"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sunshine (Makes Me Feel Like Working)

It's been an oddly warm winter so far. The forecast, back in the fall, was for colder and wetter conditions than usual due to La Nina conditions (the opposite, not surprisingly, of El Nino conditions, which are warmer and dryer than usual). As it turns out, we haven't had a single flake of snow yet, and not very many days of hard frost, either.

It HAS been extremely wet, however, Rain, rain, and more rain. I get tired of bitching about the mud (New To Farm Life: Mud Patrol (I Heart Hog Fuel)) so I won't go into a tirade. I'll just mention, briefly, that the other day when I had to go into the pigpen the mud came up over the top of my gumboot. It was an unpleasant experience.

Today was the first day since we returned from mexico that the sun was out for more than a few minutes at a time. For most of the day the sky was bright blue and the temperature was somewhere in the high forties. T-shirt weather. The kind of day that makes you want to get out and work.

Here's what I did today:

Let all the animals out. The goats and the horses got to go out on the front lawn and eat to their hearts content. I don't suppose that January grass has a whole lot of nutrition in it, but it's green, and they all seemed absolutely rapturous.

I also let the pigs out of their small enclosure. They were so happy to be out, they started charging around the back pasture like wild animals, snorting and kicking and acting up. After a few minutes, they settled down and began grazing. Really: grazing, just like horses. They were chomping down on the green grass as if it were candy. In addition to their bagged pig food, which is mainly corn and soy, we feed the pigs all the scraps from our kitchen. Those are mainly things like banana peels, eggshells, old greens and limp carrots, rinds of cheese, et cetera. I liked to think that those items added needed nutrients and variety to the pig's diet, but seeing them out on the pasture today, devouring grass like it was crack cocaine, I realized they are probably missing fresh food.

It was pleasing to see how happy the pigs were. Unlike goats and horses, it is totally obvious when a pig is happy. Like a dog. You just can't mistake it. The pigs ran around in circles and then would trot up to me, grunting and looking up at my face as if to say "hey! Thanks, friend!" I walked the perimeter of the property, just generally checking things out, and the pigs trotted along at my heels like puppies. It will be hard to lock them back in.

I tried to turn the compost pile, but it is too much for me. I did put on gloves and pull out about forty hay-bale strings. It's amazing how many hay bale strings pile up on a small property. When I start to count, I realize that we go through some hundred bales of hay a year, and each bale has two strings... it isn't amazing how many strings there ARE, but that every single one of them ends up in the compost pile. You'd think we would gather at least some of the up and throw them away. I consoled myself by imagining that pulling out the deeply buried strings must do SOMETHING towards aerating the compost and providing tunnels for worms.

Then Homero and I planted two Christmas trees. Neither one was from this year: this year we were in Mexico and we only had trees made out of paper ( Speed Christmas (I've Doubled my Trouble)). No; these two trees were from Christmases long past. We had simply been too lazy to plant them and so they had hung about in pots for two years while we scratched our butts. For some reason, I decided that today was the day they would get planted. Then I gave my husband a shovel and told him where to dig. No - I actually dug, too, but I have to admit he did the heavy work. I mostly shoveled the loose dirt in around the trunks after they were planted and stomped it down firm.

That's about as much work as these short January days can inspire me to do - on top, of course, of the regular rounds of shopping, cooking, and tidying up. I am so looking forward to March, when I can get started on seeds and gardening. The seed catalogues are due to arrive in the mail anytime now.


www.FarmLifeLessons.blogspot.com said...

Sounds like you definitely need some serious sunshine. And I am intrigued to hear about your pig's behavior since we will be getting pigs this year. Very interesting.


The Idiot Gardener said...

I love working in the winter. There's something about sweating, then when you stop for a moment you feel that sweat turned cold and icy.

We haven't seen snow or frost yet. I'm predicting a really late winter for us!

thundercloud said...

Hello, I am writing an article on how to use cattle panels in a vegetable garden on the website called WikiHow.

Would you mind if I used your pic of your cattle panels in my article? All I need to do is take a screenshot of them. You would not have to do anything yourself.

If possible I will include a link in my article to your blog.

If you don't feel comfortable with me doing this that's OK I understand.

Aimee said...

Thundercloud - sure! I use mine keep out goats - I just stand them up and use zip ties to connect. They are also useful as trellises for beans, tomatoes, squash, etc. Thanks for the link back, I'll make sure and check out your post!