Grass update

The grass is coming along nicely. This is a shot from today of the grass on the hill closest to the golf course. The grass is about 8-9″ tall at this point. We had to flash graze this paddock about two weeks ago so this is grass that has recovered.

The cows have about another week over at the new place, David and Mr. McKoy’s farm, giving this grass more time to fill out and get the maturity we like to see in it before we graze. Hopefully we will get some warm weather and continued rain here or there to help the grass grow. A week of good growth and this grass will be looking for some cows to do their work.

A visitor from the great white North

I received a call out of the blue about a month ago while Miguel and I were on the Gator doing something or other. This nice lady on the other end of the phone explained she was a PH.D. student in Boston and was studying wasps. She wanted to know if she could come to our farm and look for wasps. Sure, I hate wasps, maybe she’ll tell me some way to make them not such a problem.

This morning, Julia showed up right on time to do her wasp research.

Looking for wasp nests in all the usual places
Looking for wasp nests in all the usual places

Mainly we walked around and looked where you would normally see wasps. Under eaves, under stairs, in our head gate, by the fence hot boxes. Julia found 6 nests in the 45 minutes she was here, which she said was pretty good. Of course, that’s six I need to go and murder now before there are a bunch of the things flying around and stinging me when I’m trying to work. Did I mention I hate wasps?

If I had hair, I'd have it that color.
If I had hair, I’d have it that color.

When I was talking to Julia on the phone, she said I’d know it was her by her hair. Ahh college. You just don’t see colors like that in the corporate world. The closest I can come to this is my purple iPhone case. Not exactly stepping out.

Julia capturing a live wasp
Julia capturing a live wasp

“All you need is a plastic bag, forceps, and nerve.” Julia

Yeah right. A wasp had started building a nest inside of our bird feeder. I had planned on getting rid of this wasp myself by simply lighting the entire house on fire and standing in front and pouring gasoline till there was nothing left. Luckily our expert had a less permanent solution. She reached into the feeder with forceps and grabbed the wasp by the leg. She then deftly placed it in the bag and was done. She didn’t find any of the wasps she was looking for unfortunately, but as she said, there is no bad data. The absence of what she was looking for is data itself so she was happy.

Just one more day on the farm.

The Japaneese have their cherry blossoms…

  

And we have our state flower, the dogwood. In front of our barn we have the biggest dogwood tree I’ve ever seen. In spring it comes alive with white flowers, which I dearly love. After a short period, the flowers fall off and we are left with 50 weeks of green or brown tree but every time I see it, I see the flowers. 

The dogwood is the tree that I can most readily identify, because if you ever cut one down my father would have your rear end before you could blink. Since I spent my fair share of time in the woods clearing areas for him, I learned quickly from experience (and a sore rear end) which trees were not to be touched either by the saw or by falling trees. You would think I wouldn’t like them having to be so careful around them growing up but the opposite is true. Left to my own devices, there would be nothing but dogwoods and azaleas planted everywhere on this farm. 

Fat pigs show up at the farm

New pigs in the trailer
New pigs from Chuck

Our friends Tommy and Chuck raise feeder piglets for us. Whenever they have a litter that is weaned, we drive over and pick up the whole lot which means a new batch for us, and no Craigslist crazies for them. It works out well and they are our preferred breeder. However Tommy and Chuck both work full time jobs and aren’t always available. The pigs you see above are SLIGHTLY bigger than feeder pig size. In fact, they are market size. With the bad winter, their schedules, my schedule, and a whole comedy of errors, these pigs lived most of their lives at Chuck’s place and the first time we could get them was last Saturday. Don’t worry, these pigs will be going to a different market since they haven’t been raised in our program. We received 11 pigs with an average weight of 267 pounds each.

These pigs are pretty big and fat, however they will loose about 20% of their body weight by being on our farm. I’ve not really seen our pigs next to a conventional pig. The difference is this

Fat Albert, for those of you who don't remember who is.
Fat Albert, for those of you who don’t remember who is.

compared to this.

Well maybe not quite a ripped

You can see it in these pigs behavior and in how they look the difference of working for your food vs. unlimited handouts. These pigs lay down and go to sleep pretty much anywhere and any time. In fact, while I was talking to Chuck just after loading, one of the pigs started snoring! This is 5 minutes after being loaded into a strange trailer. I’ve never heard a pig snore before, it was pretty funny. However it was also pretty telling. Carrying around all that extra weight does to a pig what it does to us, none of it good. We are processing one of the pigs to see what the meat is like and do some side by side comparisons. We’ll know in a few weeks what we have and we’ll report back here I’m sure. In the meantime, these pigs are going onto the Ninja diet. We’ll get them into shape.

Pig escape! And pigs go to market.

Pigs out of their paddock
Pig escape!

Yesterday we loaded pigs to be carried to the processor. When we hooked up our pig trailer and went over to the paddock, we found what you see here waiting for us in the cow pasture. The mottled pig closest to the Princess is the one we needed especially because he was going to our friend Kimberly as a special order pig. A few weeks ago we dropped off some pigs and this guy rushed past Miguel and jumped onto the trailer. Yesterday he didn’t even wait for that but instead was already out of the paddock. We stopped and dropped the trailer to the ground and he almost got on out in the pasture. Instead he followed us back to the paddock and ran back in with everyone else. I’ve never seen a pig so happy to get onto a trailer before.

After some back and forth shenanigans, we were able to load this guy and two more pigs to go to Acre Station and I headed out on the four hour drive there and back. Everyone offloaded fine and we’ll have more pork in a couple of weeks. We’ll also be working on all the hot wires today, after we move cows to the new farm.

It should be another busy day for us Ninjas.

A new worker on the farm

Miguel and Crystal
Miguel and Crystal

We have a new worker on the farm. Miguel has been bringing his daughter to work on Saturdays to work with him and to learn what we do on the farm. She is a delight to have here and based on her expression she’s having a lot of fun. I’m not sure what she thinks of the big gringo who keeps joking with her but it’s obvious she enjoys being here with her dad.

Last weekend, after moving some pigs from the barn to the finished pig paddock, I had the opportunity to see them interacting as you see here. They were too cute so I had to snap a picture.

Our first fan art

Child art
A horse, running through the field on a beautiful day

Last week we had a group of home schoolers out for a field trip. We do this type of thing often, averaging about 2-3 tours per week. Being homeschoolers ourselves, I always have a special place for homeschool families. This field trip took a few reschedules due to weather. I also learned that the coordinator had had a new baby TWO WEEKS before she came out and still made the trip and handled all the logistics details before hand.

As I welcomed the different car loads of people, I noted that one of the moms looked familiar. Sure enough, she and her daughter had been to our farm before for their own tour. The daughter, who was so cute I didn’t even think to get her name, had painted the above picture for me when she found out they were coming back. When she hopped out, she handed me the picture you see. I immediately put the picture away safe in my office and I’m finally getting up here to scan it and proudly share it. How cool is that? She took the time to patiently explain to me what everything in the picture was, as if I couldn’t see. I have three kids of my own, you know.

For those of you who can’t see it, it’s a horse running across the pasture. The grass is brown, but when she was here before it was winter and the grass was indeed brown. Behind the lead horse, you can see additional horses artistically represented but not clearly defined. Now at this point you may be saying to yourself, “Self, I don’t recall Dan having any horses on the farm.” Well, you’d be wrong. We had horses here for many years, something I’m sure I talked about on our tour and she remembered. Or maybe she likes horses better than cows so she drew them instead. I don’t care, I love it anyway.

I’ll be finding a good place to hang my picture. I just wish I’d gotten it signed and dated. Hopefully on their return trip.

 

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