Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Maple Season Freight Train


Maple Season came upon us like a freight train.  One day we're looking out at below zero temperatures and the next day the snow melted and suddenly we have to start tapping trees right now!

So, we get outside and get to work!  Lo and behold the sap is running and we're actually getting splashed a little bit as we pound the spiles into the tree!






I love maple season.  After spending a sedentary winter it feels so great to get outside and walk up and down the mountains, over trees and through brush, feeling the ground soften beneath your feet and noticing all the little wonders of the forest.  

Sometimes you come across something strange and wonderful.. like the remains of a tree that once grew around a previous generation's barbed wire fence and now has decomposed into artful and fantastic shapes.  





Now I need to get out into the forest and work on getting all those taps done and boiling started.  We're behind the curve as our neighbor maple producers are boiling already! (Granted, they have a lot more young labor to help them out in the forest :  )  )

On a final note.  Does anyone know where I can find a drain plug for a Red Lion Semi-trash pump? Model 6RLAG-2ST.  Just the plug....











Tuesday, February 7, 2017

It's Not Always Bucolic On The Farm


While I was cleaning stalls yesterday I heard piglets screaming.  I ran to see what was happening because I feared they were being injured!


This is what happens when two piglets want the same thing....

Just like kids!






Sunday, February 5, 2017

No Whey!





A homemade yogurt-making friend saved the leftover whey from the draining process for me to give to my pigs.  They weren't too sure about solid foods yet.... now a few days later they're going nuts for it!




But as well as the food with whey, they found my boots to be fascinating.  




I don't know if they were licking my boots for the dirt on them, but I've read that if piglets have a mineral deficiency you should throw in a shovel full of dirt.  I did just that and they poked around at it.  So I'll continue to make sure they can get to dirt and minerals as they grow.  

You have to admit, that last picture is adorable!




Saturday, January 28, 2017

Nature Not Nasties


From a really cool farm in the UK...

...Riverford Organic Farmers


Pesticide use in farming is a complicated and controversial issue.

This four minute video explains why we choose to farm organically, and what concerns us about the current direction of agriculture, both in the UK and globally.






This four minute video mirrors Fitzgerald Family Farm's approach to farming and the environment.  What is deemed "safe" now can be found to be terribly unsafe in the future.  I strongly believe that it is possible to feed the world without destroying it.   

Plus, adding natural predators to the high tunnel is a wonderful idea.  Who doesn't love a high tunnel full of ladybugs?  






Thursday, January 26, 2017

Nine Bacon Bits And More Goings On




Sadly, we lost our runt piglet.  She seemed to be doing well and when I came out in the morning she was on her last gasps.  She may have been albino and I wonder that along with that she had other congenital differences.  

Now we have nine healthy piglets.  


Other than that they are all look great!  The red light is the heating lamp and I hate to turn it off.  I don't want them to get chilled!


Here you can get a look at all the lovely colors (we turned off the light for a second so that I could get a properly colored picture).  This was before the passing of our little white runt and you can see her on the left.  


The Bourbon Red turkeys jakes have been doing a lot of "strutting their stuff" lately.  Have you ever heard the sound turkey jake wings make when they vibrate them?  The jake droops the wings down like you see here, then they vibrate them at a very high speed.  It makes a very deep thrumming sound.  It must be part of their mating dance because they walk around all puffed out in a very stately manner and thrum.  

We have one lone hen and three jakes.  Two jakes have been showing off their stuff, but the one you see farthest to the right (below) hasn't shown interest.  I keep telling the poor girl that all of our hopes depend on her for our future flock!     








The horses got a good currying and brushing.  The weather has been unseasonably warm and the melting snow has turned everything into mud.  While I brush Sassy, the mustang, Bandit, the paint (the fuzzy teddy bear), tries to poke his head in to get his share of brushing.  Theeeeennnn they go outside and roll in the mud again.  Maddening!





In the evenings I've been painting.  I've been painting the galvanized lids to antique maple buckets.  These lids would snap on to the tops of the buckets and keep out debris and rain.  They're not used much anymore because buckets aren't used.  Most producers have gone to tubing that runs into tanks. 

I sell these from our sugar house, and they will be available during the Potter-Tioga Maple Weekend, March 18th and 19th, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.  We're not on the map this year because we joined after the brochure was printed.  We plan to be part of the tour and will be easy to find because we're between two maple producers who are on the brochure - Sons of Dunn Farm and Brydonson Farm.  We'll have signs out and be easy to find.   





Download Brochure (link to Maple Weekend site)

Finally, we have to give a big shout out to Cream 'n' Sugar in Coudersport for adding us on their Solomon's Words For The Wise ad.  You can't pass up this place for great coffee, soups, pastries, gifts, and ice cream!



Link to Solomon's




                        It's a regular stop on Fridays for Netra Baker's homemade baguettes.  

Ok, I'm bummed because my pictures above didn't post.  Click on the links and you'll see what I wanted you to see!

This is one of those situations where I could spend 45 minutes trying to figure out what went wrong or I can just move on and get to work on other things that need done.  








   




Friday, January 20, 2017

TEN Bacon Bits!


On Tuesday, January 18th, we had to go to hospital down in southern Pennsylvania for our son's ear surgery - all is fine.  With the contrariness of farm animals, Marmalade decided to farrow that day!  

Without further ado, here are pictures of Marmalades TEN piglets! 

(Please excuse the blurriness - they kept moving.  You'll be getting a lot more photos!)




Don't you just love the mix of colors?  I haven't sexed them yet. 

It's interesting that Flower never had such big litters.  We're going to breed her one more time - to William.  I'm interested to see if the lack of fertility was due to her or Tigger.  Marmalade is Tigger and Flower's daughter and her fertility is very good, so I have to wonder.  




Thursday, January 12, 2017

Yes. We're Still Waiting.....


I bet you're getting tired of looking at pictures of Marmalade.  She's pretty much my farm focus right now and then once she does farrow the piglets will hopefully be the focus.  This is her first litter, so I'm hoping she proves to be a good mom. 

I've read up on the indication that farrowing is getting near.

A few signs are that she builds a nest, gets restless, and stops eating.   Marmalade hasn't built a big nest yet, but she does create a "well" of hay where she sleeps.  No restlessness and she's definitely still eating!

Another sign is that her teats grow and bag out.


I think she's getting veeeery close!

Other signs are that the vulva slackens and begins to redden.



Looks about right.

And one other sign I've read about is that as the back muscles relax due to impending birth, the little sticking out "hood" starts to point straight out or up.


It looks like she's getting there

But I like best the one very sure way an old farmer said you'll know that your pig is going to farrow....

She's ready when you squeeze the teat and the milk hits you in the eye.

The weather is a little warmer now so we're past the crisis of birthing in horribly cold weather.  I'll keep you updated!