As you all know we haven't blogged in a LONG time. This leaves you in the dark and we are trying to remedy this by sending a monthly newsletter. If you are interested in receiving this newsletter, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll put you on the list.
We are proud to announce the arrival of 14 new piglets here on the Phelan Ranch!!! Below is a video of Rosebud and her piggies and further down are some pictures of Lunch Box and her little ones.
They were both bred to the boar Morris. You might remember him from a previous post. I sold him to a guy in Durant shortly after that post. Morris was a Hampshire and very friendly. (I think demeanor is one of the most important qualities in a pig.)
We actually kept our sows with the growing pigs until they looked pretty pregnant. Once they seemed to be getting close, we moved them into a separate paddock that was full of tall green grass. We didn't provide any kind of farrowing hut, but the ladies found a couple of great spots and made nests in the briars. We made a point not to spend to much time with them and only peered from a distance every now and then to check if they were in labor. Both sows had the pigs on their own while we were away. No shots were given, no teeth cut, we just let nature take its course.
Just a note:
I'm not a believer in the theory of evolution (and I stress believer because its a belief based on faith in science). The idea that we started out at the bottom of the ocean around a heat vent as very simple organisms and evolved onto humans (or insert any other theory here) is not something I would bet on. I do however believe that Natural Selection does occur and it is important to allow the strongest to survive. This is extremely important if you want to build a herd just like you desire. Think of it this way. Treat your pigs (and any other livestock) how you want to be able to treat them in the future. I'll call it the "Buttermilk" rule in place of golden. For instance, if you want your sows to farrow on their own in the pasture without cutting teeth or giving shots, then let them do just that. It will tell you a lot about the sow and her abilities and it will tell you a lot about the piglets and their genetics. If you pamper your sows and piglets right off the bat, then you can count on pampering them from that day forward. Be warned... you may lose piglets and even a sow when you first start, but with time you will have a stronger, more self-reliant herd of pigs.
Rosebud gave birth to 9 piglets and they are all still doing well. Despite being deemed "Lazy" by everyone here on the farm (and yes, she is lazy, but who cares... she is a pig) she seems to be a GREAT mother. She mostly lays around all day only getting up for food, drink, or relief.
Lunch box gave birth to 8 piglets but only 5 are still alive. Two were stillborn and we think she squashed the other one a couple days after birth. She is a good mother and is very calm when we come in and see them... not too protective, but very aware of our proximity to her pigs. She is a little large to be a first time mother, hence the reason she laid on one of her pigs. I think in the future, I'll be sure to breed sows earlier at a smaller size. Lunch Box just got to big for her own good.
Like Mother like Piglet... already friendly.
Doesn't Erin look good with a pig?
What a goofy smile... I guess happiness must express itself.
Broilers are in the Field!!! On Saturday we put all 102 cornish cross chicks out to pasture. They spent a little more time in the brooder than desired (24 days), but they were super happy to be put on the cool green grass.
Since this time of the year is cooler and we shouldn't experience too many hot days before we butcher, we used the Salatin pen design, only reduced to 8 X 8 instead of 10 X 12. This makes a more manageable pen that can be pulled in any direction. Salatin usually puts 75 - 80 birds in the 10 X 12 with 100 birds being the max. Using this as a template, we put 50 birds in one and 52 in the other. I wouldn't recommend putting any more than 55 in an 8 X 8 pen. Also by making our pens 8 X 8 it allowed us to exclusively buy 8 foot lumber and have ZERO waste pieces. I would only recommend this style pen if the temperature stays below 92...ish (F) while the birds are larger (older than 5 weeks). We went ahead and put chicken wire beneath the tin on the sides so we could remove the tin if necessary (like if the temp reached 93).
Here is the breakdown of supplies to build one of our 8 X 8 broiler field shelter.
2 - 2x4x8ft Pine Studs
5 - 1x6x8ft Pressure Treated pine
5 - 2ftx8ft pieces of tin (all but one cut in half)
1 - 24in X 25ft of 1 inch poultry netting (chicken wire for the sides)
1 - 48in X 4ft of 1 inch poultry netting (for one of the doors)
1 - Box of 1 5/8 dry wall screws (1 lb)
1 - Box of roofing screws (1 lb)
1 - Chicken waterer and bucket
1 - Feed trough (6in PVC works great... just add a spindle)
1 - Dolly of some sort to hold up the back of the pen while moving.
1 - Spool of wire for handles on side of pen. (30ft??)
Here they are headed to the pen. What large legs they have... almost big enough to nibble on... yummmmm.... Longest 8 weeks ever! That is just a cage I made out of some welded wire we had lying around. I put cardboard in the bottom so their legs didn't poke through.
Settled right in and began to eat right away. This is a good sign that everything is in order. Before you move them out to the pen, have everything prepped and ready to go. Water in the waterer and feed in the trough. Shoot me any questions if you have them.
Here is the door to the chicken coop... one big sheet of ice!!
I forgot to post when we got power back but... we have power!! (Since the 12th of Feb) Sorry for those wondering and waiting. There are still some power poles down in places around the area and one of our water wells still doesn't have power, but that should change sometime soon.
Raw Milk Update:
Here is the email I sent out to my regular milk junkies. If you are interested in getting milk from us, this should fill you in on how to go about doing that.
March 1st marks the date the Phelan Ranch Company LLC will switch to selling share's of our dairy herd to insure you get milk every week instead of first come first serve. If you are currently getting milk from us on a regular basis, you get first dibs. I have 35 shares for sale (a.k.a. 35 gallons/week). If you are not familiar with our herd-share program, here is a little bit about how it works.
Herd Share Program
Lets say you want one gallon of milk per week. One gallon of milk is equivalent to one herd share. You must first purchase this share for $50, which is a one time cost that will be refunded if you ever want to stop getting milk for whatever reason... no small print, no tricks. If you want to terminate the contract, you can without any penalty. Now you own one share of the dairy cow herd that is taken care of by the Phelan Ranch Company. Since you own part of the herd you need to pay for the Phelan Ranch Company to care for your cow, milk her and prepare the milk for you to pick up. This costs $24 per month per share (which equals $5.54 per gallon of milk and includes sales tax). Then we pick a day of the week that is best for you and me to come pick up that milk every week. You are now guaranteed to receive one gallon of milk per week barring any unforeseen disaster that would compromise the current herd (like the sudden death of a cow).
Here it is again, but this time you want 5 gallons per week.
Cost of herd shares = $250 ($50 per share x 5 shares = $250) This payment can be spread out in installments.
Cost of care/month = $120 ($24 per month x 5 shares = $120) This payment is due in full on the first of every month.
Here it is again, but this time you only want a 1/2 gallon per week.
Cost of herd share = $25 ($50 per share x 1/2 share = $25) This payment can be spread out in installments.
Cost of care/month = $13 ($24 per month x 1/2 share = $12 plus $1 for extra jug and time) This payment is due in full on the first.
The reason for the herdshare program is because selling raw milk in OK is legal, but only if it is an incidental or minor sale. The government gets to decide what incidental means and I don't want the government coming in and stopping me from providing good, clean, healthy milk to you. So the herdshare program actually allows you own the cow and pay me to milk her for you. Hence, I'm really only providing a service, not a product.
From this day forward I will only set aside milk for those who are share owners. I currently have PLENTY of milk for purchase, but as I sell herd-shares, this extra milk will diminish. Any milk marked EXTRA is available for purchase by anyone at anytime, but any milked marked with share holders names is only for their use.
If you purchase milk this month, but decide to become a member, your monthly care fee will be pro-rated based on the amount of milk you've purchased thus far.
As I read over this email, it seems pretty harsh and I hate to express that feeling toward you, my wonderful customers. It is because of your support that I am able to regenerate the ecosystem and provide an income to my family to be. I want to express my greatest thanks to you and your support.
If you have ANY question about the program, the cost, the cows, or anything, PLEASE let me know. Those of you who have worked with me know that I am extremely flexible and want to serve you.
If you are ready to sign up, let me know so we can get together and sign the attached contracts. I would love it if you could come to the farm, but I am willing to met you where ever is good for you.
Your Grateful and Thankful Farmer,
I'm selling "Morris" the boar hampshire pig if anyone is interested. I decided I can buy weaned pigs cheaper than I can grow them. I hope to one day farrow my own pigs, but today is not that day.
The Garden of Eden... I mean Erin
This may sound like a lie but I'm really looking forward to Beets!! I love beets and haven't had any since I left Polyface in October. I tilled up this garden using an old ROTO-HOE Tiller with a 5 HP Tecumseh engine. I had to replace the pull cord starting system and flush the Carburetor, but after that she ran pretty well... except the gas leaking out of the Carburetor. Maybe I should replace it someday?
Anyway... I hope all is well out there. I'm getting Married on March 20th, so if I don't post much until April, please forgive me. Once I get Erin down here with me, I'll turn her loss with a camera and then I'll have more pics to talk about.
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."