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.

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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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Why Pastured Pork Is Awesome

In the past I have had a lot of commercial pork. It has always been that dry, tasteless white meat. Now I have had the experience of raising my pork since it was young, knowing it’s living conditions and feeding it an amazing diet of forage, GMO-free food and lots of produce. Sadly most people these days don’t take this into consideration when they buy pork not knowing where is comes from.

Pastured pork  from our KuneKune pigs is absolutely delicious. Kunes are a lard breed so their meat is fattier and richer than a commercial meat hog. Now that I have had the experience of eating it I can never eat that dry white super market pork ever again. It is extremely juicy, fatty, and tender. So far have made pulled pork twice, pork chops and meat sauce with the pork and it is amazing. Not only is it scrumptious, there and countless reasons why you should support your local farmer and buy pastured pork. Read why below.

In factory farming the area where they keep the hogs are known for the deplorable conditions. No space at all, no sunlight, a diet of all soy and grain, no pasture and no fresh air. All these things are very stressful on the pig. Pastured pigs live in the polar opposite of this. Pastured pork is also much more nutritious. It contains more vitamin E, vitamin D and more fatty acids which is healthier for us. They are also not given any unnecessary antibiotics or growth stimulators. In one of these buildings where the pigs are kept there can be up to ten thousand hogs all crowded together. Compared to where we usually have six pigs with a pasture all to themselves.

Another example of the bad conditions is a gestation crate. This is where a mother is kept while she nurses her piglets. She has barely any room, no outdoor access or sunlight. Compared to a massive farrowing stall where one of our pigs farrow with access to the outdoors, hay, etc

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Factory farming creates a lot of animal manure. The manure from over ten thousand pigs, is added in “manure lagoons”. These lagoons get overflown with rain water and it spills into the ground and groundwater. The manure is filled with high levels of nitrogen and pathogens that kill off fish when it reaches a body of water, The Gulf Of Mexico for example is filled with this runoff from the Mississippi River.

Due to around ten thousand pigs living so close in bad conditions there is a lot of antibiotics that are given to the pigs to stop disease. When you eat the commercial meat it is filled with these antibiotics. When you eat more and more you gain immunity to antibiotics in general and they don’t work as well.

Soon My Mom and I will be making a dish with pork tenderloin for the first time. I am very excited to make it and share the recipe with you.

All our pastures now have shelters!

As of yesterday, all of our pastures now have a shelter. we made a four pallet shelter which I will tell you how to make as it is super easy and took us less than three hours to make. (They are also cheap for how nice they are)

Here are all the materials you will need:

  • 4 Pallets (Free from a lot of places)
  • 2 fence posts ( $8 each)
  • 4 2x4s ( $2.50 each)
  • Wood fencing slats (we got some for 1.30 at Lowes we used around 20 of them)
  • Two sheets of corrugated plastic roofing ( $13 a sheet)
  • Wood screws (8×2)
  • Roofing nails

First lay down the pallets in a square. Next connect the pallets together with the fencing slats, Then add the 2x4s on top with the wood screws and nail the plastic roofing on top. Dig two post holes 20 inches deep attach them to the pallet with the slats vertically. We added all the boards horizontally as is makes it look better. The shelter costs around 100 dollars which is cheap for how nice they are.

These shelters are my favorite shelter we have built so far. We are also going to put a cedar colored water proof stain on it. It will help protect the shelter rain, sun, wind, etc

We will add fresh hay soon.

We have been working on our chicken tractors for a bit now. I will write a post about them soon on how to build them so you can if you want to as well.

Heritage Breeds Week

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This week in between May fifteenth and twenty first the yearly The Livestock Conservancy’s Heritage Breeds Week is being held. Each year, during the third week of May it is celebrated, 2015 was the first year the event occurred.

The week’s goal is to raise awareness towards Heritage Breed livestock and poultry as these breeds have been replaced with newer mass production animals. Farms are encouraged to do farm tours, workshops, or lectures to raise awareness.

Next year it would be cool to arrange an event through my 4-H Heritage Breeds Club so we can show our animals at an event.  I would like to do this as it is funny to see people not know what my pigs are and then explain it all.

Our farm just became a member of The Livestock Conservancy.

Come read about the event more here 

 

Farm Extravaganza

The past week at Corva Bella has been a hectic one. We got a huge amount of work done and it feels awesome. Chicks hatched, electric fencing was completed, Vladimir arrived, and some pullets started laying their first eggs. After around twenty hours of work the last few pastures got hot wired completely finishing the circuit. It is doing its job very well keeping Vlad and the pigs off the fence after a couple painful shocks.

Speaking of Vlad, we got him this week. He was delivered on an animal delivery truck. When they first got him out, I was amazed at how huge his paws were. He is the fluffiest and most funny dog I have ever met. He is doing a better job than we could have ever imagined, already getting used to his animals, being defensive of his property against unknown things and knowing to not mess with the chickens the pigs, or our house dogs. In about six months time we will get him a partner.

During the weekend we had a bunch of amazing people come out to help us put together garden beds, a greenhouse and spread hay and rake up some mulch. We all worked very hard and all got red as a lobster from the sun. Thank you Michael Shirley for letting us into the group- its amazing to be apart of it.

Twenty Two days ago we put thirty two eggs in the incubator to hatch. Two days ago the baby chicks started to pip at the egg shell (Baby chicks have a special thing on their beak that lets them break the egg shell. At the end of the time they are in the egg they will break the egg by pushing on it to break it) Seventeen are alive, ten haven’t done anything and four were presumed dead when my Mom candled them. We got ten lavenders, four blacks, two blue and one splash. We set up brooders and heat lamps and the chickens are growing up in them. This week our Easter Eggers and Barred Plymouth Rocks started laying very small eggs.

Next week, we are going to rake up the rest of the mulch and seed our pastures to get them all nice and green for the pigs.

Meet Vladimir, Ruler Of Peace!

The Karakachan is a high energy, independent, working guard dog. It is one of Europe’s oldest dog breeds. It originated from Bulgaria as a livestock guardian dog and as an army watchdog. The breed is very rare in the United States since it came here not long ago. They can also be called a Bulgarian Shepherd or a Thracian Mollos. Their life span averages 12-14 years. Full grown Males can get up to 90-120 pounds and Females can get 60-90 pounds.

Livestock Guardian dogs are a very important part of a homestead. They protect your animals from predators as well as your property. The Karakachan is very loyal towards it’s owners and they will not even hesitate to fight wolves or bears. They are very docile and social  with people they know. However, they will start acting aggressively by growling and barking if a stranger or predator gets near their herd and will attack them if they get too close.

In 3 Months we are going to get 2 litters of piglets so it is very important to get Vlad since piglets can be carried away by hawks. He is going to be very busy.

Vlad is being delivered in a month. We are getting him from Chaos Acre Farms, who breed Karakachans. I am glad that we will have something that will be able to protect our pigs and chickens. A kunekune breeder who granted me my sows through 4-H recommended this breed to us, because she uses them with great success. For the wildlife that live around our homestead, such as Coyotes, stray dogs, bears and smaller pests like raccoons, possums and foxes- the Karakachan is the best choice. We named Vlad after Vladimir Putin since he owns a Karakachan named Buffy. Vladimir also means “Ruler Of Peace” and since he will be keeping peace on the farm it seems fitting.

Here are Vlad’s parents.