We've just come out of our first cold snap- a couple of weeks of -20, with its usual pipe freeze ups. A trial run before the deep chill of late December through February. However, I was reminded just recently that "only fools and newcomers predict the weather." We've been here coming on 10 years now, so we're still newcomers. I think it takes at least two decades before were living in the Blomquist place- but what the heck, we're not going anyplace.
I think there comes a time when a Homestead needs to make a decision about where it is going. We seem to have reached that point. Expand the farm, or shrink it back to a hobby farm. Our worry was that we wouldn't be able to sale what we could produce. Thankfully, so far that's not been a big problem.
We've been doing a lot of research on the farming gig. A lot of hoops to jump through. Most of it, total crap designed to keep the small producer out of the game. If I was the teeniest bit paranoid I would think it's all set up to keep food Co in business.
increasing the pigs mean more bedding . Fortunately hay was plentiful and relatively inexpensive. The most expensive was $3.00 and we scored a 100 bales for $1.00. We picked up an old John Deere in good running order complete with bucket and it came with a good heavy disk and working baler. Were short a rake and a way to Whack it down from making our own. We scored a hay elevator and could easily put the winters supply in the hay lofts. This year we stored it outside 9 to a pallet and shift it with a Skid steer equipped with forks. We've been making do with an an old Case Skid Steer but it needs a complete hydraulic rebuild so we replaced it with a newer diesel unit that came with a dirt bucket, 4 way bucket, a 6 way grader blade, log grapple, rototiller and a sweeper. It will make chores and driveway maintenance a bit easier.
We raised 100 meat birds. As you can tell we had lots of help from the doggies and didn't lose a single one to predators. We used the chicken tractor shown, but added another set of retractable wheels for ease of moving. The Cornish Cross's are an amazing grower. They convert half of their food intake to succulent meat. We raised two batches, and left the second batch get a bit too big. We dined on a 10.5 pounder for at least four meals!
The pig herd keeps growing. We have three boars now. Two Berkshires and Polka Dot our Duroc/Berkshire cross.
Right now he's on loan to a fellow farmer. We have our doubts about Berkie, our two year old boar. Does a lot of going through the motions but I think the big Yorkshire sows are just too big for him. And he has something not right with his rear legs so we just recently picked up another boar who is a handsome 3 month old fellow. Right now he takes over Polka Dot's den and yard just incase of any territorial trouble with the resident Berkie. Besides we want to introduce him gradually to the other. So in total we have Two berkshire boars, one Duroc/Berkshire boar, Five Berk gilts, Three Berk barrows ,Five Yorkshire sows and one Yorkshire gilt. So that's a total of 17 oinkers. Or as Jo-Ann likes to call them: Peeeegs. That is, when their being well behaved! Otherwise a few adjectives get added on. Our plan is to sale the yorkshire weiners come spring and make a whole lot of bacon, ham and sausage for the local farmers market.
This was our first year of farrowing our own piglets. Great experience with some downer moments but I suppose that's life on the farm.
If were going to make any money selling them we have to lower our input costs and buying weiners at $85 and up just isn't cost effective. We are trying to lower our feed costs but that is going to involve a whole 'nother adventure: growing our own grain. Next year were going to vastly increase the size of the gardens so we have Turnips, Spuds, Carrots and perhaps Mangles to feed them over the winter. Of course that will demand a commercial size cold storage unit. Were thinking a buried 40 foot container.
We tried some Turkeys this year.
Got them with the last set of meat bird chickens and kept them with them till about four weeks then moved them to their own enclosure. Generally it went well. Lost one to an undetermined predator, and one, a big tom to a respiratory illness. So were going to try some more next year - but were thinking of doing them in a turkey tractor. Next week we're going to process the remaining turkey hens as they are all destined to adorn someones Christmas table.