I have been watching Mother Nature more so then usual now that I have a new project in mind. I’m thinking about building a root cellar to store produce without refrigeration. In order for the project to be a success, I must understand all of the variables which will heat the structure, as well as using the sun as a possible light source.
I’ve also reached a tentative deal with my brother in which I’ll be trading Babe for a piglet, and some bacon. The plan involves Babe meeting a boar, and having some piglets. Since pigs require three months, three weeks and three days for pregnancy, I should have a new piglet sometime in June.
Above I feed Babe the remnants of some frozen corn on the cob. Babe loves corn…. as you can see with that surprised look on her face. She has a very inquisitive expression on her face whenever I bring her fresh produce. It’s almost as if she’s saying “Where did you get a tomato in this freezing cold ?”.
The little pig that was barely taller then her water bucket is now twice as big, and just as messy. Since the garden is devoid of all things except broccoli, and cabbage, I’ve switched Babe’s diet over to Sow and Pig feed. She eats about a bag every two weeks, bringing the total investment so far to about $95.00. I’m keeping record of all the money invested as an exploration of sorts. If raising a pig each year is economical, I’ll continue to practice. It’s not hard to take care of a pig once you get in the daily habit of feeding and watering them.
There is also the ulterior motive for having this pig: Manure for growing great gardens. I’ve started a new garden area right next to the barn where it’s easy to transport this growing additive. The area is a more conservative garden, measuring about 10 Feet by 30 Feet. The main crops growing here will likely be tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers. So next year, there will be four garden areas, as I’ve decided to move my tomatoes due to the Late Blight this year, and my doubts about whether the cold will cure the soil this year.
I noticed an interesting pattern of frost on my car this morning. It was quite unique, probably resulting from the rain we had last night. The shot is a perfect reason to write about the growing season, which I’ve got a much better grasp of after a few years of trial and error. Non-frost tolerant plants will grow from roughly the end of May to the middle of October.
Everyday I spend about 20 minutes gathering two five gallon buckets of food for Babe, the pig my Mother and I have invested in. Usually I try to find fruits and veggies that most people wouldn’t eat, such as that terribly ugly tomato above. Babe seems to enjoy sweet corn and eggs the most, so I’ve been picking the smaller husks of corn. There is no need to remove the husk though, as she rips it off with little effort.
Here’s Babe, just after she devoured some corn. It took a while to distract her from the goodies shown, and I can’t blame her. Freshly picked sweet corn is delicious, cooked or raw.
All in all, I’ve never seen an animal that is so very good at making a mess….
When I was visiting Sandy, I found out that one of her pigs was for sale, so I talked to Mom later in the day, and asked if she could pay for half. I told her I would take care of it daily, and we could split the meat when the pig goes to heaven just before winter.
So this morning, I started the day by building a Slop Trough. I couldn’t remember just how tall the pig was, so I made the trough so that a short pig could easily get to the food. Just as I was finishing up, I got the call that the pig was ready for transport. I set off in my Chevy Cobalt, and found it doesn’t make much of a livestock transport. We had to disassemble the “dog carrier” kennel and reassemble it inside my truck.
Here’s Babe in her new home, inside a horse stall in Mom’s barn. My niece named her, when she was over at Sandy’s farm.
I found out that pigs love tomatoes, blight included, so I’ve found I’m now growing Bacon, rather then tomatoes…. I love bacon, and Babe loves garden scrapes. She’s got quite a selection of garden goodness.
Now, I just need some cows…..
Here is the newest garden tool, on loan to me from Davie and Sandy. It’s a nice little garden tractor that will save me a lot of work. In the photo above, a set of “hairs” is chained to the back of the tractor. Hairs are used to level the soil after it is plowed up.
Here is a “One Bottom” plow. It is called one bottom due to having only one plow attached. I definately think a two bottom plow would be quicker !
The garden took a few hours of plowing, and it could still use some work. I have a guy lined up to rototill the soil, but I wanted to see if I could do it myself with the new tractor. This would definately work, and the plow does a better job in my opinion. See, a rototiller only smashes up the soil, rearranging it chaotically, where as the plow will turn the soil completely over. This allows the sun to reach the roots of any weeds, and burn and dry them out. So, plow = less weeds… I will still have the rototiller come through, as it will mix up all the manure better.
I also had the opportunity to get some pictures of George’s first Piglets. They are in an Amish neighbors barn. I would guess they are about a foot tall or less.
And finally, here’s a pic of a Hungry Chic. I can’t believe how fast they eat, and how much water they drink. I am happy to report, they don’t keep me up all night as I feared they would. I’ve noticed they all lay down around 11:00 PM. I think they stay up late due to the heat lamp.
I now have 15 chicks, and about 60 more eggs in the incubator; Which just got me thinking, where am I going to put the new borns in 21 days ?
Now it’s time to shift gears and get some Tomatoes planted… If your planting in PA, around June 1, then this week throught two weeks from now would be a good time to put some seeds in miracle grow. Remember to keep the seeds indoors in case of frost.
Here’s another post from the other side of the farm, all about, Pigs.
I love being on this end of the farm due to the sheer isolation. Looking up at the hills, there is no trace of civilization, simply trees, and snow, horses, chickens, and pigs. Birds and geese flow overhead, and occasionally you will see a plane or helicopter. It truly feels as if the world has vanished, and taken all your worries and troubles with it.
Recently, George has been expanding his herd with spotted pigs, which look quite festive.
Inside the fence, there is a pond which supplies drinking water. The pigs have learned to use the same path, as it’s easier when the snow gets a few inches deep. This particular path leads to the one place where the water is not frozen.
Most pigs are friendly, but this one was about as heavy as me, and right in my face. I was kneeling down to get a close up shot of a baby pig when I noticed just how close this big guy was. I clicked off a shot quickly, then stood up.
My brother George, who lives literally, on the other end of the farm. As I have been learning gardening, he has been learning how to raise pigs. He looks quite proud of his harvest, and I must say, home grown food always tastes better.
The food on the grill is from his efforts, but we don’t yet process the food ourselves. We still truck it to a local meat processor where professionals do the work.