The way it worked is I would drive to the chip pile, get a load, then drive across the farm, through the pasture, and to whatever area Miguel was working to deliver a load of chips. Basically from one side of the farm to the other. Miguel was in the Takeuchi either spreading or piling the chips, depending on what we were trying to accomplish in that area.
The chips do multiple things for us. They stabilize areas where the pigs have made things muddy. The give us good underfoot to walk on with the tractors as we come and go. But most importantly they provide warmth for our pigs for the winter. As a mulch pile breaks down, it generates heat for the pigs. To see more about how this works, check out Walter’s post at Sugar Mountain farm here. If he can make it work at his latitude then I think we can make it work in NC.
The pigs absolutely love the chips. From the moment we started they were into everything we did. Often I’d see Miguel nudging them out of the way, gently of course, so he could keep working. They weren’t worried about the tractor one bit. You can watch them having a ball here on this short video I shot while I was waiting on Miguel for a minute.
One pig I focus on is having a ball with a limb that we knocked down, chewing on it and playing with it. He’s the one that made me get my camera out but they were all pretty funny.
In the end we hauled about 500 yards of chips with our rented loader. That is on top of the 200 yards we’d previously hauled with our backhoe. That’s the equivalent of 56 tandem dump truck loads of chips that we’ve moved to our pig paddocks for their winter needs. We probably have another 100 yards of chips already on the ground at our original pile with more coming in every day. We’ll use the new chips over the winter to top off anywhere we see a need.
The pigs aren’t waiting for winter though.
Now whenever you look into a pig paddock, they are either eating, or they are somewhere on or even in the pig pile. If they get cold at all they burrow under the chips and disappear. The big pigs have carved out terraces and can be found lounging in the chip piles as well. The pigs are cleaner, happier, and warmer with all these chips, which means I’m a happy farmer.