Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Shelter from the Storm

This week Becca's parents have been visiting. Becca's dad spent the last few days constructing doors for our storm shelter. They are now installed and much more secure than the cattle panel that we had down in there (to put across the door in hopes of not being sucked out in case of a tornado.) You can head over to my wife's blog to read a bit more about our glorified septic tank . . . errr . . . storm shelter and see pictures of it being installed. It sure is nice to know it's out there though!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Construction Round 2

We just got word from our builder that we are next in line to get our pole building up. This is the same builder that put up our house, and this pole building is almost the same dimensions as our house although it's a tad bigger. We will be using this building for our shed to store hay and to have a place for animals when the weather is bad. We are really excited to finally get this up, and it will be helpful to have it up when we put up our fence also, which should happen in July.

So since we are starting round 2 of pole building construction, we figured it's time to finish up after the first round. Or at least clean up after it. (We still have a fair amount of projects with our house until it is 100 % finished.) We've had a dumpster the last month that is getting emptied once one week. Our property is finally getting cleared of all of the construction garbage from building our house. All that is left is a pile of dry wall scraps behind the house, and in about 2 weeks we should have the majority of the property cleaned up again.

I Had a Dexter Wish List...

On Saturday we got up early and took the stock trailer up to Fort Dodge, IA for the American Dexter Cattle Association Annual General Membership auction. The AGM had been going on for a few days prior, but there was too much going on here at the farm so I could only get away for one day and I wanted it to be for the sale. I had been looking over the 38 Dexter cows, heifers, and bulls for the past couple of weeks and I had sort of put together a wish list.

Not that I was planning on buying anything for sure, but there were four or five that I was interested in bidding on if I felt the itch while I was at the sale. Really, what I'm looking for right now is that "great" herd bull. I didn't see the "great" one on the sale bill, but there was a potentially nice one that I wanted to check out and there were also a few cows and heifers that caught my eye.

After sitting through all of the auction (about two hours) we could drive away with nothing in the trailer because I didn't buy anything (which also helps the checkbook balance). What I did learn though is that I really like the most expensive ones. In fact the heifer pictured above is Wieringa's Belle NQ and she brought the most money at the auction. I had picked her out from the pictures as one that I may be interested in and once I saw her in person I knew that I wanted her on the farm.

I told my wife that I would be willing to cull out a couple cows in order to get her and that I was going to try and bid ... try being the key word on this one, because she went from a starting bid to $3,500 or so in no time! In the end the winning bid was $4,050 ... way out of my league for one bred heifer (although she was really nice). The yearling bull calf I was semi-interested in sold for $850 (I decided I'd rather spend more money and see what they look like when they were older). Another dun heifer that I liked a lot sold for $2,250 and a black cow that I hadn't really paid much attention to until I saw her in person sold for $2,525.

Even though I didn't bring anything home it was a very profitable day because I was able to see some good examples of what I would like our herd to look like in the future, and I realized how much we need a new bull! On top of all that you can't beat a day with the family ... so I would say it was a win, win, win!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Heat and Humidity...

The past couple of weeks have been pretty oppressive here in Southern Iowa. There has been next to no breeze, plenty of heat, lots of thunder showers, and buckets of humidity. There have been more than a few days where you walked out and immediately started sweating like you had just run a marathon in the desert! And to think ... it isn't even July yet. But, we have been making it through the heat by taking some precautions and being careful.
  • Of course I have been making sure to drink plenty of water. All those years in Boy Scouts are really starting to pay off and I know that it is important to not only drink water while you are working, but also before hand to help keep yourself hydrated. Also, ice cold water isn't alway the best...
  • The livestock need plenty of clean water as well, so we have been constantly refilling their waterers and making sure the water they have is clean. Usually I have to spray out a waterer once a day, but the livestock really need that clean fresh water.
  • Breaks have also become a big part of the work. In cooler weather I just like to go and go because I usually have a limited time to do stuff, but in the oppressive heat and humidity that we have had it is important to take some time and rest.
  • Another way I combat the sweltering summer is to put on my Amish hat (cheap and readily available). It isn't very stylish, but it is straw so my head can breathe a little and the shade that it provides to my face, ears, and neck will be appreciated for years to come (no skin cancer please).
I'm not sure how all of you in the hot and humid south deal with this all the time, but I would love to hear your tricks and tips!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Piggy Update...

It has been a couple of weeks since the piggies were born, so I figured that it is time for a little piggy update. Momma sow continues to do a very good job with her motherly duties and all seven little pigs seem to be doing very well (although there is one slightly smaller than the others). She also seems to be keeping her condition and looking good despite her recent farrowing and the heat. I will admit that I'm very impressed with the Hereford breed if this sow is a good representation. The litters may not be as big, but she is doing a very good job and the pigs look great!

As you can see from the picture above the pigs have also figured out how to get out of the hut. I have a board up across the door, but now they are big enough to get a running jump and hop in and out (it is pretty funny to watch). They still spend most of their time in the hut, but do like to get out and wander around a little bit. In fact they even stray through the fence panels and into the winter cattle lot!

In other kinds of related pig news ... Our sow's first litter of pigs is just about ready to head to market. Again we are going to be selling by the half and whole and would love to have you as a customer! These pigs are a Berkshire and Hereford cross and have been growing very well. The combination of those two breeds should mean some pretty tasty pork (the Berkshire is known for the quality of its meat). If you are interested in purchasing a half or a whole just shoot us an

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Joel Salatin Goes to Washington

I have seen this kicking around on a few different blogs and thought it would be good to draw attention to it again because I think it says a lot about the current state of our political class and of course agriculture. On June, 17th Joel Salatin was invited to Washington D.C. to be a part of the Green Jobs Leadership Summit. The event didn't turn out exactly as it was advertised, but what would you expect. By the end of the meeting Mr. Salatin had not been asked to say or do anything when he happened upon a comment line. Here is what he had to say (as best as he can remember):
"I'm amazed that after half a day of talk about green jobs and energy, I have not heard the word food, the word farm, or the word agriculture. I represent the local food movement and the pastured livestock movement, and we are tried of being marginalized, criminalized, and demonized by the USDA and this government. I'm a bioterrorist for letting my chickens run in the pasture. What good is it to have the freedom to own a gun, assemble, or worship if I can't choose the fuel to feed my internal 3 trillion member community of bacteria to give me the energy to go shoot, pray, or preach? I propose that we have a Constitutional Amendment that allows every American citizen the right to choose their food. Government bureaucrats should not come between my mouth and my 3 trillion member internal community."
I guess it is not exactly what they wanted to hear at the meeting (you can read Mr. Salatin's post here), and he was eventually cut off. But, since they invited him and told him that he would have a chance to speak I think they should have listened. I do love the passion with which Mr. Salatin speaks. He does not mince words and he likes to paint a pretty impressive picture of this very important topic.

I agree with him that we want to be talking about "green jobs" (I have a feeling "green jobs" are kind of a feel good term more than anything else) we need to start with our agricultural industry because you can't get much closer to "green" things than that. At the end of his post Mr. Salatin says, "Thus endeth Mr. Salatin going to Washington." While that may be true for a time, I think he can continue to grow his voice in the agricultural world and that he will be more and more influential as time passes by.

Busy Ants Make Big Hills

I mentioned yesterday that one of the biggest obstacles that we are facing in our pasture renovation are the ant hills. When I tell people that we have ant hills I don't think they can really picture what I'm talking about and up until we bought this place I wouldn't have been able to picture it either. But when I say ant hills I'm talking anything from 6 inches to more than 12 inches high and anywhere from 10 inches across to over 2 feet across! Ant hills this large cause a problem when it comes to making hay because a sickle mower will not make it through them!

So, what I tried to do was take a picture of the ant hills. Just imagine 26 acres dotted like this and you will have an idea of what we are dealing with here. The cattle graze around and over them, but when they get done with an area you it looks something like the picture above.

Anyone else have any suggestions? I would love to hear them.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Farmer Round Table

Last evening I had the opportunity to sit down at the farmer round table. Actually, it was just a meal with my uncle who has been farming for years and my younger cousin who grew up on the farm. They were up in the area around my home town for the WHO Radio Great Tractor Ride and I wanted to stop up and check out all the tractors. But, since it was my old stomping grounds I was also able to show them where to find a place to eat and we spent quite awhile catching up and talking about the things we are doing and need to do on the farm.

I have to admit that my Uncle has been one of my biggest helps as we try to break into this farming journey. He has helped us by passing along books and information, sharing equipment with us, giving us stuff, and of course sharing knowledge. Last night was all about the knowledge and chatting. It was even better because my cousin was there as well, so it was a great meeting of the minds (mine was more of a sponge than a mind).

After catching up on all the family news we spent a good amount of time brainstorming on ideas for our pasture. The anthills seem to be a bit bigger problem than I had thought just because they are so big and there are so many more than I realized when all you could see is tall grass. Knocking them all down might be a bit of a chore and then we also have to think about what state the forages are in.

Now that the cattle have grazed down various sections it almost looks like a prairie dog town and lots of shrubs! We talked about the possibilities of knocking everything down and then seeding and even discussed the option tearing it up and starting over. I think in the end we might do a little bit of all of the above ... and then see what works the best. That way we can kind of see what works best for our farm and the way we want to run everything.

But, job number one is fence... ahh ...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Dexter Cattle Show

Just thought I would do a little advertising here and let every one know about the upcoming American Dexter Cattle Association Annual General Meeting that is set to take place June 25th through June 28th in Fort Dodge, IA. Of course the event will include the normal membership meeting and keynote, but is should also include something for the everyone ... especially those interested in learning more about the Dexter breed and seeing some good examples of what a good Dexter cow or bull looks like.

If everything comes together for me I would like to make a run up there for at least the show and the sale on Friday and Saturday just to see as many Dexters as possible. I think it would help me continue to develop my "perfect cow/bull" image and also will give me a chance to talk with some experienced Dexter cattlemen/women.

But, that is not the only reason to go. As you can see from the schedule there will be plenty of times for learning. There is going to be a session on beef marketing for small producers (ought to be worth while), a session training for show (something that would be fun to do sometime), and possibly even a session on grazing management.

The good thing for me is that all of this is in my home state, but if you are in the area or could be in the area I would encourage you to come on out and see some Dexters!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Summer Repeat?

I don't want to begin to think that this summer is going to be a repeat of last years major floods (because I can still make it to the farm 3 out of 3 ways instead of 1 out of 3), but it does seem that the weather is hampering our efforts once again. Recently our weather has turned hot, 90ยบ F today, and wet. In the words of one of our friends from church who has 90 acres of grass hay down on the ground, "I'll have the cleanest hay in the county!" We don't have any hay down yet, but the weather is playing a role in that.

As I mentioned earlier this week the weather has slowed down our porch building efforts, but it has also thrown a damper on the fence building project and on the shed construction. Now that soccer is done it has been so wet that I haven't had the opportunity to get everything ready for the fencing project. There are some low spots along the fence line that need wood posts and they have been too swampy as of late. Also, since we don't have the perimeter up yet I'm having to spend more time building temporary fence to keep everybody feed and happy. Hmm... the weather is working against me again.

The rain/mud has also caused a bit of havoc with our new shed. Of course when ever it rains it not only makes our place wet and muddy, but it also ruins a day, or days, of work at the site our builder is currently at. This all adds up to more waiting. Which means no hay yet because I don't have a dry place to put it (and if you haven't noticed yet, it rains).

The thing is though, that I'm not really going to complain because that is just he way things go sometimes. On a related note, the road in front of our drive is getting pretty bad. So bad in fact that the mail man asked us to let the county know so maybe we could get some more gravel. I do agree with him, a couple days ago I was driving up the hill (going straight) and had my wheels turned all the way to the left! Fun ... Fun!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The One Bad Thing...

As I mentioned earlier I am using the five young heifer calves as a mower behind the house where we are going to construct the shed. I'm really having them gnaw it down to the nubs and attack the bushes and then I'll go through with the mower afterwards to get what is left (which will be shrub stems). It is going really well and it is fun to watch them attack the fresh grass each day. I also like the fact that I can look out our bedroom window in the morning and see them laying down or grazing away!

Except there is one downside ... since they are so close to the house they wake me up every time they moo! Normally the just get going in the morning or when they want some more grass, but last night they really started into it at two in the morning. This made me worried because I assumed it meant something was out there ... and by something I mainly mean Mr. Bull (who also got out yesterday morning).

So, I peered out into the dark night that was also heavily covered by fog and I saw a lumbering mass next to their fence. I wasn't sure what it was, but I just assumed it was the bull. So, I grabbed a flashlight and pulled on my boots ready to try and corral a bull at 2:00 AM. Luckily when I got out there I found it was just the haybine! My mind does play tricks on me in the middle of the night...

Just another one of the joys of our beginning farm.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Never Thought of This...

I ran across this today while reading Allan Nation's blog (editor of the Stockman Grass Farmer) and it really hit me. Take the link above to read the post for yourself, but the title is what really grabbed me ... "Falling Car Sales Take Down World Beef Prices". I will admit that I read that and I thought ... "Huh?" But, after reading about it I can see how the slowing car sales (especially of cars with leather features) can have an impact on the cattle industry ... I just never would have made the connection.

The connection between the cars and the beef is the hide. According to Mr. Nation's post car interiors made up 12% of the world's leather use in 2007 and that percentage has dropped to 8% now. It may not seem like a lot, but I guess it makes a pretty big splash in the bucket and that splash gets passed down the line to producers and everyone else.

This all reminds me how interconnected our society really is with agriculture even if we don't realize it. As I have mentioned before, even here in Iowa there are less and less people that have a direct connection to farms or a particular farm family and that lack of connection can only hurt us (both farmers and consumers). In my mind it is just another reason to talk agriculture as much as you can and always be open and transparent about what you do and why you do it. A good reminder for me!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Now We're Getting Somewhere!

Yesterday afternoon we made some visible progress on the front porch (as an aside, my dad and I were recently discussing how "porch" is a nice farm house term).  Thanks to the rain and mud we didn't get as far as we probably could have this weekend, but we made some real nice progress and we have 1/3 of the porch framed up.  Now we just have to start putting the decking on that part!

I'll upload some pictures when I get a chance so you can get a feel for what it is going to look like, but I think we are going to love it! Being able to look out over the pasture in the evening after getting all the chores done will be something to look forward to!  Thanks again to Jerome and E for taking the time to come and help us out.  What we got done would have taken me days!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Not As Far As Hoped...

Well, I would show you some deck pictures, but thanks to the rain we didn't exactly make it as far as we had hoped to today.  We did make some good progress and got things done that will make the rest of the work go more quickly, but if I would to show you a picture take from the same spot as yesterday it wouldn't look much different...

Thankfully we had plenty of help from our friends today to get the digging and the hard work done.  Now it looks like we can just cut and screw everything in place.  We will work a bit tomorrow and then probably I'll fly through the rest of the work like it is nothing ... because it will be the easy stuff.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Front Porch Farming...

**Today's post is extremely late today because of a little computing mix-up on my end. But, hopefully you'll get a preview today and then an update tomorrow.**

It seems like our list of projects is never ending and it is always difficult for me to figure out what to do next, but something needs to be next on the list. So, this weekend we are going to begin tackling the front porch. This is a project that we have been looking forward to since we put up the building because the view from the porch is amazing and it will be wonderful to sit out there and enjoy the evening. Plus, we have the added benefit of some extra hands this weekend so it seemed like as good as anytime to get it started.

We picked up the materials on Tuesday, but we have already run into a few snags. Things aren't going to work out exactly as I had planned (do they ever), but I think we have "plan b" figured out and should be able to get going tomorrow as long as the weather cooperates. The one thing that may hold us back is water in the post holes. That could keep us from concreting them in and getting the front of the porch ready.

Ideally I would love to make it to Sunday evening with all my toes and fingers and everything framed up. If that happens then we should be set because I think the decking will go on fairly quickly and without too many cuts. That is one nice thing about a porch that is only 6 feet by 45 feet. I'll keep you updated on the progress and hopefully some relaxing front porch farming pictures soon!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Spreading the Message of Good Food

Just time for a quick hitter today because between Vacation Bible School and preparations for the construction of our porch I'm a bit busy. But, I did want to pose a question and see if any one is interested in throwing in their two cents. Here is my question:

Recently on the Epi-Log there were back-to-back posts reviewing the upcoming documentary, "Food, Inc.". Before that there was a write up on the documentary, "Fresh". I have written about both of these films here on the blog (and many others) and I have to admit that I'm pretty fond of a good documentary, but do you think films like this are a good way to spread the message that we can have a different food system? I must admit that when I first saw previews of "King Corn" I thought I would hate it ... turns out I LOVED it ... but, I wonder what it would or what it is going to take to make an impression outside of the larger cities or metropolitan areas? Do you think films like this will help or do you think that most Americans are so set in their ways that it is going to take an experience to really change their minds?

I do think that most of the recent "food/farming" films have been a help in getting the discussion going and creating a platform for it, but I am curious as to what the next step is...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

More Than New Pigs...

**Thanks to a week of Vacation Bible School and a good morning of work today's post is very late compared to normal. But, it is a post nevertheless.**

I thought it would be a good idea to update the progress of the pigs that were born Sunday afternoon. As I mentioned there were nine pigs born and all seemed to be doing very well that evening as they bellied up to the bar and got their first meal. But, that night (in the midst of one major thunderstorm after another) she stepped on or crushed two. Since then she seems to be the model mother, but I'm not getting my hopes up to high yet.

The new pigs on Sunday evening weren't the only new additions to the farm that day though. That night at my soccer banquet one of the dad's asked me what kind of farm dog we had. I responded that our dog really wasn't much of a farm dog, but that we had been looking for something bigger. To make a long story short ... he offered us a male Great Pyrenees that is three months old.

Now we have a big dog on the place! I would love any tips on training a Great Pyrenees though...

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

8th Anniversary...

Today, June 9th, is our 8th wedding anniversary. I don't think that either of us would have imagined eight years ago that this farm would be the place where we ended up. But, I know that the support and love that my wife has shared with me over the last eight years and the help and encouragement she gives me is what has allowed us to make this step in our life. So, today I'm off to spend some time with the family and enjoy my wife of eight years!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Lots of Little Piggies!

When we got home from the soccer banquet last night my wife found nine little piggies lined up and getting their first meal. Most likely they were born while we were off celebrating the end of the soccer season and it seems that all went well. Now comes the hard part ... making it through the first week or two and seeing how momma sow does with all the little piggies around her. I believe she had nine pigs in her first little as well, but lost four to crushing. Hopefully that was just some new mom jitters, but as we build our swine herd I know that it is something we are going to have to work through.

This is where the "letting pigs be pigs" thing comes into play. So far there have been two pigs lost. We know that there will be losses on the farm (especially when farrowing pigs), but we also want to get our herd to a point where we have good mothers that know what they are doing and can do it well. That is why I like to visit the Sugar Mountain Farm blog. When I read the posts over there I know it is possible to have sows that know what to do out on pasture.

For now, we are just going to enjoy the new pigs and help provide the best environment that we can for the pigs and for the momma sow. It is so amazing to me how creation just works itself out. Like I told my wife ... "It's like she delivered them and then they got up, made a left turn and walked over to grab a bite to eat." It is pretty incredible how that works out!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Around the Farm Update

Well today is the supposed to be the day for the sow to farrow, so we will see what the day holds. When I checked first thing this morning she was just hanging out in her hut ... like she has been doing 95% of the time since we put her in a pen by herself. I've got to admit that I'm getting pretty excited for her to farrow and am looking forward to having some little pigs around if everything goes right. We had the first calf on the farm last weekend, so maybe the first pigs this weekend?

We have also been spending a lot of time lately in the garden getting everything put in. Better late than never is our garden motto this year and we are hoping to at least get a little produce. We have corn, beans, peas, tomatoes, pumpkins, peppers, and probably some other stuff that I'm missing in this years garden. Last years garden was just kind of thrown together ... this years garden is a little better ... next year I think we will be able to make our first all out garden attack on the farm. It just takes time to get everything lined up and together when you are still trying to build the farm!

In other farm news ... if the weather holds out a little I'm guessing we are about a week and a half from getting our shed started. The calves are mowing it down for us and I'm getting excited to get it up. Of course it won't have any sides until I put them on there, but it will be nice to see what it is going to look like and start making my plans for the inside and for the lean-to. It will help having the frame up so I can figure out exactly how I can best use the space inside, then I can decide what to do for walls/openings.

Other than that we just do as much as we can when we can. I'm really looking forward to getting the place cleaned up ... that is my biggest overall project!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Not My Favorite, But...

I can't say that our current bull is my favorite Dexter bull, or even close to that. He has give us plenty of frustration with his desire to get out and roam around and he isn't exactly as cuddly (not that you should ever cuddle a bull) as some Dexter bulls that I've bet. But, with all that being said he does have a few redeeming qualities that I don't hate.

He seems to have fleshed out nicely on the spring grass so far (at least comparatively speaking) and it also seems like he is a guy that will get his job done. One other thing is that he is a little smaller in size so I'm hoping he will bring us a couple smaller calves from our two bigger cows. Our big cows hardly even seem like Dexters when you compare them to the others in the herd!

All that being said, I'm still on the hunt for a herd bull that fits us perfectly and will continually improve our herd. We have an uphill battle to get the herd to where I would like it, but this is an okay start.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Putting Together a Pasture Mix

As the cows have gotten out and grazed our pastures this spring I have really started to notice how much work they need. I have mentioned previously that our 40 acres was in the Conservation Reserve Program for at least 13 years before we purchased it and in that time nothing was really done to it besides the initial seeding of switch grass and various prairie grasses. As you look over the ground on a whole late in the summer you see plenty of tall prairie grass, but once it has been grazed and once you take some time to walk through it you really begin to understand how overgrown everything is with brush and weeds.

Which leads me to my question. Do you have any thoughts on a good pasture mix that I could broadcast on before or after the cows hit an area? I attended a little round table discussion on the subject at the PFI conference this winter and I need to find my notes from that because I realize that this is a subject that is very regional. But, I know that there are people around my neck of the woods that read this blog and I always love to get ideas from other parts of the country.

What kind of grasses, legumes, and even weeds (or at least what some people call weeds) have you had the best success with? And, do you have any suggestions for seeding down areas? Now might not be the best time I realize, but I would like to tackle this as much as possible.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

New Grass, An Expecting Sow, and Little Calf

Soccer came to an end last night, but things don't look like they will be slowing down anytime soon. In fact I expect things will get even busier this summer as we tackle all the projects that need to be done and continue with our daily chores. As you can see from the picture on the right (you can click on the image to make it larger) the dexter herd is out in new grass and enjoying it. Although, the still like to come up to the short stuff and hang out in the cool of the morning it seems.

One thing about the tall grass is that it is nearly impossible to find a itty-bitty dexter calf that isn't even knee high! Last night I spent about 30 minutes looking for him in the dark and finally found him about 10 yards on the other side of the fence just sleeping away in some bushes. This morning I couldn't find him either and was sure that he was outside the fence again so I started wandering around and looking. I didn't find him until I almost stepped on him!

And finally, here is a picture of our Hereford sow that looks like she is about ready to burst. She is due to farrow on June 6th so we are keeping a close eye on her. The good thing is that it isn't hard to keep track of her because she only comes out of the hut a few times a day for water and food. I really can't wait to see some little red Herefords bouncing around the farm!

Sorry for the late update, but now that soccer is done I should be able to get back on my normal schedule...

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Hog is in the Hut

I don't have a picture to show you of our sow living in her new digs, but I will get one soon. As with everything on the farm this project took a little longer than expected, but the main thing is that it is done and she still hasn't farrowed yet. She seems to love the little hut because she has only come out a few times a day since I put it in there on Sunday, of course she looks like she is about ready to pop so that might have something to do with the fact that she likes laying around and hanging out in the hut.

The hut ended up being a very basic A-Frame that is eight feet long and seven feet wide at the base. There is a door in the front that I can close and latch if I need to check the pigs and want her out, or if it is cold and I want her in. The back as a drop down vent that I can open to get some of the warm air out and provide some air circulation. Other than those details the entire thing is just covered with 1/2" treated plywood and it stays dry inside (I know because it rained quite a bit last night).

One thing that I already know I'll probably change in the future is to put it on some skids that are a bit more substantial that pine 2x4's and maybe even try to use oak instead of the pine period. I had also looked at the possibilities of making one of the sides hinged so I could have easy access to the pigs, but with the materials that I had at the time I didn't like any of my options.

The great thing about this design is that I can use it as a test. I can see what works and doesn't work and then I can make whatever improvements I need to make on the next one. Now, all I have to do is wait for some pigs to be born ... we just keep checking.

Monday, June 01, 2009

New Life

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. Well, that is the case today because this picture tells it all. The first little Dexter calf was born on Stoneyfield farm sometime late Saturday night and everyone is doing wonderful.

When I went out to do chores Sunday morning before church I found all the cows up waiting for some water ... all the cows except for one that is. On Friday I had noticed that our newest cow (that came with the bull from Nebraska) was really starting to bag up and she looked like she would be calving soon. I'm glad to say that I was correct in my assumption, because I found them down in the valley just hanging out and enjoying some nice mother/son time.

If all went well last year we should be coming up on some more calves in the near future, but I sometimes wonder how many cows our previous bull settled. We will see for sure in the next month or two. Not exactly the schedule I wanted to keep, but we will get things back on track over time.

Tomorrow I'll share an update on the hog hut, and I bet I'll have some pig news soon as well!
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