Monday, January 26, 2015

Barn, Breeding & Chicks

Barnyard and Breeding

Looking back at the last farm update I see there is much to report on! Firstly, the pig barn is here and the pigs are loving it. The building is 12'x16' with one human door, two pig doors and four windows. They get great light, excellent protection from the wind and the best conditions to keep their straw nice and dry. It's amazing.

Waking up from a min-morning nap.
Here is a view of the inside. We have it divided in half right now, since we only have five pigs at the moment, to encourage them to cuddle up for warmth (their tendency anyways).

January rolling in meant time for the next breeding cycle (and dreams of adorable piglets). Leading up to this we had many, many discussions and schedules drawn up to plan what we were going to do, how and when to do it. So, long story short, we had a very frustrating and disappointing attempt at artificial insemination (never thought I'd be buying pig semen!) and had to develop a new plan, and push farrowing and harvest back a month.

Currently Vera, Elsa and Suzy are away on a little vacation, visiting with Buddy. Hopefully he does right by our girls, they get along, have a nice time and come back bred!

Chicks and Cluckers

We will be welcoming 25 chicks to the farm in the next week! It will be fun to have those little peepers in the brooder in the basement (that is sure to help with cabin fever). We are adding more layers to the flock (currently 13 hens), so they will start laying by the beginning of summer. More bodies in the coop will be beneficial for warmth next winter as well.

Our first chicks, from 2014.
The hens have been laying great, with a total of 63 eggs last week, or an average of 8 per day for the 13 hens. If you are interested in eggs simply email us at or text/call Brooke @ 507.412.7605.

Netting around the chicken run, wind-whipped.
The beautiful, mild January weather has been giving us opportunity to  do some projects. It's nice to get some work out of the way to lessen the workload come spring. The prairie wind is strong out here, the netting around the chicken coop was beginning to showing it. I spent Saturday pulling it down and putting it back up. Hopefully it will hold now.

Chicken run netting nice and straight!

Veggies & Winter Planning

The field plan is finalized, seed orders done and some seeds have already arrived in the mail - oh the first signs of spring! I have two calendars - one for inside seeding, one for outside seeding and transplanting - they have both been updated, so I am ready for seeding on March 3rd.

The sheets are designed to contain all the information I need at hand during planting. Number of seeds to plant, spacings, dates, germination temps and days, specific notes and more. A well-planned spreadsheet is a beautiful thing ;) This is necessary for successful and efficient planning, for me, as well as for record-keeping for organic certification.

My planning efforts now are focused on finalizing our 2015 budget in the next couple days, research into the cultural needs of specific crops, and doing some prep work for this season's newsletters, among other items.

Member sign up for 2015 CSA Shares and Farm Shares continues at this time. We do have a few Full and Half CSA Shares yet available, as well as a handful of Farm Shares. We're excited!!

This weekend we had a wonderful meeting with orchard owners Marv and Jill. Each year about this time we get together to hang out, talk about the events of the last year, plans for the coming year and each of our goals and visions for the future. We feel continually blessed to work with them - for this opportunity to manage more land organically and their passion for healthy food and land stewardship!

Phenology Report

If you get a chance to sit outside on a nice quiet night in January you may hear the call of the great horned owl. These amazing creatures are courting and starting their nesting season in the dead of winter, January and February. The familiar hooting can be heard here at the farm, because there is a nesting pair about a half-mile down the road.

Odds and Ends

There have been some requests from folks to hear more about what we do in our own home, as far as sustainable and natural living. I have been musing for a while on sort of a "Know Your Farmer" type theme of blog posts that would address this, so stay tuned and please speak up! Ideas that come to mind include our composting practices, green cleaners and what's in our medicine cabinet. If there is something specific that you are interested in post a comment, shoot us an email or ask us on facebook - we are happy to share our experiences in this way!

40 days until daylight savings!

New Ulm Community Market and Co-op is continuing it's member drive! If every member recruited just one more they would meet their goal. Consider bringing a friend there shopping the next Saturday they are open - Jan. 31st, 9 am - 1 pm.

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