Thursday, December 31, 2015

Unity Farm Journal - 5th week of December 2015

It’s been a great first week with pigs.  Hazel Marie, the 100 pound two year old pot belly, experienced her first snowfall.   Although I’m building all season dutch doors for the pig barn, they are not finished yet, so I installed a piece of plywood in the doorway, cutting out a piece so that she can easily access the entry ramp.     The end result has been a warm, dry, snow-free pig barn filled with fresh hay, a heater, and a blanket.   Hazel arranges a deep pile of hay then burrows into the blanket.   Every morning we play find the pig - she’s invisible curled up in her nest.

I mentioned last week that we would be getting Hazel a companion.    Meet Tofu, a three month old pot belly pig that weighs 20 pounds.   Don’t be fooled by his diminutive appearance - he’ll outweigh hazel soon.     He’s very outgoing and enjoys the same fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains as Hazel.   They ate dinner together separated by a square of dog fencing in the pig barn we’ll use to keep them apart until they adjust to each other.

The freezing rain, sleet, and melting snow have covered the farm in a sheet of ice.  Every surface is slick and challenging to navigate.   Walking the dogs is an extreme sport - imagine 250 pounds of dogs pulling 170 pounds of me on a sheet of glass covered with butter.    I call it “boot skiing”.    So far, no orthopedic injuries.

All the families have left post Christmas and life has returned to normal.   What is normal on Unity Farm?  Wake up at dawn, dig a 40 foot trench for a ground wire, install electric fence cable with the help of a pig, and  connect the power supply to a new circuit in the pig barn.    Hazel and Tofu now have a hot wire on the top of their paddock fence to keep out coyotes.

This weekend, I’ll finish up the pig barn door and continue my work on tree house railings and stairs.   We’ll have temperatures in the 40’s without snow this weekend, making outdoor carpentry possible.

Of course, when the weather turns cold and snowy, there is always indoor work to do on my winter semester Umass coursework - Backyard Homesteading.    This week we created maps of our homesteads and did a water analysis.    Here’s my finished presentation of the material.

Next week will be a caloric analysis - what do we need to grow to feed ourselves based on daily requirements for protein, carbohydrates, and fats?   Today we grow about half our food and with each passing year we get better at raising crops on a predictable schedule.

Next week I’ll post our farm goals for 2016.

Happy New Year!

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