It seems like I am always saying this but it has been darn busy on our farm. It has been one of those spring/early summers where it just seemed like everything happened at once. We are also still working on our house. Hopefully it will be 100% done by the end of this winter. Finish work is just so expensive! I would still rather just do as we have so far and pay for it as we can rather than taking on a loan for construction cost. Right now we are working on the bathroom and digging our footers for under pinning. There has been a bit of work going on in the sun room as well. Since we ran a bit short on Hickory flooring planks, we decided to do a 4' x 6' foyer or entry way using 12” x 12” black granite tiles with a Red Oak border. The picture below is before it has been grouted and without all the polyurethane on it so please excuse the white specks. We still need to put a waterproof coating in it as well since on a farm the foyer will be experiencing some moisture and mud. We are going to use the same black granite behind our wood stove instead of fake rock.
This spring we have reconsidered what we are doing with the farm flock. We ordered 25 Speckled Sussex pullets to keep in the backyard with our Great Pyrenees so we don't lose them like we have in the past. During the day we can turn them loose and then they come back to their chicken house at night.
Biggers' Farm has also acquired the start of a flock of Emden geese. After getting these guys in the mail and raising them up for the last few months, we are pretty crazy about geese. I think a lot of what people say about them is a bit more negative than it should be. Our geese seem to enjoy people a lot. On a recent visit, our 2 year old neice went right in with our geese and they were letting her touch them and eating food out of her hand. I think what happens in a lot of cases is that people don't spend enough time with their flock so they don't get used to people as much as they should. I was amazed how fast these geese grew and what a miniscule amount of grain they eat. In previous years we have grown Cornish Cross Broilers and butchered them. With the rising cost of feed and how much work goes into them, geese are a much better option. On mostly grass, our geese grew to be the size of an 8 week old broiler in a mere 4 weeks. We plan on raising a lot of geese in the coming years. There is a demand around the holiday season. Biggers' Farm is looking forward to grazing geese while feeding them a diet of milk and a little sweet feed. Certain times of the year we plan to graze them under our blueberry bushes. Late in the winter we will be planting about 175 Muscadine grape vines. In the future at the end of grape season we will graze them under the grape vines so they can get any fruit that has dropped and trim bottom leaves. I am hoping a milk and blueberry or grape fed goose will be a tasty addition to local family's holiday tables.
Our Dexter cow, Linda Lou, should be giving birth within the next 3-4 weeks. I have said it before but I'll say it again “cross your fingers for a heifer”. My bull has had two bull calves sired from him so far. If it gets up to 4 or 5 without a heifer we are going to seriously considered replacing him. He is the nicest, sweetest, little bull but I just can't keep a bull around that never gives me heifers. At this point it is just to early to tell. If the next 3 calves are bulls then we will consider our options.
Hopefully within the next few weeks we will get a lot more done on the house. There have been a few hard places the last little while on the farm. My father had to be admitted to the veteran's hospital and I had a severe allergic reaction that put me out of the picture for a few days. My father is doing a lot better and making exceptional progress though and should be able to come home within the next month or so and I am on the mend as well.
We got our brood sow “Dirty Gertie”back from the neighbor's. Apprarently she got bred on the 26th of April so we will be expecting piglets in late August. We are super excited about this. She is such a big baby. She was pretty tame before the neighbor's got her but they really babied her and now she grunts along to her name. She really likes to be called “Big Pig” as well and get patted on the head. A lot of people don't keep such a large sow anymore. Quite a few folks were skeptical when I told them how big she is. A pig's weight can be very hard to judge. After seeing what a 250 lb pig looked like I realized just how must I was under estimating live hog weight. Since discovering my error I would say that Gertie is easily 600 lbs.
Even with all this going on we have managed to produce the first book in our “Biggers' Guides to Homesteading”series. The first volume is on amazon.com Biggers' Guides to Homesteading Volume I: Raising Pastured Pigs on Kindle. We cover all aspects of raising pastured pork from picking a pig breed to raising piglets, breeding, butchering, curing, smoking, farm recipes, clearing land and more. Matthew did all the photography except for where noted. This book includes a lot of full color photos from many farms as well as our own. Hopefully this book will help others learn about a great way to raise sustainable meat for their family and the local food market. The next volume in the Biggers' Guides to Homesteading” series will be on heritage breed cattle. Hopefully that volume will be available sometime this summer if all goes well. If you raise heritage breed cattle and are interested in contributing photos that showcase your breed, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. All those that contribute get a photo credit in the book and there farm contact and website info listed in the back of the book.
I hope everyone out there has had a wonderful spring. May the hay be cheap and everyone get some heifers and huge tomatoes!