Making Hay
Week of November 9th, 2003 | The weather was cold all week.

Dad's new toy!

Dad's new toy!

We've had a cold week. The temperatures were about 30 degrees for daytime high. The ground is starting to freeze. We are getting frost every morning. Puddles in our yard turn to ice. It's definitely fall weather and soon winter will be here.

I have been very busy this past week, not on the farm, but at school. Every night, I have been practicing with other students for our high school musical, State Fair. I am not performing on stage, but I am in charge of lighting. It's an important responsibility and I am really enjoying working with the lights and learning how to make them work effectively. Friday afternoon, Friday and Saturday nights, we performed the musical to the public. We will again on Sunday, November 9th. It's a lot of fun, but a lot of work. I am very tired. I look forward to getting caught up on my sleep this coming week.

Dad recently purchased a used semi tractor. It is a 1990 Ford L8000, single axle, nice cab, air ride driver's seat, 80-gallon diesel tank, and the paint is in good condition. It's a lot of fun having three trucks on our farm- our Ford pickup, International grain truck, and now, this semi tractor. The semi tractor should be very useful for our feed business. It will take over the heavy hauling load that our Ford pickup was doing.

On Saturday, I helped Dad move some sow huts inside of a farrowing room, in the barn. It is getting cold out and we need warm conditions for baby pigs. We move sow huts inside to provide a place for the sow and her litter to nest in. (See Glossary of Farm Terms on the top of this page.)

Like many other babies, piglets can be fragile and weak. They need warm temperatures to survive. Of course, we can not farrow in the pasture during the winter- it's way too cold! Instead, we farrow in heated farrowing rooms in our barns. The correct temperature for farrow pigs should be at a minimum of 60 degrees Fahrenheit. During winter, heaters and straw bedding can keep the temperature up. We have three LP gas heaters. These heaters are very safe and reliable.

We have two farrowing rooms and a small nursery room in our large barn. We have a smaller barn that is also used for farrowing. This building, many years ago, was used as a chicken house. We also use huts inside our small barn for farrowing. During the summer, the farrowing rooms are empty and clean. Sometimes they are used for storage and I also use a corner of the room for a woodworking area.

The nursery room is a heated room with 2-3 pens. If we have a cow that left her calf, we would bucket bottle the calf all summer in one of these pens. Right now, we have two pig trials (for the feed business) and we are using the two pens for that. One of these trials is my FFA project I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. I am raising 5 pigs and recording their weight gain.

The other trial is one that Dad is doing with two pigs on a different feed ration and monitoring their weight gain. I have a scale in the shop. Dad has been weighing the pigs every fifteen days since he started the trial back in August. Well, just the other day, Dad was in the process of getting the pigs ready to be weighed. He opened the gate like usual. Instead of Dad chasing the pigs out of their pen, he just stood there and watched. He did not move- the pigs were so used to being weighed that they went to the scale themselves! The two pigs went through the gate, down the hallway, around the door, and onto the scale with no help at all!!! Pigs are very smart animals!!!

Farm Fact: We move the sow huts from the barns to the pastures in the spring when the temperatures warm up. Before they go out into the pasture, we use our power washer and wash the bottom foot of the hut house. If we didn't wash that, then bacteria could stay within the sow hut, which could lead to disease among the piglets.

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