April 21, 2020
Craving fresh greens? Don’t want to shop? Look for a patch of Stinging Nettle, (Urtica dioica).
Wear gloves, or use the tough parts of your fingertips to pinch off the tender tops, being careful to not let your wrist brush against the little stinging hairs which line the stem. Don’t eat raw! It may kill you. But even a small amount of heat renders it harmless.
Saute` in butter. I missed the next step, but Isabel added mushrooms and onions. Delicious!
April 6, 2020
“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower
It may not be easy, but it is heaven on Earth for me.
Spring always seem like a miracle, but this spring’s new births are especially welcome.
I marvel at the promise of a seed, all the instructions it needs, packed tightly inside.
All I do is drop them on the soil, and in a few weeks, luxurious green!
Saturday morning Dane County Farmer’s Market closed due to Covid-19. Making trips to Madison for meat drops every other Saturday. Next delivery April 25th. Contact Matthew for more information: email@example.com. Thank you!
April 1, 2020
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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!
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.
March 24, 2020
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.
March 13, 2020
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!
February 17, 2020
September 2019 steer in front of a 2018 steer. We harvest our 100% Grass-fed, Grass-finished cattle around 24 to 30 months in age, considerably older than the typical corn-fattened cattle, harvested around 15 to 20 months in age.
I really like fall calving. The cows are calving in great shape, as they’ve been grazing pasture all summer. The calves winter well, drinking their mother’s milk and eating hay. The cows eat all the hay they want out of feeders and my cows stay in good shape, despite the added stress of nursing a calf. The calves are weaned in May or June directly onto lush pastures and never seem to miss a beat.
My cattle never see the inside of a barn. When the weather turns extreme, I use straw or hay to make a bedding pack near a wind break. You can see the bedding pack in the bottom photo. Sometimes the edge of a calf’s ears will frostbite, but otherwise they handle the elements very well.
Check out the heavy winter hair coat the fall calves in the bottom photo exhibit. For some reason, they develop what looks like a heavier coat than the older cattle. They almost resemble Scottish Highland cattle in their shagginess.
February 12, 2020
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.
January 29, 2020
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.
October 31, 2019
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.
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.
September 22, 2019
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.