This morning, after a much needed rain, I picked up the trailer for the next egg-mobile. We currently have 80 layers going strong, but another 200 are started and getting ready to begin laying. Some have already. So, it is time for a new coop. The new layers have been growing in a hoop house and the coop and contained by some netting for their outdoor run. That was working well until they decided they did not like to be enclosed. The older batch began flying out of the net. Once that happened, I had to take their net to save the garden. Then they found the blueberries. They adore berries. So I had to take the other net for the younger batch and save the berries. So, now we have 200 laying hens wandering the yard at their leisure. And they are leisurely. This activity prompted me to get on the ball with the new coop. I hope to have it done by Sunday to get them out on pasture. We will also be making our last field of hay this week and processing a batch of 75 chickens on Saturday. I do have all of the material for the laying house, it will just be putting it together that takes the time. We will build it out of our own pine we had sawed last year.
Things are certainly moving along this summer. We are 98% complete with our first cut hay. This could be a record for early finishing. Our corn (sweet and field) is growing well. It loves the heat, but needs a little more rain. We had some last night, but more could be used. Our cows are into their pasture movement. I moved them yesterday to the back where they will spend about a month and a half while the front pastures grow back. The layers have moved back up to the front pastures and our new layers are laying their pullett eggs. We will be building the new egg-mobile soon to get them out on pasture. In September, we should have about 280 layers going. About 80 of them should go into molt this winter, but the rest will keep going. Our veggies are coming along. We have some lettuce ready and the peas have come into flower.
We processed 90 broilers on Saturday. That went very well. They averaged about 5 pounds and were very healthy, happy birds on pasture. We have another batch set for June 30. A few chickens in each batch remain for sale. If you would like any, please contact us. We will let you know what we have in the freezer.
Sweet corn should be ready mid-July. The recent rain should help it out tremendously. Our green beans and potatoes are also flourishing.
In the "Summer Inventory 2" story I left a little hint...I said I was the mother of Dave's little ones, with an 's'. However, the only pictures you've seen are of our almost 4 year old. As you can tell from the picture at the top, we just added on another addition to the family...perhaps this could be yet another addition to our summer inventory. We are happy to introduce "Rock Picker #2."
See, when I first started working on the farm as a naive new wife, I was introduced to the job of rock picking. Just as the name suggests, you have to pick all of the rocks out of a multi-acre field so that pasture could be planted. I quickly discovered this was the worst job on the farm (even worse than shoveling manure) and noted that to my husband and his family. It was then that I was given my first hint to start adding to the list of grandchildren by being told to start having "rock pickers." This would eliminate my need to take part in the exciting task of walking around and picking up rocks. So when I was pregnant the first time, before we knew the gender, our bun in the oven was labeled, "Rock Picker #1." So fast forward almost four years later, and Rock Picker #1 has welcomed his brother Rock Picker #2 and is already impatient for him to begin playing outside.
So as you can probably guess, things have been very busy. Our new baby came earlier than we had scheduled with the doctor. With the nice weather we had, lots of hay had been mowed and Dave would have it all in before our little one came (if he would have waited until his scheduled date...but doesn't that always happen). The day after we mowed the hay, I woke up in labor, thus putting a kink in the plans to have everything done so we can relax as a family. Dave did a wonderful job trying to get all of the farm work done, bale over 1,000 bales of hay, see our new little one and me in the hospital, and take care of our oldest. Therefore, we have slipped on updating the website and I want to personally thank everyone who came to see us at the hospital, who called in order to help out, those that watched our oldest, and those that not only made meals so that my family was eating well even though I wasn't there and Dave was so busy, but also made meals for us to eat when we got home. I appreciate your help more than you can ever imagine as you gave me great peace of mind and have made my recovery that much easier. So Dave and I are blessed with two beautiful boys (who look remarkably alike if you were to compare the pictures), our whole family is healthy and well and nothing could make us happier!
Our fresh new litter of nine piglets are staying snug with mom and doing very well. Very soon our new mother will have her hands full keeping track of them all and keeping them close. She's been a great first time mom, making a nice nest for her little ones and leaving the sheltered area where her piglets are only to eat and drink.
This Duroc/Spot mix mother was bred artificially by Dave in February. The new litter's father is a full-blooded Tamworth boar named Rusty from Shaffer's Gold Rush, so our new litter is half Tamworth and quarter Duroc and Spot. We look forward to watching them romp, squeal, and play in the field as they start to venture outside. This is one of the reasons why I love having all of our animals on pasture instead of inside a stall in the barn. There's nothing like seeing them run and chase each other, or run after their mother in the field. Soon they learn how to hide behind and inside the shelters, or in holes dug by the adult pigs rooting around, and ambush their siblings as they run by. I'm sure they will have us laughing or shaking our heads all summer long. I just can't imagine all the excitement that will come our way when there are multiple litters running around in the pasture chasing each other. I have no doubt that they will keep their mothers and us on our toes as we try to contain them.
Time to take a second moment to reflect on what's going on around the farm and our numbers. What my husband got incorrectly was not that he refuses to plant extra russett potatoes for his wife and mother of his little ones, because in reality, he doesn't plant extra for me. His philosophy is if he doesn't plant them, he doesn't have to eat them and I'll be forced to cook only the red ones. Based on the number of red potatoes we sell, we have found that people like them the most as well. But I'm getting off topic.
My husband wrote the sentence about one of our gilts having her litter soon. What it should have read was, "Unbeknownst to me, our gilt is currently having a litter of piglets." We had just discussed the game plan for separating her and where/how we were going to set up her area in the pasture for her to have her piglets "soon." So it was quite a surprise when he went out to check the pigs and get our gilt's seperate farrowing pen/pasture ready and found her in the middle of piggy labor with four little piglets finding their way to nurse. Fast forward a couple of hours later, they are completely separated and nine little piglets are wrestling and climbing all over each other trying to eat. Mom is resting and seems to be doing well. Unfortunately, this weekend is a little cool, so preparations are being made now to do what we can to ensure their warmth. In conclusion, it appears as though our calculations were a little off. She delivered at about the time she should have, it was just our miscalculations that led to this pleasant, adorable surprise. *Picture to follow soon.*
I thought I would take a moment to reflect on the current status of our operation...
We currently have 28 beef animals on the farm. 10 of them are bred to calve in November. We do not have any bulls as we have gone to an all artificial breeding program. We are in the process of switching the herd to Lowline Angus. There are many advantages to the breed, some of them being calving ease, early finishers (15 months on average), docility, and small stature. We should be able to increase our production and quality of meats while maximizing our pastures.
We currently have 7 hogs. 6 of them are breeding gilts and one boar. We have one bred to have a litter soon, the rest will have litters in July/August timeframe. We are a little behind on the hogs this year by using the boar. He was a little young when we put him in the pen to breed, and is just now starting to hit the mark. Our hogs will finish later than normal this year. However, we will be rotating them on our pastures and even planting some finishing fields for them to utilize.
We currently have 80 laying hens in production and another 200 started to begin laying late July. By September we should be laying about 18-20 dozen a day. All of our hens have access to fresh air and green pastures. We are in the process of building egg-mobile 2. Number one is in use, but will not hold all of our chickens.
We currently have about 245 broiler chickens on hand. 90 are set to go on June 16. We just put another batch out on pasture today and got a new batch on Thursday of last week. All are growing well and happy! We have just about all of our 500 broilers sold, only a few remain.
Turkeys will be arriving in a few weeks. This is our first year for the birds. We will see how this adventure turns out for us.
The garden is in full swing. We have peas, lettuce, onions, and beets in the ground. We transplanted all of our tomatoes, peppers, and broccoli over Memorial Day. We have 4 patches of sweet corn out of the ground with another ready to pop up. We plant our corn in weekly intervals to keep a steady supply of fresh corn going all summer long. Our first batch is scheduled for July 10 or so. I expect it to be on time.
Our silage and picking corn is in the ground and coming right along. I have one more field to plant up the hill and that will be a done deal. We feed our cattle silage in the winter to keep their condition up. This will be especially important this year as we will calve late and the mothers will be nursing all winter long.
Our potatoes are poking out slowly. We have reds, russetts, and kennebecs in the ground. I love the reds, so we planted more this year. Margie loves russetts, so we put in the same as last year. Doing the planting has some perks!
Green, yellow, and purple beans are in as well. We have lots of them up and lots more on the way.
That about does it. We look froward to this year being an exceptional one. If you have any questions about availability please feel free to contact us. We would be more than happy to answer any questions. Check the Available Products page or the home page for updated lists as well.