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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Piglets, Chicks & Hogs oh My!

As stated in the previous post, Lucy our sow, had a litter of 10 piglets on Saturday. Well, four days after her, Ethel had her a litter of 10 piglets. Now all would be great if all 20 piglets make it but in Ethel's litter, 2 were extremely small. I mean small. Lucy actually had 12 piglets, but 2 of them didn't make it and the two that we think might have been still born were much larger than these 2 runts. We try to allow things to be as nature would have them here so I unfortunately have to go by the way of "survival of the fittest." It is hard seeing these two little guys fight for their positions. I tell you what though, if they make it, they will be some bad some guns. Pigs with attitudes. My wife has a neat little story on our family blog about them.

Lucy and her 10 piglets

Some of Ethel's new piglets...You can see the pink runt in the front.

So yesterday was the big day of moving our laying pullets out of the brooder house and onto pasture. I have never in my life had to move 300+ chickens but Lynsey and I devised a plan. So to the side door we moved the cattle trailer and we were going to herd them in and load them on the trailer. Well, they didn't want to go out the door so they just went to flying and packing into the corners. Not good. I thought for sure they were going to either crush or sufficate each other. So to plan B which we didn't have. We got a net and started rounding the pullets to the door just keeping them in a semi circle so that I could get in and start putting them on the trailer. Eureka, it worked. Just took much longer handling each bird rather than them just loading themselves on the trailer. So out to the pasture they went and boy do they look more at peace now. I can't imagine confining a bird for all its life and not allowing it to do what its natural instincts tell it to do.

The new pens....Eventually will be used mostly for our broilers.

Roaming from the pen

Roamed right out of the pen and to the barn...I moved them back that night to their new house and they did great staying in there today.

This hen came out of some bushes the other day and had 14 chicks following her. She is down to 11 now due to some stray cats. I have to get rid of them. She is the best mom ever.

This is just a plug for kittens. We are kitten rich and I mean these are some fine kittens. True barn kittens that are nice. Is that an oxymoron? In the next couple weeks, we will have 19 kittens to give away. Please take one or two, maybe three.

7 of the orange and white

4 of these...more long haired

I got our new 12 door hog feeders in this week. The lady told me at the feed store that they come in 2 sections and you just assemble the top to the bottom. Simple enough, so I ordered 2 because I would only have to pay freight once and in a couple months, we will be able to use 2.
However, in this area, nobody finishes hogs anymore so they thought I was absolutely crazy for even buying these things. Sounds great for us from a business stand point because no competition. Especially when you are producing pastured pork supplemented with certified organic grain.

These are 40 bushel feeders but I have the extra bands to make them 60 bushels if need be. I like the size of the 40 bushel though because I can use the small tractor and dump feed directly from the bucket to the bin. Plus I check the pigs everyday so I don't mind bringing feed a few times.

So when I went to pick up the feeders, they were not in 2 sections, but in about 10 pieces, with 4 bags of about 300 bolts and nuts and pins and washers all mixed together. So then I open the instructions and in there is a diagram that looks like it was drawn with a pencil. I'm not going to get any deeper because I am happy with the feeders now but after about 18 hours to assemble one, I was a little unhappy. So I called the manufacturer and they were very helpful. But this is what it looks like with the hogs happily eating out of it.

Putting together was terrible, you really need 2 people, but other than that, they are great feeders. Very durable.

The last two days have been great rain days. The first day we got 1.1" and the second 1.3". So I hope the seed really begins to come in. We are still real thick with rye grass right now but I only think I will get one more rotation on it before it goes to mostly seed head. Thats good though because I am hoping it will reseed itself pretty good this year.

Thats about it for now. I have a little bit of seed to get put out next week and then I'm tapping out on that. That will be a huge weight off my shoulders.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Still Here Busy as Ever

Yep, you probably thought I had fell off the face of the earth but not the case. You see, I don't know what happened.... There was the baby goat, BIB, then came the second kid, Bambi, and then I just got so busy out here that I didn't really want to blog about all the little things that were going on. I don't know why, I just really wanted to come in and spend time away from the computer at night. So thats what I did. But I will catch you up on the great things that are going on here.

First things first. Once again, I hate the goats. Yep, I'm a fair weather goat fan and right now I just wish they would run away... But they are so dang cute roaming around the place...They just keep roaming into places that they have no business going in and eating seed, dried molasses, and getting into the pig and chicken feed. They are relentless. However, when all the spring seeding and spreading is done, they will have nothing to get into. But I still wish they would run away.

The cows are doing great. I am particularly pleased with the Red Brangus we purchased almost 2 months ago. They are extremely efficient and looking better and better each week. Even crazy #707 is in full swing. They are currently rotating on our 40-45 paddocks. Pete the bull is very laid back but I haven't seen him working his magic yet. Maybe he waits till no one is watching. I look to have 5-10 beeves ready by end of the summer so that is exciting.

Pigs are really enjoying life and getting bigger and bigger. Lucy and Ethel were pregnant, Lucy had 10 piglets last Saturday night, and Ethel's rolls are still in the oven. She looks miserable. Her heat cycle falls 4 days after Lucy so I figure she should have her piglets in the next couple of days. Lucy is a great mother, just overbearing to Ethel now but I guess that is expected by sows. I remember walking up on some feral hogs when I was a land surveyor and the mother of the piglets chased us up a fence. We had to sit there for 2 hours. So I figure letting them live in their natural environment brings out nature in them. Our stocker pigs are really filling out. They look awesome. I have 3 that will be ready in about 4-6 weeks I think and then I have 3-4 others that will be ready by end of summer. One of the stockers, I am going to keep for a breeder sow, she looks great and has converted feed much better than any of the others. We'll see.

We officially have chickens coming out everywhere. We are currently getting about 30 eggs daily but that will change in the coming months. Of my 300 layers we purchased, 9 have died, only 4 were natural deaths. (I had a rampant mother hen get inside the brooder ring and she went to killing my other chicks looking for her lost one that got in there. I was pretty mad at her for that.) I have been very pleased with Ideal Hatcheries chicks. However, I have hatched about 60 of our own chicks and have 3 hens setting right now. I figure we have the room, why not let them do it. I mostly allow my bantams to set since they are such great mothers and I am the only one that usually eats their eggs. They are pretty small. I am going to be moving about 325 layers onto pasture tomorrow so they will officially be out of the brooder house. To think confinement chicken never get to look forward to roaming on pasture. (Next we get our broilers and turkeys)

Our pastures are looking great. Its amazing in just one year the difference. Not only have we put out seed for our cool and warm season grasses, but implementing Managed Intensive Grazing has changed everything. By rotating each day, aggressively grazing then allowing to rest for approximately 40-45 days, our grasses are awesome looking. This is kinda funny, but in one week, we had someone from Conroe TX send a letter saying that they wanted to buy our property and soon after that, someone called from Houston TX and said they wanted to lease it for their cattle. If they only knew how much has went into this place. It is nice to know though that people are beginning to notice the place when they drive by.

Plans are in motion for our new office building equipped with a fully operational kill room for our poultry. More on this in the near future.

So this is what is going on. I can't promise posts everyday like before because right now, it is so busy, that at night, I just want to relax at home with my girls. However, I will be more diligent in keeping this blog updated. I love farming, its my passion, but I don't really love typing on a computer... but it is a great way for me to document the things going on at the farm. More pics will be on the way. Thanks for checking in and reading about our lives.