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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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

 

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!

 

 

Clearing the Forest for our Silvopastures

Due to us needing more pasture and an area to raise grow outs for meat My Mom and I are creating pastures called Silvopastures in the forest. Silvopastures are when you combine clumps or lines of trees into a pasture. The trees provide shade, shelter and better soil.

Here are some examples of Silvopastures I have found. Our Silvo pastures will be growing more forage/nuts our land isn’t flat and we will have more clumps of trees. But it will still be a Silvopasture.

Our fencing for these pastures will start this weekend. I am going to write a post on it when we get it all done at the end of the month.

We are getting the forest cleared out for the pastures currently. The soil in the forest is mulched down by leaves and old trees, it should be a lot easier to grow forage there than red clay. The pigs will also be able to eat fallen nuts. With the leftover brush we are creating hugelkultur beds and we will burn and chip some of it.

When we get forage/grasses and the fencing up for the pastures I will share before and after pictures. But for now here are some photos of the forest being cleared.

 

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.

My Farming Experience

Four years ago I led a very different life from what I have now. I went to public school, played video games more than I spent time outside and we shopped at Whole Foods. We started a small container garden in our backyard and we started hiking a lot.

We eventually moved closer to the mountains, away from the city and started talking about having a small farm of some goats and chickens. When we started researching stuff for a farm we thought we were just going to have two or three Kunes and some chickens. Now we have seven KuneKune pigs, a litter of four piglets, three rabbits, fourteen evil guineas, four goats, thirty six quail, fifteen laying hens, ten bantams (Silkies/Cochins), two Meishans arriving on Thursday and twenty five lavender Ameraucanas. A lot more than we originally planned!

I can’t imagine life without farming now, it would seem so boring without. Caring and loving for a ton of animals everyday is a lot of work, but it feels amazing to do so. Farming has made me feel more useful in life. While before my biggest concern before was picking out gelato at Whole Foods, I now am keeping animals alive. I have learned a ton of new skills like how to build things, how to take care of animals, quick problem solving, business skills, how to run a farm and a lot more. Overall the best thing overall is piglets though. They are little balls of sunshine.

When I grow up am going to be a full time farmer. I will have my massive herd of Kunes and Meishans with no guineas.

My next blog post is going to be about planning the best breedings with our pigs.