Posts tagged ‘pigs’

November 5, 2015

It’s been entirey too long…Part 1- HOGS

It’s been one heck of a year (or more) since I’ve posted. Baby Zane graced us with his presence in early February but even before that things were busy!

We spent the summer and fall of 2014 fixing up a home we purchased right down the road and winter preparing for the birth of Zane and all that a new baby brings. It had been, after all, nine and a half years since we had had a new baby!

Since this update post could get very long (and I do intend to bring it current), I’ll update in sections.

Hogs: Since last August we’ve taken off quite a few load of hogs for processing, put up fencing for a new few acre pasture for the pastured pigs with 3 strand high tensile electric, 3 new piglet litters, and now the latest litter is in the garden rooting up what’s left of the plants and helping us put the garden to sleep. We learned a valuable lesson about hog moving and loading. We were told once that the fastest way to move a hog is slowly. Quite true! We do occasionally move our hogs from pasture to pasture, the easiest way to do that is with treats.They follow just like dogs, at least ours do.

A short story: A month or so ago things seemed normal until I got a call from my neighbor saying he thought we had some pigs out on the road.  I thought surely he was mistaken but sure enough, Grandma Sow had not only let herself out of her pasture to visit the boar on the feeder’s pasture, but she opened up their gate (which is an 8 foot hog panel welded on 4 sides to metal tubing (NOT LIGHT WEIGHT!). Two feeders and Grandma Sow decided then to take a walkabout out of the barnyard (Grandma Sow has now opened 3 gates), to the front yard and down the road to the neighbor’s! I ran outside shaking a feed buckets yelling “PIGS” at the top of my lungs and here all three of them and two neighbors came sauntering back like it was a stroll through the park! Sheesh! It’s never dull with pigs!

The easiest way, we learned, to load a hog is by habit and it doesn’t take too long for pigs to learn habits! I didn’t necessarily have a hard time loading the first time, it was more of an issue of them being wary of the trailer, naturally, and then not being able to easily separate out who I needed in the trailer and who I did not.

panel weldingThis past spring Jeremiah and one of his welding students welded up some panels for me with a clear idea in mind for it to help me/us not only load but sort too straight off the pasture. The new pen has a gate that can keep lots separate depending on who needs to be loaded. We can load from the pasture or the pen and with a swinging gate between them, I can sort without having to get in either. Loading is nothing more than backing the trailer up to the panel & moving one panel over enough to open the trailer. I can do this alone in a matter of a few minutes and that was the key, being able to do it alone if necessary. Sorting was really the hardest part before, trying to get a hog off the trailer and another on wasn’t impossible but time consuming. This way, everyone I need to go on to the trailer is sorted just before they are taken off but are given access to the trailer for feed for a few days prior to loading is super easy.

Which brings me to loading. A wary pig is not one who will move all that easily…or, at all! Getting them used to the trailer ahead of time relieves so much stress! The Sunday before they are to go, we/I back the trailer up, move the gate over and feed them or give them treats in the trailer. There’s no pushing on our part to load, we’re not waiting hours or chasing on loading day, it’s stress-free the way I like it. They b-line for the trailer instead of running every other way but in. Look, self loading pigs!

Some of the pastures will be put to rest for the winter. We have sows farrowing in January and February 2016 and will have hogs ready again in March/April time frame for processing. We do have a bit of work to do to one of the hog shelters. We had a microburst come through here on Labor Day that took one of them and flipped it upside down. The roof took a pretty hard beating and I am sure the Sow’s might appreciate it being leak-free!

Several years ago we had a huge diesel tank on a stand that was given to us. Jeremiah took the tank to the shop and made a smoker out of it but the stand sat here for years. I always thought it would make a great animal shelter. Jeremiah took a few odds and ends (the expanded metal from a ramp that used to be on one of our livestock trailers), metal siding from someone’s hail damaged shop, and the frame and made a really nice hunting stand/animal shelter. That may sound like an odd combination but it works and is stout! We try to make most of our hog shelters transportable as they are moved from place to place, one of them eventually quite possibly being in the back woods along the neighbor’s fence line where deer like to frequent.

Within another month the feeder pigs that are in the garden will have done their duty cleaning up which will take me to my next post, that garden. Stay tuned…

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July 18, 2013

Farm and Garden Photos

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July 17, 2013

Vacation from the farm

Anyone who has animals knows how hard it can be to leave for any extended period of time. For those with dairy animals in particular it can be downright impossible. My family lives in California (northern and southern) and Jer’s family lives in Wv, Ky. and Ohio (mostly). Living half way in between (or close enough to) makes it extremely difficult to see them and boy do we miss them greatly.

We have the most awesome neighbors and friends ever and we are so blessed to have friends and neighbors who know how individual and needy animals can be. Last Christmas we drove to California and spent 10 wonderful days with family. Meanwhile our neighbors cared for the farm in our absence and this was NO easy task when the high temperature most days were around 22 degrees!!! It made for mighty cold mornings and evenings.

Wintertime is actually not the season I cringe leaving for though, despite the cold. Summer time is especially brutal as there is milking to be done. Let me just tell you, friends and neighbors of ours gladly took on the responsibility of morning and evening chores AND even made a special point mid-day to check on everyone the days we had very hot temperatures. AND AND, a second set of neighbors offered to pitch in too! I find this incredibly awesome because despite doing the chores day in and day out, writing out all of the chores makes me realize how much there truly is. We know each individual animal, their needs, their special quirks and it’s often important to make this known to caretakers. They did it all, happily.

The garden has doubled in size. The children are now on egg and garden collection duty. The goats all look wonderful and I am pleased to announce that Josephine, who had not so much as had a handful of days in the milk stand before kidding, was standing “like an angel” to be milked for a “stranger”. What a sweetie!

The meat birds have doubled in size while we were gone it seems. We butchered the first batch the Saturday before we left. This next batch should be ready in about 6 weeks and that will probably be the end of meat chickens for the year.

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I posted before I left on our piggy, Ann, and piggy pregnancy. You can read more about that here: https://marmaladehollow.com/2013/07/03/piggy-pregnancy/ . Just before we left I noticed that she was building an udder, much like a dog getting ready to whelp would. Upon returning home it’s quite clear she will farrow fairly soon. Our chore is to get her pen set up and get the boar separated, get her farrowing hut bedded down well and sit back and wait. If you’re looking for more information on swine farrowing check out the following links:

This is by no means a complete list of what I’ve read, just a few I found helpful. 100_9555

Jer and I spent a couple hours in the garden this morning weeding. I looks like we got about an inch of rain while we were gone and yesterday evening the sky opened up. I took shelter in the greenhouse for about 20 minutes until it passed. This morning was humid and I felt like I was back in Ky! I’m glad the weeding job is done, I really thought it would take us a couple of days! we’ll be planting more potatoes soon and before I left I planted more black oil sunflowers which have all popped out of the ground. We made it home in time to see the first of our sunflowers in full bloom. I love sunflowers =).

July 3, 2013

Piggy Pregnancy

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Several months ago I came across a site on predicting pig pregnancy: http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2011/08/28/pregnancy-indicator/ . These porkers are a little hard to catch in heat, at least mine are. Then again, I am used to tail wagging, blubbering, noisy Nubians! The pigs, it seems, are a little more discrete, at least the female gender anyway. The boar is always in heat, ha ha! I can’t be running out to the pig pen several times a day to push on her back side to see if she’ll stand and if I didn’t know any better, I would say she was in and out within a few hours (or overnight) because I never did see her stand for any length of time for the boar though I did see remnants of breeding one morning a while back.

At any rate, I took a couple of photos today for comparison of our gilt, Ann Curry. I may be wrong, but according to Sugar Mountain Farm and the way we see it, it would seem she’s “in a piggy way” to us. Not to mention she’s looking rather rotund these days. We shall see, I do love baby pigs. I never thought the pigs were something I would enjoy as much as I do, not raising them growing up and all, but I really do like them very much…so personable and friendly!

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For now, Ann (Curry) and Earl (of Sandwich) are lovin’ the easy life!

Lazy summer days

Lazy summer days

 

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January 11, 2013

Feeding Fodder

At full production we are up to 4 bins a day (Jan. 2013) which feeds all of the goats (approx. 25 head (14 does end of pregnancy), dry yearlings, 4 full grown bucks), 3 adult hogs, and all of the chickens ONCE a day. A tray of the fodder in the bins we use weighs about 25-30 lbs.  As of fall 2013, we are switching up the production a bit so that the pigs are on fodder full time without an additional grain ration, they will receive hay each day with their fodder and I sprinkle a hog mineral on their fodder because they are not getting a pre-mixed ration. The goats will no longer get fodder as we are on alfalfa pellets full time now. We do not have the space to grow enough fodder for all of the animals full time without moving the entire system.

All of the goats eagerly devour it though it took a bit of persuasion for a few of them at first. The pigs have never turned their nose up at it and it’s especially wonderful in the winter for them to have it when the pastures they normally forage on aren’t producing and they aren’t getting the milk they normally do.

The chickens are kept busy for a long time pecking away on their fodder biscuits and generally are the clean up crew behind the goats who are not so clean about their fodder eating habits. Very little goes to waste and it’s great green grass for them.

Here is this morning’s fodder all cut up and ready to go. I cut up the “biscuits” pretty small. The whole thing comes out as a flat mat. You just lift it out like a piece of sod because the roots grow intertwined and form a nice mat. I turn my over (root side up) and gently slice through the roots sectioning the mat up to feed out.

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I find that the goats waste less if I cut their biscuits up very small otherwise they will grab hold of it and then shake it to get a mouth size section apart to eat and the rest may land up in the dirt and at that point, NO ONE wants it, so it’s wasteful. Cutting it up into mouth size biscuits to begin with saves time and money.

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Fodder biscuits ready to be fed

Yesterday’s feeding frenzy pictured below. Apricot doesn’t bother to wait her turn and just helps herself right from the tub.

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Ann Curry loves fodder!

Animals may not like it right off the bat. It’s an acquired taste for some, I think. It didn’t take long before everyone here gobbled it up.

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November 3, 2012

Pasture lovin’ pigs!

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