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Archive for April, 2010

This little one is a lucky duck! For 5 weeks I have had duck eggs in an incubator at work. One week past the normal due date of Runner ducks. In fact, the second batch of eggs I collected for a week after this first batch was started have already began to hatch in another incubator! Bossman, myself and other staff kept thinking “one more day, just one more day.” Everyone really pulled together to make sure the eggs were checked and turned three times a day, every day for the last 37 days. Even with temperature swings we kept hoping. And look what happened! Nature is truly amazing.

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As promised, here are pictures of Olivia’s beautiful piglets…

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Olivia, our Spot sow, gave birth to 9 piglets. Unofficially the count is 2 boys and 7 girls. I will confirm the boy to girl ratio later when I have daylight!

Olivia was a star tonight. She had milk starting earlier today and then did not eat her supper. I had the 9:30pm check and found a just-been-born piglet. Got that little one wiped off and from 9:30 to 11:00 I helped Olivia deliver 8 beautiful piggies (my job was easy, just clearing their nose and mouth and cleaning them off a bit). From 11 to midnight there was not much action. Around 11:40 we gave Olivia a shot to help her with contractions since she had worked so hard and fast with the first 8. Finally there was one left who was momentarily stuck between her hips (odd angle coupled with big head). Once that little girl was free Olivia soon passed the afterbirth.

So far so good! She is not entirely careful but she is a new mom and will learn.

I promise more photos will be posted! The one above is from my cell phone but I did have a real camera so tomorrow will have better pictures to post.

And what luck, the rain held off until I sat down in my car to drive home!

Time to dream of spot piglets!

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Time To Dig!

Getting garden dirt on my shoes is exciting! Yes, I am a nut. But I have been waiting since last August to start gardening again. This year we extended the garden so that we have a total of 2600 square feet! Bossman was nice and planned to add good dirt and compost to give us a better foundation.

Today we finalized our garden plans and began putting in the trails where the public can walk. We lined the trails with mulch and the beds are raised to help drainage. Most likely the first thing to be put in the ground (we are a bit late because of the massive snow and then expanding and adding dirt) will be potatoes. I sliced them two days ago and so they are scabbing over and nearly ready to plant.

This year we are planning to do some companion plantings. Around the tomatoes will be marigolds. Sage and rosemary will be near the beans and squash. Companion planting is used to decrease the need for pesticides. Our biggest problems last year were squash bugs and aphids. Hopefully this will work.

Other things we plan to grow:

Peppers, Tomatoes, Strawberries, Cucumbers, Squash, Zucchini, Corn, Melons, Cantaloupes, Sunflowers, Potatoes, Peas, Beans … and more!

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Add eight piglets to the baby count. Poor Bossman had to come in on his day off at 7am because Dakota was starting labor. Thankfully it was an uneventful delivery and we now how a full farrowing house between two sows and 19 piglets. We will be moving Dipper, our York sow who gave birth last week, and her piglets to the main barn today and which makes room for Miss Olivia to have her babies. We will scrub and disinfect Dippers side of the farrowing house before bringing in Olivia to make sure her piglets have a clean start.

We also vaccinated and gave ear notches to Dipper’s babies earlier in the week. The ear notching is a way for us to track each pig as they grow. It also is a way to organize our litters and serves as ID for breed papers when we show our pigs. Usually we get two main questions about ear notching: “Does it hurt?” and “Why not use ear tags?” In regards to the first question it always seems like the piglets are more upset about being picked up rather than the actual ear notching. I am sure they feel SOMETHING but they do not seem bothered by it after they are set back down on the ground. As for ear tags… that seems to be at the discretion of the individual farmer. We do not run a huge operation so there is not a real need to use ear tags. On top of that, and this is just from my own observations and not necessarily why we do things, I’ve noticed  that the piglets are extremely mouthy. It just makes sense that if they were pulling/chewing on their siblings ear tags that the chance for ripping or infection increases. Again, just my personal opinion.

Back to the baby count. We just pulled Caroline (a Newbian goat) in to the main barn because her udder is starting to change. That means she is beginning to produce milk because it is almost time to give birth. It could take up to two weeks but we would rather be safe than sorry. Also, one of our cows is starting to show changes. We were expecting a baby from her in May but she might decide to have an April baby. So we are keeping a close eye on her.

Our first group of lambs will be weaned on Monday. We will leave them in the field and bring their mothers inside. That way we can control how much the mothers eat and help them to dry up their udders without getting too uncomfortable. Otherwise the ewes would continue to gorge on grass which keeps the milk production high and they risk infection in their udders (not to mention being full of milk and therefore sore!).

So far we have had a great birthing season with minimal issues (there is always a certain amount of risk when it comes to breeding). Lets hope our luck holds out.

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Annie had her baby yesterday morning (lots of Sunday morning babies this year!) and that brings our lambing season to an end. The baby is a ewe and relatively large for a first-time mother.

Even though lambing season is over we still have lots more babies coming soon. This includes two more litters of piglets in April and our second goat is starting to show signs that she is close to birthing (within a week or two). From May until September there are also three beef cows who should each have a single calf. Finally, we will have more piglets due in the Fall.

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Well, really it was the horseback rider who left our gate unlatched. Two nights ago Dennis found that unlatched gate and decided the grass was greener on the other side. Thankfully he did not go far and the rest of the cows did not follow him out. He was very easy to move back inside the fence line and then the gate was secured.

But that wasn’t the end.

Dennis, discovering the new pasture land (which is really the same as his own field!), decided that since he went out the gate once then he could do it again. Except this time he found the gate locked. No big deal for Dennis. He just used his head and flipped the gate! The hinges were ripped out of the fence post! At this point we had a horse show in full swing and tons of people at the farm. And this time he was not convinced that returning to his field was a good thing to do! It took three vehicles to herd him back in to the pasture with some hairy moments when I thought he might charge us or at the very least run off in to the park.

Enough drama for one day, right? Not yesterday.

On top of Dennis’ escape there were two horses who decided to tour the farm without their riders at two different times. And to top it off at the farm, Delilah was bored and tried to pull down a heat lamp in to the straw bedding. That was scary! Scarier than the bull because I just imagine our barn with our beloved animals going up in flames. Delilah lost her heat lamp privileges. She and her twins will just have to stay warm with extra bedding we supplied. Thankfully there should not be any more serious cold fronts.

At the end of the day a group of us helped run a pig auction. We sold three pigs from the farm and all the other pigs from another family also sold (about 50). One of our pigs went to a nearby breeding home and the others went to 4H families for competition. It was a lot of fun wrangling all the pigs into chutes and sending them on to their new homes (mostly for 4H show homes).

So after 16 hours of work and a good bit of birthday celebration last night I am happy to have a little less drama and a bit more relaxation today.

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