Farm Journal 7/25/21

Click here to place your order for this week (please give us 24 hours lead time before your desired pick up date/time).

You can now find us at: (we will deliver to all the market locations that we attend)

Sundays – Squirrel Hill Farmers Market – 9am – 1 pm

Mondays – East Liberty 3 – 7 pm (ask for the Royale with Cheese!)

Wednesdays – Here at The Farm – 11 – 7

Fridays – Northside Farmers Market – 3 – 7 pm

Saturdays – Mt. Lebonon, Uptown – 9 – 12

The Menu

Kale (probably the last week for kale, until fall), green beans, squash, cucumbers, scallions, lettuce, herbs, cherry tomatoes, and chard)

  • remember – what I plan for on Sunday may not happen by Tuesday – we’re at mother nature’s beck and call!

Pig Wifery – by Greg

Summer has brought a bounty of hog entertainment from the local food industry, notably watermelons and sweet corn. The hogs are in heaven. I can tell because they barely stop to eat their rations!

It may not surprise you to learn that when sugar is around, the healthier option takes second seat and the pigs literally bathe in watermelon juice, swim in the ball-pits of sweet corn (like children!), and wallow in mashed cucumbers… (OMG, their skin glows!) I can only imagine the wonka-esque joy that accompanies being immersed in a deliciously edible world.

why wouldn’t you want to nap on a heaping pile of food?

It may actually surprise you to learn that none of this food is part of their primary diet rations. It’s pure extravagant excess. We still purchase pallets and pallets of pellets (Kalmbach Non-GMO Family Fixin’s) and continue to fill the hog feeding areas daily, even though the hogs are less interested.

Sometimes, usually winter when the weather serves to preserve the produce, we are able to offset daily rations. This is when the farm sees some monetary savings because we received high enough calorie food. Veggies, alas, are nearly all diet food, which is not what we want to feed our pigs! Alone, they don’t provide enough protein, fats nor carbs (calories) for the hogs to gain weight quickly.

At times that we get high calorie food, we work with Fertrell Company out of Lancaster county. They help us formulate rations from any food that is worth using as a feed stock. Often times, even if we get mountains of frozen carbs, we still need to purchase high protein additives, like soymeal, to balance the rations. They advise us on the whole process. We also hire Fertrell to custom blend the vitamin and mineral supplements (they call nutri-balancer) to ensure proper health and growth rates.

Luckily, this isn’t the norm. It takes alot of work to arrange for all the feed additives, thaw and combine them daily … 200# batches…. Then feed it to each group of hogs. Who knew pigs could be so complicated!?

As all good things must end, so does their gluttonous debauchery (*click the link for a video of said gluttony). In a few days, the mountains of veges are reduced to a quickly drying swamp of watermelon rinds and corn cobs, like some bizarre after party. And it’s at this point, the real value of the hogs is realized.

They’ve joyfully crunched, stomped, broke, slept on and ate 15 pallets of food. They’ve reduced it all to a ready-to-compost slurry in desperate need of carbon and a few dry days.

At this moment, it’s farm time. I’m on the tractor dumping copious amounts of wood chips, straw, dry leaves, cardboard, potting soil, old compost, and just about every other type of high carbon material we can get our hands on. As anyone who has been to the farm in the last week can attest, a streak of rainy weather can make any and all of these efforts futile. Phew!

The addition of too much water negates the effects of the wood chips in the short term. The sponges can’t soak it all up fast enough and a bit of pig-whiff-ery arrives.

More than for funk-containment, the chips form the carbon basis for our compost. They quickly absorb all the watery material and stabilize the rapid and volatile decomposition process. It’s a balance…Quite a science to it actually, but we can dig deeper later.

While we attempt to bribe, coerce, woo, sweet talk and encourage every road crew we meet to dump their wood chips on our farm, some universal forces are working to keep them off of our land. We haven’t seen a chip drop in a few months. So, we must use this dwindling resource strategically.

As an active barterer, I posted a advertisement on Nextdoor app to connect with local tree trimmers. Ideally, we could connect with 2-5 of these small guy+truck+chipper operations to barter with them to dump chips for us for food, plants or money. The more chips, the more vegetables we can receive, the more mountains the hogs can obliterate and the more compost we can make.

Farm Camp – a big success!

The first week of farm camp rocked!! All the kiddos seemed to have a blast and they were all sad that it came to an end! What fun having little kids running around with new eyes on the aspects of this farm that have become old news to us.

Next week is the older crew – 8 – 11 year olds (although we have a couple 7 year old kids too) – so if you want to sign up, it’s not too late! We have room for a couple more kids!

Cue Circle of Life song.

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