Sunday, April 11, 2010

Busy week

Here it is mid April already, last week saw 19 little black Berks arrive. Both first time gilts, but what a difference in performance. Reggi my new gilt from a long time breeder in Iowa, delivered thirteen, and what a job she did. She lay quietly through the delivery with only a couple of breaks to drink and reposition. She bellies up to the heat lamp and pad to nurse . Can't say enough good things for her. The next night Ziggy my little AI gilt from southern Utah showed me how frustrating things can be. She only delivered 6, but spent countless times jumping up and spinning around, I spent 4 hours snatching babies from under her tromping hooves. She would bury the little tykes and then lay on them, Finally exhausted at 4 in the morning I left her with her brood. I fully expected them to all be dead in the morning. Amazingly she only lost one the next night. I doubt she will get a second chance.

Then the wait for the baby chicks to arrive in the mail. Wed. came and went, then Thur. I was sure all would be lost. But Fri 6am the phone finally rang. To my surprise only one out of 500 was DOA. Of course I'm still counting the losses as the stress exacts it's toll. And Sat. the last little batch arrived from Pennsylvania. All but two Ranger chicks alive, but the Guinea's didn't make it.

My daily chores certainly take much longer now, but a lot of that is from just enjoying the bustle of new life. And speaking of new life, we added Penny to the operation, she's a Bernese cross puppy. Watch dog or love? yet to be seen.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Spring must be coming

The days are longer and the hens have really started laying down the eggs. I've been busy the last few weeks finding markets for the 5 dozen eggs each day. And I feel confident now that I have finally accomplished that. I just finished the new chicken coop a couple of months ago, and now it's too small already. Amazing how that happens. So much demand for good all natural farm fresh food.

On the way to set up the largest account yet, I stopped to make a delivery and found yet another small store that wanted part of the action. Sigh,

One little side note, after making our pitch to the store owner, which he graciously and enthusiastically accepted, we left him with 10 dozen eggs to start off, He didn't even make it to the cooler before the patrons were relieving him of the eggs. We left with a smile and gratitude for the people who make our ventures possible.

The chicks are ordered for the first round of the Broilers. So much to get ready for, but the temperatures are still below zero in the mornings, so it's not quite time yet.

The next batch of Berks will be along in about six weeks. The last batch is growing rapidly. I enjoy a few minutes each time I feed, just to squat down and play with the youngsters as they learn to trust and enjoy the attention. I guess only those who love the stock they raise can understand how that feels. Life's good.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Just wanted to thank Christian for his blog. It is always an inspirational lift to read his blog and receive a bit of a boost from his writing. We all too often get absorbed in our own trenches, and forget that there is indeed a hoard of good people out there hungering literally for the products we produce.

I spent this past week dealing with the effects of the cold in relation to water. Friday morning took until noon to get the pickups started. 30 some odd below zero and the trucks were sluggish at best. But after a few hours with the weed burner and battery charger, and I had them running. I ran to the feed store for another poultry water can, which he informed me would freeze. Funny man. Then I remembered the wife had asked me to check the kids house while I was in town. The house was quite cold when I walked in, and the sinks were full of frozen water, other wise known as ice. A quick check of the propane tank spoke volumes. So the next two days were spent crawling under the house trying to patch broken pipes. We finally gave up and will re plumb the entire house as soon as time allows. Then on Monday I got a call from the landlord where I raise the pigs. It seems the well regulator had gone out during the night, so I had 350 feet of frozen water hose. So after several hours I had the hose rolled up and thawing in the tub. After replacing the hose the thirsty pigs were happy.

The following day I arrived to feed and guess what was froze up again?

Spring will come. Knowing that there are indeed many folks waiting for the incomparable Berkshire pork helps buoy my spirits.

Thanks again Christian for what you do.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

2009's sliding out the door.

Seems like 09 just started, but here it is slipping out the last few days of Dec. In reflection, it's been a good year. We've met a lot of good folks, and shared our products with an ever increasing clientele.

We just delivered the last of our chickens this week. It's kind of a rush to stop at the designated meeting place, and greet the good folks who are so pleased to receive the locally grown unadulterated chickens. It always buoys up my spirits to see their enthusiasm. In deed I do make a few bucks off of the project, but it's hard to put a price on the intangible.

The cold weather moderated this week, which made us all happy. The laying hens are feeling a little less fatalistic, but the molt is in full swing, so we're only getting about a dozen eggs a day. The customers are whining, but it is what nature does, and it will be over in a few weeks. I hope. We have two small stores plus lots of individuals waiting patiently for the molt to end.

I put the boar (Thumper) in with the new Gilts, Ziggy, and Reggi, and Teana, so spring should bring us quite a bustle of little black and white babies. I must admit that when I go out to feed the hogs, I spend a few extra moments in the hutch with the little ones. They kind of charge up my batteries. There just isn't anything like the babies, to remind us what it's all about.

Happy Holidays to All, and here's hoping 2010 is as good or better than 09.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

TOOO Darn cold

What a discouraging day! I arrived home from work this morning at 5:30 am, and rushed out to check on "Grandma" our oldest sow, due to farrow on the 5th. No such luck. Denise and I both had to work last night, so Grandma was left in the farrowing pen with the heat lamps blazing and the heat mat warm. Boy was I discouraged as I counted out the frozen piglets. Not one of the 12 had made it to the light only 3 or 4 feet away. I had plans to put down a bigger heat pad for the sows and even an electric space heater today, but so much for plans. A day late and thousands of dollars short. The thermometer said it was 13 below zero, so I guess without help, the little guys didn't have a prayer. Grandma was agitated yesterday, so I knew she was close, I should have stayed home last night.

Lots and lots of "should haves".

The one bright spot today was that the 8 little ones from Missy are still holding on, pretty cold but active. They are about 8 days old. Missy snuck them in before I got her home to the farrowing pen. So go figure, Missy has them alone, still in the sow pen without help or heat and appears to have saved every one she had, while Grandma with all the heat close at hand looses the whole litter.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Poultry about finished

With Thanksgiving behind us, the Turkeys are not only in the freezer, but most have been enjoyed this past week. Thanks to all who purchased these delicious birds. The broilers are down to the last little bunch of about 50, and by the end of this week they should all be in the cooler. Not to say they don't already think they're in the cooler, with temps. near zero each night.
It's been a good year for us. We purchased 950 broiler chicks during the season, and 50 turkey poults. Though the demand keeps growing, we think we have probably hit our wall. If we keep getting bigger we will burn out, so we will try to keep as many of the good folks fed as we can, but will have to leave it to others to help feed the ever increasing demand. The growing of our poultry is the easy part, it's the processing that takes so much time and effort. But the rewards are enjoyable.
It is certainly heartening to hear so many folks express their appreciation for the whole some all natural poultry. I'm not sure that most of our customers even know what the terminology means. Though they know what the clean delicious flavor means. As the picture shows, our birds are truly free ranging pastured poultry. They are fed an all natural barley based diet that we mix, to ensure that the ingredients are not adulterated with drugs, hormones, or animal by-products. We then process them in as humane and gentle a manner as is possible. We use no chemical washes just clean water. The birds are never washed in chlorine or like chemicals which the big boys do. The birds are then refrigerated for 24 hrs. before packaging and delivery. Most are then frozen for later pickup.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Sept hogs in the freezer

Well finally today the last of the Sept hogs are in the freezers. The delicious Berkshire hogs will make for many happy meals. Berkshire hogs are for those in the know, the BEST of the BEST. It is a pleasure to work with these quiet and friendly animals. Teana's 8 little ones are growing and doing well as they mingle with the older feeder hogs. Grandma and Misty should be about two months pregnant, and if I imagine hard enough, I think they are beginning to show a little. We raise these hogs an all vegetable diet, featuring locally grown barley and not solocally soy bean meal, and alfalfa hay. And probably the distinctive feature with our hogs, other than being Berkshire is that we top them out around 350 lbs, I love the large pork chops, and the larger quantity of sausage. Tender, juicy, tasty, it's about dinner time isn't it?

We added a nice gilt (Ziggy) from southern Utah, and a beautiful gilt (Reggi) from Iowa this summer, oh and Misty came in from Boise. So we're set with some new bloodlines for the next couple of years.