Monday, 29 July 2013

Piglets have finally arrived!

We had estimated Christmas Ham’s due date as Tuesday, give or take a day. For her last litter we were only one day out, this time it was a little more.

We penned her off a couple of weeks back. Firstly to give her time to nest (farrow), but also as she had been looking bigger than the last litter she had, for quite some time. And were worried, we had got the dates wrong and she would go early. But Sunday she was looking bigger and low. We felt the arrival could come any day… But as the week went on, she kept getting bigger and fuller looking.

Pigs season for 3-5 days and will carry their litter for 114 days (or 3 months, 3 weeks, 3 days).

So having spent all week approaching the pen hopefully, I arrived home from work on Friday and could see she was nestled in the shed. Pulled in, raced to let the dogs and birds out of their prospective runs, and hurriedly gathered some food for her and the others.

On approach I could see her, she came out of the shed and climbed up the fence as normal… and she was still big. My heart sank. But then I noticed, whilst her teats were big and low, she was not. As I peeked around the corner, there were 3 gorgeous little piglets basking in the sunshine. And a few more nestled in the corner, in the hay. So I began to count 1, 2, 3… 8, no 9! All active, and all healthy; only hours old (if that) and already getting about!
Mum and babies are doing well.

Gratefully filling the cavities in the shed sides with expanding foam appears to have kept their beds dry and warm. As the weathers been a bit cool (in tropical terms) and unseasonably wet! Well for the ‘dry season’.  But they have made their way out and about in the sunny breaks. Long enough for us to get a fairly good look at them. At least long enough for us confirm we have 5 little girls and 4 little boys.
We were hoping for more girls than boys, as boys means an extra task that we are not too keen on. As these guys will all be for sale- we currently have over 80kg of pork in the freezer from Streaky, as well as Berky still on the ground. And I am increasingly confident that Sage (our pure bred Berkshire sow) in pregnant too. So I don't think we will be keeping any from this litter, but even if we were we would still have to castrate the others that were for sale.
Castrated bores are called baroows, and for some reason many believe in something know as 'bore taint'. In that in tact bores are 'working' as as such the hormones taint the meat. This is not something we subscribe to, as we didn't castrate 'Berky' (our grower from thier first litter), and even our local commercial piggery rears his intact. As he pointed out, it's all weight.
But if we are to sell these guys, unless we get interest before hand for full bores. Then we will be castrating them in coming weeks. I did post about our experience with the last litter, so I am sure I will post about this time too- given we should be a little more experienced!
But for now, we are just enjoying standing in the pen, watching them.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Eggs, chicks, calves and piglets!

In animal news, we have babies everywhere!

Poddy’s are doing really well! They are 5 weeks today! Each has their own character, Bart loves to buck and show off & Ruby is a little more reserved and lady like, very gentle… Unless food is involved!

She has gotten over her teething problems, for want of a better word with regard to feeding. And now drains her bottles in half the time of Bart, and then proceeds to badger him and whoever is feeding him for his too. Both of us have admitted that we would struggle to raise her for the freezer, so we think she will go up for sale once she is weaned. So she will be with us for a few months yet!


Since my last post I had purchased a few feathery additions, 5 chicks, a few days old; 2 Dark Barred Plymouth Rock chicks and 3 Silver Sussex. We definitely have a rooster in each, but not the end of the world, as both make good dual purpose birds- so roosters should make good table birds. And we are both keen on Plymouth Rocks, so may consider keeping the rooster and breeding them. As for the Sussex we already have a silver hen of a different bloodline and Lights (both hens and roosters), so breeding maybe an option for this guy too.

When I bought them, the lady told me I could have first pick of the Plymouth Rocks (the Silver Sussex there was only 3 left). So I picked 2 different markings; guessing I woul dhave at least one hen... If I'd have picked the same markings I know I'd have picked two roosters!


As for our own breeding birds. We had found an odd egg within the Indian Game nesting boxes, so had separated them into desired breeding groups (for preferred colour combinations etc). Given that they are still in temporary pens at the front and we needed the panels for our pig pen,this didn’t last.

We had collected over a dozen eggs that went in the incubator, but only 1 was fertile. We had thought it was more than likely rotten, until it pipped over the weekend. Much to my excitement, that nearly landed in catastrophe (literally). As I dropped the pipping egg on the tiled floor! (From the kitchen bench). Much to our surprise (and my many tears) this little one is still thriving and graduated to the brooder box last night- as it was causing mayhem in the incubator.

The incubator is still full, a few later eggs from the Indian Games (lets hope we have an improvement in fertility) and a number of turkey eggs. The turkey hens themselves are currently sat on a few more eggs, and a few chicken eggs. So we will see how that works out.

And in piggy news, we are relatively sure that Sage (our replacement) Berkshire sow is pregnant. As not only has she not seasoned since; and she should have had a few cycles by now. But she is starting to ‘barrel’. So hopefully we will have our first Berkshire litter in September. More imminent however is the arrival of our second litter of piglets (Berkshire crosses).

We sectioned off Christmas Ham, our heavily pregnant Berkshire –Saddleback cross sow, a few weeks back. As she was looking huge and we were worried we had miscalculated the dates. But she is still hanging on, only now she is looking low too, and has been farrowing in the shed; preparing for her litter- nesting if you will.  So hopefully I will be posting news soon. Her last litter she delivered during the day and if it wasn’t for my partner noticing that she wasn’t ‘fat any more’ then we would have been none the wiser. So fingers crossed that everything goes well for this time- as she is twice the size she was last time. So we figure she is either has big piglets or a larger litter this time.



Monday, 22 July 2013

Water woes and wins

First I want to apologise for being AWOL for a few weeks, due to circumstances beyond my control.  Unfortunately I was involved in a bit of car accident, fortunately I walked away, just been a little sore and sorry… my car however didn’t fare so well.

So all in all it has been a busy few weeks, but not that I have been of any help!

Here in Queensland it is winter, and winter means ‘dry season’. So now more than ever we are reliant upon our water stores.

As avid fans of River cottage, we have been following River Cottage Australia since it began a few weeks ago- not quite the same as watching Hugh struggle from scratch, but the idea is the same and we’re keen to see a version take off here- covering topical issues in the Australian climate. And funnily enough, one of last week’s topics was (in part) about the necessity for a reliable water supply. This is something particularly relevant to us, particularly at the moment. As I am sure it is a relevant topic for many all over the world. If you grow (anything), have livestock, or are not on a town supply… Or, all of the above like we are, then a reliable source is vital to our, and our farms survival. In our case it hasn’t been so much the sourcing, but more of its sufficient and effective storage.

Our water is sourced from either rainwater;  by feeding from both the house and the shed, which is mostly gathered during wet season, and will see us though for a few months. But in addition to this we have a ‘bore’; a pump directly into an underground source, much like a well/spring. This we use to ‘top up’ or supplement our tanks during the dry season.

Now unlike the River Cottage episode we had the source, it has been the storage that has been letting us down. We were losing water making our store as unreliable as their source... Neither is a desirable prospect.

So we allowed the one to drain, and (without any help from me) he’s had to lift the tank- as they are semi-submerged (to allow for pressure to the pump). And remove and replace the taps and seals.

He also managed to force out the dent in the top (that was caused by the excavator driver, from last year when we moved them), something that had been niggling at him. 
To be honest I wish I had filmed it, pure for his determination and ingenuity!

So the tank (now restored to its former glory), with new shiny fittings and fresh seal and back in place- this was prety impressive on its own. Since last time we placed the tanks, then fitted the pumping. this time we had to get the 2500 galon tank to fall back in line with the pumping!
So now in, and half filled (and fingers crossed). So far dry. So now to use the other tank and start again.