Sunday, January 8, 2012

oooo, we're so excited! Remember I told you about the neighbor whose cow had a little British White Park calf? I been thinking about that a lot, and hearing myself telling him to let me know if he ever decided to sell her. I like the easy keeping and moderate frame of the breed..... and plus, they are very cute. Maybe I shouldn't let that influence my purchasing decisions, but being proud and pleased with your herd goes along way toward making chores a pleasure....

Well, yesterday afternoon he called me up and asked me if I wanted she and her mama! I went straight over there and looked at them. We struck a deal, and today they brought them over. I wish I could have gotten better/closer pictures, but little Noel and her mama are still a little unsure and won't let us get too close before they move away. These are the best we could get today, but I'm sure they'll both settle in real soon.
And COMON!! JUST LOOK AT HER! Her name is Noel because she was born on Christmas.
That's her Mama on the right -pure black. The White Park bull that was in with the herd must have been very pre-potent, or in other words, he stamps his genes on every calf very clearly.
All my other cows came out of the same herd, though supposedly the White Park bull was replaced by a red angus bull before my cows where bred. Well, if my brown cow is close to calving, maybe she was bred by that same bull? I dunno. But it seems likely we'll have some calves that have different sires, so that's a nice thing to start out with in a small herd. Here are more shots of the girls all getting to know each other today:


And to all a good night!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

A New Year Begins Warmly

Happy New Year to everyone! Hope 2012 is good to us all :)

I bred Icy and Ridgett three weeks ago. In the hopes of having a more simplified, streamlined work flow around here in 2012, we wanted to breed them together so that they will both farrow at the same time,andwe will be able to consolidate the movements, pens, feeds, hauling, etc. of both litters at once. Last year we found that having too many groups of pigs to move around, plus their furniture that goes with them, and keeping dates and records straight got to be a pretty exhausting order while we both work full time at other jobs as well. Actually, we did try to synchronize both big girls last year, but only Icy settled on the first try. It took me two more cycles to settle Ridgett. I've heard that's not a bad record for a rank amateur, but I've improved my ability and knwoledge of swine AI since then. And it looks like I got them both 'in pig' on the first try this time, so we will be having baby pigs in April! Lots and lots of them! Here's the big girls today, telling me they wished I would shower them with cakes and candies every day. And don't forget the pumpkins.

Our brown cow hasn't shown any signs of being any closer to calving. It's just wait and see. She had me a bit worried there the other day. She had tears just streaming from her eyes. Not goopy, just wet,watery tears. She'd been 'crying' so much, it had actually formed an icicle on one side of her face! We finally figured out that because we'd had a big wind storm the night before,the tears were simply from her eyes being irritated and dry. The other two cows have much thicker coats and more furry protection around their eyes, so weren't affected.

The big pig feeder is working out pretty well. But there is one problem now with my supplier. They have been putting me off for delivery now for over a week. I checked everything out with them to make sure my plan would work before I even finished the pig feeder. Oh, sure, they can deliver a custom grain mix in bulk in the auger truck, drive up and fill my bin for me. Just call a day ahead. Great. Worked on that feeder for hours getting it finished. Risked life and limb getting it hoisted in place inside the hog pen.
Called them up for delivery, and I been getting nothing but excuses since then, from a guy who is sick, to a truck went into the ditch, etc. I don't doubt all these issues, and I understand that stuff happens... but man, I'm now stuck with a huge empty feeder in my pen, and I am filling it with a few 50 lb. bags at a time. That is no fun at all, since the opening of the feeder is 6 feet off the ground, and hoisting 50 lbs that high is no picnic. But it does work great for feeding. If the mill doesn't get here soon with that load of feed, my pigs will be too big to finish it all before they go to freezer camp.

I've had the last few days off of work, and it's been nice to have time to focus on farm stuff. When I asked for this time off long ago, I anticipated the weather being the usual harsh January stuff, snow, cold, wind. Perfect for sitting inside and working on books, records, taxes, catching up on reading, organizing, etc. BUT, the weather has been way too nice outside! It feels like October or March, not January.
We don't have a lick of snow on the ground. The grass is still even a bit green in most places. Temps have frequently topped out in the mid 40's. Today, it is 48 degrees outside!! Insanity! To paraphrase Dorothy, "I have a feeling we're not in Wisconsin anymore, Toto" I haven't had to plow my driveway or shovel my walk even one time yet! I took this picture to the right just today. When I hear people doubting the truth in global warming/climate change, I just say "Look outside" And that's where you'll find me these last few days -outside! It's too nice to sit inside behind a computer! I've put up new shelves in the new barn, put up electric fencing for the cows, fixed a door on the stone barn the big pigs busted, scoped out places for trees to be planted next year, deep cleaned the big girls' pen, moved big bales around, turned compost, spread gravel, put the chains on the tractor (wishful thinking), gone to the mill, the cold storage warehouse, the filling station, the hardware store, Menards, etc. Now honestly I have spent at least 4 hours or more doing some book work, and I know I have to do more before I go back to work Monday. But dang. Mother Nature has been making me an offer I won't refuse.