Peas and Oats

June 14, 2020

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Planted April 6.  I replant our annual Pig Pastures in the spring and they are ready to graze in 6 weeks.

These photos are from a paddock that is 9 weeks after planting.  The peas are flowering and the oats are heading out.

This year I also planted an understory of Red Clover and Bluegrass which will come on later if the pig don’t root too much.

UPDATE: Taking orders for delivery every other Saturday to Madison. Next date July 11th.  Email Matthew with order and/or questions: oakgrovelane@yahoo.com. Thank you!

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Where’s the Beef? (and Pork)

May 17, 2020

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UPDATE: Taking orders for delivery every other Saturday to Madison. Next date June 6th.  Email Matthew with order and/or questions: oakgrovelane@yahoo.com. Thank you!

On the hoof at our farm.  Other, much larger farms, don’t have the flexibility of space, and farmers have euthanized their pigs and chickens as a last resort due to complications from Covid-19.

How did we get here?  According to Temple Grandin, the huge, meat processing plants that dominate our industry now, are more fragile than the smaller, more numerous meat packers our industry used to have.

“Big is not bad, it is fragile.”  Temple Grandin

When one of the huge meat packers shut down, the few others available to take more animals, struggle to absorb the overflow.  Animals which are designed to be harvested on a certain date, overwhelm a highly efficient, yet fragile, system.

I’m so thankful to have a close, working relationship with Avon Locker in Darlington.  They’ve picked up a lot of new business and had to turn some away.  Their business is booming, as everyone nowadays is thinking about their food and how to have it hyperlocal, like in their freezer right now!

And with a little patience we will put meat in your freezer.  I’m sharing photos of our cattle on pasture and a new litter, reassuring customers we are working as always.

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As people think more about their food, many are appreciating resilient, local food.  I’ll conclude this post with a quote from one of our best, long-time customers, Heather.

 

“If there is a hopeful note to attach to the mess our world is in just now, I have to say I am so glad for small farmers and small local processors to be getting new business.  I really hope that more people realize the benefits of doing local business on small scale, as they get superior food while helping the local economy.  I started buying meat at farmers market trying to find a more humane source, but the quality is so much better too.  And it is good to know personally and trust the people producing my food.”   Long-time customer, Heather.
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2020 Spring Tillage: Compact Model

April 1, 2020

 

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Saturday morning Dane County Farmer’s Market closed due to Covid-19.  Making biweekly trips to Madison for meat drops.  Next delivery April 11th.  Contact Matthew for more information: oakgrovelane@yahoo.com.  Thank you!

For those of you with a small backyard, we also have compact models of our popular biological tillage machines.  For an economical price, you can have your backyard tilled without using fossil fuel.  And a bonus: most likely your neighbors’ yards will be tilled as well.  Everyone in the neighborhood will know who you are!

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Piglets are very mouthy, chewing on everything.  While they are learning, observing mom, it also helps prevent baby pig anemia.  Sows’ milk is deficient in iron, so the swine industry recommends injecting iron into piglets when they are 1 to 2 days old.  When piglets are on dirt however, there is no need, as you can see these noninjected piglets don’t appear to lack for anything.

Piglets are also born with eight baby teeth, two upper and two lower on each side of their mouth.  These teeth are called needle teeth, I think because they are so sharp.  I’ve had piglets break the tough skin on my finger with their needle teeth.

I’m not sure what the function of needle teeth is, but the piglets do use them when they fight with each other. Sometimes they fight over space at the udder.  Sometimes it appears they fight just for practice.  I’m pretty sure that is what caused the abrasions on these two bold piglets in the photo below.

 

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2020 Spring Tillage

March 24, 2020

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Think spring!  We are anticipating summer sweet corn and a big garden this year.

These lactating Chester White sows are doing some of the spring tillage work for me.  I turned them into this new area today.

Their neck muscles are incredibly strong!  One of the first things a swine herder learns is to keep their sorting panel low, if a swine gets their nose under your panel, you and your panel will be airborne with a flip of the head.

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2020 March Litters and Market Cancelled!

March 13, 2020

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Last weekend was a gorgeous weekend and all of our sows farrowed from Saturday to Tuesday, with 8 to 11 piglets each, and they are all doing fantastic.  Tuesday afternoon was only 46 F, but the sunshine felt so good, some of the piglets were sunning themselves in the entrance of a hut.

Humanity’s health is not doing so well.  The Dane County Farmer’s market is cancelled for this Saturday and I think its a wise move.  When I heard that some people can carry and spread Covid-19 without showing symptoms, I knew we were in trouble.  I’m reminded of some of the hog diseases that seem to sweep across the nation despite all our best efforts to prevent them.

So its all about flattening the curve now so that our health care professionals can treat everyone who needs attention.  So no more large gatherings for the foreseeable future.

I am however, making deliveries to Madison this Saturday.  If you would like something, email, and we will work out details.  Thank you and stay safe!


2020 Herd Boar: Part 2

February 12, 2020

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Check out those tusks!  Another post on End Zone, showing off doing his two jobs.  We were moving some other hogs and he patrolled the perimeter, making sure everyone knew he was in charge!

Boars are very aggressive with each other.  That’s one of the reasons I sold his Father because I was worried about them ever getting together.  The ensuing fight would, at the least, sideline one or both of them with injuries and possible death.

And since End Zone is doing the important job so well, photo below, I have a son of Zone for sale, if any of you hog farmers need a good young boar.

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2020 Herd Boar: End Zone

January 29, 2020

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Last year’s post, “2019 Herd Boars”, talked about two of my all-time favorite herd boars, Zone and End Zone.  Father and Son, sadly, I decided to sell the Father as he got very big, over 800 lbs, and his son, End Zone, was breeding well.

And then, wouldn’t you know it, when I was down to one boar, End Zone got hurt.  I think he hurt himself in his mud wallow, as the mud had gotten very sticky.  This isn’t a problem confinement pork producers worry about.

I wasn’t sure if he would get better, but I separated him so he could rest and thankfully he did and is back better than ever.  I was able to use artificial insemination to breed one group of sows who will farrow in March.

I kept a white son of Zone and we will see how he develops.  I really like the confirmation of End Zone.  He has a lot of length and is close to perfect on his feet.  He is also easier to work with than his Father.  So I’m hoping I can keep him from getting too big too soon.

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2019: The Shortest Green Season

October 31, 2019

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Six months of green!  Our late snowstorm of April 27th joined forces with an early October 29th snowstorm to make this the shortest green season.  These photos were taken after a second, October 31st snowstorm.

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We have one litter outside.  They are doing fine with lots of bedding.

The sows are still finding some grass to eat.  You can see the one in the bottom photo munching on a clump of Orchardgrass.

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September Farrowing and Calving

September 22, 2019

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September is a good month for new births, as it’s usually warm and dry.  This September has been warm and wet, continuing a two year trend.

We farrow most months of the year, except for the coldest weeks in winter.  Calving works great in September and October, calves wintering on the cow, and weaned onto the lush spring pastures.  It also helps that I can borrow a breeding bull from my parents, who practice spring calving.

Photo credits to my sister, Rebecca.  I like the perspective she captured in the top photo.  In the photo below, the two day old calf hiding in the weeds almost looks like we’ve adorned him with some type of holiday flowers.

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Update, First Litter 2019

March 8, 2019

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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.

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