Another month on the farm…so much has happened since my last blog I don’t even know where to start. The laptop kicked the bucket which put a halt to any updates, so in the meantime I have been limited to Facebook and Instagram. I guess I’ll start with the pigs since that’s where I left off…
The mama pigs have been doing great, one of them is definitely more my favorite (Lucy) and she is a sweetheart. The other one (Ethel) is cute, but she tends to be more hyper and not as lovey-dovey. We are convinced that Lucy is definitely pregnant, but Ethel’s status is still up for debate.
Our paddock setup has been working well. They have been lasting about 7-10 days in their 6,000 square foot area. We don’t let it get down to mud puddles, just enough that the area has been tilled up. When we move them to a new paddock it is always an area that adjoins the previous. We just move the electric fence tape to let them in and then close it back up. So far we have moved them twice without much trouble. They are very smart and seem to know when we area going to move them, they line up at the fence like the start of a race. Ethel skips freely into the new pasture, while Lucy is more hesitant and needs some coaxing, she seems to think the fence is still there even though she can’t see it.
With each new paddock the ladies make themselves a new bed in the woods, usually behind where the water barrel is located. They prefer to cuddle together in their natural bed under the stars, vs. the shelter we made them, I have seem them occasionally use it for shade on sunny days. Even if we put hay in the shelter for bedding they pick it up and move it to their other spot in the woods. Fine with me as long as they are happy.
The only time the hogs get crazy is feeding time. They pace the fence until you bring it in and then attack it like they are starving and fight over who gets the best pieces. In the beginning, Shaun wouldn’t let me feed them, but recently he threw out his back and so out of necessity I had to take over. They act the same way for me, but we got a system down and I haven’t had any problems other than sometimes it gets spilled and then they eat it off the ground. We feed them approximately 6 pounds of non-gmo grain a day each, split between morning and night. We soak the grain for approximately 8-12 hours in order to maximize it’s nutritional content. Frequently we also add in some milk kefir and excess water kefir grains for probiotics. A local bakery has also been generous and donated some of their leftovers, they use the un-brominated King Arthur flour in their recipes.
Lucy is my favorite because she loves her belly rubs. Everyday I try to spend time with them in their paddock that isn’t associated with a feeding time. As soon as she sees me it only takes a minute and will prance over to wherever I am standing, stretch out her back legs as I scratch at her booty, followed by a stop, drop and roll, which is they cue for her belly rub. I think it’s the cutest thing and I joke with everyone that she thinks she is a dog. Not sure if it was our imagination or not, but Shaun and I were pretty sure we might of felt the babies kicking when we rubbing her down this afternoon.
I know I haven’t blogged much about them, but they are still part of the farm, slowly fertilizing a path across the front field at the moment. The New Zealand girls seem to have adjusted well to their tractor lifestyle. They aren’t very friendly in general, but we are hoping they will be good mothers when the time comes. We recently added a Silver Fox male to make it a rabbit trio. He is the softest rabbit I have ever touched and he is much more friendly than the ladies. We currently have him in a rabbit hutch since we haven’t built another tractor and need to keep him separate from the does. I think Shaun likes him the best because he poops in the right spot, which makes his cage easy to clean and saves us from wasting hay. We plan to breed him with the older doe once we figure out how we are going to house everyone when the babies are born. Our younger doe is still too young to breed. Stay posted!
Still my faves, but the pigs are a close second. Much has happened since my last update….The bantam flock will soon be down to 8, we are planning to ‘remove’ the younger rooster once we have the time and the weather cooperates because he has been testing the patience of Big Red a little too much lately, we don’t want to have another cock fight on our hands.
The biggest change with the chickens over the last few weeks has been the pigs. The first week the pigs were here the chickens were curious, but didn’t go exploring. The second week they realized it was an easy way to find free food and we started to see them mixing together around feeding times. Now they are officially best friends forever, hardly ever apart. Now I wouldn’t say that the feeling is mutual because I really don’t think the pigs care if the chickens are there or not and I’m sure if they were hungry enough they would eat them, but mostly for now they just ignore them. The chickens however, think the pigs are the best thing that ever came to the farm because they do all the work for them…Lucy and Ethel dig up worms and drop pieces of food as the chickens wait patiently ready to scavenge a snack. We have even found the chickens hiding from the rain the pigs’ shelter (glad someone is using it). They seem to be living in harmony, I don’t even feed the chickens in the morning anymore because as soon as I open the door they run over to the pigs to find their own breakfast. The chickens also feel safe around the pigs, they enjoy dust bathing in the wood-line which offers protection from the hawks. I’m glad they are foraging more which means a lower feed cost for us. The other day we thought we lost our first chicken to a hawk attack, Shaun saw it swoop down and heard the scuffle, but couldn’t see exactly what happened, by the time he got there all that remained was a pile of feathers and Big Red in attack mode. We counted the chickens 5 times and kept coming up short and couldn’t find one of the younger black chickens, we thought for sure he was a goner. I cried and told everyone at work, feeling guilty since we recently cut the field leaving less cover and protection when the chickens go back to the coop. We knew the hawks have been stalking our routine but Big Red is very vigilant and usually sees the hawks before we do. Thankfully, to our pleasant surprise all 9 chickens were accounted for in the morning. I’m not sure how, but we must have been miscounting in our panic and the black one must have been hiding in a corner somewhere in the coop. Big Red must have fought off the hawk better than we thought, all the more reason to continue to support his supreme reign over the flock.
Other exciting chicken business includes finding our first egg!!! And we had baby chicks arrive today!!! I’ll save those for their own post, happy to have my computer back!