Monday, August 31, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
While I was gone one of my sows had a litter, which was expected, but then died, which wasn't expected at all. My farm sitters didn't find the body; I did when I returned.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Of all the pigs, this boar is the most solitary. he's definitely curious about what I'm up to. If I'm working somewhere, he'll come and see what I'm doing. At times this just means a few grunts, other times he'll come over and nudge what I'm working with, or attempt to taste it. Pigs explore with their mouths.
Sometimes he'll see me step into their pasture and come galloping across the pasture towards me. I then have 5 seconds to decide whether he wants a backscratch (his favorite) or something has pissed him off.
When this boar gets shocked by the electric fence he will seek out and bite the nearest pig in retaliation. In fact, if another pig gets shocked and squeals he'll go and bite another pig. Same is true for any other mishap.
He could be walking across the pasture and have a branch stick him. He'll look around, locate the nearest pig, and go bite it.
So when another pig squeals, or he squeals, that's my cue to locate the boar visually and assess the situation. I don't want to be on his list.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Here's a longer view. the waterer is in the distance, a little to the left of center of the photo. This path goes directly there. I was hoping that they'd consume more of the grass, but I guess that's up to the ruminants now.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Here a daredevil turkey flirts with death by walking along the edge of the trough. Note the brick on the right edge of the photo. That's there to allow smaller birds to drink without having to hop up.
I use the cage wire because i had some fatalities with chicken wire, my first choice. They seemed to get their feet stuck in the chicken wire and get hypothermia and die. the cage wire is stiff enough that they can get a good grip on the wire and just walk out.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The brown one on the left is the ram. He thinks about challenging me every now and then. He hasn't yet, but I suspect that I'll get butted at some point. Not sure what I'll do. depends on how bad he gets me. He's a handsome fellow. They're all completely full of delicious grass.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
I get a load of wood chips now and then from tree service companies, and I use those chips in a variety of ways. One day there was a tattered garbage can buried in the chips. I think that what happened was that the garbage can got tossed into the back of the chip truck and got buried. They left it when they dumped the load of chips.
So I dug it out and put it where they'd see it, but after 3 weeks noone had picked it up. At the time I had some sacked feed that rats had gotten into and chewed holes in, and I put the feed into the tree service garbage can, and called it a day.
The garbage can had some cracks in it, large enough for feed to leak out, and I found chickens eating the feed from the cracks, and the light went on in my head. a 32 gallon garbage can makes a 100lb feeder for about $15 total cost.
I put the garbage cans up on blocks so that the feed doesn't get wet when it rains. the lid keeps the chickens from crapping into the feed and keeps the feed dry from the top.
At the bottom I cut a small hole. I've put the quarter up there as a size reference. it's a triangle, about 1" tall. Now over time, the chickens pecking and rodents will enlarge this hole. I buy a piece of roof flashing and put it inside to keep the hole size small. This particular feeder is feeding smaller chickens, so the hole is small, and the type of feed is a mash -- basically a powder -- and I kick the feeder every day to make sure that the feed is flowing to the feeding points. Two of these feeders feed my flock of 500 chickens for a week.
Friday, August 14, 2009
But in 7 to 8 months, that little pig will be the size of the larger pig to the left. That's a big pig; that pigs shoulders are broader than mine.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
This is actually pretty hard to do. First you have to get the supersack here -- about 500' from the farm road. When I'm carrying a ton on the front loader I'm actually lifting it as little as I can to keep my center-of-mass low. If I have the sack high, as shown in this photo, and I hit a bump, I could tip the tractor over.
After you've carried it low across the field, then you have to make sure that you don't dent or knock the lid off the feeder when you're approaching. You can see by the dents in the feeder that there's been a few mishaps.
Next you get to the part that makes me the most nervous. If you look closely at the bottom of the sack you'll see a little bulge. There's actually a string there that you untie to get the bag to dump. I always worry that the chain will give away and snap my arm over the edge of the feeder and I'll have to cut it off to save myself. Or other similar dire thoughts. When I'm feeling particularly paranoid about this I'll take a long knife and cut a hole in the sack so I don't have to get underneath it at all. Yea, it's probably silly, but some days it's just that way.
After the sack dumps into the feeder I take it back and go and load up the other feeder. Between these two feeders I have 5,000lbs of feed in the field when I'm done filling. I find that these feeders have made my life much easier -- feeding is a once-a-week chore instead of a daily chore. Well worth the money.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
I have no idea what happened here. maybe I hit something, or somehow cut the tire on a rock or something. I'm happy that I spotted the bad tire before it blew out.
Tires are one thing that I don't skimp on, or mess around with. Having a tire blow out when you're carrying a load is a good way to spread your load (and yourself) all over the highway.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Saturday, August 8, 2009
These two pigs are in a big pasture; 10 acres or so, half grass, half woods. But somehow, like all of the other pigs, they'll find themselves a few feet from a small group of pigs every day of their lives. They prefer to be in close company with their friends. And I really can't call it anything other than friendship. They'll play together, and sleep together, and root in the dirt together and hang out in small groups, usually 4-6 pigs. Here, the little pig would like to make friends with Oinkalicious, and is a little shy about it. Oinky glances at him, and then away. So he continues his little friendship dance. A few steps closer, and then a few more, and then, if oinky tolerates it, he'll lay down next to her and sleep with her. It's a warm day -- it's nothing to do with being chilly. Contact is important to a pig -- they sleep in communal groups, and in this way, the confinement operations mimic part of a pigs social environment. Even with acres of space, these pigs prefer life 6' from each other or less.
The difference is that they get to roam around and choose their friends, and I like that idea.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
There's a scene in the movie of a chicken processing line. Chickens are already plucked and on a conveyor belt; you can see a thousand or more chickens being conveyed this way as workers cut bits off them and put them onto the line. This scene drew no reaction from the audience at all. Those chickens are mixed with hundreds of other birds in baths of water to chill them and "clean" them, and then the internal organs from some other birds get stuffed into them and the whole thing is really pretty icky.
There's a scene where a food producer (Joe Salatin) is talking about chickens and they put a couple of chickens in killing cones. the worker picks up the chicken by its feet, puts it into the cone head down, and then reaches up from the bottom of the cone to pull the head of the chicken out. He then cuts the throat of the chicken, making one cut on each side of the jaw. This got gasps from the audience. Mr. Salatin is talking about his operation, and in the background there were more killing cones in operation. More gasps. In fact, I don't think that the audience heard anything he said. Audible gasps as each chicken was killed.
This movie showed beef being herded into a slaughterhouse, but not a kill floor. I think that if they're going to talk about beef, you should see what it looks like to kill it there, too. Show a farm kill and contrast it to a factory kill. Show the public what their money is supporting -- both ways!
It drove home to me how far most of the public is from their food, and to some extent how shocking or surprising slaughter is for most people. I think that if you're going to eat meat you should be prepared to pick up the knife yourself. It changes how you view your food, and for me, it makes it harder to waste any of it.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Both chickens are wired to his collar. The theory is that after a few days of having to carry around the chickens, and smell them, and have them there at all times, that it'll deter his interest in chickens in the future. This is the first time that I've tried this, so I'm curious to see if it'll work.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Saturday, August 1, 2009
If you look closely in this picture, the larger pink pig is making good progress. it's actually pretty shallow -- maybe 18" deep -- and the smaller pig is alternatively swimming and riding on her back. there's some squealing and grumbling about that, but there's no risk of the larger pig being pushed under. when the smaller pig is on her, she's firmly on the ground.