Thursday, January 13, 2011

Extreme pen makeover, Piglet edition

In the tradition of makeover shows, today's opens with a really big truck of bone-dry wood shavings.  these are generated by a local sawmill cutting timber into lumber, and they smell great.   The huge chip truck (56 yards of chips) rolls up, and the tarp comes off, and then the whole thing is deposited there. 
In a small greenhouse that will have its plastic replaced this spring, 20" of wood chips goes down.  I use a very thick layer to provide plenty of absorbency, and to keep the piglets I'll keep here dry and warm.  I have a real challenge keeping the little guys warm enough -- we don't get cold enough to freeze, and we get rain all the time, and the combination keeps the pigs wet enough as they go in and out of shelters that the bedding gets damp.  That's not all bad though -- it composts and generates heat, but I like to give the littlest pigs their choice of bed -- dry and fluffy or warm and moist.    This is something similar to what Matron of husbandry does with her cows.
This particular hoophouse was used last year to raise tomatoes and peppers, and then to house turkeys during their laying season, and has been being used by the sheep occasionally.  The plastic is all tattered at sheep height -- which is fine.  the main thing I want is to keep a good roof over the dry bedding I'm laying down.  To bed the whole greenhouse took about 15 yards of shavings.
Underneath the shavings is a mix of turkey manure, older chips and chicken manure.  In the late spring I'll be replacing the plastic on this hoophouse and using it to grow melons this year, directly into this soil.  I had good luck with watermelons, and I'd like to branch out and try some muskmelons and other stuff that I like to eat.  And a few more tomatoes, of course. 

I use the hoophouses because it never really gets hot enough in the summer to ripen tomatoes.  I have lots of green ones, but unless I give them a little heat boost I never get the luscious, red, ripe tomatoes that I really crave. 


Craig said...

How are you keeping the pigs from destroying the sides of the hoophouse? Are you setting up a knee-wall of some sort?

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Nice chips! They cost an arm and a leg down here.

We've had good luck with wire (chicken or no-climb) on the greenhouse sides, put on before the plastic. It keeps the animal damage to a minimum, except cougars and bobcats scratching at the outside, but that is a different problem. The wire also keeps the vegetables safe in the summer from grazing varmints like rabbits and deer.

Robin said...

Do you have to wait a certain amount of time before using it for planting? I thought manure had to age a little bit or it would burn the plants.