Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Farm Update November

November Farm Update


Well it's full fledged fall here at the Shire with the first signs of winter.  We've  been thankful to avoid any snow so far, that's right all of you in Colorado are getting a colder and worse fall than us so far.  We have been having a lot of rain though which certainly has made some muddy messes for us as we try and get everything prepped for winter.  

The pigs are in their final weeks on the farm.  We've taken 6 pigs to processor so far, and they have all weighed in around and a little over 180 lbs which is right where we wanted them.   We've let them into the garden for the last few weeks, and they've done a great job cleaning it up for us.  We really strongly believe that a farm must be diverse, because all the diferent enterprises here on the farm help or support one another.  Pigs love "rooting," or using their noses to dig up the ground to find tasty treats,  which many farmers try to avoid by confining the animals to very specific locations, keeping on concrete floors, or putting metal rings in their snouts.  We have employed this unique talent of the pigs to remove a section of grass we wanted to replant as a pasture mix, and now have saved ourselves hours of work cleaning up the garden.  This means we save time and money on equipment use and maintenance, as well as save money on feeding the pigs.  What a win-win situation.  

We have decided to keep one gilt (an unbred female pig), to become our farm sow (female pig used to breed).  Therefore the official winner of the Game of Sows is Arya.  Arya is a 3/4 Berkshire 1/4 Duroc cross,  which I like to call our miniature holstein (the large spotted cows seen at any major dairy) because she is white with black spots.  She was a super quick grower, out growing everyone else in the bunch.  She is very independent not rubbing against us everytime we go into the pig pens, but she also is easy to handle which was a big factor for our breeding stock.  


Arya along with her 3 remaining companions.  Also notice how tilled the garden looks.

The greenhouse is serving us very nicely.   We've been eating a lot of fresh greens out of the greenhouse and with the rich mix of compost and topsoil we filled it with, the crops are doing the best of any on the farm so far.  We are currently growing lettuce, spinach, arugula, turnips, radishes, cilantro, and kohlrabi in the greenhouse, and certainly could be doing much more but due to the late start we went only with short season crops when we planted at the beginning of September.    




In Cow news we've had some interesting developments.  When we picked up Rosie in May, she had been out running with a bull for about 2 months, so we expected her to be pregnant when we got her.  After having the vet come out and check her out we were told she was not in fact pregnant.  We were disappointed, but looked at the bright side, at least we wouldn't have a calf between December and February.  We then spent the next few months trying to keep track of what we thought were her heat cycles.  We then took Rosie to Shamrock Acres Dexter Farm to have her bred to a smaller cow breed, the Dexter.  When we got her back, after about 8 weeks, we had her checked again to see if she took.  The good news is that she is pregnant!  The surprise was that she is about 4-5 months pregnant according to the vet.  What this means is that she must have been only a week or two pregnant when we first checked her in the spring.  So we are now expecting a calf in late January or early February.  


This is her sultry look over the shoulder and MOO pose.  

Otherwise both of us have been keeping busy trying to balance our farm work with our winter jobs.  Farmer Figgins is working at Buzz Wireless in Ionia, right by Little Caesars Pizza, usually in the evening.  I (Farmer Don) am at Menards again this winter.  Feel free to drop in and say hello to either of us, I can usually be found in the hardware section of Menards in the mornings and early afternoons   

It's time now for me to go get some more cleanup done around the farm, as the recent wind blew most of the remaining leaves out of the trees.  

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