Berkshire pigs enjoying the good life.
Managing livestock in the winter is simpler in some ways than during the growing season. Because grass is dormant, we don't worry about impact upon it from livestock, so we don't move water troughs as they advance forward. They go back to a central watering point within 30 acres. We also don't worry about providing shade for cattle. But if problems arise with the water system, executing repairs is a lot more challenging in the cold. One definition of misery is fixing a leaking waterline, three feet down, in wet, cold, mud... Fortunately we aren't required to do that often. Cold, dry weather is better than wet, muddy conditions. We try to keep animals out of the mud by keeping them moving. Migration is basic tenant of well-being for animals, in both winter and summer.
Speaking of migration, Brendan Prendergast and wife, Sarah, and children have recently migrated-on to work for a CSA closer to urban living. So, a familiar band of sixty-year-olds is resuming daily operations again, at our farm, for the time being. It feels good to be back with the animals, leaving more footsteps on the land. On the first day out, I managed to land a manual post-driver on top of my head, which resulted in a bloody exposition that didn't amount to much. It was a re-initiation ceremony, which Susan found only mildly entertaining. Finding the right partners with whom to live and work in as rural setting as ours is not a simple task. But we have done so in the past and will again this round. In the meantime, sixty-year-olds prevail!
We are exploring the possibility of building a small lake with which to irrigate limited acreage, in the event of drought. Drought generates a lot of stress when one has livestock to feed, resulting in high costs to animals, people, and checkbook. As climate-change rears its head in the near future, it is likely we will experience more droughts, so it feels prudent to be prepared. Just before Christmas, we tested soils to determine whether they meet criteria necessary for building a dam and holding water. The first hole we dug revealed a layer of sand and water six feet down, which clearly would not provide a tight seal for holding water in a lake, as below on the left. The second site, further up the draw of the stream, presented enough clay to do the job, as demonstrated by the soil scientist being able to make a "ribbon" with the soil. So, the reservoir would be smaller than expected, but still large enough to supply an inch of water per week for 90 days to 30 acres. That would save having to buy feed at sky-high prices, sell livestock at depressed prices, or visit a psychiatrist at elevated prices... We will keep you apprised of this inquiry.
We appreciated the gathering for the funeral we attended last weekend in Cleveland. Humanity reveals much of its virtue at ceremonies surrounding funerals and weddings, which is why they have persisted, one presumes.
Susan and I look forward to returning to the market this Sunday the 15th, at Clark Montessori, from 10 - 1. If you would like to order in advance, please do so by going to:
For every beef harvested, we test the ribeye to ensure it is of sufficient quality. This one below passed the test beautifully. It is accompanied by sweet potatoes from Elmwood Stock Farm.