hay bale barrier to keep it from wandering off.  It made a good seat while we waited too.

The small black piglet seems to be blind. Dave set up a hay bale barrier to keep it from wandering off. It made a good seat while we waited too.

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17 piglets in all. 9 female and 8 male.

Did you enjoy this post?  We would enjoy hearing your response in the comments below.

Preserving

The gardens are flourishing,

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and we have been enjoying the bounty.

I haven’t harvested enough to begin any large scale canning,

but the tomatoes are just starting to turn red.  If we get a few more warm days, I’ll be making sauce soon.

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We have harvested enough to fill our plates and put a few cans of fermented goodness away.

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A pepper relish.

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A corn treat.

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Loads of pickles.

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Carrots and Pole Beans.

And we’ve been experimenting with jams and jellies.

We picked 50 pounds of blueberries at

Ingall’s Blueberry Hill

in Cooperstown

and our crab apple trees are loaded.

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Blueberry with balsamic vinegar and black pepper,

blueberry with cinnamon and amaretto,

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crab apple with brandy and

crab apple with cinnamon and whiskey.

I am growing calendula flowers and recently made calendula oil.

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Dave has been processing apples by the 5 gallon bucket.

We packed away a dozen apple crisps into the freezer,

and he has begun dehydrating the slices now.

New Fence

Making use of these cool sunny days lately,

 hayed field under gorgeous sky

cut field under gorgeous sky

Dave has been building fences.

The pigs have plowed through more pasture than ever,

so we are expanding.

The background shows the pigs' progress through the pasture.

The background shows the pigs’ progress through the pasture.

Dave cleared a strip 40 feet wide through a section of trees

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and rented a post hole pounder to put in 12 posts,

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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 to fit the needs of our beef herd.

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Of course it is never so straightforward as we hope.

During the process, our truck

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lost its ability to shift into reverse,

making for some creative maneuvering with the help of the backhoe.

The kids aren’t fazed by the inconvenience

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and find plenty to occupy themselves.

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beauty

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A Day In The Life

A friend asked yesterday if I would map out a typical day in the life of our farm.

Each season has a different rhythm; I enjoy summer’s most.

Getting up with the sun,

working in the garden,

seeing fantastic looking bugs,

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finding some new flower in the fields,

feeling the cool breeze blowing up the hill,

watching the piglets snuffle for food,

the pigs wallow in the mud,

the cows waiting for their new paddock,

the sheep running along beside the four wheeler,

and the chickens chasing bugs or stealing scraps from the cats,

my family eating pork chops, hamburgers or chicken legs we have raised

along with vegetables and fruit we have grown,

winding down the day as the sunset dazzles us,

sitting on the patio listening to Dave read a silly book to the kids,

and falling into bed wonderfully tired and satisfied–

life is beautiful.

I took my camera along on most of my choring Monday.

Some of the pictures I took on other days but am inserting them in the sequence for clarity.

Can you imagine getting up every morning to views like this?

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The garden is first on my agenda, and to keep from having to leave it in the middle of a project,

I bake some granola for the kids before I head out.

Dave will take it out of the oven, and they can serve themselves.

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I take a look at the house garden,

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but decide to build a better trellis for the cucumbers in the strip garden.

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Next job is to get the sheep into a new paddock.

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I set up a new section with electronet, pull the shelter over and renew their water.

I’m going to need water for the cattle later, so I bring up the truck and fill it with water from the cistern.

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Meanwhile AJ has let the laying hens out of their coop

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and biked down to the broilers to feed and water them.

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This day, the kids have some friends over for a few hours and go berry picking behind the house.

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I get a load or two of laundry hung.

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In the afternoon, we bring water to the cattle

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and open up a new paddock for them before building the next section,

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while the kids play in the shade.

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The piglets need grain and the growers and breeders get more whey.

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We expand their paddock every few days, but today is not one of them.

We load up the broilers for the butcher. (More on this in a coming post.)

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Dave has his other job during the day, but afterwards,

he repairs a vehicle (a common activity for him since every vehicle has needed repair this month)

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and clears brush for the next fence.

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And that about wraps it up.

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If you are interested in hearing about specific aspects of our farm, let me know.