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Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Piglets Are Coming!

Whoa!  I got the call Thursday -the pigs are to be delivered on Tuesday!  Yikes, we said early May. I am so not ready.  Gates to be hung, energizer to be pulled out of winter storage, waterline to be installed, and feed troughs to be constructed.  I am still only running at about 75% after my lovely GI bug.  But I am excited to see the start of my official farm season!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

New Post at GrasWerka

New post on the farm site (with a slide show!) pictures of deep mulch garden, my dirty truck as well as fencing and waterline projects!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Some thoughts on worms

I've been thinking alot lately about pigs.  This weekend my Dh and I had the most interesting conversation about pig parasites :)  We are going to have 30 pigs on 3 acres, they are coming from a big commercial farm.  I am trained to be suspicious and assume these 30 pigs will have a large worm load.  Pig ascarid eggs can survive up to 5 years in our soils, even in our harsh winter weather!  I wanted to keep things as clean as possible.  Again I am trained to wipe out the worms to assure the highest economic return.  High parasite load=poor health, therefore no parasites=best health.  I was trying to figure out how to deworm these piglets to wipe out any potential worm burdens when my DH gently intercepted me. 

Instead of falling into my 'past life' knee jerk reaction of bugs are bad I started using this newly developing holistic brain.  Our (mammalian) bodies have evolved surrounded by trillions of bacteria, viruses, and yes, intestinal parasites.  Study after study has shown that our bodies NEED to interact with the outside world to function as they were designed (in a Darwinian context of course!).  This morning I even found studies that suggest that intestinal nematodes are helpful to people with IBD.   Just as I vehemently disagree with kids who never get to eat dirt and are sanitized into an unhealthy state, I think the same may be true for animals.

{{{What if all these years of deworming puppies over and over, and then placing them on their monthly heartworm medince (dewormer) was really a disservice?   All those dogs with allergies and auto-immune problems.   Deworm, vaccinate and put on crappy food, how could we expect anything less?  Yes I was protecting their humans from zoonotic parasites, but....AGGGG this is so hard!  At least for now I don't have to be recommending anything to pet owners because I really don't know what is right.}}}

For the pigs though I do need to have a plan.  I am putting them in a very unnatural situation by confining them to 3 acres.  To ignore a high worm burden would be a big mistake and one that would have consequences for many years with millions of eggs in the soil.  To blithely deworm the stuffing out of them is not right either.  As usual the best route is in the middle.  I will find a natural product which is proven to be effective.  My goal is not annhilation but symbiosis.  Garlic?  Diatomaceous Earth?  I can be objective about the effectiveness by checking fecal egg counts.  Living on the cusp between two different worlds is hard, but I hope I can take the best of each without making my head explode!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Summer Plans 2012

I have spent this winter plotting and planning; soul searching and listening (to the voices in my head!).  My conclusions are these:  local, fair and clean food is important to me.  I want to do more than grow my own-I see being a small producer as something of a political and social statement.  A voice if you will, rather than hunkering down and turning inward.  With that as my underlying premise -how do I go forward?  For one, I need to stop thinking like a hobbyist.  This is a business, MY business and while not romantic sunshine green dreamy I want to make a profit growing humane, healthy, real food.  Keep costs down while sticking to my guns about how animals should be raised.  I sold 12 Berkshire hogs last year-this year I currently have orders for 21.  I plan to grow 30.  I am teaming up with an established grass-fed beef grower, who has a great reputation for quality, we will both we working at his (our) farmers market stand every Saturday  (and maybe Tuesdays?), selling his beef, my pork and both of our chickens.
We plan to do 2 runs of Freedom Rangers again-4 pens with 30 birds in each-240 chickens.  I don't really enjoy raising chickens (except when they are chicks) but I DO like to eat them  (i love animals, they're delicious! ha-i need that bumper sticker).  Improved infrastructure of a water line (3/4 inch black water tubing I salvaged last summer) with quick-connect couplers every couple hundred feet means no more hauling water up in the bucket of the tractor.  Again saving the elbows by using the end of the hose instead of a 50 lb tote of water!  I'm smiling right now thinking how nice it will be to walk out to the birds every morning and evening (sometimes at noon too if it's really hot) instead of starting up the tractor!  Great for my body and my brain at a 1/2 mile each trip.  Take that you zombies (for Judy!). 

Pork: no nose rings, no GM feed, free source of BST-free whey from nearby cheese factory (5 miles), free source of spent brewers grains from brewery (25miles-but also where i go for groceries, etc). Planting forage turnips and oats behind hogs in their rooted up ground-they will be rotated back to the forage plot 60 days later. I have plans for an old hay wagon to both provide shade and to have grain and the whey-yogurt stored on top (think old chest freezers-1,000# feed in each!). It might not be pretty (unless we paint flowers on the side!) but it will be more efficient than hauling grain by the 50# bag in my garden cart-and easier on the elbows. The hay wagon is easy to move and a water line to the pig pasture means no more managing 100's of feet of hose-yay!

Last but certainly not least, I have stirred the pot here in Wausau and gotten a group of people together to start a Slow Food Wausau group.  We are not even snails yet- just slugs (ha my joke), but I think this will be a great group of activists for local food.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Back to Work

I've been kinda quiet here on the blog lately.  Rest assured that I have been working hard.  Last week I was  filling in for a veterinarian who took his wife on a well deserved vacation to somewhere tropical.  Nine hours a day plus an hour of driving on either end.  I did get an unheard of, actual whole hour to sit down and eat lunch in the middle of the day!  I has happy to do it for a couple of reasons the first of which is income. An hourly independent contractor rate is pretty sweet.  Second and equally important was restoring my faith in my abilities.  I left my practice almost a year ago burned out and uncaring.  It was a relief to see that I've still got 'it'.  I really enjoyed engaging with his clients and staff, dare I say I've even missed it.  What I did realize is that veterinary medicine is not the all encompasing passion it once was for me.  Somewhere I lost the passion which used to keep me up at night reading about new drugs, procedures, customer service tips, etc.   When I lost that passion I stopped feeling qualified, I started doubting.  I wasn't sure if I was good enough and tough cases really stressed me out.  What if I couldn't fix them, what is wrong, maybe they would be better off under someone elses care?  That self doubt would eat at me(-I'm getting that nauseous feeling in my stomach right now just writing about it!)  This realization helped me to see that if I go back to veterinary medicine it will need to be from passion, from an all consuming drive, confident that I am extremely skilled and able to give my profession 100% of my mind (herbal?, acupuncture? consulting for organic producers?).  Anything less will bring me back to where I was a year ago. 
New Business:  thirty pigs, 200 chickens, farmers market and Slow Food Wausau! ( just a teaser for tomorrow)