March was cool enough to actually get stuff done, and we ended up achieving a major milestone…
First of all, we expanded our orchard area. Most of the fruit trees we put in are doing okay, but they’re a little too shaded. We cut down our back-paddock area, and expanded our orchard area by maybe a third-of-an-acre. This extra area is a rectangle running almost north-south and is in full sun.
We had to take down the old fence that was running north-south from the front boundary down to the pig yards, and then reinstate it running east-west.
At the same time, we started another chook yard at the northern end of this orchard area. We want a place we can raise our meat chooks, give them unfettered access to forage, but also contain them a bit so they don’t get so tough. Our solution was to design a run with 2 yards coming off of it. We’ll be able to alternate which yard they have access to, and rotary hoe and sow forage for them in the other.
This area is also further from the house, and therefore further from the dogs, and so there’s a larger risk of fox predation. We designed the fence using 6-foot high chook wire, 6 inches of which will fold out at the bottom. The height and tunnelling deterrent of the wire should go a long way to keeping foxes out. We also have fox-proofing plans for their shed, but that happens next month…
The new piglets were growing fast! We haven’t interacted with this bunch as much as the first couple, so they’re not as tame. That’ll change with time, but right now the best time to give a scratch is when they’re feeding.
They’re intensely curious though, and still come up to investigate.
The one thing that fascinates me with this dynamic is that they love Bruce. They’re hesitant around us, but don’t bat an eyelid at bonding with 45kg of teeth and muslces.
The little runt, Struggle, who I mentioned in last week’s blog as being super ballsy, managed to hurt himself. I’m not sure how he did it, but he put a three-cornered tear in his side. It was the kind of tear you’d get if you snagged your shirt on a nail. He tore right down to the muscle.
I grabbed him out and cleaned him up. I debated on putting a couple of stitches in there, but didn’t want to distress him anymore than necessary. It was borderline though, and probably needed some stitching. Either way, it healed incredibly well. One day it was a gaping wound, a few days later it was packed with dirt, a few days after that it was scabbed over. It wasn’t much more than a week later it was a small scab. Seriously, pigs are fairly freaking tough!
The biggest news was that our first babies went to “The Other Farm”!
We got back about a half-tonne of meat, which takes up surprisingly little space.
We had a bunch of friends who wanted to buy pork off us, so we spent a Saturday driving all over dropping meat off. We sold it super-cheap, as our aim was to cover our feed costs for the year rather than make a killing. We ended up doing just that, and can say that those babies paid for all of the feed for all of the stock for the entire year. That means that we’re effectively self-sufficient for our meat, chicken, and eggs! That’s been our aim since coming here, and it’s satisfying to both find a way to do that on our relatively small amount of land and also to be able to share the meat with people we care about.
As is now traditional on the days we get pigs back, Linhda did home-made wonton. I can’t even begin to describe how good that soup is.
We also had a go at making our own dog food. Dogs tend to have horribly carbon footprints because of their processed food. Making it yourself isn’t as easy as you think, as just straight meat and bones won’t cut it. We read up and invented our own recipe that included the offal and trimmings, veggies, and boiled eggs. We don’t feed it to them solely, as I think it’d be a bit rich. However, we cut their morning feed with it, and they love it!
Lastly, towards the end of the month we weaned the babies and put Boris and Honey in The Patch. Just like last year, we found that our bed rotation all happened at the same time. That’s good and bad. It’s good because it’s easy to let the pigs in and rotary hoe the entire thing. It’s bad because for a few months everything is growing and nothing is being harvested. We may need to experiment a bit and see if we can influence the timing.
I did pull the pumpkins up early. We harvested them young, which isn’t really what you want. However, the plants were covering most of 3 beds, and would have sat there for weeks yet. Next year we might actually try and grow them outside of The Patch, and maybe in the orchard area. We just need an area where we can afford to let them do their thing without it getting in the way of the rest of the veggies.
Lastly, I’ll finish with some random shots of farm stuff…