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

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Back to Writing! – Clearing of Forest Pastures

Today, I am back to writing on my blog at a normal schedule. I haven’t written in a while due to My Mom and I, being busy with big projects preparing for our spring piglet litters and the holidays. But I am going to get back into it and write about all of our projects and continue my Kunekune bloodline posts.

I am going to write a two part post about the clearing of our forest pastures and fencing it in. Today I am going to write about clearing the area.

This was our second major expansion in under a year. I can’t wait to see what our next year in farming has in store for us. We want to expand more into the forest and create multiple forest pastures for barrows and boars.

We hired Jordan Vick to clear out all the pine trees in the area. He cut down forty-five pine trees. I was surprised about how big they were and how a little skid steer could topple one of them. We decided to remove the pine trees since they serve no purpose in a forest pasture. They don’t provide any food, barely any shade and they are a very weak wood. They can break or fall over from weather and they have a short life cycle.

He hauled away all the pines and moved most of the brush for us into a big pile. We have been moving logs and brush into burn piles in the pastures for the past few months and we are making good progress.

Below are some photos of the clearing of the pasture area. The area has changed from a dense forest and will soon be a beautiful pasture. Our farm looks very different after the clearing. It was very awkward when I was outside and I wasn’t used to a once dense area being cleared out. I have gotten used to it and I like the change

Tomorrow I will be writing about the fencing in the pasture!

 

 

Our Livestock Trailer Before and After

A week ago we got our livestock trailer finished and brought it home. We got the trailer for the low price of only 500 dollars. We knew it would need some work but it would turn out better than some of the over priced trailers now days. Our friend Michael helped us refurbish the trailer. He made sure it was okay to drive, rewired it , painted parts of it black and sanded it. We still aren’t completely done with the painting as it stills has some spots we need to paint. But overall it is ready to be used.

When We Bought The Trailer: We got a really good deal on this trailer. All we needed to buy to refurbish it was paint and paint tools. Our friend already had extra wiring to use for it. In the end probably only costed around 600 dollars.

In Progress: Here are some in progress photos of the sanding and painting.

Here is a before and after comparison of when we got the trailer and when we finished it. It looks amazing now due to friends helping us clean it up. I can’t wait to use it for the first time.

 

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Grow Barley fodder for your Pigs!

Fodder is an easy and cheap way to supplement feed in your animals diet.  We created our DIY fodder system with just a shelf, a bunch of cheap aluminum pans from Dollar General and some small pieces of scrap wood. One fifty pound bag of seed can produce up to three hundred pounds of fodder. With this and collecting nuts we will end up feeding the pigs less than half of what we usually feed them. It also only takes nine days for it to completely grow so you can have batches going non-stop. It is crazy how fast the seed grows. In just a couple hours it grows a lot.

Things you will need:

  • One shelf
  •  Pans with holes on one end
  • Small pieces of wood
  • Barley Seed
  • A Bucket
  1.  Poke holes on one side of the tray and place all the pans on the shelf. Add a small piece of wood on the opposite side of the holes so water can drain.

2. Soak the barley seed in water for 24 hours. Make sure to not add more than a half inch of seed to the pan or it will mold. Make sure to water it three times a day. In the morning, afternoon and at night.

We took photos of the fodder everyday of the nine day cycle. Hover over the photos to see which day it is.

I think the pigs really enjoyed it. I enjoyed them throwing and running  around with it for sure. We want to make a fodder growing area that isn’t in a shower so we can grow a crazy amount as it is very healthy and lowers our feed costs.

 

Forest Pasture Expansion

When we bought our land, we originally thought we would have a couple pigs and chickens but we have the opposite. We are starting to raise more pigs out for pork and we don’t have enough pasture space or a big enough budget to deforest an area or buy more pasture land. So we are going to work with what we have.

We are going to make multiple forest pastures for growing out barrows. We are going to clear out all the dead and small trees and plant forage mix where the natural grass is growing. We want to start feeding our pigs organic feed but it is very expensive. So having alternate feed sources like acorns, hickory nuts, fodder , natural grasses, grubs and bugs would help lower our feed costs. With the leftover scrap wood from all the trees we cut down we are going to use them for raised garden beds for our back and front yard. With all the produce we grow we will feed the pigs while lowering our feed costs.

The garden beds we are making are called Hugelkultur beds. They are raised beds made up of stacking old wood, manure, compost and dirt into long straight beds. We will have so much wood and already have so much pig poop we will have a ton of these beds growing sweet potatoes, squash and other plants to feed to the pigs. We are going to put these beds in our backyard since they will be very close to the pigs and I won’t need to cut grass if we could ever get it to grow.

We can also use the wood for wood chips for farrowing stalls, chickens runs and the garden. We can also use it for firewood to keep our house warm in the winter.

I can’t wait till we have these forest pastures ready. I think they are an amazing place for growing out barrows. They are super shady, natural wallows and delicious things to eat. I think it will turn out amazing.