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Archive for the ‘forage-fed pigs’ Category

This is an annual event — three or four families gather to slaughter and preserve five hogs we’ve raised together.  It used to take three days.  Now, after 17 years of doing it, it takes us about ten hours.  The salting, of course, will be quite a bit longer, but the cuts are all done, and the lard is rendered.  The same bad jokes have been told, and new ones introduced into the script; pots of coffee and pans of cinnamon rolls consumed regardless of gory hands; two harvest meals prepared and eaten.  Now Barry can drain the waterline to the barn before the ground freezes too deep.

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Mangels are great pig food for the winter months since the store very well and are a high-energy food, good for helping animals keep warm when the temperatures drop.   We harvested a 30 x 50 foot bed two days ago; the crop was just fair, but even that is about 1500 lb. of roots, plus there are all the tops to feed out right away — about 200 lb. of high-iron greens.  Fall is abundant in its provision — we are backed up with farm-produced calories for the animals.  It helps to have some experience in determining how to put these to put these to the best use — for timing, for the right animals, in the right proportions and combinations.  On the farm, there is no such thing as waste.

 

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There are deep footprints through the plots of mangel-wurzels, oats and field peas, and Country Gentleman corn, where three cows got through the open lane gate while we were milking and did spring dances in the soft, wet earth.  They probably didn’t do much real damage, but beds aren’t as pretty any more.  Where the potatoes are just beginning to come up, weeds are threatening to get ahead of them, so we have to begin laying on the mulch trusting to our memories to tell us just where those seed potatoes are.  Ten beds, fifty by seventy-five, rotate between field corn, potatoes, mangels and squash, with a cycle of turnips and beans to follow the potatoes, and the squash and corn undersown with clover.   The beds of mangels and rows of corn alternate with paths we are slowly converting to Dutch while clover, the small-scale, low-tech version of contour plantings of corn and fallow.  The interplanting of clover should shade the soil, hold moisture, slow erosion (a serious issue on our sloping garden), foster beneficial insects and fix nitrogen.  It also makes work, since the paths must then be mowed or hand-harvested of their legume crop, but is this any worse than having to weed them?

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