April 23, 2019
Right on schedule, we moved the broiler chicks out of the brooder house into their pasture pens on Good Friday, last week. The first night was cold, so we put down some wood shavings for bedding, but its warmed up nicely. They’ve been enjoying their daily moves to fresh pasture. We should have freshly frozen chicken at market, Memorial Day weekend.
A new addition to market is our brown and blue eggs from our layer chickens. Many have remarked about the quality, flavor, and orange yolks. If you have any doubts about the benefits of pastured meat, eggs, or milk, the dramatic change in our eggs when the snow melts and the hens begin to forage for pasture and other critters would make you a believer!
March 29, 2019
Spring has sprung! Two months of cold, snow, ice, rain, and flooding, and Mother Nature has wrought her miracles again with warm sun and drying winds. The ground is dry enough to drive on, so I frost seeded a bag of red clover today.
Earlier in the week we entertained a special guest. Derek Tonn is trying to be the first person to play 2,000 different disc golf courses. If you don’t think that’s possible, there are over 6,000 courses in the United States alone.
As a reference, I’ve played 78 different courses, which is great, but my course is the 1,498th course Derek has played. Its reassuring to meet someone crazier than myself.
March 8, 2019
12 piglets, two weeks old now! Susie Q is a great mother. It got really cold, 0 F, but she kept her piglets warm enough with her body heat and plenty of straw and hay.
She had started with 16, and lost 4 within the first 48 hours, which is the most dangerous time, but since then they have really thrived. In these photos, taken today, its 25 F and the piglets have spent the past hour outside in the sun.
In the photo you can see I closed off the window and I shut the barn doors at night to prevent a cold draft on the piglets, but I open it during the day. The piglets are old enough, and its finally starting to warm up enough, I plan on leaving the barn doors open at night now.
February 22, 2019
2019 farrowing started well as Susie Q gave birth to 16 piglets yesterday, and after a cold night that dipped into the teens F, she still had 15 alive and nursing this morning.
I could see she was going to farrow yesterday morning so I put 2 straw bales and 1 hay bale loose where she could get to them and she spent a few hours building the giant nest you can see in the photo below. It works better if you let the sow build her own nest for some reason. All the women reading this are probably like, duh!
I wish all my sows were as good of mothers as she. And humbly, I tell you she wasn’t even chosen as a breeder. She was a runt that got accidentally bred, and after a first litter of only 4 piglets born, she’s had big litters since. I think this is her 4th litter.
February 12, 2019
The best two herd boars I think I’ve ever had are Father and Son. Zone, pictured above is out of an AI mating, Waldo Duroc, Red Zone. I had been having trouble with my boars not having much mating desire, but Zone is excellent. The only problem is he is also people aggressive, but I think I can continue to work with him if I’m careful.
He is being mated to Chester White sows out of an AI mating, Longevity. They will farrow this spring and I’ll evaluate them again. The Chester White gilts definitely had less piglets born and saved than my Landrace gilts in the past.
End Zone is pictured above. He is a son of Zone. He is being mated to Rising Sun Duroc gilts for early summer litters. The Rising Sun gilts have very friendly personalities, but we’ll see how they do as mothers.
Another photo of Zone. He has a lot of length. He is also getting tall as you can see he has to duck to get out of his shelter, pictured below.
January 21, 2019
We had been experiencing the warmest, driest, winter any of the old timers could remember. But winter is back and reminding us who is in charge, with inches of snow and below zero F temperatures.
We have been enjoying the Late Winter Market at the Madison Senior Center. Its a cozy space with enough room for all the vendors. Plus room to sit if you partake in the breakfast.
Chef Laurel Burleson of the Ugly Apple Cafe sources from vendors and cooks up some wonderful breakfasts. Next week Laurel is using our sausage links. Its been good staying connected to many of our regular customers. Hope to see more of you next week!
November 8, 2018
November, the last litter of 2018. Cold as heck outside. Warmer next to your momma.
This gilt was featured in one of my farm videos last year. She is one of the piglets in the video. I made the video because I was excited for new genetics. This gilt and her siblings, were sired by Chester White semen I purchased from a boar stud in Iowa.
I wanted to try the Chester White breed because it is know for mothering ability and meat quality, two of the traits most important in my swine herd. Also, Chester White is an American Heritage breed.
I love eating “General Tso’s Chicken” at the Chinese restaurant in town. And I’m sure “General Tso’s Chicken” is heritage food to someone, but its not my heritage. Farmers, let’s make our own heritage!
Back to this Chester White experiment. I kept all five of the gilts from that litter and bred them to my Duroc boar. They have done well, good mothers. Interestingly, they don’t have as many piglets born as my Landrace genetics. They seem to be very similar to my Duroc genetics, as I always select for mothering ability and meat quality when I purchase Duroc semen as well.
What’s nice is that I was able to conduct this experiment in a relatively short amount of time as the generation interval in swine is about a year. The generation interval is the amount of time it takes for any species to reproduce itself. In cattle its about two years.
The generation interval is important to geneticists and animal breeders because it adds a time element to any “progress” that can be made in a species. I put “progress” in quotes because geneticists and animal breeders are people like you and me. And like you and me, its way easier to make change for change’s sake, than to stop and figure out where exactly you want to go and why, and if its going to be a good when you get there.
Okay, if you’ve made it this far, comment and let me know what you think about “heritage” and “progress”. And check out my youtube channel if you want to see more of our farm. Thanks!