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.