Friday, September 24, 2010

Cloudy, Very Windy, 68
Decided I'd try to post an image from the vantage point of our living room window every few days to show the progression of Fall here. This picture and the one from the last blog look pretty similar. That won't last too long, unfortunately. Watch the seasons change with us!

Been making some progress on cleaning out the side of the barn that will house our breeding pair of gilts. Karen says I have been obsessed with pigs lately. It's true I have been studying all about proper feeding and breeding techniques, farrowing, choosing sires, etc. Anyway, I have been dreaming about pigs, and find myself thinking I might like becoming a pig hoarder(!) LOL. Good timing on getting some breeding stock I guess.

Finished up the corral, at least got it done to the point that it will function as needed to load the cows out. They were watching me string up the electric portion, and started mooing to me that they wanted me to let them in the new place. So as soon as I finished up, or so I thought, I opened the gate. I had assumed

they would very slowly and carefully enter the new walkway that leads to the corral. No. It was windy today, and they were feeling extra spunky. they raced past me, kicking and bucking, barn. Oops!!! I forgot to close the barn door first! I managed to scoot past them and close it before any bull-in-china-shop incidents.
All of them but one seemed to really enjoy the new digs. This guy just stood on the hill and mooed. He just didn't trust it.
the others snacked on hay and corn we put in there for them, and Karen came out and even tried to feed them out of her hand.
Placed an ad to sell them today, so their days here are drawing to an end.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Sunny, 74 degrees
We've been blessed with more nice weather. Very little rain, which is just fine. The leaves are just beginning to turn, some have begun to fall from the trees. When I sit next to the west living room window, I can hear the occassional thud of giant black walnuts hitting the ground. It sounds like far off gunshots.
The other night, we were in the house after dark watching tv (!), but I heard something outside. So we turned off the sound, and heard lots of gunfire. I quickly realized it was fireworks! So Karen and I walked to the top of our hill, leaned against the tractor, and had a great thrill watching the surprise show practically in our own back yard! We remembered that one of the local bars had a big shindig that night to commemorate September 11th, I guess. The fireworks themselves were fantastic. Cool!

Been working on cleaning up the barn and hanging gates. Got the gates on, just need to finish up with the rest of the enclosure for the corral area. As far as cleaning up the inside of the barn goes ('before' picture was posted last week), we've made some good progress there. Got most of the big 'stuff' moved out, several loads of straw taken out, and I managed to remove most of the stanchions. We are going to leave the mangers intact, to see if we can utilize them in feeding sows. Once sows are up to their full size/weight, they need to be monitored and fed individually according to whether they need more or less feed, to keep them in the best condition. But those mangers need some real cleaning out, they've had decades of neglect and crap thrown in them.

This morning after chores I got the pigs moved outside to the piggie palace. Getting them from point A to point B can be accomplished one of two ways: either put them in the trailer and drop them off at the new pen, or build a makeshift chute and run them out there. I opted for option A as more of a sure thing. We have had our fair share of piggies going right under/over/through what we thought was a pretty sturdy makeshift chute. It took me a couple hours to get the pen ready. Needed to go through and pull all the grass and weeds that had grown against the electric wire, put down fresh straw in the hoop house, rearrange and secure the tarp, go get the water barrel and fill it, get the trailer hitched, then set up gates from their pen to the trailer. THEN, get the piggies to get ON the trailer! This took quite a while, even after Karen came out to help with chocolate cake as an enticement. These pigs sure aren't as easy as Berks!

Got the hoop barn ordered this week, it should arrive in about 4 weeks! Woo hoo, it'll be just in time for the change in seasons! Also been getting lumber lists and quotes from neighbors, etc. on the foundation work. It's both exciting and scary. I'm nervous that of course there will be last minute changes or details that I haven't thoguht of, and it will hold up or even mess up the progress of getting the new barn up. Well, I tell myself that no matter what, having a new barn up, even if it isn't perfect in every way, will be a huge improvement over the facilities I am trying to work with now! So I'll just do what I can and hope for the best!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Finally Some Beautiful Weather

Light Rain, 64 degrees

Early Fall has arrived and we have welcomed it with open arms. The constant heat was finally replaced with much more moderate and bearable temps about a week ago. At the same time, we finally got some dry weather which meant better for working outside, weeding the garden, mowing the lawn, the corn and beans in the fields are drying down nicely, etc.

Karen reminded me the other day that when we first met,it was on one of these types of days I told her "these kinds of days make people think it would be great to be a farmer." I keep forgetting I said that. The inverse, of course, is also true. When the weather is harsh I guess people either feel sorry for us or they think we are crazy.

The leaves around us are mostly still green and on the trees, but the black walnut trees in our front yard have been dropping their bumper crop of tennnis ball sized bombs all over our lawn and driveway. Birk and I have gone out and picked them up a few times, but looking up yesterday I realized we will have many more hours of walnut picking ahead. We haven't gotten around to actually using them for anything, I wind up throwing them in our campfire circle.

Yesterday was a pretty productive day for me. It was a gorgeous day-sunny, breezy, mid to upper 70's. Just so nice, a beautiful day to get to spend outside getting things done. My morning chores consist of cleaning out the pig pen (the newer pigs we got are in the barn until we get them vaccinated for piggy viruses, then they can go outside), and setting up a new paddock and moving the cows.

After that, I drove to the feed mill and chatted up the old guy that makes the deliveries in my area. Came home with 500lbs. of feed for the pigs, and 200lbs. cracked corn for the cows (putting a little bit of fill on them now as we are getting ready to sell them). After I unloaded that into the barn, I went back to work on the corral.

The corral is essentially going to be a fenced in area between our three out buildings that will be a secure holding area for cattle (or pigs). I'm pretty sure that there was something similar here many years ago, but any remnants of a fence there are gone now. It is another infrastructure project that needs doing now.

Other big projects that are on the to-do list include cleaning out the "chicken" side of the stone barn and making it pig worthy. This will be apretty big project, actually. Need to remove old cow stanchions, put up wall coverings and insulate, insulate, insulate.
This also means probable decisions and more work on the coop in the polebarn. One thing leads to another!

The big hoop barn project has taken it's first real steps, and I've been getting quotes from guys for the labor on the project, which will include trenching water and electriclines, and excavating and levelling thesite, pouring a concrete pad, and then setting posts, building the wall it will sit on, and then finally putting up the rafters and stretching the canvas over it. I'm hoping to be able to move in in about 4 weeks from now. This will give us lots more options for pigs here. And some covered equipment storage!

Spent a few hours mowing the lawn. Ran over and chopped up one of the garden hoses :(
Spent some time working on the proposed location for the corners of the hoop barn. After a delicious dinner ofburgers on the grill, Karen joined me in the barn for the tag-team event of vaccinating hundred pound feeder pigs! It was afun way forusto round out a weekend evening. Not as fun for the pigs. And they didn't get a sucker, either, but they did get a bowl of kale. Next time you have to take your kid in for their shots and they start crying, you could point out that at least they are not getting kale for a reward. A good lesson in the rule of relativity.