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The land prior to pigs

The land prior to pigs

Less than 24 hours of pigs on the ground

Less than 24 hours of pigs on the ground

Pigs on the land two full days

Pigs on the land two full days

Ian hating the mud...

Ian hating the mud...

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!!!  Rileys udder 2 weeks to scheduled due date

Side view of the LaMancha udder 2 weeks till due date

Side view of the LaMancha udder 2 weeks till due date

After going to the dump today to dispose of items from the basement flood I did have a bit of good luck.  I ran into a couple that were throwing out old glass cider vinegar and apple cider jugs.  I was able to save them and bring them home.  The couple were happy that someone wanted to use them.   I’m hoping to start cleaning them out to use them for my lacto fermentation experiments.  The starter should be ready any day now.  I just need to figure out what flavor we want to try first when making the soda pop.

Also on one of the yahoo groups I belong to someone was discussing small scale baling.  Luckly someone found a link to a hand baling apparatus that you can download a pdf for.

This baling is an interesting concept.  As it stands we have been using maybe 50 bales per winter at 2.25 – 4.25 a bale depeding on where we get it.  So I figure that we spent about around 160 a year on hay.  Now that may not be much but we really would rather not spend any and do it ourselves.  However, the equipment is costly.  If we could hand bale 100 bales a day one or two days effort would give us what we need for all of our animals this year including any babies we keep.

I’d love to hear any opinions on hand baling of hay or other suggestions for keeping perhaps 5 acres for small scale production.
Also while on my way to the dump, I listened to Greg Judy’s talk on high density grazing and how he does not use any hay at all but has his cows on pasture year round.  He seems to think this is possible in our climate with a good high density grazing program.  I’d love to see examples of this being done in areas with high amounts of lake effect snow fall.  Here in WNY I have concerns that the snow may be just too deep for winter grazing.  However, I’m open to becoming a believer.

I would like to see more on his grazing using a multi species approach.  On his site you can see a picture of a big sleeping by some goats.  Now I know most goat people would NEVER think of letting their goats around a pig.  However, in the one picture they seem very content together.