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!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Tick Tock.... Still Waiting For Piglets

Our girl, Marmalade, still hasn't farrowed.  I think it's probably a good thing due to the extremely cold temperatures we've been having.  

I guess the first breeding that we saw didn't "take".  I would rather be safe than sorry though and she lives the life of leisure in a warm, hay filled stall with plenty to eat and drink.  

Her belly keeps getting bigger and her teats grow daily so every day I expect to see some little ones before too terribly long.  

Warm stall.  Chowing down.

I guess everything in it's own good time!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Goodbye Christmas 2016

I guess it's time to take down the lights...

This picture is crazy blurry because I rushed out in my robe, freezing!, and rushed back in.  Don't you love the colored lights?  I liked the white light trend when it first came out - it looked so elegant - but now I've gone back to the colored twinkly lights of long ago.  I tried to go back to those big giant glass bulbs.  After cleaning up lots of paper thin shards of glass I decided they break far too easily and tangle like nobodies business!

I suppose the tree must be put away for another year too.  I call my tree theme "nostalgic".  Seriously though.  I'm not into themed trees.  I like to put up all of the ornaments I've received or bought over the years and sit in the evenings and relive the memories of when they came into my life.   

Again, my mantel decorations are nostalgic.  They were gifts or things that we picked up in our travels.  Memories!

Two beautiful gifts. 

Now winter has closed in with a freezing vengeance.  We're in the bleak days of winter.  But, I just saw something that said there were only 10 Mondays until spring!  

Still no piglets.  We turned on the heat lamp because inevitably our gilt will farrow on the coldest night of the year!  

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Welcome 2017!

Happy 2017!

This is what New Year's Eve looks like in Potter County.  We had a great big bonfire and sledding down the neighbor's hill.  We employed snowmobiles to pull the children (and adults) back up the hill.  

Fun and frosty times! 

Warming up between sled rides!

This is what the snack  and drink table looks like when a great big snow squall comes roaring through and coats everyone and everything!

On New Year's Eve day, we moved our gilt, Marmalade, into the farrowing stall.  We're on piglet watch.  you can see her belly is getting round and her teats are really starting to show!

On New Year's Day, I went out to the chicken coop to find a dead chicken with it's head eaten off.  This is almost always the work of a opossum.  

So, I set out the live trap with the chicken carcass and then finished my chicken and turkey tending chores.  Then, on a whim, I thought I better check the nesting boxes.  I walked into the chicken coop from the very bright, snowy, outside into the dim interior and began lifting the feed sack curtains from the nesting boxes.  

On the second one, I saw something strange, but because of the light change, my eyes hadn't adjusted, and I couldn't figure out what it was.  Then slowly as my eyes focused, I realized I was looking at an open mouth and a very sharp set of teeth!  

I did what most people did.  I shouted!  Then I ran back to the house yelling, "there's a fox in the chicken coop!"  My hubby, Fitz, came down to the coop with me and lifted the curtain.  It wasn't a fox at all, but what I had first expected when I saw the headless chicken... an opossum!  

It was quickly dispatched and I found it had killed not just one, but two of my chickens.  I feared there might be another 'possum lurking about and made sure the live trap was set....

...the next morning, I the trap door was shut....

...and this is why we use a live trap around the farm.  Our kitty, "Thug" had decided to investigate the dead chicken!  He wasn't hurt in any way, just very happy to see me and meowing to get out.  

Happy New Year!