Yesterday we picked up our new 4-H pigs! Every year I raise a pig for the 4-H auction, plus one for my family’s freezer. The pigs are about two month old right now and are housed in a special pen we built for them. In the picture I posted they are snuggling in a little hutch we made, equipped with a heat lamp, so that they will stay warm. When the weather gets better we will set up their outside pen.
We are raising four pigs this year. The extra two in the picture belong to a friend who has to finish his pig pen before taking them home. The red pigs are a special breed called Spot Rocs (short for Spotted Durocs). My pig is one of the pink pigs (called a Yorkshire) and the black one is a Hampshire.
I have found many benefits to raising my own pig. Since I grow the pork my family eats I know that the meat came from a healthy animal. Local businesses benefit from the advertising they recieve when they purchase a pig at our 4-H auction. Also, the pigs I raise are kept comfortable and are humanely treated.
Sekula the goat kidded today! Kidding is the act of a goat giving birth. She had an adorable set of boys, which are called bucks.
When the babies were born they were obviously very wet. I took them one at a time to dry off and get warm. After dipping their umbilical cords in a disinfectant I put them back in with their very attentive mommy.
A goat must have babies before she can start giving milk. Since Sekula just kidded she is now once again producing milk. Aren’t her babies the sweetest?!
Isn’t she cute? This is a five day old heifer calf. She weighed about 100 pounds when she was born. During the winter calves need to be kept warm, that is why she has a blanket on. Like most of the calves on our farm, she is from the Holstein breed.
I fed calves this morning with the help of two of my brothers. Small calves like this one are fed on bottles. Each calf gets 2 bottles, equivalent to 1 gallon of milk.
Our calves are housed in a special barn, kind of like a baby nursery. The calves are fed milk twice a day, and have water and grain available all day long. The care of our babies is very important to us. This heifer, like all of ours, will stay on our farm and one day will have a baby of her own.
Allow me to introduce you to the chickens, 28 of the most scaredy of cats you’ll ever meet. The good news is we have a totally enclosed run to protect them from any famished felines or other predators.
We started raising chickens in 2010 because Mom and I were concerned about buying eggs from production birds kept in small cages. We also wanted our eggs to be fresh, since eggs in the grocery store can be over 3 weeks old when you buy them.
All of our chickens are Heritage Breeds. Heritage Breeds lay less eggs than production birds, so they are generally not used by large egg producers. Our breeds include: Buff Orpingtons, Ameraucanas, Delawares, Barred Plymoth Rocks, Speckled Sussex, and New Hampshire Reds.
These birds all lay brown eggs, except for the Ameraucana, or “Easter Egg Chicken” that lays green eggs. Brown eggs have no nutritional difference from white eggs. However, brown eggsusuallycome from the Heritage Breeds of chickens and not the production breeds.
Since I just started this blog I thought I’d introduce you to the most important part of our farm, the animals! In this post I’ll introduce you to the goats; in later posts you’ll get to meet the chickens, rabbits, and the cows. All my goats are Alpines, which is one of the biggest breeds of goats. Alpines are known for their hardiness, milk production, and high energy levels.
Sekula was born April 2, 2008, and is my oldest doe (female goat). She was one of the 3 original goats I purchased to start my herd. Sekula is a very personable and friendly goat. She is due to kid (give birth) for the second time next month.
Sekula gave birth for the first time last March to a set of twins. Her kids are named Frodo and Ellie. Ellie is very energetic and playful. She is big for her age and won Junior Champion at the fair last year. This year Ellie will be shown as a Dry Yearling.
Frodo is Ellie’s twin brother. He is a wether that I want to train to pull a cart. His disposition is perfect for this, since he is very sweet and gentle.
Female goats, called does, produce milk. Does must give birth before they start giving milk.