Piggies are pastured at last

In General Farm News, Pigs on March 12, 2010 at 6:22 pm

The farrowing of Ruby last month came while there was a serious nip in the air- it was still below freezing during the day and through the night- so she farrowed in the maternity pen in our barn.

The time came to move then to their outdoor environment. First, we had to castrate the seven males, and then wait to make sure the incisions were healing nicely. Since they are all looking very robust and healthy, it seemed like the right time to attempt the move across the road.

First, the pasture needed it’s livestock fencing lined with two foot poultry hex fence, which we attached with zipties. Next, a low-to-the-ground electric fence line had to be run around the interior of those two fences, to keep Ruby and piglets from burrowing their way out.
The process of catching piglets seems simple enough on paper, reading about it in a book, or in a diary account. Really, though, the process is a royal pain in the rear and terribly time consuming to boot.

Ruby the Tamworth followed the sound of the squealing of the piglet to cross the road and walk through turkey and cow pastures to get to her pasture.
Sounds tidy and quick, doesn’t it? Well, It wasn’t and my husband is exhausted.
Bonus material: the piggie peed on him as he used it to lure momma pig.

Western Massachusetts is well into the maple sugaring season. With twenty degrees at night and well above freezing during the day, it appears that the sap is flowing and the air smells like the sugarhouses are busy. Once you smell that woodsmoke and sugary sap smell, you remember it, and every spring you are reminded of the magic of maple trees.

Davenports Sugar House is not far from us in Shelburne. They are off the beaten path and the lines are manageable. They serve wonderful family recipes and are very knowledgable about all areas of farming. They are open weekends only, I believe from 9 to 3. Look for them on Tower Road in Shelburne.

Speaking of seasons, it is natural to think of bacon when you think of maple syrup. They are like the New England version of peanut butter and jelly. And speaking of bacon, we will be bringing home the bacon from Windsor, Vermont early next week. When it arrives, we will have wonderful Gloucestershire Old Spots Maple Syrup cured Hickory smoked Thick cut Bacon available. It comes in one pound packages, with about eight hearty slices per package, if I remember correctly.

The Maple Syrup cured Hickory smoked Thick cut ham steaks will be arriving at the same time. They are wonderful and really New Englandy in flavor thanks to the generous cure in maple syrup.

One more sow to farrow at the end of the month, and then we get a reprieve from piglets for a quarter of a year. The are awfully cute but I found myself losing sleep at night worrying about their well-being. It was without cause, but it happened anyways. Perhaps as we do this more often, I will be able to sleep more soundly.


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