Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Annual Mud Post ...

It seems like every year I have to site down and vent my "mud frustrations" on the blog. If nothing else it gets them off my chest! But, this year seems to be extra frustrating ... I'm sure there are many factors that have contributed to that fact. For whatever reason the winter had me frustrated and now the cool weather and the recent mud (and the 10-day forecast doesn't look promising) just seems to be continuing that trend. Maybe it is the "beginning" nature of my farm, but mud just makes me want to throw in the towel sometimes.

The wild combination of the normal spring mud, more feeder pigs than ever on the farm, the rising feed prices, lack of gravel on the drives, lambing season (for the first time), and the fact that I have no completely weather proof buildings (besides the house) has me wishing that I had more. Every morning and evening as I drive to and from town I find myself envying the buildings I drive past. Especially the abandoned ones or the buildings that are just part of a homestead where no active farming occurs. I would love to have the time to just tear them down and place them at my farm!

For now I just need to take the steps that I can. I need to remind myself that I can only advance slowly and that I can't have everything at once! I do believe that I need to figure out something for these muddy spring months though. I'm not overly concerned about the cattle and the sheep seem to be doing okay, but I would love to figure out a better solution for the pigs. A place for feeding and watering that doesn't become a bog (I do try to get those spots off of the ground). I'm beginning to wonder if a hoop house wouldn't be a good idea for these winter/spring months where they can't be on the pasture/woods.

Lots to think about ... major financial choices to make ... and plenty of mud to deal with. As I was quoted in the Des Moines Register a few weeks ago, "I get stuck getting things unstuck."


BaQhnara said...

Thanks for the chuckle. I understand so much!! I think it wouldn't be so bad for things to be muddy if my green thumb didn't start itching long about March and I start thinking about gardening. But we can't do anything in the yard until at least May because the tiller will just get all bogged down. Some years growing up we threw our hands up and mudded in the tomatoes but it was sure not much fun.
I can't imagine having pigs to deal with in the mud. They might love it but I think I would go a bit crazy. So I sympathize and thank you for sharing. It is great to know I am not the only one.
Pam from Oregon

MikedUpIN said...

On my way home from work, to milk in my three sided, leaky tin roof shed, I pass at least 5 old barns that are slowly rotting to the ground. All of them unused and unwanted. Then I sit there on the milking stool with the wind blowing up the back of my shirt and secretly hope that maybe one of those people spilled coffee on their pants that morning. :)

Ok, maybe I don't hope that, but I know what you mean about driving past all of those buildings that you wish you had or hope you'll have one day.

Well, better stop typing and wade out to the converted silo to feed the muddy chickens. :)

Rich said...

I once read about a pasture farrowing setup (sorry, I can't find the link) in which a field had a series of broad-based terraces plowed across it and was divided in half.

The two halves were rotated between pasture for farrowing sows and crops. The farrowing half was subdivided into paddocks with a terrace running down the muddle of each one. The farrowing huts were placed on top of the terraces so that they were in a dry area.

Each year, the field would be plowed to maintain the terraces and the farrowing area would be rotated to a forage or row crop.

I'm not sure if they use terraces in Iowa, but you can find a little info about them at:

Basically you plow towards a line from both directions so that you have a double back furrow at the top of the ridge and a double dead furrow about 16 feet from the top of the ridge on both sides. In the beginning, you plow over the area that has been plowed to build up the ridge and maintain it by plowing yearly until it is established. Once it is built, it shouldn't need much maintenance if it is planted to grass, etc.

You might need to ask some oldtimers how they built terraces to get you started, but once you figure it out you might have an area that would stay a little drier and could be used to rotate to growing some feed for your pigs.

Rich said...

I found the link I mentioned in my previous comment at:

Quoting from the link (slightly different from my memory because it involves a 3 year rotation):

"...We have a 3 year rotation in the operation. The first year is sows farrowing on alfalfa. The second year corn, to get the advantage of manure that was spread with no labor or equipment cost to you. The third year oats are seeded down. The fourth year back to sows and pigs. On flat or poorly drained land, you should put in permanent ridges when you are plowing for the corn crop. We use a moldboard plow and make a head land and a dead furrow every 30-40 feet. ... Placing huts on ridges will eliminate problems of heavy rain and extended wet conditions..."

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