Farm Journal 1/9/22

$30 order minimum for delivery into the city

Where to find our stuff! (and some root crops from Clarion River Organics) Place your online order here. Give us a 24 hours heads up please.

The Farm – WEDNESDAY (11 – 7). We’ll set your order out, you come pick it up. (If our driveway is treacherous, we’ll set up a table down by the purple garage).

Northside – Wednesday 12:30 – 1:00 at the parking lot on Union Place by Allegheny Commons. Ask about delivery options.

CSA Share Sales are OPEN!

We’ve made it through 2021 and are ready for 2022! Shares are now open and are at the 2021 prices until Feb 1 – when we’ll give them a bit of a goose and raise prices then.

You can buy basic weekly pickup and half shares at the farm, Northside Market, East Liberty Market, Squirrel Hill Market, and Mt Lebanon Uptown Market. Limited amounts of shares are available at the markets, as we only have so much room for hauling!

We get the typical “what do you do in the winter” question every year. It’s mind boggling how we can still be so busy in what’s called the “off season”. I’ve almost conquered our Quickbooks entries for 2021 and almost ready for a professional’s scrutiny for taxes. In between staring at the screen, Greg and I are out in the barnyard at least twice a day (morning and evening chores) with an “outdoor” project added in for spice. PigWifery is normally Greg’s column, and I don’t mean to take away his glory, but we’re in the midst of a big pig birthing happening any day now. One of us takes the midnight shift to check on the potential birthing, while the other gets the 4 am shift. I usually do the 4 am shift and then can squeeze in the quickbooks works while the kids are still asleep.

Definitions: Sow – a female pig that has already had one litter. Gilt – a female pig that has never had a litter (but can be pregnant). Boar – an intact male pig. Barrow – a castrated male pig.

We’ve had one sow give birth yesterday, unexpectedly. She’s quite large and wasn’t showing any signs of imminent labor. Turns out, she gave birth in the barn with a pile of 6 other 400+ lb hogs and on a night when it was 7 degrees out…! Not great placement or timing. We’ve got 5 other late term gilts all set up in warm pens, heat lights, lots of straw and their own space to labor… but Dos, a sow, had to go and do her own thing, and it didn’t turn out well. We only have one piglet that made it. Greg and I spent two+ hours in the middle of the night 1) creating a make-do nest for Dos (cordoned off from the rest of the breeders) and 2) watching a pig vulva; only to find in the morning that she’d busted through the fence and was piled up with her cronies, rejecting her litter completely, despite our best efforts.

We brought the only surviving wee piglet back for the girls to care for. The kids named her JanuaryDos, and she’s doing quite well. She heartily drinks whey milk re-placer from a syringe and sleeps on a hot water bottle in a box of rags. Once the next gilt has her babies, January will move back out to the barnyard and join a whole new family of piglets.

Stay tuned for next week’s Farm Fiasco – Week 2! Let’s see…. should we talk about Olivia’s broken water hydrant? The tractor repair? Wilbur (a pig) getting stuck in a corner? Mud management? Farming on Ice? The Herman stand-off? Of course…. anything can happen on Blackberry Meadows Farm!

In the Field

This last cold spell pretty much did in the field crops. What’s not taken out by freezing is being decimated by the deer that have breached the fence line and are scavenging the fields for any food they can find. Par for the course for this time of year. We still have potatoes and beets from Clarion River Organics. Other than that, get ready to eat more pork and eggs. We have 4 pigs at the butcher’s right now and should get them back in a couple weeks. Shoulder roasts, bacon, chops and more will be back in stock!

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