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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


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.

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

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.

Last week in State College we felt as though we were being teased by the grass that had melted through the snow.  Up here in Southwestern NY we had drifts above my waist.  It was so deep that if you fell into a drift you couldn’t push yourself back up because your arms couldn’t touch the ground through the snow, even the snowmobile was getting overwhelmed. However that was last week.

Yesterday was a beautiful day.  snowpocksThe sun’s warm rays beat down upon the land melting and compressing the snow.  Some dirt roads are bare of all snow and ice and on some hilltops there was even grass showing through in patches.  The acres upon acres of snow are pitted and pocked, reminding me of how the ocean waves affect the sand.  The only things that marred this landscape was where a rogue snomobiller treaspassed across the fields (this is a whole soapbox post I’ll save for another date) or where the deer, fox, and rabbits made trails from the streams to beneath apple trees getting water and then having a meal.

We were up at the new land working out fencing plans, trying to decide where would be the best places to start. We want to be sure that what we are doing is the best management practice so as to not have any grazing or farming practices that we are doing affect the watershed.  I’m thinking about contacting the soil and water people for their technical assistance on working out riparian buffers for the small (mainly seasonal) streams that run through the land. These small streams on our and everyone else’s land areSnow on the land the ones that will be flooding this week with the warmer temperatures.

I am confident that within the week we’ll see acres grass instead of acres of snow, (if only for a brief period of time before the next snows.)  If everyone can get through a quick thaw without too much flooding we will be happily on our way to spring time.

Today its been snowing with intermittent freezing rain. This makes it difficult to care for the animals. The pigs don’t mind so much and are out enjoying their food. The goats tend to come out to eat and then go right back inside. The chickens go as far as they can in the paths we’ve made for them and they seem oblivious to the near blizzard conditions we’ve had at times.

On a positive note, we’ve consistently been getting 3 eggs a day now from our chickens. This is nowhere the number we get during the summer. I know the majority of the reason is due to short day lenght and using their energy for warmth. They are,however, appreciating the longer days just as much as everyone here and I expect their production to continue to rise.