A lot has been going on at Biggers' Farm since my last post. In August our sow, Dirty Gertie had an astounding 16 piglets in her first ever litter. Little pigs need it to be about 90 degrees in their nest when they are born so we used a heat lamp even in August. Sadly she had the piglets before I could put up a board, so she smashed a few lights after a few days. The lights worked their magic though and kept the pigs warm. We let her have them in a shed that was closed in on 3 sides. She successfully raised 12 of the piglets who turned out to be super healthy. I did learn that sows will sometimes snap their piglets and I think this is what led to the loss of 2 of them. One has to understand that 16 piglets is a huge litter for a first time mother and she only has 14 teats. I suppose if we had intervened and stole two of her piglets away and bottle fed them we might have saved one or both. It can be hard to make that call thought when you have no idea how many she has with her and you cannot disturb her for fear of exciting her and smashing the piglets.
What was also amazing was the demand for piglets. We had so many calls and people wait listed. I heard one old farmer say that people were going back to the old ways and raising hogs and such. Matt and I were both surprised that half of our piglets went to be breeders instead of being raised for meat. Apparently there is a shortage of piglets around so folks are having to breed them up. Hopefully we will get Gertie bred in the next month or two and get more piglets.
Late summer saw us getting back into trout fishing. We had been meaning to for quite some time but always seemed to be too busy with building the house or running the farm. After going hiking and camping for a few days we found a spot where the fish were just jumping like crazy so we came back with poles and caught some nice stringers of trout. This Spring is going to see us doing more fishing because sometimes you just have to take the time regardless. With local trout being $13.95 a pound at the grocery store, it doesn't take much for your fishing license to pay for itself.
Another exciting event of late summer was our Dexter bull going over a fence and beating up the neighbors much larger bull. Of course he them proceeded to breed some of the neighbors cows. As a result Hank is in his own special field fence lot that will soon have an electric wire around the top. The odd thing is that these two bulls had been fenced next to each other at different times over the last 2 years or so. If he had not come home we were seriously catching him up in a trailer and taking him to the stock yard. Hank didn't act up again after that incident so we have kept him. Of course we have new calves this year. The day after Christmas, Bessie gave us a bull calf. We would like to sell him as a Registered Dexter Bull for someone to use as a breeder rather than raise him for beef but that really just depends on demand.
At the moment we are just trying to get through with the house building. This summer we had some delays related to family members health and saving some money up to continue. With the holidays over we can now focus on the house, farm, and writing. The coming weeks will bring about the butchering of our 2 year old Dexter steer. I hope to preserve the hide with the hair on and plan on rendering beef tallow as well. Unfortunately I ran out of lard because we didn't raise a large pig this year due to just having too many things going on at once. I am also excited to finish my novel enough to turn it over for people to read. Over the last few months we have released a homesteading guide on chickens and one on cattle. The cattle one was a lot of work and research. It took a long time to get photos of 30 different breeds.
I realize that this blog has not been updated for a long time. I appreciate those of you that continue to read even thought I have been anything but reliable in the frequency of posts. The last year has been particularly hectic but things are beginning to calm down and I hope to get on a regular blog posting schedule. Perhaps every Friday after this post? Let's just say that for now.
Hope everyone had a good holiday. Now let's look forward to spring and bountiful gardens.