The most recent excitement on the farm has been the addition of eight new pigs as of yesterday. Although the idea of raising a sow and farrowing our own cute little piglets is appealing, the idea of castrating them is not, so we are content to bring them home in the back of the truck ready to eat all the left-over Dairy cheese and whey (plus garden and table scraps) that they want until they reach an average weight of 250# and head off to the locker plant to fill our freezers as well as those of some other happy customers.
Sadly, Boaz the pup has found a new home. My heart strings nearly made me keep two big labs, but the pocket-book strings realized that we really don't need to feed two big labs. Plus, I have hopes of actually reclaiming the couch one day. Sigh. Those eyes....
Cole's farm was blessed with seven new additions this week when his bunny surprised him a week earlier than expected with babies. Of all the kids, Cole is the one who loves farming and critters. It helps that he is also a hard worker and financially wise (and I think God just enjoys blessing him) which has enabled him to build a little farm enterprise of rabbits and Silkie chickens. He has been my right hand chicken man for several years, and has outdone me on chick sales already this spring with his intuition of what the chicken-buying public wants.
We are watching Lightning and Sassy pretty close this spring. Last year it was on the agenda to get a certain stud colt gelded, but due to being otherwise preoccupied, it never happened. Which leaves us guessing .... are they or aren't they expecting??? Hmm.... lot's of fresh green grass or baby bulges???
The three big steers are growing well. We have ended up already with pasture dilemma's this month as we have one too many variety of critters and one too few pastures for them all. The steers are fed supplemental grain, which means they can't be with the horses. The goats could run with the steers, but then they climb in the round bale feeder and make a mess in the hay, not to mention that the steer pasture fencing is not all goat proof yet, which means there are goats in my yard on a regular basis. Then there are water issues, who to fence where so that everybody has access to automatic waterers. Fencing is on the list for the sixth year in a row as we continue to figure out a way for all these critters to co-exist.
The three bottle calves in the barn are doing great. Their ears are still going the right direction, which is always a good sign. I haven't done the math yet to know the exact figures if it is actually cheaper to raise two goats per year to feed one calf for six weeks, but I do know that it's cheaper than burying dead calves due to scours from raising them on milk replacer as we did for so many years.
And talking about those goats .... I think I may have too many. As the numbers have changed so often in the past couple of months I tend to lose track of just how many I have in any given week. This week it's eight babies, six milking does, two (hopefully still) expecting does, and one handsome buck, which equals 17 goats. Some of those babies will be finding new homes in the next couple of months after they are weaned, we will keep a couple of the bucks for breeding this fall, as well as keeping the doelings to build up our herd as we have a couple of does that will probably be culled next season.
March milk total: 68 1/4 gallons (plus the spilled milk, and the three days that we forgot to record). Wow! Sixty eight GALLONS of goats milk from one milking a day to sustain three calves, plus raise their own kids~ now that's a work force in action!
Besides the joy we get from raising these critters, we have also strived to make the farm animals profitable enough to at least cover their own feed costs. The goats provide in several ways: kids for resale, milk to raise the calves on, milk for soap (for family use plus soap making classes) and cheese for the Fair competitions. As odd as it sounds, we don't drink the milk. I really, really wish we could acquire a taste for it, but after all these years we just haven't been able to. Maybe after calf season we'll try again.
We can't forget the chickens. From 13 Light Brahma hens, and a couple of Silkie hens, we gathered a total of 267 eggs (besides the three days we forgot to record); just over 22 dozen eggs. Plus, we raised 200 chicks. Now I officially know why I have been so tired. This super busy season of farm life will slow down soon as all of the babies are getting bigger and will require less hands-on care before too long, and just about the time that happens we will be gearing up to plant the garden. Aaahhh.... Farm life!