Monday, May 28, 2012
Our new weaned piglets are growing fast! This is a shared project with the neighbors. So their pig is named Anthony (black spots) and ours is Butterscotch for his brown shoulders. They are eating apple pumice, commercial pig food softened with whey, brewers grain, and whatever vegetable scraps I can produce from the garden. My daughters are urged not to clean their plates, since any leftovers go to you-know-who. They are very friendly, personable and smart. No escapes to report, but I'm sure one is imminent.
These two little boars, in addition to our three buck goats are helping to even out the hormonal imbalance of the farm. My husband was feeling severely outnumbered by our lactating goats and laying chickens.
Our 15 Guineas are beginning to free-range on tick patrol. It's difficult not to worry constantly about their well-being and commitment to return to the coop in the evening. These birds are definitely not like chickens. When they are old enough, I will attempt to sex them and report back on the fluctuating ratio of testosterone to estrogen.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
This month began with sending the goat kids to new happy homes, which meant weaning, deworming, hoof trimming, shots and demonstrations to new owners. Last week we added two new goats to the herd, a yearling doe from remarkable milk lines and a week-old buckling with even better potential. It's good to add some genetic diversity every year. I have no interest nor enough knowledge to begin line-breeding (inbreeding) our animals. We want to improve our foundation herd by breeding to the best dairy quality animals that we can afford. Of course that sounds like an advertising line, but I want to be a responsible breeder with an eye on conformation and dairy potential. I want our girls to have what it takes to win in the show ring, if my daughters ever chose to exhibit with 4-H.
We will pick up our piglets this week. Of course, there's much work that still needs to be done before then. I converted our old milking stand (formerly a failed garden cart) into a crate to transport the piggies. Today, I will finish installing their electric fence and get the food/water stations ready. The orchards in our area have apple pumice for the taking, so I'll plan a dumpster dive adventure for the two little boars. As a heritage cross of Tamworth/Berkshire/Old Spot, they will grow until slaughter in November. I have 4 gallons of whey waiting for their arrival and at least three households worth of compostables. Any volunteer pumpkin or mystery squash plants get transplanted in the piggie patch for fall eating. Having the pigs will also push me to set aside time for more homebrewing, since any spent grain will find its way into their slop trough.
Every two or three days, we spend the morning hours making a hard cheese. My goal is to put up 24 2.5 kilo rounds of Gouda for our annual consumption. We really cannot eat any more than this without damaging arteries. We've been dairying for two months and with seven 3 lb wheels of cheese, I'm already a third of the way to this goal. Any excess cheese will be used to barter for other edibles we've either run out of or would like to have. We have exchanged cheese for perennial starts of sunchokes, horseradish, rhubarb, pickles, garlic, and a half pint of cassis, which went entirely too fast.
In the meantime, we have also achieved two long-term goals by starting an outdoor mushroom patch and fishing Lake Champlain from a boat. I'll post some other time about the mushrooms, if any chance to grow. Taking the girls (4.5 and 1.5 yrs old) fishing in a canoe was a better adventure and provided a solid dinner of yellow perch. It would have made my father smile, I think.