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Posts Tagged ‘Berkshire hogs’

In 2007, I took an apprenticeship at Caretaker Farm in beautiful western Massachusetts, and the rest is history (i.e., I became a vegetable farmer). While I was in Williamstown, my parents came out to visit me and we took a short trip to Craryville, New York, to see my uncle Bruce and cousin Justin. Their focus is on meat animals (Angus cattle and Berkshire hogs), but they also grow some veggies and flowers and bring in other locally-made goodies for their (professional and charming, I thought) farm stand. Bruce recently sent us a nice article about their business, Sir William Farm, that ran in a local paper, and after reading it I feel I have even more in common with my uncle than I realized — besides the farming and the hip issues, it seems we must have a similar aversion to chit-chat and a slow-to-get-to-know-you personality. Meet your farmer, indeed — just don’t be surprised if he or she would rather be in the field!

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Pigs like grass, grass likes rain, wildflowers like rain, veggies like rain, but veggies do not like sitting in standing water. Veggies do not like hard rains, or hail, or high winds. But we’re doing okay, all things considered.

Please come out to farm and see for yourself on July 14th during the Lake Superior Sustainable Farming Association’s Festival of Farms tour of 3 Wrenshall farms from 2-6 pm. A pig roast precedes the tour at noon at the Free Range Film Festival barn. The LS-SFA event is part of a larger Barn Dance Weekend.




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Ten pigs arrived at Stone’s Throw Farm on Sunday night after a long, cold journey. They immediately went about exploring the whole pen and seemed to approve. Their pen is west of our vegetable fields this year on a rectangle of sod that they’ll “plow” for us and fertilize to help prepare it for use as a veggie plot next season. In the meantime, the piggies are pretty entertaining and we’ll have pastured pork for sale this fall.

Though warm by our standards, it was a chilly night compared to what the pigs were used to, but the next morning found them snug in one of the straw-filled huts — they had all piled into one hut, of course.

The farm is hopping now with the addition of my parents, Craig & Jean, and increased presence of myself and my friend, farmer Heather-Marie of Rising Phoenix Community Farm. In the last week, seeds have been sown and plants transplanted into the field, so let the sun shine!

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If you’re interested at all in expanding the availability of locally-raised meat and poultry in northern Minnesota, please take a few minutes to complete this survey from the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture and statewide Sustainable Farming Association. Those who complete the survey will be entered in a drawing for 3 copies of the Minnesota Homegrown Cookbook and two Sustainable Farming Association caps.

Speaking of locally-raised meats, last week my dad came up for a few days and helped me seed some oats and peas for our pigs to graze on later this season and set up the pig pen that we’ll put them in when they arrive, possibly later this month. We also hauled compost from our neighbors’ cattle farm (Randy & Kathi Wolf) and spread it on the fields where our early crops will be, then disked it in.

Until the pigs are relocated, my mom has been staying home to take care of them when my dad comes up to help and she took these videos last week; I just haven’t gotten around to posting them until now. The piglets were weaned this weekend and are doing well, my parents reported. They’re probably much bigger already than they were when these videos were taken. My parents said the pigs want to be outside all the time, so they’ll probably be very happy on pasture at Stone’s Throw Farm . . . assuming these freezing nights end soon!

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My mom sent an update on the new piglets, which my parents are taking care of in Iowa for now. They’ll be transplanted up to Stone’s Throw Farm a little later in the spring. The piglets look really roly-poly now! Here are a couple photos of the sleeping piglets and my favorite video — enjoy.

 

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Pig heaven apparently is covered in oat and pea plants, which is what’s growing in our piggies’ pasture now. Monday evening Elden came out to the farm and helped me move the pigs from the north side of the driveway to the south edge of the east field. First I set up the wire fences on the north and south sides of their new pen, then moved most of their “furniture,” as I think of it, with the tractor:  sleeping huts, feeders and feeding platform, drinking platform, and gates that form the west edge of their pen. Next I set up the east side of the wire fence, which I move daily to open up fresh pasture for the piggies.

When everything was set, Elden and I walked the pigs over using the welded wire panels that my dad designed to quickly hook together to form a small square pen. This part was a little nerve-wracking, as they could have gotten out of the movable pen pretty easily if they had really wanted to, but all went fine. We would get them all pointed in the right direction and then invariably one would turn around and balk, but hey, they are pigs after all. We took them four at a time and I thought the second four might jump their fence and follow us when we took their friends away, but they stayed put. When we got back for round two, the second group of four pigs were waiting for us at the spot where the first four had left the pen.

The piggies took to their new quarters right away and rooted and munched with what could only be described as enthusiasm. I haven’t gotten any video of them in their new spot yet, so you’ll have to take my word for it. There are a couple videos of them in their old pasture below, so just picture that but with bigger mouthfuls of the green stuff.

 

 

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You know it’s summer when you’re so busy transplanting “hot crops” — tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squashes, corn — that you don’t have time to update your blog!

The pigs always run over to greet me when I approach their pen, even when it’s a hot day like this one was. They’ve finished up this paddock and I opened up a new area for them the other day — happy pigs!

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The pigs got hot yesterday afternoon when the sun came out, so they flopped in a mudhole to cool off. They had dug up the patch of clay soil soon after they arrived, and the rain filled it up for them. They were positively orange with clay. Silly piggies.

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