A Busy Week

Aside from feeding goats, yesterday was a very productive day. Productive, but not necessarily smooth. Still, we got done what needed to get done and that’s what counts.

Our main order of business was castrating piglets. We castrate piglets when they are roughly 3-4 weeks old. There is no denying that castration is painful and traumatic so you want to make sure the piglets are old enough to withstand the stress of the procedure, but you can’t wait too long or the piglets become too big to manage.

Eleven new baby Berks. Not even a week old yet. (Not the ones we castrated)

Eleven new baby Berks. Not even a week old yet. (Not the ones we castrated)

We had two litters that needed to be castrated. The Berkshire litter only had one male, but the Ossabaw litter had four. The Berk was easy to catch and didn’t give us much trouble, but the Ossabaws were a handful. First we had to chase them into the pig hut and they did not want to cooperate. We finally got them in there and started the procedures. We finished two and were about to start the third when the last little guy made a mad dash and escaped the hut. At that point chasing him back in would have been more trouble than it was worth so the three of us – Ryan, Arden and myself – cornered him and got the job done.

Sorry, buddy. Today isn't your day.

Sorry, buddy. Today isn’t your day.

Once everyone was castrated, we had to wean the older group of Ossabaw piglets. They are two months old. The breeding runs are have gates at both ends. The front gates open out into the yard and that is how we enter for feedings and such. The back gates open into a fenced lane. This allows us to move boars into pens with sows and gilts who are in heat and allows us to move pigs in and out of pens without fear of them bolting. Weaning piglets basically involves us moving the piglets from mama’s pen into their own pen. To do this we chase them into the back lane and then push them into the new pen.

What are you looking at?

Protective mama says “What are you looking at?”

Four of the five piglets cooperated, but the fifth gave us a run for our money. He refused to leave his mother. Ryan, injured from a softball game, worked the gate while Arden and I sprinted around the pen trying to separate mama and baby and to get baby out of the pen and into the lane with his siblings. We finally got him down close enough to the gate and Ryan just grabbed him and carried him down. It was a circus.

At noon we had our weekly farm meeting. As we were discussing how many animals to take to slaughter and the logistics of this weekend’s farmers’ breakfast, Pearl came into the courtyard proudly carrying something large and furry. She had caught herself a groundhog. Needless to say the meeting derailed at that point as we were all somewhere between amused and disgusted.


Pearl’s prized groundhog

After Arden and I fed the goats, we walked around the woods looking for the calves. We put them in the wooded pasture after last month’s flood. It worked out well at first, but has become increasingly difficult to keep an eye on them all. It took us the better part of 45 minutes to walk the whole area and find the various groups. We were almost ready to give up when we spotted a trail through some brambles and followed it out to the last group. We were quite pleased with ourselves for finding them all.

Since it was Wednesday, Lauren and I headed to garden night where we replanted some tomatoes and squashed some bugs. The tomatoes we’d replanted last week didn’t really take, but that was Tom’s fault because he didn’t water them. Hopefully the ones Lauren and I transplanted do better. Today’s rain should help. For dessert I made blueberry buckle which was a big hit. I followed this King Arthur Flour recipe. I did swap out half of the AP flour for whole wheat pastry flour and I used buttermilk instead of regular milk. I think this will be my go-to coffee cake recipe from here on out. Easy and delicious.

Today was kind of a wash due to the rain. We spent most of the morning soaked as we had to be outside to feed the animals, move the cows and catch chickens. There’s just no way around it. After lunch I hung out in the kitchen bagging chicken parts (gizzards, hearts, livers, heads, etc.). Around the time I finished the sun decided to come out so we were able to get a few things checked off the to-do list which was good because tomorrow we are moving the load of steers we got yesterday down to Lundale. It will take 5-6 trips to get them all down there. I’m still not great at working cattle so I’m a little bit nervous about how this is going to go. Hopefully they cooperate!

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