Chickens in the winter sun
 

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Footsteps Farm Journal, Page 8

January 21, 2007

We have lots of things going on and thanks to the Connecticut Dept of Ag we will have even more going on. In case you didn't read it in the January 5 Blog (now in the Blog's January Archive), the Connecticut Department of Agriculture Farm Viability Grant we applied for to increase our production was approved.

I thought I would post a few “before” photos which will show the farm in disarray but will give you an idea of how we look in winter’s mud and high winds.

PackagingFirst I wanted to show you the great job Hilltown Pork does for us in processing our pigs. Here is an example of how our pork comes back from them: all Cryovac-wrapped, labeled, and clearly visible to the customer.

Next, we will be making changes to the farm in response to our need to expand and our ability to do that with the CT Ag grant.
Olive on the RoadHere Olive is standing right where our new road will go through. We will be adding one more 2-acre pasture way out past the silver hog huts (in the distance), splitting the pastures in half with the road. Then we will re-fence and add GOOD gates on either side of the road so as to make it easier to feed the pigs. There will be two sows in a paddock with 6 paddocks total to start. A special piglet paddock will house a new commercial pig feeder so they can eat when ever they want.
Reading for house siding The “Year of the house” turned out to be “The YEARS of the house” as I am just starting the siding, being a rookie at it I am learning as I go. Thanks to Dan O’Connor for some great tips we now use a board for a straight edge and string to hold the shingles. We are also butting the shingles instead of allowing a ¼ gap.
House siding boards Hopefully this will now go much faster.
Processing areaThis is what our chicken processing area looks like when it is put away for the winter. Once the grant comes in we will take this all apart and pour a cement slab twice the size of our current area. Then we will build a better “temporary” processing area.
Three brooders in the distance You can see three of our chicken brooders in the distance (gray roofs) beyond all the mess. We will be cleaning up this area and we will add three more brooders here, one for turkeys and two for chickens.
Chicken Tractor We are going to build five more chicken tractors this spring with grant money. And we are going to need them!
Planned feed storage area This is where the new feed storage area will be. We will pour a cement slab here, then build 3: 4' X 8' X 8' wooden boxes so we can FINALLY have feed delivered. We spent over $4,000.00 just in gas for all the trips I have had to make to Manchester for feed.
Garden, now redesigned by the pigsAll the stones will be removed from our main garden. These stones were used to make 13 raised beds, however we put pigs in here to clean up the weeds and they designed their own stone arrangement.
Where the new stone fence will goThe stones from our garden will be used to make a stone wall here.  We have stone walls everywhere constructed by my ancestors. This one we will do ourselves to effectively close in the back yard so when we put a deck there it looks better and more "finished".
Pig hutsWe will pick up six more of these pigs huts from NH and they'll be added to these three in our paddocks, for a total of nine pig huts.
Area for planned outdoor furnaceA concrete slab will be poured here for a new wood furnace on the side of the house, which will be used to heat our entire house. Since we have so much wood available it will really save us on fuel by switching to mainly wood.
Water troughOne of the biggest pains in the winter is filling all the water troughs every day, the ice doesn’t make it too easy but it is MUCH preferred to the mud we have had.
Panorama of the 4-acre pasture

The Four-Acre lot (and Nilla the goat) is shown in these three pictures. This is where we hope to have a work party over Presidents' Day weekend in February (17th-19th). Most of the brush has been cut, it just needs to be piled. You can see how much we have cleared here by comparing this panorama to this picture of the Four-Acre lot (and Nilla the goat) from three and a half years ago.

All of our Chickens have been ordered as have our Turkeys and Ducks. You can read more about all that on our Blog.

Guess that’s about it for now, getting warmer outside so time to get back to shingle work.

Cheers all,

Craig

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