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Well we did 610 miles round trip down to southern OH and back to get the port-a-huts.  We were up at 3am to be out the door by 4.  Other than bathroom breaks and some icky fast food and gas we did not stop for anything.  We got home fed the animals, there were some visitors so we did a mini farm tour then went and unloaded the huts.  Tomorrow we plan to work on some new fencing and perhaps getting some hay and straw.

Port-a-huts just unloaded from the truck -Feb 28 2009

Port-a-huts just unloaded from the truck -Feb 28 2009

Since we are exhausted I’m keeping the post short.  I’ll try to get the better camera charged up and get some better pictures of what we are working on tomorrow.

I’m leaving as soon as I finish my coffee(4am start) to go get some port-a-hut farrowing huts for the ladies.  As I mentioned before we have grown out of the homemade farrowing huts.  These new ones should be lighter, easier to transport, and something that can be moved without the aid of a tractor.  Once we get them home and set up I’ll post some pictures and give my overall review.

In preparation for kidding to begin we borrowed my brother’s baby monitor.  We set the goats up in a pen in the garage instead of their normal, further away housing.  Now its waiting time.  Two are officially due the 3rd week of march.  Riley, one of the LaMancha goats, is bagging out and also looking pregnant.  The other LaMancha Missy, is still slim and has no signs of an udder.  Missy was supposed to be due around the 15th of March while Riley should kid around the 21st of March.  Soo either Missy hids a pregnancy well or she did not take.  One of the myotonics is also looking closer to kidding.  She was with a buck for nearly a month to make sure she was bred.  So now I have a date range but she is bagged out much further than any of them and her ligaments are looser than the other three.  Since I’m paranoid and with the crazy cold weather they are now closer to the house and in a nicer locale just in case they decide to go early.

Also on the pregnancy front, Fran, one of the Tamworth pigs looks pregnant as well.  Though all should be pregnant (including the Gloucestershire old spots)  From my calculations, if she “took” to the breeding she should be due some time around March 10th.  Thankfully we are going to get our new farrowing huts this Saturday so she will have a posh new place to have her piglets.  Though this hut worked well and we like it, the weight of it being made of wood is a definite drawback.  We are hoping that the new huts will be better in terms of the ability to move the hut as well as ease of cleaning between litters.

A 2008 litter of Tamworth Pigs coming out to enjoy a sunny day.

A 2008 litter of Tamworth Pigs coming out to enjoy a sunny day.

Motivation = low
Reason, I’m blaming the weather. This cold nasty long drawn out winter has me at my wits end. We are conserving heat as our woodpiles are quickly dwindling so we aren’t blasting our woodstove. Our bedroom clocked in at a whopping 43 degrees before bed last night. Honestly I think the chicken coop with the deep litter method we use is warmer than our bedroom. When I walked in yesterday the heat hit me and it was noticeably warm. Maybe I’ll sleep in the coop tonight instead.

It doesn’t help matters any that the school where I work is COLD as well. They keep it in the low 60’s but I don’t believe it. I have to wear multiple layers and I’m still cold. I run out of laundry because I can’t find enough clothes for the layers each day. My house has not been above 65 in any room since December and I tell you, it doesn’t feel as cold as the school. So, I’m pretty much ok now because I have a blanket. But I’m cold all day, then I’m warm while I’m working on the animals because I’m moving and in my winter carharts. Then I’m still warm when I cook dinner. But then its cold in bed, cold in the morning, warm in the truck on the way to work and cold all day again. Can you tell the cold is playing on my mind. My facebook even says that I’m cold.

The winter lasting like it is has really put a kinker in our plans. We expected to have the sawmill up by now. We hoped to have the pigs moved to the new land. We hoped to start doing some fencing as well. None of this has happened because we can’t get up the drive to the land because of the snow. We need to plow it out with the tractor but that is something that we can’t do in an evening after work. It takes a weekend job but when we use our time to do that we wasted the time we could have used on another project. Plus when we finish within the next day or two we have more snow. So it has been best to do the projects we can here instead of going out to the new parcel and working. Last evening, for example, after getting everyone fed and ready for bed I began researching grazing plans. Had I plowed, it would have been pointless because I work late the next three evenings and I wouldn’t have been able to get up there before the next snow.

Here’s hoping that the two day heat streak of being in the low 40’s will cheer me up a bit. Right now I feel totally blah.

Come on spring….

Dew glistening on grass - Spring 2008

Dew glistening on grass - Spring 2008

I was having fun taking pictures of the eggs tonight.  I guess this is what you do when you don’t have kids and live on a farm.

This is Holly's favorite egg image of the night

This is Holly's favorite egg image of the night

This is Ian's favorite egg picture of the night.

This is Ian's favorite egg picture of the night.

Several months back we received a copy of King Corn in the mail via our Netflix membership.  This was a fun and interesting documentary and we would recommend it.  I checked out the website today and found that they have done some spoofs on the corn refiners association commercials that promote High Fructose Corn Syrup as a “natural” product good for your kids and your lover.  Here is the original Corn Refiner’s versions.

And her is the spoof. 

The original versions definitely present corn syrup as benign at best and imply if you are questioning if you should use it you are just silly.

To me the fact that the process of converting corn to corn syrup is what makes it inherently unhealthy.  The process includes the use of sulfur dioxide, hydrochloric acid.  According to Wikipedia, “Sulfur dioxide is an allergen to which some consumers are sensitive. SO2 is associated with increased respiratory symptoms and disease, difficulty in breathing, and premature death…Concentrated hydrochloric acid (fuming hydrochloric acid) forms acidic mists. Both the mist and the solution have a corrosive effect on human tissue, with the potential to damage respiratory organs, eyes, skin, and intestines. Upon mixing hydrochloric acid with common oxidizing chemicals, such as sodium hypochlorite (bleach, NaClO) or permanganate (KMnO4), the toxic gas chlorine is produced.

With the process of making the HFCS in mind, how could anyone consider it a healthy alternative.  Though we have not eliminated all sources of HFCS in our diet. (Its in sooooo many processed foods) We have eliminated soda pop and sweetened drinks to start.  In addition we make as much of our own foods as we can.  Though there is a time element involved this does mean that we know what we are eating.

I challenge everyone to check to see if there is HFCS in any of the foods you eat this week and keep track of the percentage of foods that do vs. do not have them.  Then try to lower your percentage next week.

Today when feeding the animals we were totally surprised to see our egg count.  We hit 20 eggs today for the first time this season.  We aren’t up to production levels but hate to see them go to waste.  So the dogs, pigs and we get to eat a lot of egg.  However, with that being said, we don’t want to turn into an egg so we have decided to give a dozen eggs with any pork order of $20 or more.  This is a limited time offer so don’t wait 🙂

You know you are sad when…

Today we had to pass up a day out for lunch as well as a gun show with another couple in order to get things ready for the new goats that are coming in the next couple of weeks.  We spent most of the day today getting things ready for the upcoming kidding but also dring around to find CDT vaccine as everyone was due for their yearly booster shots anyway.  Well we finally found it in Corey PA and so when we got home everyone got their booster.  We also fluffed up and topped off straw in everyone’s houses and added more pine shavings to the chicken coop.  Just a note, the shavings from Tractor Supply that are in a clear bag are not packed tight and are not a good value for the money.  We were able to get much better coverage from the black bags at TSC than these new clear ones.  We bought 2 bags and they didn’t come close to covering what one used to cover.  Thankfully the sawmill will be up and running this summer becaue then we will be able to use our own shavings.

Oh and just so everyone knows, the weather is still crud.  Snow and cold and wind.  That being said everyone seems to be doing fine.  The pigs are as active as ever and the goats were active but cheesed off about their shots.  The chickens laid 9 eggs today and as many yesterday.  We still are not adding supplemental heat or lighting for them so I feel they are doing pretty well.   They are starting to come along nicely for this season and we could have 4-5 dozen available for sale a week now.  We had poached eggs for breakfast and they super tasty.  I’m thinking I may be doing some egg salad sandwiches this week.

Today I attended my first ever livestock auction.  Ian was sleeping since he worked overnight and I didn’t feel like spending the day at home.  I noticed that Sherman has its 3rd Saturday of the month auction so I decided what the heck I’ll drive out and give ‘er a go.

Any time we have purchased livestock in the past we bought directly from a breeder.  I’ve always been told that any animal that goes to auction is the sickest of the sick or terribly diseased.  That being said, most animals at the auction looked ok if not good.  A few calves had a poopy rear but they were active and bright eyed.  There was also what appeared to be a tamworth cross piglet that was just standing staring off into space.  If she was on our farm she probably would have been put down if she had been that way.  She just didn’t look or act right.  I definately wouldn’t have taken it to auction to further stress the poor thing.

Overall the auction was run much the same as a typical estate auction.  I made my mind up to not buy any animals while there.  I’ve always heard of horror stories about buying at auction.  I did however, pick up a couple of buckets and bowls for use with the animals here at the farm.

The auction ran from about 10:00am until nearly 5pm.  The first several hours were mainly tack items.  There were few things that I wanted since we don’t have horses here at our farm.  After the tack and miscellaneous, they then moved on to poultry and rabbits, guinea pigs and ferrets.  After than it was goats, pigs, cows and finally hourses.

To get an idea of the prices that animals fetched here in SWNY and NYPA I’ll give a brief run down.

Turkeys – appeared to be royal palm hens $40-47 each
Rabbits – $6-15 each (one guy bought just about every rabbit)
Guinea Pigs – $2-3 each
Buck Goats $80-90
A doe that looked in milk – $100
Other does $60-65
Cross breed steer calf – $55
Heifer Holstein calf – $60
Holstein Bull Calf – $10-22.50
Jersey Bull Calf – $7.50-15
Bred Sow probably yorkshire cross – $160
Feeder Guilts approx 300# = $165
Weaner pigs – $35

Horses I didn’t write down the prices because I really have no clue one horse for another.  One that stuck out in my head was a bred halflinger mare $385.  There were a lot of broke horses good for trail rides but many many went unsold.

What suprised me was that the goats went for so much.  For cross bred auction goats I wouldn’t have touched them with a 10’ pole for fear of CL or any other number of insidious diseases that don’t always make animals look ill.  I was also suprised to see guinea pigs and pigeons…oh and a ferrett.

Overall, I really would have expected more animals.  The bulk of the auction was non-livestock.  By the 50th halter I was ready to need a bit for myself.  Despite this it was a worthwhile day.  I learned a bit and I talked with some very nice folks.

I kinda wish I would have spent the money on the steer and bull calves and given them a go.  I don’t think I would have bought a heifer at auction for fear that it would be a freemartin but going did open my mind to the auctions.  It didn’t, however,  break me of all of my fears.  Now that I’m home my carharts are in the sanitary wash and my boots will be getting a scrub in disinfectant.  I my not taking any risks with my livestock just in case there was something catchy there.

We have been busy doing planning and returning calls and e-mails so I’ve not been reading up too much on whats happening in the farming world (outside of our little bubble)over the past couple of days.

We’re currently trying to find a good dealer for the port-a-huts instead of building farrowing huts.  We are hoping that this will save in both time and money and ease transportation of the huts.  I’ve also been contemplating cattle at least a couple head.  I’d love a dual purpose specifically a milking devon but right now I don’t think i can talk Ian into the prices.  If anyone has any healthy bred heifers for sale in the great lakes region let me know.  I’m thinking that cattle might be the way to go to improve the pastures with the lowest carbon footprint possible.  We have begun brush hogging the goldenrod mess.   From listening to other pasture based farmers they say that this is the way to go.  Highish stocking rates, frequent moves and long rest periods for the pasture.  I don’t know if the pigs alone will accomplish it or if doing a pig/cow/goat flerd would work.  I’m thinking about giving it a go.

Speaking of goats, two are looking bigger and bigger any I’m thinking perhaps towards the end of march will be the big day.  We are working on getting kidding pens ready this weekend if we aren’t going to ohio to get the farrowing huts. I’m totally excited over the milk prospects.  We cannot wait!!

Other than the above mentioned, I’ve been run down feeling and I’ve no clue why.  I know I’m fed up with the snow and I’m totally ready for grass and better weather.  I blame the winter blah’s on my delay in ordering and staring seeds.  I am going to do this weekend.  I HAVE to do that this weekend.  No more delays.

Perhaps he will use his magic whistle and  bring in spring...

Perhaps he will use his magic whistle and bring in spring...