Super Busy Farm Life, Finally a Post!

Today I am going to write a little farm update post to let you know  how My Mom and I are doing

My Mom and I have been very busy lately. There has been a lot of big projects that have needed to be done. Some of them are Hugelkultur beds, shelters, siding the barn with metal sheeting, H-braces, tilling and much more. Due to this I haven’t been able to do any posts. In the future when there isn’t any many projects to due I will write more regularly

My Mom and I and have been working hard on improving our garden to grow enough produce to sell at the farmers market. To do this we started tilling up a section of our garden area and made long beds out of our compost for growing beans, onions, garlic and more.

I think these beds will work wonderfully and I look forward to selling our produce at the local market.

Our beautiful Rona/Boris sow named Anna had her first litter of piglets two weeks ago she had four gilts and two boars. She was bred by our Andrew/Kereopa boar named Simon and maybe our Ru/Wilsons Gina named Benny. Anna has been an amazing mother to her piglets.

Our next litter of piglets will be Moo Shu. It will be our and Moo Shu’s first Meishan litter on the farm. I am super excited for it.

 

Herd Finally Closed!

On Sunday, my Mom and I officially closed our herd with us getting three more bloodlines. All three of them are from rare bloodlines named Tutanekai, Haunene and also Awakino. I will be writing about these lines in future bloodlines posts. We will be working with them to improve them in the future. We got three adorable piglets named Lorenzo (Tutanekai/Wilsons Gina) boar, Angelica (Awakino/Tutanekai) gilt and Francesca (Haunene/Whakanui) gilt. We got these three rare piglets from Suwannee Valley Kunekunes. We are going to breed Francesca to our Ru boar Benny to improve her head type and snout. Benny has the shortest, wide head with massive jowls out of all our boars.

I am very excited that our herd is closed. My Mom and I have spent the past year picking out pigs for lots of diversity and options for breedings. Now we can start improving and breeding for what we want in our herd and retain piglets. My favorite traits I like to have in Kunes are a bigger, stockier body for meat production, a short dished snout, large or floppy ears, large eyes, colorful piglets and big jowls.  I am also a fan of not having to drive to get any more pigs.

A closed herd is when you have no outside influence in your herd. You don’t bring new pigs into your farm at all. The only new pigs you will get are from retaining the best conformation piglets from your litters. Having a closed herd is also important for biosecurity. Anytime someone visits our farm we have them wear non farm shoes and dip their feet in a bleach bath.

In our herd we currently have.

Sows:

  • Chickie (Jenny/Ru)
  • Cassiopia (Trish/Ru)
  • Hilda (Jenny/Andrew)
  • Anna (Rona Boris)
  • Giovanna (Trish/Ru)

Gilts:

  • Elisabetta (Wilsons Gina/Boris)
  • Angelica (Awakino/Tutanekai)
  • Francesca (Haunene/Whakanui)
  • Augusta (Rona/Tonganui)
  • Rowena (Trish/Andrew)

Boars:

  • Domenico (Andrew/Kereopa)
  • Dante (Mahia Love/Wilsons Gina)
  • Giuseppe (Tonganui/Wilsons Gina)
  • Benedetto (Ru/Wilsons Gina)
  • Luigi (Andrew/Trish)
  • Lorenzo (Tutaneki/Wilsons Gina)

Meishans:

  • General Tso (USDA) Boar
  • Kung Pao (Iowa/Illinois) Boar
  • Moo Shu(Illinois/Iowa) Gilt
  • Shu Mai (USDA) Gilt

 

Hog Butchering Class at Greenbrier Farms

A couple weeks ago, My Mom and I attended a hog butchering class at Greenbrier Farms. Everyone that was at the event split into groups of eight and processed half a hog under instructions from a very good chef. He also taught us all the different cuts of meat on the hog.

I was originally anxious of the event as I had never done something like it before. But by the end of the event I was very proud of myself being the only kid there and I enjoyed it. In the future if we ever process or need to process a pig we can do so as we have the knowledge to do so now.

This was my first time processing a large four legged animal. I have only processed chickens and quail before this.

After we finished processing the half hog we split the meat among all eight of us, and enjoyed a delicious meal that they made for us. I am very glad I went to the event as I learned a lot of skills I never knew before.

My Mom and I have only cooked the pork chops so far. I am more used to the meat from a lard pig but these chops were very good. The biggest part that was different to me was the size of the chops.

Our Heritage Breed Blanc De Hotot Rabbit has Finally Given Birth!

Getting our two Blanc De Hotot does Adelaide and Antonia pregnant has been a long process of moving the buck in and out and waiting to see if he did his job. On our fourth try at the end of December he finally bred our two Does.

I wrote a post a while back explaining the History of the Blanc De Hotot Rabbit. If you want to know more about them here is a link to the post.

Adelaide had her babies today on January 26th. She started pulling her fur out earlier in the day and I was very happy to see her do it, it meant babies were on the way. Getting our does pregnant has been very hard and we were going to get them bred by someone else’s buck if they didn’t give birth.

We made a nesting box a couple days before so she could get used to it. We made it out of some of our scrap wood, but you can get one already made for different sized rabbits.

She has given birth to four babies, but one died. Blanc De Hotot rabbits usually have 4-6 babies in a litter. Adelaide hasn’t had any more babies in two hours since the original four. So we think she is done delivering.

This is our doe Adelaide’s first litter and our first on the farm. Our other doe, Antonia, should be having her babies in a couple days as we bred her after Adelaide. I hope she’s pregnant.

I think the babies look like baby rats. They will look super cute in a couple weeks but for now they don’t fit the adorable baby animal theme.

Adelaide’s nose is all bloody due to her cleaning her newly born babies.

 

 

 

 

Solving our Water Problems with French Drains

There has always been a problem with water overflowing, over the pallet wall in the barn during a heavy rain. It runs through the barn and creates a little pond in front of our farrowing stalls. We finally figured out the best idea to fix this problem and it was the french drain.

The french drain, is a one or two foot deep trench that is filled with gravel and a long plastic pipe. The water runs down through the gravel and settles in the bottom of the trench. The holes on the bottom of the pipe will collect the water and then carry it to the end of the pipe.

The french drain may have been invented in France. but was popularized by Henry Flagg French. He was a lawyer and wrote a book in 1859 called Farm Drainage.

With only half of the drain done it did an amazing job in heavy rain. The barn would be a lake if not for the drain in the rain we had over the weekend. After getting gutters on the sides of the barn there will be little to no water problems in it.

I dug the french drain entirely by hand and shoveled and moved the gravel by hand. I still need to finish one more stretch of pipe then I am done. I think I have done a pretty good job and will create more drains for the gutters in front of our house.

 

 

 

 

 

Make Mine Meishan

In November, My Mom and I got our remaining two Meishan piglets for our herd. We’d been waiting for them to be born. We named them Shu Mai (Gilt) and General Tso (Boar).

In our Meishan herd we currently have two unrelated breeding pairs, We are breeding the USDA with the Iowa and Illinois lines for more genetic diversity. Shu mai (USDA), Moo Shu (Illinois-Iowa), Kung Pao(Iowa-Illinois) and General Tso (USDA).

Here is a link to an older post where I wrote about the History of the Meishan Breed.

Moo Shu is around a hundred thirty pounds and ready to be bred for Summer piglets. Meishans mature quickly and MooShu has gone through multiple heat cycles. She is going to be paired with General Tso who has been very sexually mature since nine weeks of age. Their piglets will be USDA-Iowa-Illinois piglets. It will be our first Meishan breeding at Corva Bella.

Shu Mai will be bred when she is older. She is still very small.

We also have a Meishan Barrow named Dim Sum, and he should be ready for processing in a couple months, I am very excited to try Meishan pork for the first time. I have heard and seen that it is more marbled than Kune pork.

Meishans are a very fast growing and maturing pig. General Tso is only three months old but he is ready to breed and is around the size of older Kune.

Moo Shu is my favorite Meishan we have. She has massive floppy ears the size of her head and is one of our most affectionate pigs. I can’t wait to see her first litter of piglets.

Quote from Ricardo Silvera of Gods Blessing Farm, founder of the American Meishan Breeders Association

(Corva Bella) is one of 5 farms currently that have all three research bloodlines in their herd. In addition you are only the second farm in North America that will be able to produce genetically diverse Meishan breeding pairs featuring all three bloodlines for your customers. You guys are truly on the leading edge of this incredible breed.

It is and amazing opportunity that My Mom and I have gotten. I am in love with this beautiful floppy eared breed of pig and can’t wait for what we will do in the future with it.

 

 

Forest Pastures Part 2 – Fencing

Today, I am writing the second part of my forest pasture expansion posts. I am going to be writing my experience of fencing it in today.

We hired our friends the Shirley’s to come help us fence in the new area. My Mom and I helped out the entire time and I learned a couple things I didn’t know before. It was an amazing feeling seeing the paddocks come together piece by piece. I helped pound in t-posts , dig holes and carry rolls of wire , etc. I really enjoyed helping them out. After finishing the fence we had to move boars into their new area. We carried/moved them all into their new home after the struggle of catching them.

All the pigs have really been loving it. Instead of sleeping all day they are either foraging or exploring down in the second pasture.

My Mom and I quickly made a temporary pig hut out of pallets, tarps and the frame of a chicken tractor. It is doing a good job, but hopefully in the future we can build something more permanent.

The fencing may be done but there is still a lot of brush and trees in the pasture. My Mom and I have been moving mass amounts of the leftover brush, logs and trees into burn piles inside the pastures. When we move the pigs into one of our rejuvenating pastures we will burn them.

With all the fencing My Mom and I have helped with we have learned a lot of skills from it. We are planning to try and do some fencing on our own for a meat pig area.

This was our second major expansion in under a year. My Mom and I have made a ton of progress and It feels amazing to look out and see it everyday. I can’t wait to see what sort of expansions we do in 2017.