It’s not as easy as people think.
This morning sunrise as we finished our chores. The Princess is the photographer.
The cold weather has abated somewhat this morning although it was still 45 degrees when we started. The cows were up and ready to move this morning as the Princess and I made our way over to them. All 24 cows were looking good and even in the pre-dawn light they went straight to eating. The paddock they are on today which is the beginning of the main pasture close to the woods as we come across from the pasture by the golf course road has some really good looking grass. They should have a belly full by mid-morning.
We also fed the pigs this morning what we didn’t get them last night. The scarfed it up in just a few minutes and were back begging for more. They will get a good load of food this afternoon so the fat little piglets can get a bit fatter. They are getting seriously round, like little oinker cherubs.
We have another farmer interested in buying a couple of our piglets plus we need to take two of the pink pigs and have them processed. Then we are saving two pink pigs for the hog killing class. That will leave us with Penelope and 7 kids for the winter. With our Latin source of winter food, we should be in good shape for the winter after all the changes.
Yesterday the cows were on a sliver of a paddock that had pretty thin grass to boot. Inmate John had rightfully suggested I take a look and maybe move the cows early. He was right. Here they are onto their new grass. They were most pleased and went straight to work. I am really looking forward to when we can move the cows more than once per day. They really go to town on new grass.
Miguel has been doing some reconnoitering for me and has turned me onto another market for produce. This time at the Latin market. I am slowly working my way to Rednexican but my Spanish was woefully inadequate for this trip. Fortunately Miguel met me after work and he charmed El Jeffe of the market into letting us have an entire pallet of food with promises of more to come. And some apples and pineapple for the kids. And a lead on a tractor rental. I had to get Miguel out of there before he owned the stand. He is a charmer.
So this solves our dilemma of how to feed this winter since the regular market has shut down. The Latin market is open all winter so we should have a steady supply of fresh food for the piggies and the cows.
Anyway, the cows were more than happy to have a last blast of summer. Miguel and I hand fed to make sure everyone had a chance to at least get one.
Despite the hard frost this morning , the grass is looking pretty good. I am hoping to go pick up our first load of hay in a week or so and we should surely have plenty of grass till then. The real trick is how long will we have grass into the winter. This is our first winter where we are using the new management techniques so it’s going to be a learning experience to see how the grass does. According to the experts, in our climate we should be able to graze all winter long and not need hay. I am doing all I can to help that be true. First by buying an entire winters worth of hay which per Murphy’s Law should mean I end up needing no hay. We will see.
Instead of yesterday where I put too little wood in the boiler, last night I put too much. Couple that with one of the 2 heating zones somehow defaulted back to electric heat and we had WAY too much wood heat last night. Fortunately we have an open boiler so it can’t build pressure and it simply steams off the excess. Unfortunately we steamed off about half of the 700 gallons of water during the night. This morning has been a bit if a 3 ring circus getting things back in line.
A wood boiler is very cool, when it works. Its a pain when it doesn’t.
37 degrees this morning and our first light frost. I fired the wood boiler last night and filled it a little over what I thought it would take. It was dead empty this morning and we were heating by backup LP heat. Oops. I guess I forgot how much wood it takes when its for real cold. Since it will be even colder tonight I will make sure we have enough wood tonight.
With all the cold suddenly hitting I made sure the new baby calf was ok. Spunky was moving slowly and the calf wasn’t visible so there was a moment I was worried but he was laying in the grass right where mom was keeping him. I got him up and moving and made sure everything was ok.
I make an effort to post every day. Mainly because this is my farming and grazing journal and as odd as it may seem this is a large part of my records for the farm. That fact that I share it with all of you is sort of an aside. For anyone who is new, you’ll note if you scroll back far enough that I’ve only been doing this since this spring. Well now we are coming into winter and I’m running into a new problem I hadn’t foreseen.
Normally when I go out in the morning I move the cows, the chickens, collect the eggs, and somewhere along the way I take a picture of something I need to record. A new calf like yesterday, the grass height and condition, etc. So my post each morning is something like this.
Blah blah blah, cows, blah blah blah, grass. Post a pic.
The problem I have now is that it’s not light until after 7am and it’s darker every day. We aren’t milking yet where the cow is inside the barn where there is light. So I’m left with a post like this.
Blah blah blah, black cow this morning.
As you can see, a black cow looking at you in the black of night isn’t the most interesting picture in the world. I’ve therefor been stretching out to create some decent content, and hoping that in the evenings or during the weekend I’ll get some good pics for everyone to share the following week. As you saw, last weekend I was sailing so that didn’t work out.
The point of all this is that the quality of my pictures may be going down over the winter. Winter is a slower time on the farm so it may slow down a bit here as well. Of course, I still owe you a layout of our wood boiler system and I’ll be getting into the shop and tinkering soon so that will lead to some pic worthy projects. In the mean time, expect more off topic posts till I have something farm worthy to ramble on about.