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After two days off work being ill today was a long day back in work. The day was made even longer by one of our wethers getting out and eating our trees. Then Riley, the goat that just kidded last weekend developed a temperature. I called the vet out and she thought it looked like she did not expel all of her placenta when kidding. So she gave some shots and then chatted a bit. $100 for the checkup and meds and call out after hours which I don’t think was too bad at all. Then however we go to finish feeding the pigs up on the land. Luckily they hadn’t farrowed because I was not in the mood to notch ears and process them tonight. The ladies did however escape by pushing their hay bale onto the fence line. They were rooting away when we came. Luckily they have learned to come running for feed when they see us so they weren’t too much trouble to get back into their field. It wasn’t however, what I wanted to do tonight. I was hoping to quietly feed everyone and then go to bed. Tomorrow is a day school on swine at Cornell so we have to be up at 3:30 to get there in time. I need to be in bed about an hour ago.

On a high note the peepers were out for the first time this year. I’m marking my calendar March 27th the day the peepers sang.

I’m sure it is too early to really be saying this but it really felt like spring is in the air.  It was sunny and warm (50’s) and a great day for working outside.  Ian, however, is still ill.  I’m not 100% but he is like 20% and I’ve not seen him like this ever.  Needless to say we didn’t get all that we hoped to finished.

Our big plans were to finsih the frost seeding on Friday.  Get straw on Saturday and then go to Tidioute to visit the family.  Then today was to be spent puting in fenceposts.  However, Friday the fanbelt snapped on my old jeep while heading back to my work office.  Needless to say I didn’t make it back to work nor home in time to do the seeding.  Saturday we did pick up the straw.  It was the best straw we have found so far and we will definately get some from the gentleman if it is like that this summer.  We took all that he had which was around 30 bales.

After we got home from the Straw we had to wait for the dogs to get finished at the groomers.  We fed the animals and figured we’d start the seeding since we had a few hours to spare.  Well I managed to lock our jeep keys in the car.  Looking to see if we could find another set took up some time.  We ended up giving up before we got into an argument over the situation.

We did end up making it up to the land to do some seeding before we went to visit the family but I didn’t get much done.  We have never attempted to frost seed before so here is hoping that it works and will improve the pastures.  I chose red clover, timothy, and orchard grass and mixed them.  Doing any acreage with one of these hand crank models takes some time.  This however, is much cheaper at under $40 vs something to use on a tractor.  Plus you don’t end up with compaction of the ground this time of year. However, I don’t think I’d like to to it that way every year.  My arm is aching after it.

Around 3:30pm we finished up at the land, went and got the cockers and drove to PA.  The visit to Tidioute was good.  I do like going to see the family as often as possible.  Another benefit of going down is that my dad graciously made us a solar furnace out of pop cans.  We brought it home last night and put it up today.  I do believe it made a difference in the house.  Yesterday the outside temperature was about 40 and the furnace maxed out the thermometer at 150.

Other than working on setting up the furnace, we were able to finish the seeding today.  Instead of walking to finsh up the fields Ian drove the ATV and I tried several different positions trying to find the best way to sit so the spread would not hit any parts of the atv.  The hardest part was holding on and keeping balance while bumping around, cranking the handle and keeping the spreader in place.  I think we may have to invest in a spreader that we can attach to the atv for upcoming years.  Even driving I would say it took about 2 hours going back and forth with him driving and me cranking the spreader.  The darned pigs and goats better appreciate the work we do for them!

On a high note we were able to break into the jeep to get the keys out.  On a not so high note it was pretty easy to do it.  Thankfully the jeep not really theiving worthy.  Speaking of vehicles reminded me of our other vehicle issue.  I’ll try to type up our progressive insurance and autobody collision repair shop frustrations tomorrow because that is something that really isn’t making me happy now.  Needless to say if you have to get collision work done I wouldn’t recommend autobody collision in Warren PA.

Lastly, no kids or piglets yet.  We are still playing the waiting game.

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


This picture was too cute not to post, but it does remind us that we need our boots today. Everything is either covered in or actually just plain old MUD. Today is the day of mud and flood. Our sump pump stopped while we were working outside and when I came in we had about 8″ of water in the basement. The hot water heater’s pilot is out and we now have no hot water until things dry out. We all love cold showers on cold wet muddy days *sarcasm here*

On a brighter side Ian has made good progress on the transportable water dispenser for the pigs. We think it may be finished this evening to take up to them. Here’s hoping we don’t get stuck in the mud.

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.

In 2005 Monsanto applied for a patent for pig genentics which are found in nearly all pigs grown around the world.  My pigs would be Monsanto’s pigs if this happens.  I cannot find if the patent was approved but even if it hasn’t been Monsanto is well on its way to owning the worldwide food supply. As recently as January of this year Monsanto filed suit against Michigan Farmers for using soybean seed without paying royalties.  Now for a non-farmer this may seem a simple concept (you pay if you use their seed)  However, what is not taken into account is the pollen drift can alter a crop and if you save seeds from your crop which has been affected by pollen from a neighbor’s Monsanto patented crops you can get sued.  This has been happening with an all to scary frequency around the world.

Now consider the impact on farmers if a gene sequence found naturally in all pigs is patented.  Will I have to pay royalties to Monsanto each time my sows give birth?  Will I be sued for using “their” gene sequence even though I’m currently raising heritage breeds?

Should a company even be able to “own” the building blocks of life?  Even if you aren’t a religious person, the sound of this is quite frightening.  If you follow on the logical sequence, Monsanto who owns 90% of the worlds GM seeds can easily control who gets seeds, which countries or people have the ability or right to use them.  What better control over a people than to control their food supply.

I highly urge everyone to read up on Monsanto and other large biotech and corporate agricultural companies.  It will be an eye opener for you.

If you don’t want to support Monsanto’s food monopoly you need to insist on non-gmo products.  Insist that your meat comes from animals not feed GMO feeds.  Buy locally and do your part to protect the food system from corporate biotech firms.

On a lighter note our piggies are looking good today.  They were napping when Ian went to check on them, but soon woke up to take a morning stroll since it is a sunny beautiful morning. Sometimes just going out to be with the animals can help you forget all which is wrong with the world.

The pigs do suprisingly well in all seasons. Even on cold days the get up an enjoy a good walk.

The pigs do suprisingly well in all seasons. Even on cold days the get up an enjoy a good walk.