Archive | March, 2014

Sick Pigs

18 Mar


A quick look in the feed trough this morning told me something was wrong with our big pigs.


Leftover feed from the day before (or a few hours before) is not a normal sight. Pigs that don’t feel like eating are a rare occurrence, and is a very good indicator that they’re sick.

Closer examination revealed a bit of a diarrhea problem.


Judging from what I’ve read, I’m guessing that the last batch of feeder pigs that we bought happened to bring in PEDV, or Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus, in with them.  PEDV has been spreading in Minnesota and Iowa, and I figured it was only a matter of time before our pigs caught the bug.

PEDV is deadly to very young pigs, but it shouldn’t have much effect on our pigs, as they’re (mostly) full grown.  After they kick the bug, they’ll be immune, and pass that immunity on to their future piglets.

For now they’re staying in bed.


Getting Springy

17 Mar


Our thermometer hasn’t hit a negative temperature reading in a few weeks.

In fact, we’ve hit some pretty good above-freezing temperatures for the past week or so.
That means that all the snow is finally starting to melt.

And the fences are starting to reappear.


But all that melting poses a few problems, like re-freezing around the barn door, rendering it completely immovable.


Oh well, a temporary problem I suppose.
Just for kicks I dug up this photo from last summer.


Anyway, in the midst of all the meltyness, there are quite a few new feeder pigs running around. They’re busy exploring and getting acquainted with the cows.


And getting acquainted with the bigger pigs.


Heck, it’s getting warm enough that the chickens are even venturing out of their coop!


And the toddlers, well they’re doing what toddlers do: finding puddles to splash around in.


I might have to allow myself to believe that spring is on it’s way.

Wood Sled

3 Mar

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We’re officially into March now, but it looks like we’re just beginning to kick the coldest part of the winter.  After today we expect that the sub-zero temperatures will all be behind us, leaving us with some much more pleasant (but still below freezing) weather to deal with for a few weeks.

This, the 5th coldest winter on record, has meant that our supply of firewood and propane was burned up much quicker than we expected.  And when propane costs started to skyrocket (up to $4.60/gal from $1.60/gal last year) we only had one choice: cut more wood.

But then again, we’re dealing with some less than ideal wood cutting conditions, namely snow that’s a good 2-4 feet deep in most places.  Fetching firewood with the truck, ATV or tractor is out of the question.

So grab the chainsaw, strap on the snowshoes and load up the little plastic sled.


It didn’t take long for the sled to give up the ghost.  It’s not surprising given that the sled is designed for a few kids to have some fun, instead of a hundred pounds of firewood.  Having broken one such sled last year, I thought it was time to make something a bit sturdier.

And what better to start off with than a plastic 55 gallon drum?


With the ends cut off it’ll make a nice long strip of heavy plastic for the bottom of the sled.

I rounded off the ends of a couple 2×4’s


And commenced screwing the whole thing together.


After the strategic application of a couple eye-screws and a length of rope, it was back out to the downed oak to load up some more firewood about 30 minutes after I broke the old sled.

I must say that the wood sled is pretty great.  It’s very roomy at approximately 2’x6′ and it can hold more wood than I care to haul in at once, probably because I usually have to haul it up at least one hill.  If I have to use it much next year (and I sure hope I don’t) then I might figure out a way to attach a small runner or two underneath to keep it from sliding side-to-side.


So it looks like we’ll manage to keep warm for the remainder of this winter (fingers crossed) but we’re really hoping that mother nature will cut us a break next time.  All of us wood-burning farmers are getting a bit tired of the cold.