Wednesday, January 18, 2012

So you want to be a farmer...

 It's on the rainy, cold, freezing days that your determination to continue to farm gets tested.  We don't get much snow as a rule in western Washington, but we've gotten a foot or so.  The picture above is my large hoop house that I built back in 2009
 During heavy snows, I inspect the greenhouse to make sure that it's shedding snow as it should.  Everything looks ok on the outside.  The snow shoulders will actually insulate the greenhouse a little bit, making it a little warmer for the animals inside. 
 I'm standing just inside the end of the greenhouse, looking down to the far end.  There's about 75 grower pigs in here; the largest are just reaching 200lbs, the smallest are about 40lbs.  They're curious about me, grunting softly and coming up to nibble on my boots or push on my knee. 
 Normally I'd be using automatic waterers, but I have to consider that they'll get frozen during cold weather, so I switch them out for sheep troughs.  The pigs push at them, and if they get close to empty they will flip them over, but if you keep them full there's really no issue. 
 As I walk down the greenhouse I'm keeping an eye on the roof to make sure that the snow isn't piling up.  Snow can weigh a great deal, and if I find an area where it's not shedding I'll get a brace and raise the plastic in that area. 
 This is from the other end of the hoophouse, looking back at the entrance.  You can see the big feeder there in the distance.  At this end it's noticeably warmer; I'd guess 30 degrees.  This end is sealed, and between the pigs body warmth and the composting floor it's pretty comfortable.  Chilly, but nothing like outside. 
The snow continues to fall.  It's really pretty at this time of year. 


Little Seed Farm said...

Do you typically anchor your high tunnels in concrete or just bury the posts in the ground directly? We were thinking about using a tunnel for goat shelter. The winds can get into the 40-50mph range in our location, sometimes higher. Tornadoes aren't exactly rare, so I want it to be in there pretty good. I was thinking of concrete anchors, but it seems to limit the ability to move the high tunnel if needed.

Have you experimented with different cover opacity? The one I was looking at is 55% opaque. Thanks for the thoughts.

Little Seed Farm said...

Just read some old posts of yours and saw that you use clear plastic and plan to anchor your new hoop house to ecology blocks. Should've checked on that before I asked. Thanks for the detailed historical posts.