Monday, December 28, 2009

News you can use

Another beef recall, affecting mostly western states. E. Coli is present in beef, but the particularly lethal strain only occures (in any amount) in beef who are fed grain enough to acidify (lowers the PH) the rumen. If they fed these cows grass for a couple of weeks (restoring the PH of the rumen) there'd be almost no lethal E. Coli in the cows at slaughter. Heck, it would probably would raise the price of the beef. Just too bad the CAFO owners wouldn't see that increase, only the folks at the end of the line (stores, distributors, etc.) CAFO owners would just see even smaller profits. Kind of hard to fix a system that bankrupts the producer for making a better or safe product.

On a cheerier note, a couple of more little ones went off to thier new home today. Yep, still doling out the fall litters (Big Momma had her babies much later than everyone elses). The older "babies" are touching 80#-100# now. Now that's a "BigLet" (piglet, biglet, get it?). The rest sould be homebound in the next week or so.

Just in time for the fisrt 2010 farrowing in the newly redesigned (10 pen) farrowing pens. WoHoo!


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Some stuff...

How about some memories of summer, fall and winter? Well I'm redesigning the pens for our January farrowing. They will farrow in huts outdoors, and I think all will be well. The very last of the (laready reserved) fall piglets will be leaving in the next few weeks, so we'll have smaller numbers on the farm for a couple of months.

Someday (maybe) I'll get these pigs on a breeding schedule. Probably next year, but no promises :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Food Fun Facts...

OK, it's official I'm only eating old lint and dirt. Nothing else is safe. Sigh. I just read an article in the Times, and it made me cringe. Especially the quote

"Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 300,000 Americans are hospitalized and 5,000 die from food-borne illnesses each year. Some 76 million are sickened"

That means the CDC estimates almost a quarter of us get some form of food poisoning every year. No wonder since the giants (Tyson, etc.) steadfastly refuse to test their foods for pathogens. I read somewhere that Costco does test its meats, pushes suppliers to do so and as a result Tyson won't do business with them. Maybe if WalMart would test it's incoming food (maybe they do?) suppliers would have no choice. Sure doesn’t seem like Congress is going to do anything about it.

I wish the lawyer in the article all the luck in the world. Sue them all penniless. I'll take $4/lb beef over a kid in a coma any day of the week.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Some Random Snaps of the Farm

A Midget White Turkey (that's the breed name) some Large Black Hogs and one senic shot. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Odds and ends

'Tis the season for farm repairs. I've got a number of parts for the Baler (NH 283) and my uncle is going to weld up one part they don't make any more (twine finger bar). I'll either be welding up the plunger shield or buying a new one. I think it's fixable. The fun part is I need a grinder to get the broken mounts off of the plunger and I need to make new ones. The shield was being held on by a single bolt. Nice. Also have remedied the hydro pressure reservoir leak, busted hay dog springs (why my knotter quit working) and have some new teeth. Oh, and I'll be replacing the bearing in the PTO shaft. In any event I should have one rock-em-sock-em baler in the spring.

I also finished replacing all the tires on the rake and it's ready to party as well.

Also resolved and issue with my draw bar hitch. My tractor (Kubota M6030 DTN) is an old orchard tractor, so the drag is to low for many draw attached implements. I had to put a draw bar on the 3 point. Problem is it kept the implement so far back that most of the PTO's didn't reach and required and extender. Hence the mangled bearing on my Baler.

Dave at Hard Rock Machine in Walla Walla made me a new draw bar hitch with a 4" rise that was the same thickness of metal and (other than the rise) dimensions as the factory draw bar. Now stuff attaches to the draw bar, PTO's reach and it's heavy enough to still drag the Harrow Bed around when it's loaded (10,000-12,000 lbs).

Ahhh the harrow bed. Some modifications will be made to that as well. I need to be able to manually activate a return valve (the spring is worn). Once every thing was greased, it runs like a champ. Not bad of an implement form 1965. Now if I could figure out how to use it without making "Hay piles." Practice makes perfect.

A passle of Goats will be heading to the freezer, new farrowing pens will be going in the shop (for winter farrowings) and I will be heading up to Deer Park in the not too distant future to grab 4 tons of feed (should get us to June or July).

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Still going...

The first sets of litters are heading out the door. It's been a lot of fun wrangling pigs and getting to meet my customers. Everyone has a neat story and they've all been a real pleasure to visit with. I don't know if it's just good luck, but I'll take it any way I can get it. Large Black Hog folks seem to be nice folks.

On another farm note, the "Worlds Greatest Volunteer Farm Hand" (uncle Kenny) brought over a Boar hut for the boar pen. It's amazing. I'll post pictures soon. He's agreed to work on a larger model for the farrow huts and I'll be saying goodbye to the hoop huts. Which is OK, since I need the fencing :)

I'll be designing the indoor farrow huts for the Winter farrowing (huts that will go inside the machine shop) and they should be no big deal to get built.

Its sunny and windy, the Saturday market was today (last of the season) and I got to chat with the Czholds, saw the Welcome Table Farm(ers) and chatted with another goat lady who's buck we'll be housing when he'd not at her place doing his regular job.

Good times. I really like fall. Now for the Candy collecting. Happy Halloween everyone!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Walla Walla Water News

As it turns out, water (water rights, conservation, irrigation) has become something of a hobby of mine. I'm sure I mumbled about it last year, but (for reasons to lengthy to recap) I ended up reading the Washington RCWs and WACs in relation to Water law and the Department of Ecology's rule making authority. If I had it to do over again, I'd go to law school and specialize in Water/Environmental law.

Anyway, I keep an eye on the local water board minutes, I peruse the DOE online activities and mine the site using Google. Man, I love the Internet.

So what? Well, water is going to be an ongoing bone of contention in Walla Walla. Has been for a long time and it won't be getting better. Here are some of my current observations and predictions.

* The Washington Attorney General recently issued an opinion (AGO Opinion 2009 No 6) stating that Ecology does not have the authority to curtail exempt well quantities. Ecology can close a basin to new exempt wells if there is not enough information, or if there is not enough water, but no tinkering with Statutorily established quantified. If Ecology allows an exempt well then (in the AGO's opinion) the users gets...

5000 gallons a day for domestic
5000 a day for industrial (including irrigation with no acre limit)
unlimited water for 1/2 acre yard and non-commercial garden
unlimited water for "stockwater" use

Ecology can close the basin, and/or require drop for drop mitigation, but not modify statutorily granted quantities. This is something I thought a year ago when I first read the WRIA 32 rule. The WAC concerning Ecology's rule making authority specifically prohibits superseding state law with a rule. Certainly removes some flexibility Ecology had.

* County governments and Ecology cannot get together to limit quantities on Exempt wells (if I am reading the AGO opinion correctly...and I think this is currently in litigation). Basically nether entity has the authority to modify statue (quantities allowed for exempt wells) and they cannot collaborate to grant themselves that authority.

* Walla Walla is still "watermasterless." From the stuff I have read, it doesn't look like much progress has been made to replace our last one. I hope something is done in the not too distant future. While I have mixed feelings about Ecology's behavior, analysis and general ability to consistently manage the states's largely because they're understaffed, underfunded and not having a "water cop" in Walla Walla is really not an option. I liked Bill (the old WM) and I think his presence (in the official role...he's now consulting locally) will be missed.

Oh yeah...if you have concerns or questions about what you can and cannot do, call a lawyer. I'm not one :)

Good news with the AM

Momma still has her 5 little monsters. I found another stillborn piglet born sometime after lunch yesterday. That has labor clocking in at something like 24 hours. Most of the stuff I read seems to indicate that it should have been a 2-3 hour affair. Perhaps the upgraded farrowing conditions will improve this. Most of the moms seem to take more like 5-7 hours to finish (some of the last pigs did live).

I'm still going to vaccinate for Parvo, but my money is on labor related strangulation for momma's babies. I could assist, but then I need long acting antibiotics if I want any hope of her farrowing again. And I would need to induce, which I may do with the next farrowing anyway. That way I can monitor and assist if needed.

Troubleshooting is something I really enjoy, so for now (crabby about losing pigs, head cold, post surgical knee and all) I am looking forward to my Hog future.

Amazing what 5 live pigs and a good night sleep can do for me :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Last farrowing for now.

Big momma farrowed last night. First time I was able to witness most of the action. The first baby was a tiny little thing. About three hours later (after we returned home from a short jaunt) there were 7 decent looking little ones, the original runt and three beautifully formed and completely "non-functional" stillborns.

Came back in the AM to find the runt passed (I expected this, I could get her on a teat, but other 7 were vigorously thrashing about and she could not stay attached) and I think 2 squishing.

So out of 11, I have 5. Well, that was as of lunch. If history has taught me anything, they may all be squished by now.

So much for "they don't squash." I officially declare that idea complete horse-doody.

I am sort of at a loss. Labor seems long-ish, and the still births may have been due to placental asphyxiation (to long in the birth canal). So far I cannot find anything pathological that should be causing stillbirths. I'm going to implement a Parvo vaccination program and change farrowing setup.

And I have had enough of squishing. I must have lost 10 pigs this year to "rollover accidents."

This winter I'll be building 6x8 farrow pens in the machine shop with heated creeps to keep the babies out from under. Probably a wood floor under that portion and dirt for mom.

It's hard to convince a 600# sow to stop dragging material in to make a nest. There's too much straw/hay about for her to use.

Sigh. In any event I should have enough left to fill all of the orders for pairs and one gilt left for the freezer. If the pens and Parvo vaccinations don't improve things this winter, I'm thinking I'll put all of them in the freezer and take up fishing again.


Monday, October 12, 2009


I've been off the old blog for over a month...slacker. Well what to say? Roberta showed up again with the twins. Sadly the twins were killed a bit later in a traffic accident. This old gal cannot seem to make it as a momma in the City.

Hay season is over. Thank God. Had some neat experiences, keep learning new stuff for next year.

Things I will do...

- Overhaul my baler. Not as scary as I thought. While I think the guy who designed the original small square baler must have been a genius, it's not rocket science to work on one. Especially since I have the manual and can find parts at my favorite parts store...the Internet.

- Fix my Rake...did that. The local machine shop built me new parts (rake is way to old to find new ones) and it officially rocks.

Things I will not do...

- Loan implements. I'm always glad to lend a hand, but my and my implements go together, if there is time.

- Ahhhh, time. That's the devil ain't it? I ran into several instances this season where I tried doing 20 things when I had time for maybe 2. I do have a day job, so taking every farm gig in the universe is both frustrating and not necessary. So, no haying in the fall (other than my own) when school is back in session. Spring can be a little more flexible, but once the kids are back in school in the fall it all begins in earnest. Soccer, school events, Youth group...and the days get shorter.

I'm sure I will modify, forget or completely ignore something in one of those lists eventually. But, who knows....

In recent events, we had a couple of farm visitors who wanted to check out the LBH. Interest continues to be high. Our first pairs will be leaving for their new homes in the next week or two. I still need to get my litter notifications sent in.

Here are some semi-recent, and mostly random pictures.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Feed time

Went with my buddy Andy from Welcome Table Farm to get some feed Wednesday. We drove form Walla Walla, WA to Deer Park, WA to grab some of the "good stuff" from Half Moon Feeds and Milling.

Why on earth would we go that far? Well road trips are cool and the feed is good. We're pondering a buying club (the HMF folks will deliver large orders) to save some driving.

Anyway, we made it back with 5 ton of feed, no lost bags and dinner @ zips. Had a great trip, thanks Andy!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Here we go again

Tonight as I was laying pipe in the pasture I had a neat visit with some friends from Ashland. They're getting setup to do pasture raised pork and I think there are good things for them in the future. Thanks guys, it was really nice having you come by so we could see each others piggies!

I also found out that Daphne had farrowed (was farrowing). There was a little adventure getting Olivia's piglets away (moved Olivia and Co. down to another farrow pen) from Daphne. They kept latching on to the new momma to the detriment of the new babies. Well the wife and I got them corralled with their mom where they belong and the new babies were nursing. I'm learning not to count until a couple of days have passed, but it looks like she farrowed 9, squished on early and two stillborns. She was till farrowing, so there could be others.

Farrowing madness. By friends from Ashland asked if I would spread the farrowing out more in the future or try farrowing them all at the same time again. I'd do them all near the same time if I could. Get it over with :)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Well dang

So Swinehilda's litter is a complete loss, all 10 of them. Last one (a boar) passed this AM. After much discussion, input from more experienced readers and a refresh of the Story's guide to pigs I have some conclusions.

There were some things working against 'Hilda. She was a first time mom, she farrowed 10 (that's apparently a lot for a smallish gilt) and she failed to nurse right away. These babies looked like skinny mice. One source says that if the babies don't get colostrum in the first 4 hours, they're basically doomed. Failing this first does of timely "life goo" the piglets will die over the next few days, food or no food. Not only did she not nurse early, she never really nursed at all. Her milk never even came in. What a bummer.

'Hilda will get another shot in the spring. If there's a repeat performance, I'll have to retire her. That's a bummer too, but I am always hopeful. Sigh.

Good news is that even thought I mangled a PTO shaft for my mower I should only be down a day or two and I'm not in any hurry. I'll mow some weeds and move some pipe in the mean time :)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hog pix

Pictures of the fun part of this weekend. That would be the part that is not today.

Matildas babies on Big Momma. Hopefully a good sign of things to come.

They really were small and veyr skinny. I think this may be why getting 10 piglets from a new mom is not a real good thing.

Someone come get this weekend, I don't want it...

I write this post in the quiet of the living room. Kids and the Mrs are at church. I don't have it in me to go today. Alone with my cold coffee, hot computer and the gentle sound of two grunting piglets in a box at the other side of the room. How shall I explain?

OK, so it all started innocently enough. Saturday I tried some farming, but busted a bit I needed (PTO shaft) about 30 seconds after every farm supply store closed. Well, I was hot under the collar, but I got over it. Take the day off. I can call it my sabbath she says. Fair enough. Some friends of ours came over for dinner and the last of my farm implements (which have been on vacation helping out a friend down the road) came home. We fed him too. Got a ton of pictures of the piggies doing cute piggies stuff. Big Momma let Matilda's piglets try nursing on her. Big Momma won't have babies for a month yet, but this is a good sign. Pictures of this are on this posting. Later on Daphne let Olivia's piglets try nursing on her. Daphne should be due soon. Predictions of her labor were premature, her "milk fat" isn't even in yet, so it'll be a day or so.

Swinehilda was seen sort of nursing her new babies.

All was well. So I thought.

Then Sunday come. Good thing I rested yesterday.

So up at 5 AM, make some Jo and go check on my babies. Well Matilda's babies (who can hardly be called that anymore) and Olivia's (from Tues) are looking good. Not so much for Swinehildas. First off she is using the heat lamp and sitting on half of one of them. She seemed somewhat indifferent from the start, but this was nuts. I shove her off and take toll. One more dead. Two getting there and two somewhat ambling around. I think they look starved. I cobble up some warm goats milk and try feeding. The two wigglers eat like they've never eaten at all. The two gimps will swallow but not nurse. I collect them all, scold this lazy momma and get them to the house.

Long and the short of it is that I have two bottle babies and that's all out of Swinehildas litter of 10. The pig book says that the little ones need to nurse withing 4 hours. If they don't get colostrum, they're pretty much hosed and will never thrive and probably ides in the first couple of days. Wife thought 'Hilda was not nursing them, I guess she was right. The thing I saw last night was probably just two weak piglets catching her on her back.

From here on out all my babies are getting 2-4 mil of goat colostrum (we have it fresh and from the store) as soon as we find them.

Good news is Swinehilda farrowed 10. Unfortunately this don't mean much if she won't care for them. She'll be in the freezer if she repeats this with the next farrowing.

OK, so next I send a couple of kids to grain the mommy pigs and throw in the AM hay to those that need it (alfalfa). A few minutes later I look out the window and see Matilda in the hay field. My oldest daughter was not minding her gate when she went to look for additional feed pans.

No biggie, as Matilda trotted back to her pen (and her babies when she heard me coming down).

Now I find that most of the critters have not been given their hay. So I and my eldest start to feed hay. All is well, until she decides to leave the gate to the buck (and now boar) pen open while tossing in some grain. Sir Francis (who did not want to be in that pen in the first place) decides to go for a stroll. So now I and my wife get to coax the fat luggard (300# big wandering pig) back to the pen. Took a minute, but he's sweet and my little boy so he tolerates a lot of pushing and prodding from me.

Ahh...peace at last. Oh wait one of the kids plugged the toilet. Nice. Oh and the water is running in the hall and UNDER THE WALL AND INTO THE LAUNDRY ROOM. I clean up, plunge and cuss. A lot. Our house is a berm house on a concrete slap. The drywall is about 1/2 inch above the floor, so no wall damage. I pull the moldings and stab the framing. No give. Not rotten. Maybe not the wort day ever. Yet.

Next I'll charge the pressure tank. I think I'll avoid power tools thought.

Sigh. Gotta feed my piglets. Again. Argh.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Oh my...

Well at lunch I had to rescue to of the new piglets from a wallow. All is well and the chicken wire is up to keep the rascals out (until they're big enough to use it properly).

During the impromptu pen repair I found 3 more piglets. 1 was not so good, two alive and kicking. If your keeping score that mean Swinehilda farrowed 10 and had 7 keepers. I am sure one of these was trampled but I don't know by whom. The little bugger made it through the fence and may have been squished by goats or other curious hogs.

The remainder of the chicken wire goes up tonight. Better late than never...

Oh yeah...wife called...Daphne is in labor. Finally a daytime farrowing :)

And again...

This AM it was Swinehilda's turn. 7 new little ones under the heat lamp, 2 that didn't make it out the gate. It really is amazing how fast they get up and moving.

That puts us at 19 total. Daphnie is due here soon. Her littler is the "pork litter" as she was bred to her brother. I have no doubt they'll be some dynamite pigs, but they're a little to inbred for breeding stock. In my opinion anyway.

Big Momma should farrow in a month or so.

The oldest litter is three weeks on Sunday, so we'll be getting the vaccination and notching out of the way. After that I'll do the litter notification, and FINALLY contact folks who have expressed an interest in getting a few little pigs.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

More Piggies!!

Edit...wrong pig name. Fixed
Olivia farrowed this AM. At first we had 5, then at lunch there were 6. Not sure if this one was hiding all morning or was a late arrival. The boar (Sir Francis) was spooning Olivia while she was farrowing. Hanging out with his lady like a good poppy.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Some new stuff

I picked up our two bucks from White House Goats. Really sweet little boys. Sure they'll grow up to be big, stinky bucks, but for now they're cute little guys. Redbeard is sweet as they come. He runs right up to you when you get in the pen and wants to be petted. Very social. Hershey is a bit more stand offish, but has bonded well with the two older weathers (St. Nicholas or "Nick" and Tooth Gnasher or just "Nash") we put in with the little guys .

Buried main line (irrigation) was put in last week and has already made sprinkling water easier. I can finally rehab the goofy fescue patch as a proper alfalfa/grass hay field.

I cannot wait for fair season, the end of watering/hay season. Been a long summer of driving, fixing, building and it will be nice to breath the cool fall air, chase a few Steelhead and relax a little. Soon, but not quite yet.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Why buy heritage pork

Embarrassingly enough, I have to admit I have yet to munch on one of my hogs. Or any Large Black Hog for that matter. Soon. We'll 5-7 months anyway. BUT be that as it may...another LBH fan posted this link to the association blog. It summarizes the general value of heritage pork raised on an outdoor system. A friend of mine once called it "pork like grandma used to make."

I think there is a future in "Pork: the other Red Meat."


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More to come

My other three ladies (Swinehelda, Daphne and Olivia) are getting ready to pop. Looks like we're on track for a late August early Sept farrowing.

Mattilda's litter is 2 boars and 4 gilts. The original litter was 5 boars and 5 gilts. I'm not sure how common a 50/50 split is, but I thought it was kind of cool.

Looks like (depending on Big momma's farrowing) we should have at least 6 breeding pairs available. Once Big Momma does her thing we'll know the final count and I know how many "singles" we can deliver. Should be able to get folks the second hog in the spring.

Fed everyone this morning, a little extra feed (grains) for everyone, as feeding one hog and not the others is a sure way to breed hate and discontent. I like to keep 'em smiling. Large Marge and Maggie Rose were out in the furthest reaches of the pasture and when I yelled "c'mon pigs!" heads came up, and hogs cam a trottin'.

They are so neat.

Monday, August 10, 2009

And then there were 6

So we had the still born piggy and then two we took up for some TLC. Both of those (including little Todd) are gone. Sigh. Another of the litter (who didn't look to good yesterday) was gone this AM.

BUT there is good news. The other 6 were out of the hut at lunch exploring the farrow pen. I think the whole litter is early (notably so) so I am tickled pink (or black in this case) that so many are doing so well. I imagine that the stress of travel and our recent heatwave was just too much for Matilda's body to take and it did what it thought it needed to do to preserve Matty.

So am I bummed to lose so many? You bet, I'll be bummed with every one. The babies are just cute as they come.

But it is so exciting after almost a year to finally come "full circle" and see new, little, black faces running around the pen.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Eh...what's making that noise?

So the Mrs reports that one of my pig helpers is having trouble getting the hay in the pens. So I trot on down and give her a hand. As we toss clumps of green goodness over the pen wall...I hear squeaking. What's that??


Matilda dropper he litter sometime early this AM. Dalan Farm Nobel Sam 1/x and Dalan Farm Matilda 1/x are here!!!. 10 in total, 7 running around like crazy pigs, two got cold/too small and one on the bottle at the house (Dalan Farm Nobel Sam 1/1 "Todd"). Not sure if Todd will make it, but he's drinking goats milk, pooping and is warm. His litter mates are already terrorizing the pen. Full of sass.

For those who are on the list for piglets, I'll be hassling for $150 deposits in a few days. Just want to make sure we don't lose any more. And I need to get them notched/birth notified.

Monday, August 3, 2009

We're in this thing together...

It's been a tad hot this week, 102-103. But there's still work to do, and the kids have been really getting into "helping" lately. I have kids helping pick up bales, move irrigation pipe, feed the critters in addition to their regular critter duties. Heather and Nat and I combined to move pipe last night. The Mrs was piloting the tractor and Nat and I lumped pipe. Maybe not a bunch faster, but having company makes the time go faster and it was a lot more fun and the pipes look way better than when I do it on my own!

Other farm updates...

Pigs continue to enjoy the mister hoses. And full wallows. I saw them relaxing in them as I was mowing pasture and bailing hay this weekend. I decided that, when the temperature is over 100, the pigs are decidedly smarter than I am. I spent Sunday evening (before I moved pipe anyway) imitating them with a lawn chair and a kiddie pool. Smart piggies.

We freed the larger group of mutant chickens (Cornish X). They are now happily waddling about the orchard eating bugs, grass and the rather abundant apricots. It's kind of funny, they act just like the pigs. Any time someone comes in to feed or water, 80 awkward chickens come a lumbering :) They've proven to be quite personable and are doing better on the outdoor system than I thought they would.

Soon the smaller class of mutant chickens, the midget white turkeys and our fuzzy headed hens will be released in a similar manner. We just need everyone big enough so that no bullying happens.

Well this week we'll (i.e. I) will be bailing some straw and getting the rest of they hay up. And then I need to finish those farrow pens...I can see it now. I will have a zillion little piggies and no fences to keep them locked up.


Thursday, July 30, 2009


You know the big brother system of tracking every animal in the universe for the purposes of "disease tracing?" Well the public comment period is ending. Like the program or not, check out the No NAIS blog and then go here and let them know what you think. Like I said, for it or against it, I think you should be heard.

NAIS TRIVIA: did you know that you would (as it stands now) need to file papers with the USDA to move show animals from your home/farm to a show and then again to move them back? Sweet.

A page form the Big Book of "Duh!"

So a study was released that shows there is not any significant nutritional difference between Organic and non-organic foods. What's funny about many of the news sites is that they are reporting that Organic food is not more "Healthy" while the study looks at nutritional content, not over all health benefits. You know, like the benefits of not eating pesticides, 2-4-D, Glyphosphate or all those extra antibiotics. Assuming your producer is not lying about their status

Well, duh. I would venture the nutritional content is no different. I didn't need 50 years of studies to confirm it. And I don't think any of the Organic-foods-whackadoodles I've met ever contended you get more vitamins and minerals from Organic foods. Though, probably some of them do. Some probably tell you Organic foods will make your hair grow back, fix your car and save the world. I don't know about any of that, but Organic food will certainly empty your checking account :)

I have my own issues with the Organic label system (mostly because the motivation to use the label and not bother to comply with regulations is HUGE), but this study was just stupid. I hope some tax payer didn't pay for it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Update for Hog buyers

While Farrowing is still a ways off, I wanted to let everyone know...

1. I will get back to your e-mail. I know it's poor form to be so slow, but I've been travelling and cutting hay. Please forgive me :)

2. I will be posting pictures and information (pedigree) concerning this falls Sires/Dams. I do not own one of the sires, so I will only be able to post pedigree information. As noted before, I should be able to provide breeding pairs with reasonable inbreeding. Turns out one of my Dams was bred to her brother, and not half brother, so her littler will have a higher CI. I'll analyze the pedigree of the other litters closely, but there is a chance that none of the most line bred piglets will be sold for breeding stock. Good news for those looking to find feeders.

In the spring, there will be a boar shuffle and CI should be manageable for all litters. Should be more feeder pigs available as well.


Monday, July 27, 2009

So what about the pigs?

Here is big momma and some of the children. Everyone fears big momma.

Not. She's sweet as candy.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Grown up, wrap up

OK, being on the road in the middle of nowhere was not real conducive to real time blogging. I'm a technological Philistine (no mobile Internet) and only use my cell phone to make calls :)

So here is a recap of the last few days....

From Ogden (after viewing the cool art horses) we headed over to Kearney. Got in late...REAL late (as Alandra noted below). Then off to Springfield MO. Wednesday morning, we went to the Wolfe's and grabbed Bog Mama, Matilda and Samuel. OK. I know these are "Large" Black Pigs, but OH MY WORD. Big momma is in the neighbor hood of 500+ pounds and 6 feet long. And she is 3 years old. Funny thing, she has the exact same birthday as our youngest daughter!! Isabel says she is going to give Big Momma some cake on her birthday. I'm sure she'll love it.

I was not sure the trailer had enough room, or that it would survive the trip. Kind of did, kind of didn't. More on that later.

We had pigs, 55 gallon water tank sacks of hog chow and hay...time to head home.

The drive from Ozark, MO to Sioux Falls, SD was a bit of a blur. It was hot and we watered the pigs liberally. And as a result left nasty smelling brown puddles everywhere we went. But the pigs were cool and that's what mattered.

From here on out, from Sioux Falls. First off, if you ever visit Sioux Falls I recommend the Spring Hill Suites by Marriott. Check out the pictures here. Very cool "Neuvo-retro" feel. Great staff, right off the highway and free breakfast. ++ for a road trip weary crew.

From Sioux falls, we headed west on I-90 towards rapid city, Mount Rushmore, Devils tower (didn't make that one), Bozeman (spontaneous stop at the museum of the Rockies) and eventually Buffalo, WY. Along the highway, we started seeing signs for the Mitchell Corn Palace. Who could skip that? Well...not us. We stopped, sprayed some H20 on our little piggies....and went to the carb palace.

Very interesting retrospective on corn-based exterior decorating options. The stop was brief, as we needed to keep on keeping on.

Next we hit mount Rushmore. After an exciting drive from Rapid City (lots of hills...sorry piggies) we went into the park. And found that a cross member under the trailer had fallen off (broken welds) and was dragging behind us, held on only with the trailer wiring that had bee run through it. A few quick snips (no trailer lights now...) and inspection of the rest of the trailer undercarriage, and we were on our way to the parking area. Neat place, lots of stuff. Recommend it highly.

After leaving the mountain (I had tied a couple of 14,000# tie down straps across the bottom of the trailer as insurance) we headed to a local hardware store. I had to get a few tools and I managed to fix the wiring harness. All while "pig water" dribbled across my head. So I changed clothes (in the store parking lot...what a stink) and we were on our way.
So no Devi's tower. Not enough time. We did have just enough time to see a couple of buck antelope (we saw tons of them in WY but always to far away for a good picture). Off to bed in Buffalo WY.

The next day we managed to stop at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman. It was not planned, but when I saw the signs on the side of the road, I thought that Chris would be tickled. And I wanted to go as well. Chris got more than he bargained for.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Whew! We had a long day yesterday! We finally reached our hotel in ?Kearney, NE, at 2:00am local time. Then left at 8:30. We are in Springfield, MO right now in our hotel. We got here before 8:30pm local time. That is our record for this trip. After a dinner at Wendy's, (by the way, Sweet and Spicy Asian Chicken is really good), and a good swim, I am now, well, blogging! So, we are picking up pigs tomorrow, then traveling to South Dakota. Day after that,... WE'RE SEEING MT. RUSHMORE!!!!!!! I'm Sooooo excited! I have never seen any of this before, but I can't wait to see Mt. Rushmore more than anything else on the whole trip. But, getting pigs is... about half as exciting as that. Hey, I'm not the Pigman! Although, I do quite like our pigs. Anyways, Time for some shut eye. Good Night!

Monday, July 20, 2009

This just in from UT

So here we are. Beginning of day 2 of the "Hogtrip 2009." We're in Ogden UT, having passed through WA, OR and ID yesterday. This trip we're taking it slower as we move across the country. For example, on "Hogtrip 2008" we went from Walla Walla to Ft. Collins Colorado the first day. Ogden was the lunch stop :)

This time it's more fun.

And maybe I should make this an annual thing. There is always interest from other folks in me grabbing a few extra hogs for other buyers, so maybe I should use that as an excuse for an annual road trip. I may be delivering defender boars next year if all goes well. Family vacations with hogs? Well see.

Now for Alandra...our designated road blogger.



We are in Ogden, UT. Ogden is beautiful. There are a ton of historic buildings here.Besides that, our hotel is right next to a street with statues of horses lining every side. Now that may not seem interesting, but they are all painted with different things on them. For example, One of them is a black horse with flames on it. Another is white with flowers entwining it's body and legs. They are fascinating! My favorite though, is the horse with a Native American chief with some of his people around him. Anyway, moving on.
Check Spelling

Yesterday, we went by the first bit of the Rockies. They were huge! But, they were only, per say, the foot hills. I got some really good photos. We also had Lunch in this really cute park in Idaho. And across the street, there was an old fashioned fire truck that was really cool. (I didn't get photos of the park,but got some good ones of the fire truck.) Last, night, we thought that we were going to have a big storm. Well, we did if you count 10 minutes of light rain. Yet, the weather forecast we are going to be following thunder storms for the rest of the trip! Noooooooooooo! But, oh well. Since we have to go, I suppose that we will have to wait for another day to write more of my horrible experience with my Father:)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Because once is not enough...ROAD TRIP!!!

My friends over at Wolfe Mountain Farms are parting with some of their stock. These folks are HUGE advocates for the LBH/LBP and Kay is the LBHA president. I have been fortunate enough to lay claim to two bred sows and a boar (Noble Sam). This is exciting for two reasons...first I, uncle Chris (who you may remember was on my first Hog buying expedition) and my eldest daughter get to go to Missouri and meed the Wolfe Farms Folks. Second, I should ave plenty of piggies (5 Hogs farrowing) in the Sept.-Nov. time frame and able to provide some breeding pairs out of this falls litters.

Three people, three Hogs, 6 days, 4000 miles. Pray for us :)

Alandra will be blogging from the road. We depart on the 18th, so keep your eyes peeled for some blow-by-blow from the road.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Poor Old USDA

I just ran into an article that nicely sums up why I think the "Certified Organic" label isn't worth the paper it's printed on. Over on MSNBC there's an article about the continuing relaxation of what is allowed under the Organic program. I have long held that (for example) Cattle raised in an organic feedlot are not on the whole entirely different than those raised on a non-organic feedlot.

The real problem is marketing and perception. Because the label gets a premium in the marketplace, more producers (agribusiness) push to get their current products and practices "blessed" by the program. The public (folks I talk to) largely have a false image of happy animals trotting through green pastures. They think that CO veggies are safer. The CO label does not, in any way shape or form, guarantee this. You cannot even be sure that the banned substances have not been used. With the markup for CO produce, using banned substances is a gamble that some producers are willing to make.

For the small, open system, "all natural" producer....? Organic certification is often too expensive to bother with.

If you want to buy organic, by all means. I don't think it'll hurt anything other than your wallet. Better yet, hit the farmers markets and talk to your grocery managers and find out who is producing your food and how they do it.


So I pomised to tell the tale of the potty frog, and now I will. A few weeks ago we travelled to Klinks resort. Resort is a bit of a gentrification of what klinks is, really a private campground. Very crowded, very nice and the kids had a blast. We arrived on Saturday, fortunately missing the torrential rains of the evening before. 88 degrees and sunny. Kids on the water slide. It was nice.

So, having setup the old camper and sent mom and the kids off to swim (88 degrees is way to cold to get me in the water anymore) I began cooking. Out little propane stov ewas sizzling away when one of my daughters, Mya, came running up with a very puzzled look on her face. Here is about how the conversation went...

Mya: "Papa! Papa!"

Me: "What?"

Mya: "I found a frog."

Me: "So..."

Mya: "It's in the toilet."

Me: "What?"

Mya: "I was going potty and when I flushed I saw something spinning in the potty. It was a frog!"

Me: " did it dissapear."

Mya: "Nope."

Me: "It's still in the toilet?"

Mya: "Yep."

Me: "Do think you should go fetch it? Kind of seems it won the lottery still being there. After all you DID pee on him."

See Mya, Natty and the potty frog below.

A fine trip was had by all. Even the flat tire on the way home. I got soo far off the road (thanks to a hole in the highway fence and a slope too steep to safely return to the highway) that we had a chance to explore the backroads around Connel, WA. VERY interestting.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Chicken Madness

Well the 100 or so mini-chickens arrived. The nice man at the Pasco post office called us (on Sunday I think) to see if we wanted them. We were out of town, but picked them up today when they arrived in Walla Walla. OK, I thought maybe the Mrs. would need the trailer to pick up 100 chicks. So I'm a bit new at this. I think the chicks came in a box the size of a pack of gum. Seriously, they fit in the fornt seat easily. Neat littler critters.

Later (tonight?) I'll share our recent camping and "hog owner visiting" stories. And the tale of the "toilet frog."

Friday, June 19, 2009

More Hogs???

Well could be. Proabably. There is a plan afoot that could end up with the Dalan Farm getting another couple of littlers this Fall. It ain't over 'till the Sow farrows, but I am very hopeful.

I'll keep you posted as more details become available :)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hogs and Water

Well there has certainly been an uptick into inquiries about the Large Black Hog. I suspect it is the result of the Hobby Farms story and links to the LBHA website. I'm praying for huge litters and working on (MAYBE) getting some other stock I can pass along to anxious buyers.

I also had my metering project completed today. The installer came in and finished up the back flow valve (with chemgation...not sure I'll ever us this), blow off valves, pressure gauges, manual shutoff, magnetic water meter, etc. Since I am now in compliance with the contract I signed in regards to my water...I have begun to let the droplets fly. Good thing too, I have lots of baby grasses from stuff that went to seed last year and stuff I drilled in last fall and this spring.

It's really nice to have the last open issue behind me. Well, at least it's nice to pretend, for now, that the hassling I got about my water is behind me. I suspect with the possibility of continuing droughts, no matter how old someones water rights are, more "contention" is coming.

Ah well, there's always dry land wheat, Triticale and Oat Hay :)

OH YEAH....I also learned that if you slack off and forget to service your pressure tank...bad things will happen. Like the start up capacitor for your well pump will explode at 6 PM on a Friday evening. Sigh. Sometimes I just have to learn the hard way.

Friday, June 5, 2009

As promised...more chicks!

Well I have a picture of the most recent chick. Much more lively than the last one. I suspect (warming box or not) the first hatchling was a goner. This one is full of chutzpah. Hence the reason I only have a picture of it's little behind. Mom was none to pleased, so I decided to take my lousy shot and move on.

I have also included a shot of a meal we recently made on the old BBQ, in celebration of our fine summer weather. Goat and Asparagus. It was divine. Now a proper Goat meat marketer would probably want me to call it "Chevon." That's so people won't know it's Goat. That's not my style. That kind of renaming is brought to you by the folks who marketed the Chum salmon and "Keta" and the Slimehead as the "Orange Roughy."

If you don't want to eat Goat...then don't :) my soapbox now...

New things abound on the farm. I recently learned that friend of mine is in the fruit business. So I asked "Do you ever have any cull fruit you need to get rid of?" He grows apples and cherries and boy do the Hogs love old apples and the Goats will eat them from time to time. He said "yup" so I asked how much he could part with. He thought for a minute, mentioned that a cattle rancher was taking some and then said..."About 15,000 pounds a week"

We'll we kept chatting and he agreed to bring me a couple of bins (about 1000# each) each week instead of burying my farm in cull apples. I didn't even have my trailer ready (some tarped hay on it) and he brought a trailer by last night anyway! Nice fellow. I fed a pile to the Hogs this AM and they made lots of happy sounds. With three of my ladies hopefully bred, I am thinking this could be an ideal source of energy to supplement alongside the pasture and hay.