South Field Ark Surrounded by Sunflowers
Our open greenhouse in the south field plateau is currently surrounded by a sea of gold and green – sunflowers growing in the winter paddock. During the winter many of the pigs sleep in the Ark, what we’ve taken to calling it, although they also spend much of their time outdoors in their winter paddocks and on the trails north to the waterer and whey.
The Ark is a 38’x96′ metal ribbed structure with a fabric cover. It’s 21′ at the peak in the back, the north end. With the 2′ slope of the plateau that puts it at 23′ on the southern peak since the Ark is flat on its foundation of cedar posts but the land slopes down east and southward to drain.
The center of the Ark was fill with a 2′ layer of whole tree wood chips which composted through the winter to produce belly heat for the pigs. For ventilation it was open through the winter as shown above on the south end. Two large vents tall enough for me to walk through at the north end of the walls a gave good cross flow of fresh air while blocking the worst of our winter winds.
In the summer we opened up the north wall to about 10′ in height to further encourage the flow of air. This has worked wonderfully. The space inside is dry, warm, pleasant, shaded and not hot. I sometimes see the pigs in there lounging although they spend the vast majority of their time out in the pastures. Most litters have been born out further although two summer sows did choose to nest in the greenhouse over the past three months. It’s an option available to them although most seem to prefer nesting out in the margins of the brush.
As seeds go, sunflowers are great. I buy a $20 bag of blackseed sunflowers and spread it over a couple of acres growing many, many thousands of more sunflowers – you can see the density in the photo quite well. They’re easy to broadcast seed. Raking them in improves germination but they can also be storm seeded.
Tip: First seed radishes and wait for those to come up and make a bare start of a canopy, then seed the sunflowers. This gives cover to the sunflowers to protect the seedlings from sun and birds. Seed just before a hard rain.
The Ark has been a great success. Now Will is building a smaller one in the north home field which will give Spitz, our Berkshire Boar, and ladies a nice home come winter.
Outdoors: 80°F/54°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 66°F/62°F
Daily Spark: If people have more free time a portion of those people will choose to create new and interesting things. While these things may not be ‘necessary’ some may still be fascinating and atleast a few will be critical. The others are chaff and not a worry.