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Footsteps Farm Journal, Page 3

September 22, 2004

I am hauling brush again as usual. I finally got the house pasture all cut and am now hauling the stuff, put the tractor to use and have been hauling the big logs and lots of stone. I will be renting a 6' wide York rake over the Columbus Day weekend and hope to have the pasture all ready for animals and in Feb planting, lime etc.

Piglets escaped again last night as I was watering the cows. I have found out that there is a continuous charge fence charger, just don't know who sells them, etc. What we have now is one that pulsates every second, which is enough time for them to escape...

Getting more stuff ready to sell on E-bay, as my farm finances are down to about 30 bucks and that won't last over a week...

I bought some flax seed for the chickens, as I had learned that flax will greatly increase the omega3 fatty acids in their eggs.

Guinea chicksSent Sarah (our webmaster) some pictures of our new arrivals. I was playing the usual sneaking game with the piglets (they never know where I will feed them) and came around the corner to find the adult guinea hen's with about 20 babies. Last night I got their picture while they spent some time in the chicken pen eating corn.

Pastures are very thin and we just moved the cows again into the Four-acre lot as there is a lot of brush in there for them to eat.

October 1, 2004

Our newest cow, Selina (who arrived in May) gave birth some time this morning to a new little red bull calf. He was found by Bruce Williams, so we have named him Bruce of Quoketaug. Dang it, we need girls calves, not more boys! Anyway, please read the birth announcement.

 

October 7, 2004

Lots has happened in the past few weeks. Grass is getting in short supply and I need to call George to let him know the time has come to start taking delivery of our round bales.

We got a nice e-mail from the Hubbels (the folks we got our pigs from) and they hope to visit sometime in the near future; it will be nice to see them.

We finally got into the ox pasture and got a road done so I can haul wood from the first lot and get it cleaned out. Certainly do love our tractor, I know the MIG folks say don't buy machinery but we have about 10 acres of downed tree tops to cut up and haul out.

We are looking at selling cut and split cords of wood for $135.00 with delivery or you can pick it up by the cord for $100.00. We will have a "by the truck load" that you pick it up, the the price on that to be determined. We are also thinking about a price for a pick-up load of un-split wood. All of this will help us clear our woodlots and provide money for feed.

We could save big money by purchasing a bulk storage tank and then buying "fines" grain.

The house pasture is ready to rake and we have the pigs in there now sort of cleaning it prior to the raking this coming Columbus Day weekend. We are renting a York rake. I must take some time to call local farmers to see if we can get any non-saleable milk for our pigs.

We are back to twice a week pickup of vegetable scraps from the Mystic Market, they are great folks up there and the pigs enjoy the "gourmet" veggies.. Sheryl, Kevin, and Jeff cleaned out the chicken coop this past weekend and put up the metal layer box we got from my folks. It makes gathering eggs much easier. They did a great job in the coop which gets pretty nasty every couple of weeks.

I got a e-mail from Allan Nation, who is the Editor of "The Stockman Grassfarmer" with a wealth of knowledge. He's also a nice guy. I had asked some questions about pigs on pasture which he answered. Looks like I may need to change my grass seed mixture plans. Allan tells me that pigs need legumes on pasture and that if they are run with cattle the stocking rate should be about 10 cattle for every hog. Also he told me that hogs must have supplemental feed—they can't do well just on grass—and the best grass for them would be clover. Right now we spring broadcast seed (too many rocks to slice seed or till) 65% perennial rye, 10% red clover, 10% white clover, 10% alfalfa and 5% timothy. He also told me they don't have CLA. I sure would like to know the other benefit numbers, vitamin E, Omega 3 etc. as compared to just all grain fed, versus mostly pastured with a certain amount of supplemental grain daily.

All of our out buildings and portable livestock houses have finally been painted grey along with all of our fences. All of the trim and roofs are green so everything matches and the place is finally starting to look nice. Charlie the new kitten is now exploring the outside every day but he is brought in at night because of the coyotes. He has become very comfortable here and we all love his constant talking and purring; if we could break him of his counter and table walking habit he would be purrrrfect. We'll miss the folks going to the Lake George Tactical this year: this is a premier reenactment for hard core French and Indian War reenactors and the absolute BEST test of yourself, your gear and your persona. Please be sure to look at our Links section and visit Sarah's reenacting website to learn more.

 

October 17, 2004

Bullseye, one sheep, and one female pig went to be processed today. Christine drove them there which increases or price per pound, but right now there is no other way. Scott and Nancy Hubbel visited on Tuesday. They approved of what we are doing and how everything looks. It is so nice to see them and as usual learn more about pigs etc.

Learned to throw in a handful of baking soda with turkey scalding water (135 degrees). Finished using the York rake in the House Pasture last weekend, worked all day Saturday doing that then spent all day Sunday picking up the windrows with the bucket on the tractor.

Built a holding pen on Monday (Columbus Day) to hold the first three critters that went today. It worked out great. Thanks to my son Cody for all his help getting the critters into Christine's stock trailer.

 

October 20, 2004

Here's a funny story: I contacted a local farm stand owner, Whittle's, which just happens to have the BEST sweet corn anywhere, but also has lots of other veggies including pumpkins. I asked what they did with the pumpkins after Halloween and told them that my pigs would love some... They said no problem in my picking up a truck load or two, but that I should be careful how many pumpkins I feed at once. They used to have pigs, about 60, and they fed lots of pumpkins at once, and a day or so later it appeared that all the pigs were either dead or very sick as they were all laying down and didn't move or couldn't get up. Well, they called in a vet. What happened was that after a few days, the pigs were eating out of some pumpkins that were fermented, and all the pigs were drunk....

 

November 16, 2004

Not a whole lot has happened since my last entry.

The cost per pound for all the meat to be processed was about $1.90 per pound, plus it cost $83.00 just to get it there. When you figure in the cost of the Steer $100.00 plus the cost to have him castrated $350.00 his cost per pound is way out of reason.

We received 47 pounds of pork and it cost 91.75 to process it plus 17.60 in smoking fees, 31 pounds of lamb that cost 66.34 to process and 156 pounds of beef that cost 163.30 plus the 83.00 it took to get all three animals there.

We went through 30 bales of hay last year at a cost of $25.00 per bale. Our cost for grain feed was about $3,000.00, we didn’t separate how much went to what species but you get the drift of what it cost considering the cows, sheep and goats don’t get grain.

We are very happy with the Lamb, also with the pork but not the sausage. The taste of the beef is excellent but very tough and I think that is because of his age (4 years), his size (he was a runt, he hung at 274 pounds), and our lousy pasture.

The bacon is THE BEST, our hogs which are Tamworths are known for bacon and we can see why, our only disappointment is that we butchered the hog early so we didn’t get as much as we would have liked, but there is always next time.

We divided up all of the meat and gave away as much as we could to the family. It was a good experience to pass it all out and to see their reactions, and the big smiles. We would have liked to have waited longer so the animals were much larger but I wanted it done so as to have the meat for Thanksgiving with the family.

We are making a lot of mistakes but we are learning. We will butcher a turkey tomorrow night and then 6 more on Saturday. Aall the family is participating in this process. It’s nice to have the support and interest. The turkeys are all going to family.

The cows, sheep, and goats have been moved in to the house pasture so now all of the animals are together again. Last night I fed out another bale of hay (have used 11 bales so far) and I expected to see all the cows busy eating during my trip at my lunch hour, but instead all of the pigs were asleep in the hay pile.

We are feeding out the hay differently this year: instead of just dumping it in the pasture over the fence we are using the tractor to take it into the pasture, picking a different spot each time and then rolling it out. It seems to last longer this way, doesn’t leave an un-eaten pile and it seeds different areas.

We are applying for a loan and some of that money will be used to purchase a bulk storage tank, 4 ½ ton capacity, ($1,183.00). This will allow us to buy feed in bulk for the hogs, chickens, and turkeys, we will save about $2,000.00 in feed costs in 2005. All of the critters will of course still be on pasture but they must be supplemented, and with Olive and Pearl (the sows) both due again soon their food intake will increase.

Right now we pay about $5.80 for a 50 pound bag of Pig and Sow (Blue Seal), for a ton of “fines” we will pay about $130.00 delivered with a 3 ton minimum. Twice a day, I feed a 5-gallon bucket of feed to our 2 sows Olive and Pearl, the boar Perry, the two 7-month old piglets, and the five remaining 5-month olds. The cows are getting a round bale every 4 to 5 days and we are definitely going to need to order at least 10 more bales over the 40 we have already paid for. This is feeding one Bull, 4 cows and 4 calves which range in age from 16 months to 1 month.

Speaking of costs, I had considered publishing all of our financial information because it is one of the biggest unknowns a start up will have. We decided not to but will pass along any information that someone requests, so if you are starting a farm and want to have some idea of what it costs, send me an e-mail and we will talk.

The ox pasture clearing is coming along with Jeffrey's and Kevin’s help. Also our timber guy Greg has asked to take some tops for cordwood. We had already promised some to Wayne the son of our hay provider George but decided with about 100 cord available it wouldn’t hurt to share the wealth. We REALLY need to get that 10 acres cleared so we can get the hogs in there in 2005.

The Hubbels did stop by, we had a nice visit. Nancy advised me to not take the young boar to market while he still had one testicle, she said the meat would reek while cooking and drive us right out of the house. So I did castrate him—did it the Amish way which I won’t do again. We confined him in out outside farrowing house so his wound would heal, he stayed in there about 3 weeks, and is now easily 3 inches taller than his sister. I see why people raise hogs in confinement because the weight adds up so much quicker, however I refuse to do that to the pigs. Pigs should be able to root and do pig things so if we have to wait a month or more longer to process them so be it, at least the pigs will have a happier life while they are with us.

OUR WEB MASTER Sarah Melcher has done a wonderful job on our web site. She took what was nothing more than a half baked idea and turned it in to something that we get positive feedback on almost daily. We would really hope that anyone desiring to get their own site published contact her. Besides viewing our site you should go to our links page and go to her own site. Sarah knows farming and can really help you with your project. She doesn’t use any of the “cheater” programs, she does it from scratch so you know everything works the way it is supposed to. Sarah can also set you up with a domain name and a place to host your site. Send her an e-mail and listen to what she has to say.

THANKS FOR ALL YOU HAVE DONE SARAH !!!!!!

 

November 24, 2004

Here it is the day before Thanksgiving. Last Saturday we processed 6 turkeys, the family all got together and we had a great day.

First we gave thanks to God for what he had given us then we gave thanks to the turkeys for giving their life for us.

The family and our Bourbon Reds

It took about 2 hours to do 6 of them and when we were done we gathered for some great chili, a few beers, and some companionship. We decided that next year we would certainly build a whizbang chicken plucker to make our processing faster and easier.

Everyone did an outstanding job with the duties of processing the turkeys and the children all learned a valuable lesson. It was nice to have Fathers and Sons, Grandfathers and Grand Daughters, Aunts and Uncles, Brothers and Sisters, Husbands and Wives all working together towards a common goal the old fashioned way.

As our first full year of being a farm draws to an end I want to give a special thank you to Sheryl, Jeff and Kevin. They have listened to my ranting, done without so the animals could be cared for, hauled brush, cleaned houses, dug trenches, took over chores, ran errands, provided taxi service, spent many hours alone without my support as I did farm work, hauled water, moved animals, installed fence, given me support, love and more help that I give them credit for. Thank you Sheryl, Jeff and Kevin.

Please don’t hesitate to e-mail us with your questions or comments, and until next year have a safe and health filled holiday

 

November 29, 2004

Thanksgiving 2004

What a great day Thanksgiving was. My Brother Cody and his wife presented us with a photo album, and inside the front cover was this:

Dear Craig, Sheryl, Jeffrey and Kevin,

This album is dedicated to you because of your hard work and passion for bringing "The Farm" back to this beautiful property where we live. This is truely a special Thanksgiving in that the food we will eat, is from
Footsteps Farm. We are so proud of your accomplishments with the farm and support your future plans.

We give thanks to our bounty and family Happy Thanksgiving,

Love Cody, Nora, Melanie, Hunter and Morgan.

Also my neice Mel who keeps a diary wrote a nice letter in the back, a very special day indeed.

This is our last entry until next year, we want to give Sarah some time off from working on our site and we need to concentrate on land clearing.

Cheers,

Craig

 

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