Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cycle of Life


As often seems to happen on our farm, just as we say goodbye to one set of animals, we are welcoming in another.  Young Moon, led off the kidding season this week, delivering one buckling on a very cold President’s Day Morning.  They are doing well, though the cold day and night temperatures did have us move Moon and her little buckling down to the Hoop house so they could soak up the warmth of these sunny days before they faced the cold nights.  He is up and about, has figured out milking and at two days old you can already start to see the bounce in his step...sure to come soon.

This did force a decision about the 2011 Naming Scheme.  Each year we choose a theme for all animals that come to us (born here or brought in ) that year.  2010 was space, thus making it clear that Moon was born in 2010.  We had lots of great suggestions for themes, making it very difficult to decide, but on that President’s Day morning with world events what they are at the moment, we decided to choose Egypt as the theme.  A nomination from a farm fan.  So unto Egypt was born Mubarek on a cold President’s Day morning.  Now, we understand that he may quickly be overtaken by others.  And indeed, Martha, Ingrid & Myst all seem like they are about to deliver, but so far they have been wise (or lucky) enough to hold off through these bitter cold nights.  But all of the does will likely deliver in the next 2 weeks.  So do check in on them.

And we are now looking for names!  For goat kids, piglets to come in March and the others for the rest of year.  Anything goes for an animal name—it just has fit into the theme of Egypt!  Do add your nominations.
And if you want to see photos or get timely updates about kidding, check out the Farm Facebook Page.

Friday, February 18, 2011

What They Leave Behind

It has been a quiet week here at Green Mountain Girls Farm. Statistics from Royal Butcher help us understand why…not only are the 13 “piglets” no longer with us, but they had a bigger presence than we knew.  Our “piglets” had grown even bigger than we predicted producing over a ton of pork! Chores are easier, feeding time is quieter and the farmers’ adrenaline associated with outsmarting them into the trailer has subsided.
Art by Liva Coe

But as we ready to drive to Green Mountain Smoke House with the hams and bacon and to rush the rest to the freezer, we realize these pigs left us so much more than this! Fife’s five were the survivors. In early July, Fife’s litter struggled due to her acute, sudden onset mastitis. Those that survived were hypoglycemic and sunburned by the time Dr. Stuwe confirmed the need to bottle feed them.  Many helped nurse them, first in the bathtub, then under the apple tree, until they could join their 8 cousins out in the back pasture.  Then we all enjoyed the months of silliness, curiosity, determination and joy these pigs demonstrated on pasture, digging in the woods, playing in the snow, enjoying an ear scratch and sleeping peacefully in big piles of warmth. 

As we ready to support Fife, Madison and Checkers who will all farrow in late March, we first must contend with another legacy of the 13.  Their bedded pack is a rich arc, 18 inch deep and 100 square foot area, where they left their marks.  Our team carefully layered in sawdust to capture the nutrients and spent hay and straw from their bedding area to keep the area dry.  Now the trick will be to add water and pile on wood chip to initiate the hot compost phase which will ready this material for fall garden beds.  Before even the next round of piglets, the full cycle of life is visible, even in the quiet emptiness where last week 13 good looking pigs stood.  Each litter makes a mark on our hearts, land and lives.  We thank them for all they provide.

And as Madison plowed her way through the deep snow this week [video link] we wondered if they are getting in shape to build their nest (video) and bring us the next litters to who will in turn leave their imprint on this farm community.