Monday, April 29, 2013

In the ground this weekend

  • Lettuce mix
  • Red lettuce
  • Swiss chard
  • Beets
  • Peas
  • Red onions
  • Fence posts for cattle's temporary pasture
  • Lots of rain!

This was the calf's first time in a new pasture. She was particularly curious about the chickens. This was the best photo I could get of her trying to play with them. Cutest.thing.ever. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Good News / Bad News

I've got good news and bad news. Which do you want first? Bad news?

One of the pigs died. (Please, no bacon jokes on this one, ok?)

It was the runt of the group. At first this wasn't noticeable  but over the last couple weeks it didn't look like it grew at all. We didn't worry about this, we just thought it was the runt. Maybe there was something else going on, but it never showed signs of being sick. One day is was rooting around in the pasture, and the next day it was dead.

That's really all I have to say about that, besides that it really

Now...good news!

On Sunday, Farmer John moved the pigs from the barn to their new pasture. I know the move was frustrating at first, but then he figured out a method and it worked perfectly. Hilariously and perfectly.

The pigs seem very happy in their new pasture. They scampered around with us for a few minutes, then started rooting. It's been so much fun to watch them out there just being pigs.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Spring hay

We, like other parts of the country, are experiencing a late Spring. The land is just now starting to green up. 

A couple weeks ago we were worried about this. Our hay from the summer was almost gone, and there was no new grass in the pastures. This unfortunate combination meant we had to buy hay for the cattle.

Farmer John and his Dad took two trips to a farm in the neighboring county to get four round bales of hay.

Farmer John unloaded three of them in a spot the cattle could not access.

Then gave one to the herd in their pasture. They were so excited that they pushed and shoved...

...and rolled the bale down into a little ravine.

Despite the cattle's antics, this hay has worked well for us. It fed the cattle while Farmer John was away for several days, and should last until they are once again on green grass.  

Monday, April 22, 2013

Porcine Pallet Palace

Throughout the past week Farmer John has been making preparations for moving the pigs outside. A pasture was cleared and he has electric fence around it. On Saturday we worked on a new pig fort. They will need some shelter once they are out of the barn. 

Let me preface the following photos/text - we had no idea what we were doing, no plans, no forethought, no engineering abilities, and no money to spend on this particular project. 

Farmer John gathered some pallets from behind Tractor Supply in town and around the farm buildings. We set them up and slid some boards through the openings to keep them together. We also anchored them to some T-posts with baling twine. At this point I was kicking myself for not paying more attention during all my knot-tying classes at Northland College!

Farmer John pretended he was a pig to see how sturdy the structure was. Turns out, we needed more T-posts and baling twine with better knots. Somewhere in here we got pretty frustrated, took a break, and re-worked some of the plans. 

Farmer John scavenged one of the old hand-rails from the walking bridge to form the highest part of the roof.   

We pulled a tarp over it and tied it in place. We are hoping we tied it at an angle that will shed water. 

The true test will come soon when the pigs make their big move outdoors. An afternoon's worth of work might be knocked down with the push of a few strong snouts. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Moving fence

Along with plowing, tilling, and planting the gardens, we also put up a fence around the new gardens. 

In order to put up a new fence, we took down an old fence. The pipeliners put up this temporary fence while they were here last year. 

Part of our gas-pipeline contract stipulated that any fences that were torn down had to be replaced. They erected a temporary fence during construction. The temporary fence remained even after they had replaced the original fence.

Our goal was to remove the barbed wire, and then use those many (free!) T-posts around the garden. We used fence pliers to remove the wire from the fence clips. Then Farmer John used a homemade contraption along with the "handy jack" to pull out the T-posts. 

Next he pounded some of the T-posts in around the new garden. After they were in place we clipped three insulators on each post. 

Finally we strung the wire around the posts, and made a gate so we could get vehicles into the area. This fence is connected to Uncle John's garden and will run off the same charger. Let's hope it keeps out deer, rabbits, and other such varmints. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Garden season begins!

During our spring break Farmer John focused on the farm. Most of his work was on the gardens. 

He moved the chickens off of their winter spot, and onto pasture. He and his Dad plowed and tilled several new gardens down in the hayfield. The goal here is to create more garden space, and give some old spots a break. 

Once the new gardens were ready, we began to plant. Farmer John planted peas and beets. Then we got some helping hands to plant the potatoes.

After moving the chickens, he planted in the garden by the house. He made a big bed for lettuce, then several rows of kale, radishes, and spinach. Right now we're very excited about being back in the gardens. You may need to remind me of that when we are weeding all of them later this summer!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Happy Birthday Rockford Dad

Happy Birthday to my Dad!
We hope you don't mind sharing your day with this little one. Born this evening, mama and baby seem healthy, but we'll be keeping a close eye on them over the next several days. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Wabi-sabi is the Japanese aesthetic of imperfectness. It is finding beauty in things that are modest, humble, natural, and unconventional. You can read more about it here or in my favorite guide to the subject.

Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by all the junk we have around the farm. But, then I try to find the 'wabi-sabi' nature of all that junk.

So the other day I wandered around the farm trying to document some of the wabi-sabi-ness of the place. 

All the while, Farmer John was wandering around actually trying to clean up and get ready for Dump Day. I think we both succeeded. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Can you name that nose?

It all started the a few days ago. I was trying to take some photos of the pigs. This turned out to be more difficult than expected. I just ended up with lots of photos of snouts.

Which led me to a few more photos. Recognize anyone? 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Pig Fort

The temperatures have been pretty chilly since the pigs came to live on the farm. Currently we are housing the pigs in a couple stalls in the barn. Our barn is not air-tight by any means. They needed some protection from wind and drafts. So, we built them a fort. 

The fort has been built, re-arranged, and rebuilt several times. Farmer John and I, Farmhand Rich, and the pigs have all worked on it. 

They seem to be pretty content snuggling together in the fort, and they let me scratch their backs while they are safely between the hay bales. 

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