Monthly Archives: March 2013

Weekend Warriors

Previously at the farm our fences were gimpy electrowire, copper wire and a brush pile. In addition there was a mishmash or railroad ties and treated posts.

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After busting our butts the last few weekends my mother and I finished the front section of high tension wire along with making a few paddocks. We hung 3 gates and strung seven lines on wire this weekend and we went from brambly mess to a beautiful front section.

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The brush fence is now in a big burn pile to be obliterated when the weather dries up. Look! Real gates! I’ve been using pallets as gates for the last several months. The driveway goes straight to the barn! I have access to the farm from my back door…I have access to my backdoor (mudroom)! Its all so amazing!

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Mooney came by to inspect our handiwork (as did the neighbor he was named after).

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See the strip where the fence kept the animals out? I’m letting the sheep have access to this area for a few weeks…then they are going to get kicked out into the regular pasture. For now the sheep have access to my backdoor. Its fine since the lambs are still small and I doubt coyotes are going to venture that close to my house i think its best for them to hang out here. They have really cleared the brambles by the stream back. The pigs, too, though I do worry about them encouraging erosion.

The fence line is far from done, but it sure makes me feel better to come home to a tidy fence that actually can stand up to animals rather than a hodgepodge mess. Next I need to do the back fence line and then the fence by the stream (don’t need pigs thinking a salmon protected stream is an ideal wallow in the summer!) After that its on to interior fences.

What kinds of fences do you all use? do you stick to one type of fence or use different kinds on different parts of your property?

 

 

 

 

 

Weaning Time

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roise seems happy feeding her kids a few times a day since I started feeding the piglets heavily. She actually seemed fine with the arrangement..but regardless they are 8 weeks old and its time to get her body back into shape for some more breeding.  I tried getting her used to feeding away from her shoats by moving her feed out of the barn but she decided shed rather not eat than not keep an eye on her brood. VERY good mothering instincts. A few days before I separated them I spied this scene in the morning:

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Rosie likes to enjoy her food slowly….no one else on  the farm does. So if she doesn’t gobble it down someone else will.

 

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So she decided to solve the problem by sleeping with her feed. Her babies were on watch, though: waiting for when she left it unattended to chow it all down.

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She’s a good girl…but it makes it hard to feed her enough when she won’t eat it all at once. Luckily she is very happy eating grass and roots…but its not enough for a sow in milk.

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So we finally got the pen built. I decided to put her in there so she could keep her rototilling to one acre while all the other grass grows back. Shes not a dumb pig, though: i knew if i wanted her in the pen she wouldn’t go in if it looked like a pen So we got 3 sides completed and the t-posts in the last side. Then I lured her into the area with some good food (she had a look in her eye as if she knew we were up to something…but ohh that milky corn smelled good) got her in and put  up the electro-rope in a matter of minutes…it was risky but we did it!

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I think she was more mad that she was locked up and out of the barn than about loosing her little ones: though she was worried about them. as long as she saw them on the other side she was happy. Two got into her pen and she seemed unhappy they were there. i got them out, but then she seemed upset she was alone. GURL: make up your mind!

So two days in she seems okay with the setup. Milk is literally dripping from her teats. Hopefully she dries up soon!

And the “weaners”? They are perfectly contented with the situation. Whoops. I hear piglets touching an electric fence: gotta go!

Polly Had a Little Lamb

I noticed on Wednesday morning Polly was looking pretty ripe. I asked my neighbour to keep a eye on her while i was at work. I didn’t get any frantic calls at work so i figured either it happened and all was good or nothing had happen yet. I got home and fed the pigs and looked out to the sheep pasture and saw Polly with something hanging from her bottom: he water had just broken.

I was excited and thankful she waited until I came home. Good sheepie! So I got the other sheep fed and checked up on her. She was trying…sort of. I don’t think I’ll ever witness another birth where the mother is more interested in food than birthing! She was taking a while to make any progress. We had feet sticking out for a long time (i have pictures, but you probably don’t want to see)…then finally a nose. I couldn’t remember if it was when the nose was out the umbilical chord was broken….or later? since she was taking forever to make any progress i wiped the nostrils clear soon as I could and waited.

and waited. Clearly we had a big lamb coming out.  Mind you Polly is one of my smaller sheep and only a year old. She is very calm so i figured no emotional drama, but wasn’t totally sure about how her body would handle the birthing process.

Finally with all her straining I decided to help *juuuuust* a little. I carefully tried to guide her vagina around the very large forehead where she had been stuck for almost an hour? She pushed and we got the head partly out…then she stopped pushing and it slipped back in. *sigh* well, I figured once her vagina had streached once around the head it would be easy to do again. I stepped back and let her finish doing it herself.

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Sure enough, within a matter of minutes a little lamb was on the ground. She stood dazed and didn’t do anything but stand there for five minutes, but finally she turned around and started licking her lamb. Shortly thereafter he was trying to stand and suckling from mom.

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And what a pretty lamb! His wool is long, straight, silky and smooth! Nothing like my other sheep. He looks like a Jacob but is actually part Shetland (dad) and East Friesian-Lacaune. This is great, too, because I can breed him to Ash’s lambs and I will get to see how my breeding project will turn out sooner.

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Ash was very interested in the new lamb: she announced to everyone there was a new comer.

 

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photobomb!

 

Poor Blaze, though. We expected her to have someone smaller that would look up to her. And yet he came out nearly the same size as Blaze is at three weeks! He is very strong already. Two days old and already headbutting the other lambs! Boys.

Blaze is doing well, though. Still got mild scours, but she is acting fine. I am hoping to get her weaned soon. She still loooves her milk. She drinks it so fast she gets a foamy mouth and looks like a rabid lamb. Image

My little goof-ball.

The Great Fodder Experiment

So I was reading a blog a few weeks ago in search of alternative pig feeds. Well, this particular blog (http://theozarkhouse.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/growing-fodder-for-the-homestead/) talked about using home grown fodder for piggies. The claim is turn 1 lb dry seed (barley in our case) and turn it into 8 lbs of feed in a week. Sounds good, right?

Well, maybe?

There is alot of conflicting research on fodder feed. Supposedly it increase digestibility of grain…but because the seed is only sprouted and does not feed off soil the only nutrients available are those already in the seed. A few nutrients seem to increase in availability up to 8 days a few decrease slightly. What does increase is water weight..but dry weight actually DECREASES in some cases. :/

But II do find lots of testimonials of people claiming it works. So for a start of cost of $25 I gave it a try. My first fodder mat:

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I had some seed starting trays sitting around so i put the sprouted seed in there to grow into a nice mat. See what happened when I popped it out? It all stuck together!

So the process I used was to soak seeds overnight with a dash of bleach to kill mold spores. After that I transfered it into basins from the dollar tree i drilled small holes in for drainage. I’d rinse the seeds twice a day then once they were drained I’d give them a good mix with my hands to aerate and then stack them up and put them in a drawer to sprout (top one got a little plastic on top to keep from drying out) After about 3 days they were sprouted enough to move to a tray. I repeated rinsing twice a day until they were tall enough to feed.

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So lets see how the animals responded?

Ash wouldn’t even try, but Polly picked a few out of the bucket and took a few bites. Then she got bored. :/ Alfalfa is better, apparently.

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Piglets? Meh. its ok…..but not as good as moms milk or grain. :/

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Rosie, my hero, tore into it. She did seem to enjoy having some salad.

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So one day into it only one of my animals seems to like it. People are claiming all sorts of things about fodder: its cheaper, it improves gain, animals come to prefer it, less sickness and more production. Well…since I can’t convince my milk sheep to eat it I have no easy way to gauge success on my farm.

But my neighbors….THEY actually have chickens. This year has been a bad year for eggs, though. Usually they get 5 a day around this time of year. This year they have been getting 2 a day. from 10 chickens. They were figuring the hens were all laid out. So we decided to give the chickens some fodder to see how the responded. None of us really expected to much bu they were willing to give it a shot. Interestingly they laid 4 eggs the first day, 3 the next and another 3. So three days into the experiment the egg production has increased by 50% already. That seems an awful quick response, almost too quick for me to believe. My neighbor thinks its the fodder, so they will continue to get it and we will see if their production continues to improve.

This morning when I went to give them their fodder the girls all ran up to me…first time those chickens have ever greeted me! Guess they like it.

In other more embarrassing news with the help of my mother and niece we put in 30+ posts for what will be the winter paddock in one afternoon. Not bad. But before its closed for winter I want to move Rosie in for a week (or more?) for weaning so I was working on a simple hoop house of t-posts, a tarp and cattle panel. And as I pounded in one of the last t posts of the day *bonk* somehow I hit myself in the head with the post pounder. How? I really, really do not know. But it hurt. And I look silly now.

Head vs. Fencepost Driver. Head looses.

Head vs. Fencepost Pounder. Head looses.

A Year Ago

Nearly a year ago I was doing my daily search for farm properties when a little place in the thumb of Oregon came up. I decided to go take a look and fell in love with the place. We, my then fiance and I, were to fix the place up and make it our family farm.

Yeah. Didn’t happen. We just weren’t right for eachother. It happens, right? But its crazy to take a look at the pictures:

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April 2012

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March 2013

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April 2013

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Yeah…Yikes. Its a little misleading because one month of spring really changes the look of the place. and so does sun vs. overcast..but it still looks pretty awful. The bramble fence was not the greatest idea and Rosie the pig has tilled up ALOT. However the great news is that today we fixed aLOT of the problems. We hired a fellow to come and dig post holes today and by the time he left we has 20+ posts in the ground for the fence. We tamped them and put some cement in. By next week it should be cured and ready for us to put in the cross bracings and THEN the fence. yaay! It will look so good when we are done!

It was nice and sunny the past week then when we needed to work outside with a tractor it rained, go figure. Sadly his tractor destroyed some of the tilth. :/ Luckily it was almost all low priority ground…still i hate to see tractor marks skidded into bare mud. Then again it too only a few hours to dig, set and tamp 23 wood posts. The bramble fence had been gathered up and will make for an amazing bonfire in the summer. 

I mentioned mud, right? Well, farm dog decided it was a great day to go digging.

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Thankfully the farmhouse has a mudroom AND a shower. Guess who got to take a shower? She was so brown and wet she looked like a bear that had gone salmon fishing.

Polly the sheep is having contractions, but doesn’t want to actually drop. I think she is actually waiting for me to be there. When I sit with the sheep she starts huffing and puffing, then when i leave she gets up and starts eating like nothing ever happened.

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Blaze is a persistent, adorable, little brat and she uses her powers to get her way. Yes, she is snuggled up on the couch with me again. I moved the sheep pen and let them in at dusk. She was being hysterical and i realized i hadn’t fenced by the creek because i knew the ewes didn’t go there…but what about a crazy lamb in the dark? she was crazy enough to jump through the fence to get to my back door…

Dang it. I got worried and brought her in for the night. stinker.

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Lovely sister Tuck is  healthy and friendly. She just loves to bounce around…and sleep in the feed bin. Sheep. I tell ya….

5 Weeks!

yes, the piggies are 5 weeks old now and doing quite fine. I think its about time to wean them: momma is getting thin and grumpy!Image

But they should be fine. They are getting pretty good at rooting up the soil. Not just rooting it up but actually finding stuff to eat while they “work.”

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I am thinking about keeping the spotted girl, Peppercorn, for breeding. She came out of momma late, but still got a good teat. She’s assertive alright. But she also has good growth. One of the biggest pigs, infact. There is another one I call Big Pink who is very friendly…i just can’t tell her apart from the other big pink piglet! Their faces are becoming distinct so I think I should be able to figure her out one of the days. :/

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So much fun to root around! And the “smack smack smack” of little pigs eating.

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Nice and healthy piggies! I don’t know much about show pigs, but with their nice long bodies and well set bones I wouldn’t be surprised if I had some ribbon takers in the bunch. This will be my first time weaning and I’m not quite set up for it. I was hoping to wait another few weeks, but mom is looking pretty thin so I’m going to try and get something set up ASAP. That means I also have to find them homes. Oh, they grow up so fast! *sniff sniff*

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