Bacon seeds

We were blessed with a beautiful litter of piglets two weeks ago.  Clover started nesting right on her due date, carrying all the hay she could find into a big tall pile, the mashing it down and creating a perfect nest.  She started laboring in the late afternoon/evening and had the first piglet at 7:45.  They came flying out for the next hour and a half, I think we had about 8 in that short amount of time!  Then there was a bit of a pause, then a couple more and the placentas were delivered.  All the babies start nursing on their own, though we gave a couple a little toweling off.  Newborn pigs are quite amazing, they stand up within a couple minutes and walk over to the milk bar, eyes open and mouths hungry. All was said and done by 10:30 PM, 10 happy piglets!  Sadly, we lost one at a few days of age, which with pigs is not super unusual.  Clover was getting a little worn down and not getting enough to eat or drink and I think she accidentally stepped on the poor little guy.  He was the smallest male and although it’s quite sad, the others are thriving and growing.  Most importantly, it brought to my attention that Clover wasn’t in the best shape and I was able to get her feed adjusted and get her hydrated and she turned right around.

Now, on to the best part – PHOTOS!

First piglet just born:

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A few more, just out and getting some milk:

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Sleeping under the heat lamps a few days old:

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Two weeks old:

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And finally, this photo sums up why we do what we do.  Look at Clover’s happy face:

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Time to Give Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving! We’re on piglet watch here at Schreck’s Acres, waiting impatiently for Clover to farrow her second litter.  She’s due today or tomorrow, and a big healthy litter and healthy mama with be cause for celebration.  She certainly looks ready:

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She’s got quite the birthing suite.  If only all hogs could have this much space to do their thing!  She even has a ball to play with.  We don’t want a bored mama.

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The areas in the corners are “creep” areas, where the piglets can lay away from Clover, to minimize the chances of injury.  We will have heat lamps for them to warm up under.  Hopefully we will have piglet photos very soon!

In other species news, we welcomed two steers to the property, for 4H and FFA County Fair projects.  Fergie and Apollo are best buds.

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Our three Berkshire hogs are growing nicely and keeping us entertained.  They are very personable, nosey little gals who really want to know everything that’s going on, when they’re not hunkered down in their self-made beds in the woods.

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We hope you all have a relaxing and fun day with family and friends.  Cheers!

Springtime

Definitely feels like spring. The days are getting longer, which is nice because I don’t have to do morning chores in the dark anymore. The bees and flies and mosquitos have arrived, and green grass is everywhere. We have a group of Cornish cross meat birds and some new layers who are about 6 weeks old. And of course, Clover the sow, Joey the steer and Bob the rent-a-friend companion lamb. He gets put in with whomever needs company and someone to butt around, he gets equally pushed around by the steer and the sow.

Clover’s piglets are 4 months now, growing nicely and all ear tagged as possible show pigs for fair. They are eating non-medicated feed, milk, hay and apples and will be going to their final destination late June. One will be available at the Junior Livestock at the El Dorado County Fair on June 14th. The remainder will go to Wolf Pack Meats for USDA processing and be available by the cut.

Joey the steer will also be auctioned off at the Jr Auction, and he is being fed non-medicated, antibiotic free feed.

It’s a busy time of year, I need to get my garden in and still have potatoes to plant that are about a month late. Keeping the chickens out of the garden is the big challenge to they don’t destroy my plants.

Enjoy the season, it’s so beautiful outside.

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Update on the farm goings-on

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything on the blog and I thought I’d give an update on everything around here.  We’ve certainly been busy, and are about the get much busier in the next couple weeks!

Virtual tour begins now:

 

It’s a porcine party, who could ask for more?

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“I smell her but I can’t see her!”

Our current round of market hogs are gaining quite nicely and getting very close to harvest weight.  For the last several weeks, we’ve had them moved into a new paddock in the woods that we have fenced only with electric fencing.  After taking a ride on the five star roller coaster known as “The Learning Curve” Mark successfully fenced these gals in with 7,000+ volts of electricity. Alessandro Volta is officially on their hate list. The cool thing about this fencing is that is inexpensive, relatively easy to set up and move and adaptable to wooden terrain such as ours.  We can move pigs all over our acreage to provide food for them and light clearing of the land for us.  They eat poison oak, for goodness sake.  And make bacon out of it, no less!  

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These pigs are thrilled they are being raised right next door to Apple Hill:

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Next on the farm tour, we have Clover, our very pregnant gilt (she’ll be a “sow” once she farrows her first litter….farrow=birth, for pigs).  She is Maddie’s 4H project this year (and hopefully for the next few years!): 

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Here’s a better belly shot:

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No, she’s not currently giving birth to a lamb.  That’s Shirley, our Christmas lamb who is keep Clover company until she gives birth.  Clover was feeling a bit lonely and we were feeling a bit hungry so it was a win-win.  Once Clover has several hungry piglets gnawing at her 24/7, she’ll wish for some loneliness.  And a glass of wine and a bubble bath.  Piglets are due on or around December 7th, we have all our fingers and toes crossed for an easy labor, healthy piglets and good mothering.

On to the fine feathered friends:

Cornish Cross soy-free batch is almost seven weeks old now.  We are looking at probably two-three more weeks I think.  These guys are looking great, well feathered and very active and sturdy.  I raised them on whole grain and fermented feed and it’s really made for some healthy growth rates, they aren’t too big too soon and are therefore very active and not just laying down with their head in the feeder all day.  Now I’ve transitioned back to an organic soy free higher protein feed and they are putting on weight nicely.

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Sadly, no photos of the little two week old chicks who are being raised by their mama, because a hawk(s) has killed off all of them over the last few days.  All six of them, well, actually just five but the mom abandoned the last remaining one overnight last night and sadly he died too!  Nature is brutal.  I have four left who are a little bigger, but I’m keeping them in the chicken yard for a few days to see if I can get the hawk to move on.  It’s such a bummer because the mamas do such a great job raising them and teaching them to free range and forage for food.  I was really hoping we could keep a “closed” flock this way and keep producing new layers for eggs and fryers out of the roosters, but we need to get more hawk protection.

Now to the bovine buddy…

Lastly, we have Joey, who is Calista’s 4H project steer for this year:

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He comes home with us this week.  What a sweetie he is!  We’ve never had a cow before so I’m sure we’ll be taking another ride on “The Learning Curve” throughout the next six months or so when he is here.  Should be fun!

 

I think that is it for now!  Cheers!

 

 

Wake me up when September ends.

I really hate that Green Day song, but I agree with the sentiment. Aside from this beautiful basket of bounty, September is among my least favorite months. It’s such a tease – cool crisp mornings fooling you into sweatshirts that you will later rip off in the seat of your broiling car. By October, it will be much more likely to stay cool all day and rain, which is something everyone seems to be looking forward to, not least of all the dry, parched earth. The leaves will do their amazing color parade and pumpkins and apples will rule the land. Bring it on!

In the meantime, I have a date with my cuisinart to purée that basil into pungent pesto futures, which I will unleash into my kitchen during the dark days of January, my second unfavorite month.
😉

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Sweet Clover

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Is she or isn’t she?  We did the AI (artificial insemination) with Clover two weeks ago, and we should know whether or not she is pregnant sometime next week.  If she shows no signs of heat, we can celebrate with some champagne (not for the expectant mother, of course!  Oh, and not the kids either…. so I guess it will be me and Mark drunk on a bottle of champagne).  If she starts to go into heat again, we will have to do the AI or find a boar to do the *job* the old-fashioned way.

I can see the craigslist ad now.

“SPP (single pink pig) seeks SB (single boar) who enjoys rooting in the dirt, lounging in the mud and chewing leaves and acorns.  Must love long walks in the pasture and holding hooves with me.  Must be okay with a little meat on a girl.”

Sigh.  I hope it doesn’t come to that.  Cross you fingers for us, k?