Turkeys and chickens

With the passing of all of our ducks (see previous journal entry, brief: dog attack), our time is mostly concerned with caring for our turkeys and chickens. The meat breed of chickens we have this year is growing very healthily and slowly, which is how you want your food. We also have six turkeys this year, which is a lot of turkeys. We may be able to sell some at the holidays, but for now we’re thinking sausage might be in order. Is it a faux pas to harvest your animals before they’re ready for slaughter?

Blueberries

Not exactly on the farm, but there is a glut of blueberries this year. I don’t know if they like their rain intermittent and heavy or what, but out at Fort George the berries are prolific. We’ve already picked a whole bunch to freeze, and we’ll probably be going back for more before we feel comfortable making it a year before the next harvest.

Dog attack

Well, we started yesterday with ten ducks and finished it with two. In the span of about 30 minutes without use looking, Finnegan apparently managed to get the ducks riled up to the point where bloodlust kicked in and he managed to kill 8 ducks. A real shame, as we were doing very well by ducks this year. We tried to save some for meat, but with the heat we have right now, 30 minutes was way too long to save.

500 pounds

Our sow turned out to weigh 500 pounds in hanging weight. That’s not her live weight, but add a few hundred to it to get her live weight. The slaughterhouse was amazed, pointing out that that’s more like a beef hanging weight.

She was a remarkable sow, and had a very good life. Thank you Willa!

Dog days

Not sure where the phrase “dog days” comes from, but we appear to be thick in them. We were down in Portland this past weekend, but only for about 24-hours so we left animals well stocked with food and water and hustled back here yesterday morning to take care of folks. Chorizo is low energy in the absence of all the other pigs, but otherwise things are humming on the farm, both figuratively and literally. There are so many bugs in the air this time of year, the air around you is always alive with something.

And then there was one

We took up all our market pigs to slaughter this past Monday. It was a bittersweet trip because of a few extenuating circumstances. For one thing, we’ve been not great stewards of our pigs for the past few months and they’ve been breaking out of their fence. A situation on Sunday made the problems more stark, and in response we are going to be getting out of hog breeding for an indefinite amount of time.

Our one last breeding sow has found a home on a nearby farm, where she’s going to be very well cared for. Our other sow went up with our market pigs. She had not been a reliable breeder for a few cycles now, and it was time to move her along.

That leaves Chorizo on the farm. He’s not our boar, but we’ll be caring for him until another farm needs him and that will the last of the pigs at Timberwyck for a while. We’re talking about raising a couple for the house next year, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Definitely bittersweet.

They know

As though our pigs know there’s a date set for slaughter, three got out again today. It didn’t help that due to a communciation snafu neither Emma nor I fed them breakfast. Needless, apology snacks before dinner were plentiful and they all came running. But know I need to go test the fence and maybe tighten in to make sure they can’t push through it so easily.

Otherwise things are humming along. It was a beautiful if warm day on the coast of Maine today. A bit overcast during a swim at Backshore, but quite nice still.

Pigs out

Got a visit from our neighbor the other day that a pig was out. Went out to find the fence down and three(!) pigs out. Thankfully they were a the market pigs who generally don’t have any problem running to food. I fed them and they came charging through the fence that should have been electrified. After fixing it we haven’t had an issue since.

Of course, those pigs days are numbered on the farm now too. A week from today they’ll be heading up to Herring Bros. in Guilford and we’ll only have two pigs around here.

Attack

Broad daylight and we had a chicken taken and a rooster scared across the street. Quite a day. We’re pretty sure it was a fox just because that’s the only animal we’ve seen stalking around. But it could have been anything. Yesterday it got a duck and left one duck with a limp. We still have 10 ducks, but this is getting ridiculous.

At the end of the day, it’s our fault for not protecting our animals, but it’s also a bummer to have to tightly cage in your animals so something wild doesn’t take them from you.

Sheep

So while we were enjoying Fourth of July festivities in town the other day, Emma stopped in at the farm to grab something and was quite glad she had. Who did she find rolled on his side, unable to get up? John-aye, our only ram. Who knows how long he was down there, but it is clearly time to sheer some sheep. It was the weight of his wool that was giving him the hardest time.