As I write, I have just finished pulling all the remaining water pipe from the pig field we started on exactly a year ago.
We’ve been enjoying some drier weather recently – walking is so much easier without waterproof trousers on, and on the odd day I’ve even spent some time without my hat!
All our pigs are on one field now and we are using every bit of it to try and keep the next new field pig-free until the weather warms up a bit, and in the vain hope that they don’t turf the whole lot over as they are doing now on the soft ground…
In the next couple of weeks the ‘old’ pig field will be planted with a wheat and bean mixture to feed back to the pigs next year. We will also plant a mixture of barley and peas in some fields. Our aim is to grow as much food for the pigs on the farm here as we can and so rely less on imported protein – eventually supplying all their needs from our own crops. Protein is the hardest one to crack as pigs need an amino acid balance that needs fine tuning in their ration.
We have farrowed and weaned our second lot of pedigree Saddleback Mums now, and the third batch will be put to the boar in May. Also in May we will pick up our fourth batch from Lynne’s Organic Farm and will be doing a role reversal with them. This entails picking up their sows and boars and breeding them here from now on and Lynne’s will buy their progeny from us! I feel this has been a happy ‘marriage’ with a like-minded couple who put their all into their farming, and have animal welfare at the very heart of everything they do. They are going to concentrate on their laying hens and leave the ‘pig stuff’ to us. I have just worked out that between Sam and myself we have 81 years’ experience with pigs, which is actually quite a shock!
We have just milled our second batch of pig feed using our home grown cereals. The first batch went down a storm! Certain paddocks of pigs were offered a choice of feed, and every one preferred to eat the home grown meal which is a great start to our transition to a home-grown, soya-free diet! Much to Sam’s dismay, I have many projects in the ideas stage! One particular one is to introduce some permissive paths on the farm, something I have had in mind for a while now. I am planning routes around the fields and looking at how to make them accessible to everyone who wishes to enjoy the landscape here and learn about organic farming. Something I intend to address is how to encourage underrepresented groups to the farm, such as those with mobility issues. To this end I am looking at all-terrain wheelchairs and how they might be an important element in my plan!
I have other plans, but that’s a story for another time. Until then…