Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pork on Pasture Party

Party?  Well, it was really a workshop, but party sounded cooler.  Bob and I spent the first sunny warm 60s day of the season standing outside learning how to raise hogs on open pasture.  Bob got a sunburned face.

These sows were put out in this pasture a few weeks ago to farrow (give birth).  There are 6 here and all but one have 9 or 10 healthy, cute little pigs. (The last has probably farrowed by now.) The sows each choose a hut when its almost time and create their own nest inside.  We were told its good to have one more hut than sow as they seem to like a choice.  

Can you see the little piggie coming over from the hut.  When we arrived, all the pigs ran behind the hut.  After about 15 minutes or more, mama layed down, and they came running to her grunts.  Time for lunch!

This pen was where the sows were over the winter.  Only one sow remains here; she's the bottom of the pecking order and now has the place to herself and her litter.  The huts are made of steel and stack nicely for storing when not being used.  
We enjoyed the workshop and gained much knowledge about hogs.  However, this does not mean we're going to start a farrowing operation.  Never say never, but for now we hope to raise some butcher hogs for our own dining pleasure.
Although it is very hard to find weaned 40# pigs which creates quite a niche market.  
Just sayin'

Monday, April 29, 2013

What is an Eggmobile?

This is a common question these days.  Why?  It's what Bob is building in front of the shop.  We've been reading about eggmobiles in a Joel Salatin book (where else!) and looking at the Chicken Coops by Judy Pangman book and are now ready to launch our own.

Bob is a skilled builder and is greatly enjoying this project.  He didn't choose one particular pattern but rather gathered ideas from several plans and actual ones seen on you-tube to create his own.  It was a real bonus to find an inexpensive chassis from a friend on which to mount it.

Here's how it works:  The layer chickens will be housed inside where they will roost at night and lay their eggs in nests.  During the day we open a small door and set out a ladder/ramp for the chickens to go outside to peck and grub and get fresh air and sunshine and exercise. At night they naturally head into the eggmobile for protection, and we shut the door to keep out predators.  All that makes for healthy, happy chickens.

The coop has good ventilation on top plus a chicken-wire floor so all droppings go to the ground.  It will go into a pasture area after the cows  have grazed so they have cowpies to scratch through for insects, thereby spreading out the rich manure.  After several days, we move it to a new area following where the cows have been.  Its just beneficial all the way around.

More pictures to come once its completed,