Perspectives

It's easy to look out on the pastures and think it's all about grazing, ruminating, foraging.
To think about the lives of cattle and sheep, hogs and chickens and how they intersect with the life cycle of the grasses: growing, grazing, and growing again. It's easy to overlook the little guy, living life on a smaller scale, perhaps, but dreaming big.

Pasture Lambing

Three sets of lambs born today so far. I'm glad I decided to stay on the farm rather than help make the CSA delivery to Madison today. No one has needed any help so far, but it's nice to be on hand just in case. Lambing season has officially begun!

Frozen Monday



From a beautiful weekend to cold and snow.
Who knows what tomorrow may bring.

Waterworks

Jack Frost left a trail of destruction behind him


when he traipsed through our pastures with a low of 22 degrees last night.

But the repairs are minor,

and the cattle seemed to enjoy the show.

Early Sprigs of Grass

Although they are nothing like the lush green pastures of summer spring pastures are a delicacy for the devoted connoisseur.

Slowly, but Surely

With each warm spell the pastures get a little greener.

Grass spears and clovers emerge with the rains.

The land takes on the green glow of spring.


They're Here!

300 chicks arrived over the weekend along with 7 new piglets!
That's it until the ewes start having their lambs in a couple of weeks.

Pasture Poultry House

We've been busy preparing our mobile chicken coop for its new residents.

--with the help of our sheep, of course.

We used their fleeces to insulate the building itself and the new hover Rich built.

The hover will keep the chicks warm until their fuzz turns to feathers.

The chicks are due any minute. I can't wait to test it out.

Forest Blooms

Bloodroot, hepatica and wood anemone are blooming in the forest.

But they aren't the only signs of life out here.

I heard coyotes barking, grouse drumming, turkeys gobbling and an owl hooting--all in the span of five minutes!

Farmers aren't the only ones excited about the arrival of spring.

Farrowing Season


I've been having a small battle of wills with our older sow. I'd like her piglets to sleep in the specially built nest under the heat lamp where they won't accidentally get crushed when she wants to stand up and move around. I bed it with straw, adjust the heat lamp so it is nice and cozy, and carefully move each sleepy piglet from the shivery pile at her side. When I return to check on the gilt who is still waiting to farrow I find that the sow has removed the straw from their nest, built up her own inviting nest, and once again has a shivery pile of piglets at her side. So I step inside and move each piglet into my rebuilt nest. Soon the pigs will be old enough that crushing and cold are no longer life-threatening risks. In the meantime I have a steady occupation.

Animal Power

Feeding our animals out on pasture in the winter instead of in a barn or concrete lot allows the grasses to use the rich fertility in their manure. That means greener grass earlier in spring!


Midnight Midwifery

Another night spent farrowing: 10 new piglets from an experienced sow. Number nine was slow to start breathing, but with a little extra attention and some time warming up under the heat lamp he was soon ready for his first drink.

Season Opener


I started up our main waterline yesterday turning off valves that had been left open for drainage during winter as I walked its half-mile length looking for leaks. We started a short branch of the water system a couple of weeks ago hedging our bets against a sharp downturn in the temperature pattern.
A hard freeze would burst the waterlines costing precious time for repairs in our spring rush. Although we've heard rumors of farmers planting corn already in southern Wisconsin we've tried not to let our excitement over the early warmth go to our heads. It hasn't been easy with the frogs and birds already proclaiming spring in March. Now that the calendar reads April and the forecast continues to show lows above freezing we feel justified making the leap.

New Piglets!

24 hours after having her first litter this sow was ready for a meal. Her ten piglets slept together under the heat lamp while she munched the dandelions and other greens I added to her dish. On a 40 degree day it is nice to have the extra warmth and a safe place to get away from a mama's heavy bulk and dangerous feet. Before long her meal was done and her pigs emerged to resume their own as she called out to let them know she was ready to nurse.

Late Gestation

As our ewes get closer to their due dates they are enjoying the spring tonic they are finding in our pastures this year.