what the pigs are eating

This time of year the pigs are eating the best of the best.  Tall  green stalks of corn with the ears still on, sweet corn after our neighbors had all they wanted for the freezer.  Green tomatoes, and red, squishy overripe ones.  Mangels thinned from the winter fodder patch, many of them over a pound, or two, or three.  Beans planted for nitrogen after the potatoes were harvested,  then cut while the pods are still green.  We take some beans for canning — forty quarts or so, so far — but the majority are like the green sweet corn, planned excess to feed the animals.  Milk, buttermilk, and whey from the dairy, where we are making something in the neighborhood of twenty-five pounds of cheese a week right now — and it will be that much again when the calves are weaned.

Today we cut the winter squash and set it out on dry grass to cure.  The meteorological forecast is for warmer, drier weather for a bit, so we hope to have a week to get it all into the barn and the dry cave.  We speculate that the two-hundred eighty-some squash — butternut, blonde pumpkins and cushaw — weigh in the neighborhood of nine hundred or a thousand pounds — the cushaw especially being about twenty pounds average.  The best will store for our table, and the monastery table, but the pigs will get all that threatens not to keep.

4 thoughts on “what the pigs are eating

  1. My pigs agree!And I bet your dairy cow eats well too. But goodness you grow such large quantities, you must eat very well yourself in the winter, all year I suppose.. We are only two all winter.

    1. Hi, Cecilia! Yes, there are seven at home right now, eight the last couple of months — it varies as the boys go in and out.

      we farm on the understanding that every year some crops thrive, some do okay, and some fail, so you’d better plant lots of everything, then use pigs to store the surplus. This winter the pigs will have mangel-wurzels — ata modest estimate of the crop, over a ton of them — also turnips, no so many, and field corn, stalks and all, I can’t begin to estimate how much. That will be after they finish the early corn, which was thin, and the late beans, which are lush. And always, of course, the excess dairy. We keep some grain for the evenings when we need to get the chores done fast, but we have to be careful not to keep much on hand or it gets musty before we have a chance to use it. They say we are to expect a hard winter; what do you think? Last year was challenge enough, I thought, but we’ll ride it out, whatever it is — God bless — Beth

      Shawn and Beth Dougherty The Sow’s Ear shawnandbeth@att.net onecowrevolution.wordpress.com twosisterscreamery.wordpress.com

  2. My research into the weather patterns out here in Illinois tells me that the bad winters come in twos, with the second one being worse.. though i cannot imagine anything worse, my fingers are only just starting to straighten out and now Back into winter we go. However we survived last time and lost no big animals. But also like you i will be filling the waters when it is warm then draining the hoses otherwise i carry buckets.. Aren’t pigs great. Mine graze and graze, eating piles of grasss and alfalfa.. with everything form the garden thrown in. A bag of grain lasts forever with mine too. Tho’I have taken on no newbies ’til after this winter.. love the mangles.. will grow more next year, but for the cows, the milk is wonderful and they are a great milking feed when , like you, I do not feed grain.. but yes.. we will ride it out, carefully.. c

  3. Cecilia —
    It is interesting — and daunting — to see that you have already noted the pattern of two harsh winters in crescendo. We are trying to brace ourselves with hay in the barn and a new run-in shed for the livestock, but we really wish we had installed the contemplated ram pump on the east spring; there is nothing like frost-free running water for real security. Maybe next year, but there are complications in putting a three foot trench through rocks and trees to be overcome.
    We have read that mangels are good milk food, and hope to prove it when Porca farrows. We really aren’t supposed to feed them at all until after a couple of weeks of frost, but the thinnings had to go somewhere, and the cows are more sensitive about changes in feed than the pigs are. Anyway, they didn’t seem to do any harm —
    We cut all the sunflowers today; most of them are put back to dry for the chickens, but a few heads were thrown in to the sow, and she ate them enthusiastically —
    take care —
    Beth

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