Spring 2009 South Field Panorama
Spring is here but we still have a little bit of snow. Above is a panorama of the south field as seen from Coy’s rock.
The main breeding herd has wintered. This photo is from a few days ago but things still look about the same. The three and a half foot tall step in fence posts are just starting to appear out of the snow. If you click on the image it should pop up in a a much larger (688KB) version in a new window. Some browsers like Safari and FireFox will let you then zoom in and out as well as panning around the image to see details, find the sheep and other fun stuff.
The majority of the hay was placed on the new plateau which can be seen in the right central area of the photo. The pigs have been gradually opening the bales themselves and self feeding which has worked amazingly well. I had not originally planned this but they have done it at a nice steady rate of about three bales a week. That comes to about 340 lbs/day or about 5 lbs/animal/day which is just about right for such large pigs. Since it worked I haven’t messed with it. The only negative is that come spring, and I mean the real spring when the snows are gone, we’ll need to clean up the plastic wrap – a few hours work.
I did change the arrangement of bales from one solid group to three crescents. This provided wind blocks for the pigs. They also have roofed shelters, over at the dens and sheds, but preferred to sleep out under the stars on the plateau. We’ve noticed this other years. The only times they went to the dens was during the coldest, windiest nights.
In the middle of the plateau you can see our John Deere 4700 tractor with the forks on for carrying a bale of hay over to the north field. Normally I would do it with the bucket and chain but this day I was also unloading apple pomace.
Past them is the field road leading down to Riddle Pond Road. Going off that road was how I almost lost the tractor this week in the deep snows. Unfortunately I have to plow road this uphill in the winter. It is a lot harder plowing upward, constantly fighting gravity than it is plowing down. When the snows are light enough I first drive up and then plow downward but if the wind has drifted the snow into fill the field road or it has snowed more than about two feet I have to plow, slowly, up to get to the plateau. This is something I need to work on in the farm layout so that I can always plow downhill.
Again moving to the left is the construction sight of our greenhouse to be which did not get quite finished before winter hit hard. This is a project we’ll pick backup when the weather warms up. We did the last pour in freezing weather and even with accelerant in the concrete I did not want to risk cracking the structure by going further. Patience…
Just at the north end of the greenhouse it looks like there is a meeting of pigs. From the looks of it two groups have collided. Traffic congestion! They come to a stand still figuring out who is going to move over based on the pecking order and then pass by along the trail. One of the good things about having the pigs sleeping far from their water, which is down by the old farm house, and food, which is up on the strawberry level, is that they spread their winter manure out over several acres of field rather than concentrating it all in one place. Like in the summer, this spreading is better for the soil and plants. All this walking also gives them exercise which makes for better, redder, higher quality meat.
Continuing to the left is the lower pig pond and then the old farm house can be seen in the distance with the house end shed which was a model for the coming greenhouse. We have been using that space for farrowing. The piglets love the sunny, wind blocked space created by the house down in that sheltered area. The atrium and one of the gardens are also down in that sheltered area, filled with growers and piglets who will soon go out to see pasture for the first time in their lives. So far all they’ve known is snow and hay since they were all born in the winter.
This brings us almost all the way around to the ridge. Through the trees you can see the top of Sugar Mountain which was ravaged by the ice storm of 1998. The regen is coming and long nicely. In another 40 years the sugar bush on top will be back.
Looking towards the distance in the central area the marshes can be made out and then beyond them is Knox and Butterfield Mountains to our north east.
So, did you find the:
Outdoors: 44°F/29°F Mostly Cloudy, 1/2″ Rain
Farm House: 33°F/32°F
Tiny Cottage: 65°F/55°F