A Busy Year Was 2012

Pretty Pink Christmas Cactus Bloom

According to the Christmas Cactus that lives in the bathroom it is now December. My how time flies…

We did a huge push on a Kickstarter fund raising drive to help raise money for continued construction through more CSA Pre-Buy sales. Many thanks to all of you who helped with that! That money is now poured into the building, quite literally as concrete, and equipment. We’ve started shipping some of the smaller rewards like the DVDs (second batch just went out this week), some early boxes of meat (e.g., Oodles of Oddments) and will be shipping more non-meat rewards soon. This winter we’ll have cutting and sausage making on-farm under state inspection which means we will be able to start shipping the meat rewards to people located in Vermont as well as delivering on our route and at the gate for people in nearby states who want to pickup in Vermont. Once on-farm butchering is running smoothly we’ll apply for our USDA inspection so we can start shipping out of state as well to finish off the rewards. In the process of doing Kickstarter we got a lot of news coverage. Check out the News page to see some of it.

We completed three big pours this year[1, 2, 3] on the butcher shop. The building is now 20′ tall and closed in. This means we are done with major exterior pours having finished pouring the concrete ceilings and temporary roof one week ago. Now we’ll can work on the interior in comfort during the cold winter months when construction normally comes to an abrupt halt.

We got our new water lines in place this summer. Replacing the old, thin and broken pipes means a lot more water is getting to the upper pond where we distribute it to all the animals troughs via gravity. It is really good to see the reservoir of the upper pond staying full right through the dry spell.

This fall we moved the two big lower whey tanks up to the top of the driveway with the upper tank so that the dairy truck driver only needs to make one stop and it’s on a flat rather than a hill as it has been for years. He greatly appreciates that. This will make unloading the whey safer and easier.

This year we brought in new genetics to our pig herd. Spitz the purebred Berkshire boar, Hamlet the purebred Tamworth boar, BigLots a Large Black sow and Alberta a Tamworth sow. They join our other breeder boars and approximately 50 sows.

We also have gotten our herd count up to 400 pigs. Increase the herd size is a very slow process. Most farms buy piglets to raise and then slaughter them all in batches. We breed all of our own pigs other than the very few rare incoming genetics like these new pigs so it is a much slower process to grow from one level to another of production. I am constantly balancing the needs of how many we need to take to market each week for customers against the needs of keeping back potential new breeders to test. It takes one year for a pig to get to her first farrowing, transitioning from a gilt to a sow and it takes a year from breeding to finishing. This is why it is so important that we have our own on-farm butcher shop to assure that we have processing capacity when we need it.

Sales of pork and roasters are up and that is helping with continuing to fund the ongoing construction along with several loans we have gotten from individuals and additional CSA Pre-Buys of whole pigs and decades of pork that have sold this year. So far nobody has bought a life time of pork so that is still available for some hungry pork aficionado!

The pigs made major headway renovating, that is to say bush hogging, a new ten acre field this summer. Next year that will be lush grasses, clover and other forages and we’ll bush hog another section. I don’t own a mechanical bush hog. True, that would be faster, but the pigs enjoy their work, it saves diesel, saves me time, prevents the tractor tires from being punctured by sharp stumps and prevents me from rolling the tractor down the mountain slopes. I also think that the pigs do a better job that I can with a mechanical mower. They are certainly less expensive, it feeds them and keeps them busy. One of the great benefits is they are out there peeing and pooping which fertilizes the soil. Our sparse mountain soil can use every bit of organic fertility we can add to it.

While the weather is warm we’re doing a little more outdoor work prepping the farm for winter, getting shelters improved, hay moved around and winter whey feeders all set. We keep getting a little bit of snow every night but so far it has been mostly melting away during the warm days.

Outdoors: 35°F/24°F Sunny, 1/2″ Snow
Tiny Cottage: 66°F/63°F

Daily Spark: Starve a lawyer – be nice!

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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2 Responses to A Busy Year Was 2012

  1. karl says:

    how is the transition from modern feeding of new additions to grazing?

    • They all did well. I was concerned about that. Especially since they all arrived in the middle of the winter when pastures are not lush with forages.

      The ones that came in off of the organic whole barley diet had been literally starving in the land of plenty. They had been getting a diet of whole barley which was mostly just passing through their digestive tract uneaten as shown in the poop photo. They all arrived very peakid, that is to say skinny. This was especially a concern on the sows. They looked terribly nursed down yet they had just farrowed. They should have been in fine condition at that point with a thick layer of back fat to sustain them for lactation. After just a month here on hay and whey they looked great. The feeder pigs who were nine months old and looked like they were only four months old when they arrived immediately began growing. After two months they looked like good six month old finisher pigs.

      The other incoming pig was Spitz who arrived shortly after the Tams and Large Black. He was in fine condition when he arrived and he transitioned easily to the diet of hay and whey, keeping his condition well.

      Once spring rolled around all of them did fine with picking up the grazing. I moved in some experienced grazing sows with them to show them the ropes around our farm just to be safe.

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