Moo Shus Very Special First Litter

Hello everyone, thank you for reading my newest blog post. I know I haven’t written in a long time. My Mom and I have been very busy in the past few months. I am going to start writing at least one post per week as the school year has started up again. Here is a post about Moo Shu’s first litter.

The litter is out of Gods Blessing Farm MooShu (Illinois/Iowa) and Gods Blessing Farm General Tso (USDA/USDA). This was our first litter of Meishans and was the first litter in the country to combine all three of the research herd lines.

MooShu was huge for last few weeks before her farrowing. She had us worried about her! At one point her belly was actually touching the ground it was so low. After having the piglets she bounced back. We got her back to a normal weight shortly after.

These babies were such a relief compared to the Kunekune piglets. Not only was Moo Shu an exceptional mother, The piglets quickly learned to leave Moo Shu alone while she was eating and to move quickly out of the way when she laid down. Those are some of my favorite things about the meishans. As we didn’t have to worry about them getting crushed so easily like the kunes.

Here are some pictures of the babies only a couple days old. It was surprising to see them up and moving outside at just a day old, usually the kunes would take a couple days.

Moo Shus farrowing night was on May 17 and it was a long one. She started building her nest in the middle of the night and decided to go with a more natural decoration so she pulled a forest of privet into the farrowing stall. She also broke out the farrowing gate twice for a midnight snack. She eventually settled down and had ten babies the next afternoon.

We honored General Tso the sire of this litter that sadly passed, by naming our pick of the litter boar General Tso Jr. We are also going to retain one or two gilts. We will name one of them Dim Sum after our first barrow.

Our next Meshian litter due October 17th will be our gilt Shu Mais first litter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

 

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.

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!