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Things have been busy here at the farm as is typical at any farm most any time of the year. We’ve had our goats kid, we have been working on the ground getting ready for planting, the pigs have started to farrow. On top of this we have had a few mishaps and some around the home appliance malfunctions and this is on top of the never ending cold that I seem to have. (since end of Feb beginning of March and its not giving up)
With pigs on the mind lately I thought I’d show a few pictures I was able to get of the Tamworth’s and Old Spots to help those who may be farrowing pigs for the first time get a visual of of signs of farrowing. Emily, the more yellow of the Tamworth’s farrowed the morning that these pictures were taken. You can see that her teats have dropped and that her vulva is quite swollen. Compare this to Fran (more red of the Tamworths) Fran is also swollen. Fran farrowed two days after these picture was taken. Petunia the Gloucestershire Old Spot, also posed for this indelicate photograph. Her vulva is not puffy at all. She has some time to go before she farrows as there is no milk letdown in her teats and she is not poofy yet.
So far we have had two litters both Tamworth X GOS. The one was a terrible litter of 5, yet all were born and are still alive. This mother will get to wean them and have one more go before she is off to slaughter because its not economical to keep her if she is only going to farrow a few at a time. Plus she is just awkward with the piglets laying the wrong way for them to get to the teats. She does however have a good length and structure.
The other litter was 1 stillborn, 1 crush, and 9 alive. This is not bad and she is good mother wise, very attentive and yet friendly with us. She is a bit shorter in body length but the numbers for her make the difference for us. She has thrown good sized piglets and tends to be able to raise them well. I’m excited to see how these TamX GOS grow out as these will be our first litters of crosses.
Saturday the pigs arrived at the pasture land from our woods down the road. Since then it has rained and rained and rained. Today we had a break in the rain because it turned to snow. It is supposed to rain Tuesday and Wednesday as well. The animals and I are sooo not looking forward to it. I guess its easy to forget how much mud hinders daily life on a farm. I know I was sick of the snow and cold but overall having it cold and dry and frozen is easier on all of us than having wet and cold and mud.
Because of the mud I added more straw to the huts tonight as I wanted to make sure that the girls were able to keep cozy and dry. Prior to getting the port-a-huts we always had huts with floors. These proved to be terribly difficult to move and sanitize hence the port-a-huts. However, when it comes to mud nothing beats a floor. I figure we’ll need to add a bale every other day if the rain keeps up. That way the ground builds up a straw pack keeping everything upabove the mud level. I’ve recently bought straw at 4.95 a bale because we needed it (hay just isn’t as good for bedding when its muddy plus the pigs eat a lot of it, leaving them with less bedding) With the straw they are much less likely to eat it and it holds up better in the wet than does hay. Luckily I found a man selling hay for $2 a bale. I told him I’d take all he has. This weekend we are getting the 50 bales he has figuring the money will be well spent.
We still don’t have a clue when the pigs will definately farrow. Tomorrow is the full moon. The girls are due anytime after the 12th. I know I saw a boar mount each of the tamworths the day that they were put together. I also saw one of the old spots breeding as late as January 18th. This means that the piglets could start coming as early as the 12th by the math and then as late as April 13th. Its always a waiting game this time of year.
Speaking of waiting, the goats are bagging up real well. I still have two weeks until the scheduled kidding date for Riley one of the LaMancha does. She will be a first freshener and is due the 21st. She has an udder that really impreses me. This is my first time with dairy goats but I think she is looking huge. Her ligaments are still really strong so I don’t expect her to kid soon. I just don’t know how much larger an udder can get on a goat. If it keeps going, in two weeks time it will be weigh as much as her!!!
Well we got the ladies up to their new land yesterday. I was silly and forgot to put the memory card in the camera so i didn’t get any pictures at all. Overall it was pretty easy. The girls loaded well and we had no problems separating them out. The main fiasco’s of the day were having the truck slide into the drainage ditch while backing the truck and trailer up to the entrance to their old house and then up to the land getting the truck stuck in the mud and needing to fire up the tractor to pull the truck and trailer up to the pigs new plot. Once we got everyone moved Ian and I spent and hour or so laying in the port-a-hut watching the girls and giving them scratches as they wandered past.
So far they have been up there 16 hours and counting. All I can say is that they are mighty happy and rooting away.
This morning when we went to check on the ladies at around 7am it was in the 40’s. When we arrived to check on them after their first night at the land, we found that Fran and Emily were not sleeping in the huts but had chosen to lay beside the large hay bale. The weather has been considerably nicer than it has been all 2009. We even hit the mid 60’s yesterday. They must have wanted to appreciate the view of the night sky and the good weather before more snow and cold nights come again.
As you can see from the picture the pigs were pretty active. In the short amount of time that they have been there they have made a definite impact on the ground having rooted quite a bit already. That being said, even our footprint could be seen where we walked. We figure that given their quick work, we may be moving them on in the next week or two. We’ll have to play it by ear to determine how much is just enough and not too much. We want them to turn it, not compact it.
We are also trying to balance out a couple of other things. A: We don’t want the manure to be too “hot” and kill any plants. B: We want to make sure that everything has enough time to break down enough to reduce concerns for pathogens. From what I have found:
PART 205—NATIONAL ORGANIC PROGRAM
(1) Raw animal manure, which must be composted unless it is:
(i) Applied to land used for a crop not intended for human consumption;
(ii) Incorporated into the soil not less than 120 days prior to the harvest of a product whose edible portion has direct contact with the soil surface or soil particles; or
(iii) Incorporated into the soil not less than 90 days prior to the harvest of a product whose edible portion does not have direct contact with the soil surface or soil particles;
We’ve already discussed not using this area for our root crops but rather for some of the corn and pumpkin production. This way we can test two plots to see if there is difference between having the pigs tilling and manuring or not and how this affects the productivity of the corn and pumpkin. Either way we will be well within the harvest timelines for the application of the fresh manure.
Also speaking of manure, we have also discussed that its nearly time to clean out the winter chicken housing. Now that the weather is warmer they don’t need the deep litter composting down in the coop to provide the extra heat. This will be a task for one of the upcoming weekends.
This weekend, specifically today, we are finishing up the new automatic water dispensors. We found a supplier of all kinds of food grade tubs in Falconer NY. We chose two large metal tubs with re-sealable lids. These are going on a trailer that can be hauled back and forth so we can fill it up here and then take it to the pigs. I’ll get some pictures of this as Ian progresses and we’ll post more about it sometime later.
As I’ve discussed a bit already, we have goats and pigs that are due to give birth within the next few weeks. The sows were exposed to a boar back in December and they should start farrowing around the 11th. The Goats are officially due the 15th and the 21st. Tonight when I went outside I noticed how bright the moon is. This got me wondering when the full moon will be. Well needless to say its the 10th which is Tuesday. Now here is my question. Will the animals give birth on the 10th? If any pigs do give birth they will be at minimum, a day early. The goats would be 6-11 days early. I’ve seen some reference to goats kidding in a 3 day window before or after the full moon. I know that the goats and 1 of the pigs udders are really filling out so the day is fast approaching.
In anticipation of the goats first pregnancy, I did get a chance to shave down the goat’s backsides in preparation with the new clippers we picked up tonight.
I’m also stocked up on supplies for the goat supplies as I want to be ready given this is their first freshening. The sows on the other hand are old hat at farrowing and they are more than capable of birthing on their own.
I’m sure all will go well. And I am interested to see if the phase of the moon will affect the animals.
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.