Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY!!!

"Hilda has still not yet sprayed forth piglets. But her milk is in (it's expressible...yes we squeeze Hog boobies). Should be any time now.

And there is this big, loud black thing in my pasture. It's name is Blossom and it came with a small black thing we named Raisin. They are our new Dexter cattle (miniature cows). Full grown a steer is 800-900lbs and about 50% dressed, so about 400# of beef a shot. Momma is beautiful and was dehorned as a young one (makes me much more comfortable playing with her) and is slowly learning that we are her source of food. Heather will be working on halter training her and convincing us to let us milk her. Dexters are supposed to produce around 1-3 gallons a day, so plenty manageable for us.

I'll post pictures as soon as I have them :)


Friday, February 26, 2010

Now my wife has done it...

With some gentle, nudging encouragment from me (something like..."Oh just buy the damn things before they're gone and you miss out...") my wife has confirmed our purchase of a bred Dexter cow with a calf. She was worried about if we had enough ground  and if we had enough loafing shed space. We do, and they'll fit in fine. Or I'll put them in the freezer. Ahh, farm logic, quick and easy :)

Anyhow, we'll pickup the new critters soon and I'll post pictures as soon as I get them.

I finished about 4 acres of seeding with the no-till box this week between rain storms. Timing worked out well, and so did the drill. Way over the needed eed rate, but seed is about half of what it was last time I bought it, so the extra seed is no biggie.

If I had to do it again I would have bought the 8' drill and not the 30", but at the time I didn't have the $$. Someday...

Next year (after I spread manure this fall) I'll overseed the lower 6 acres of hay ground. Mostly to keep the stands nice and thick and get a few legumes (Alfalfa) mixed in. We filled the barn last year, so if the plantings take off, I will have to sell hay as I won't have any place to put it.

Oh, and 'Hilda hasn't popped her piglets yet. Someday....


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

And the watch continues...

Swinehilda continues to look like a big, black football held up with toothpicks. Looks like she will explode. I would realistically guess she'd easily in the 10-12 piglet range with this litter. She farrowed prematurely last time (doesn't look like an issue this time) and had 8 I think. But alas, her milk did not come in and we lost the whole lot. It was he first time, the feed was not as good as what we have now. I have high hopes for her that the issues were environmental and not sow-related.

With our nutrition change, our birth numbers are up significantly, and no stillborns at all. The largest live litter we had last time was 8, and this time that's the smallest, our largest being 11 this time. I cannot wait to see how 'Hilda does.

I'm on pins and needles!!


Monday, February 22, 2010

If you've been trying to e-mail me and I have not replied...

Please resend your note. My ISP has been having some mail filter/deliver issues and I suspect some of my out bound and in bound messages have not made it from point A to point B.

And it's OK to hassle me if you think I have not repliaed soon enough. Squeaky wheel you know...


Saturday, February 20, 2010

How to build a hog hut and other random things

The question came up about my hog huts. The improved design (I use that term loosely) has turned out to work quite well. I'm still groveling for my uncle to build more wood huts, but the tarp ones work really well until he has time or can be suitably bribed. If uncle Kenny wasn't around here hassling me to get stuff done (and doing the lions share of the work on most of "our" projects) I'd be farrowing pigs huts made from twigs with burn barrels for heat. Thank God for Kenny. about them huts? There wicked simple. For a hut (big enough for 2-3 pigs to use, one to farrow in) you'll need the following items...
#1 -- 3 16'x50" (48" or 50" I don't recall, either works) cattle panels (not Hog panels). You only need two if you have a 6' chunk of scrap panel laying about, and we always do.
#2 -- Tarpaulin (thanks Bear Grylls) that is at least 18' in one direction, and over 100" (8' or 96" will do). One tip is to buy one large tarp that can be cut to make two the proper size, or one the proper side and a back...see below.

#3 -- Tarp that is large enough for the back of the hut...depending on how you build the hut, the width will vary, but the height will generally be between 6' and 7'

#4 -- Seven 5' T posts, and a tool to pound them in. No, a hammer will not do. Cheapest solution it as "post pounder" and some ear plugs/safety glasses. Yeas I do actually use both :)

#5 -- Some means of cutting the fence when needed. A "saws all" with a metal blade works, but I use a cutoff tool (really use those safety glasses...molten metal in your eye will really take the fun out of this project...) that is something like this one..

#6 -- All weather zip tie (black ones), get'll need more someday anyway. These are used to connect the two fence sections and anchor tarps ad the bottom and rear of the hut. You'll need to anchor the tarp in front as well.

#7 -- Something to form a 3-4' hard back to the hut. This can be a pallet. Another option is to build the hut up against the fence line and use 36" chicken wire. The goal is to prevent the babies from pushing out the rear of the hut (and moving the tarp/opening it to drafts) and other curious pigs from nosing their way in...same result.
Basicall the construction process is this...

1. Wire two fence panles together the long way with zip ties.
2. Sink one T-post
3. With help, manuver the two panels so that one of the short sides is centered on the t-post.
4. Drive a t-post at the opposite ends (short side, your first t-post is in the middle) of the two panels.
5. Bow the panels by walking one short end towards the other. Set three t-posts to hold this side. Make sure you have a faily semmetrical dome. To tall is a pain to tarp, to falt will collapse if you get 12" or more snow on it.
6. Cut short panel and attach it inside the hut leaving roughly 3/4's of the hut on one side of the "creep" wall and 1/4 on the other.
7. Put the back on the 1/4 side, leaving the big side for momma and the little side for the little ones.
8. Tarp that bad boy.

As you may have gathered this is as much an artistic venture as architectural. Here are some pictures of our hoop huts, the wood huts (with silver tarp roofs...rooves?...roofses?) and a small wood hut that lives in a Boar pen.

Also included are random baby pig pictures...'cause who doesn't think they're cute???


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Well how about that...

The Dexters were very cool. has information on the breed. We'll still have to sort out if we're ready to be come mini-cattle people, but they were really neat looking critters. Nice folks raising them too.

We got the first spring pigs needled and notched. It was fun, there was a crew of us working together and I think we have a smoother process. Babies were annoyed, but none the worse for the wear, and the notches came out real clean. I did mismark one (kind of sleeping at the wheel) but that one will be destined for the fridge, so no bigge :)

Built another hut (another of the Mark III designs) for one of my two pregnant ladies to move into, which she should do this week. Almost all setup to farrow, now that I've been doing this over a year...sigh, no hurry right?

Grass is growing tall, almost 3 inches tall. I also got a barnburner of a deal on some first cut alfalfa from a guy down the road. Not that it matters much to me, but it does look like hay prices are on the way down. Since I buy from time to time and I don't sell'll be hard for me to complain.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I think we may pull the trigger...

On a couple of Dexter mini cattle. Cow calf pair. What's a farm without a cow, right? 1-3 gallons of milk a day, gentle temperment and offspring that will make just enough beef for our mob of 8 people.

Grass fed beef on tap and milk for the family and the pigs sounds pretty good to me :)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Strange days...

It has been oddly warm all winter, though plenty wet. We had a spell of 60 degree days in January. I know in places there are folks buried in snow who wonder if I will have the gall to complain about hot days in January...well I won't :)

As far as I can tell it'll be plenty moist this spring, so the temps aren't going to hurt at all.

So what has been going on here on the Dalan Farm? Well, as noted earlier, the spring pigs are starting to arrive. I continue to work on figuring out what we have to sell and to whom. I'm also working on getting some new pig bloodlines for 2010, including two new Boar lines...the Defender and Big Buck. Working on a couple of sow lines, but for now I am not as certain about being able to get them as I am the Boars. We'll see how the "Black Hog Road Trip 2010" works out. Should be interesting.

We have alady Turkey who seems to be disappearing during the day and onlycoming back at night. We suspect she is fabricaitng anest's hoping. Chickens are producing eggs at an astounding rate (we have a liht on a timer in the hen house that allows thier internal clocks to stay on summer time...all the time).

Goats are bred and should have some new kids around the farm soon. I know, like the Dalan's need more Kids! (excuse the pun). We're also on the hunt for a dairy cow (Dexter mini actually) and we may have one in our sights...stay tuned!

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Piglets are hitting the ground. New farrowing setup is improving piglet survival significantly!!

Check the hompage for a tenative update on whate we will have available this spring.