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.

 

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!

 

 

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.

Compost Garden Update

A couple months ago, I wrote a post about our compost garden (Here is a link). The garden has done a lot lately so I thought an update would be good.

This is the poop garden a couple months ago. We just started adding manure from the pastures into it. The plan was to let it break down into compost and grow watermelon, cantaloupe, pumpkins, etc after the poop broke down for about a year.

 

This is the compost garden now. As you can see it has grown quite a bit. A couple weeks ago, watermelon started growing in the compost. Which is shocking since we thought stuff couldn’t grow in it unless it composted for a year, but I guess all the produce that we fed the pigs started growing. There is around thirty watermelons growing out there. My Mom also planted some different types of watermelon, pumpkins, sunflowers and some tomatoes. This is awesome as we can give watermelons to the pigs early.

The ongoing goal is to keep expanding the garden till there is no room left for it. In a year when the poop is completely broken down we will start planting stuff we will eat as well.

Updated Farm Goals: July 2016 “Mega Update”

Here is our list of updated farm goals. We are hoping to do one of these every three months to see what we got done and catch you up with what’s going on on the farm. 

This post written by Connor and Cristiana.

 Check out our photo gallery, then scroll down to see what we got done and what’s up next!

PIGS

Accomplished:

  • Shelters & two farrowing stalls– DONE
  • Fence – DONE, but will be expanding woodlots in the Fall
  • Rotational grazing – DONE, pasture management- in progress
  • Frodo DNA Test – DONE, unfortunately inconclusive. Since Frodo can’t be registered, we will be processing him within the next few months, as we can’t have an intact/unregistered boar in our herd.
  • 2 Sows bred and on homestead – DONE
  • Not on the January list, but we got a Karakachan livestock guardian dog and are training him to be full time with the pigs. DONE- but training is constant!
  • Piglets born April/May- DONE! Cassie farrowed 4/21, Chickie farrowed 5/2 for a total of 11 live piglets out of 12.
  • Build small pig shelters in rotational pastures for summer shelter – DONE
  • Sell higher quality piglets for breeding or pets, keep lower quality for meat- IN PROGRESS. We sold a few piglets as pets, are keeping one as a herd barrow, possibly donating two barrows into 4H and raising two larger gilts out for processing.
  • Built sun shade areas for pigs in each pasture with wallows, kiddie pools and rain barrel watering systems.
  • Built another small piglet pasture, safe within the central garden area. Also can be used for warm weather farrowing if we add crush rails to the shelter.
  • Learned all about vaccinating pigs for various things, how to give vaccinations and establish a vaccination/worming schedule. The importance of herd immunity, even on a small farm or homestead. We are keeping an online, detailed health record for each pig and litter of piglets.

Upcoming Pig Goals:

  • Frodo and Tiberius to processing at Carolina Grower’s Group. This will be our first experience with Kunekune pork, which is supposed to be amazing pastured pork. We’ve been giving these guys the best diet possible- Non-GMO feed, lots of grazing pasture and supplemental produce. And love. They will provide food for us for many months, lard for cooking and soap making, and other parts ground for use in making dog treats!
  • Welcoming our new registered piglets from Suwannee Valley Kunekunes! We worked hard on a business plan and application for the USDA Youth Loan, and it’s been accepted, allowing us to finally have registered Kunekunes here on our farm. We welcome Hilda- a ginger Jenny/Andrew gilt, Anna- a black/white Rona/Tonganui gilt, Dante- a cream/tri Mahia Love/Wilson’s Gina boarling, Giuseppe- a black/white Tonganui/Wilson’s Gina boarling
  • Building a new pair of sleeping stalls, on higher ground- in our central pasture area. We’ve had water drainage issues! Possible plans might be creating another carport barn with two large and very secure stalls- one for boars, one for sows… they would sleep in these stalls and be moved out to their pasture areas early in the morning. This will help us keep them separate and prevent any accidental breedings.
  • Dealing with water drainage issues in farrowing stalls and barn- we need to install a series of gutters, and lean-to roofs, rain barrels and water cachement/drainage. Our farrowing stalls quickly became flooded when the Spring rains began… we hope these upgrades will solve the problem.
  • Adding two square woodlot pastures in back- these will be nice large, shaded pastures. Plentiful area to forage, lots of oak trees dropping acorns.
  • Continued pasture management/seeding- We are working hard at removing weeds and trees from the pasture that pigs won’t eat. It’s been hard to get any new seed established during what’s been an extremely dry and hot summer. We also got two goats to help eat down the weeds.
  • Revamping electric fencing- we turned the electric off during farrowing and while the piglets grew up, and it has been damaged in many places by the pigs and our LGD during that time. We have a lot of work to do on it.
  • Adding a second breed of pig to our herd. This is a surprise! We’ve put a deposit down on a breeding pair of a unique, Heritage Breed pig. The gilt should be born soon, and the boar in the Fall. We’ll tell you more soon…
  • Experiment with growing Fodder for Chickens and Pigs to eat in winter.

CHICKENS

Accomplished:

  • Chicken coops assembled – DONE
  • Safe chicken runs made (three of them) – DONE
  • Getting eggs by spring– DONE
  • Eggs to sell- DONE
  • Selling chicks/hatching eggs– DONE
  • Our chicken goals have advanced quickly! Not only did we meet mostly all our goals, we exceeded them. We have three Ameraucana breeding pens, a group of laying hens just for eggs (Easter Eggers/Barred Rocks), a breeding trio of black mottled bantam Cochins, and two Silkies, one which is currently sitting on a nest. We started incubating eggs and hatching chicks, and have 27 Ameraucana chicks growing out right now. We will choose the best of them for next year’s breeding pens.
  • Building chicken tractors to move breeding groups to pasture area- the area where we built our runs is very wet, so it isn’t a good place for them. – ONE COMPLETE, THREE IN PROGRESS
  • Get some meat chickens to raise out- IN PROGRESS
  • Get some bantam Cochin chicks- DONE – we have buff barred, smooth and frizzle black mottled Cochins, all hatched on our farm
  • Choose chickens to use for breeding program, and sell the rest.
  • Guinea eggs are in the incubator, and hatching at end of month. We want guineas for tick control and because they’re so cool to watch.- DONE, 14 guineas are growing out!
  • Possibly quail- for meat and eggs- DONE, 23 quail grown and due to lay their first eggs
  • Possibly NPIP testing in the Fall, so we can ship hatching eggs and chicks- IN PROGRESS, waiting for appt. times.
  • Experiment with growing Fodder for Chickens and Pigs to eat in winter.

Upcoming Goals:

  • Completing chicken tractors for our breeding pens (3-4 remaining, first one turned out awesome)
  • Choosing which birds we keep to breed. Unwanted roosters will be sold, or processed for our freezer.
  • Getting NPIP/AI certification so we can sell/ship hatching eggs/chicks
  • Awaiting our first quail eggs and learning how to process quail for meat. Possibly selling quail eggs, or hatching more quail to sell.
  • Releasing guinea fowl to free range, once they are NPIP/AI tested and leg banded.
  • Moving small wood chicken coops to a more shady area. Will require some man-power!
  • Reworking quail pen frame and putting a roof over it

GARDEN GOALS

Accomplished:

  • Got garden beds assembled, thanks to an Upstate Farmers Helping Farmers event at our farm.
  • Built a cattle panel trellis between beds – DONE
  • Greenhouse halfway assembled- This greenhouse assembly was way past our skill set, so thank goodness for Upstate Farmers Helping Farmers!
  • Getting garden beds filled with mulch, compost, soil- DONE
  • Start seedlings or go to a plant sale to start summer garden, since we missed out on Spring preparation– DONE
  • Planting berry bushes- DONE, kind of- we got 4 blueberry bushes.
  • Finish greenhouse – need to add panels, windows and door. – NOT DONE!
  • Plant fruit trees – Apples, Pears, Peaches, Figs- DONE
  • Winter crops in greenhouse- NOT DONE, it’s not winter!
  • Selling produce– NOT DONE, maybe next year…

Upcoming Goals:

  • Add compost/soil to remaining metal raised beds
  • Start planning Fall planting
  • Continue adding compost to the “no till poop garden”
  • Work on establishing/planning perennial beds of herbs and things like artichokes, asparagus, etc…
  • Finish Greenhouse

OTHER GOALS:

  • Continue learning how to build things to use around the farm- pens, fencing, coops and hutches, etc. – STILL LEARNING< BUT WE BUILT A LOT OF STUFF!
  • Research heritage breed rabbits and choose a breed.- DONE! We now have a breeding trio of rare Blanc de Hotot rabbits.
  • Build a rabbit hutch- HAD ONE BUILT FOR US in trade for a piglet, and it’s wonderful.