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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

I have been tremendously ill since the weekend. I think I may have picked up a bug from one of my kiddo’s at work and I’ve been coughing and unable to breath since the weekend. This is why the posts have been non-existant. I’ve spent 99% of time in bed or on the sofa leaving Ian to do all the work. That being said, I’ve gone mentally stir crazy with all of the stuff I could/should be doing.

Tomorrow is the big move. We are moving the sows to pasture from the woods. Even though the ground is really too damp for pasture grazing, we are moving them. This is for a reason. Our hope is that this area the pigs will root and till and muck in and get prepped for some of our garden. This is going to be one test plot to see how the tilling/rooting/fetilizing affects the ground for seeding. I’m planning on using this space for late season crops that way any manure has a chance to get worked in and broken down so it wont burn the roots of the plants.

The other reason for this move is that the sows should be farrowing as early as mid next weed as they were exposed the boar on the 11th.

The huts are setup, the fencing is done and we just have to set up the watering unit that we are still looking for a 55 gal drum for. We had one that we cut in half as a feeder and we are now kicking ourselves because the supplier we used in the past no longer is available.

Farrowing Huts

Farrowing Huts

Well since I have to go check on the goats and let the chickens out before i leave I’ll have to finish this discussion and fill you in on the egg progress as well as production has increased tremendously.  Till later- holly

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.

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.