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All Gating is Out

There is construction happening at Trails End Farm also, but ours is different from Schafers’. They are building new barns, while we are renovating an old barn for a new use. Currently our nursery pigs, those between 13 and 45 pounds, go to our neighbor’s site and then come back to our farm to be finished out. They are making some changes and so we are fixing up an old gestation barn (which previously had been a finishing barn) to become a nursery barn for our young pigs.

The first changes involved taking out all the gating, which you can see in this picture leaves an empty building. The next task is to change the ventilation so that air will be pulled through the attic and into the barn. This means the air will be warmer for the little pigs. It also means we have to change the way air comes into the barn and goes down unto the pig pens.

The attic of the barn

 All this can be quite technical and requires planning, calculating and constructing but proper airflow is important for the pigs’ health and to get the best growth.

 Dale and the kids have been busy working. On the warm days it gets hot in the attic, so they need to be careful, drink plenty of fluids and take breaks when needed. So far all has gone well – no snapping turtles yet!

 Stay tuned and we’ll keep you up to date on the progress.

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Farrowing Barn Construction

Construction on our pigs barns is moving along quickly.  The walls are all up and the tin is on the roofs.  When the project is finished we will have four barns in all.  Two barns will be for gestation.  That is where the sows are bred and hang out during their pregnancies.  One barn is for farrowing.  This barn is where the sows will have their piglets and nurse them for around 20 days before the baby pigs are weaned off of the sows.  The final tiny barn is my boar stud.  The boar stud is where the male pigs live.  This barn already exists, and I have continued to work there during construction.  I go in twice a week to collect semen from the boars, add extender to the semen to give it a longer shelf life, and put it in tubes to be used to breed the sows.

The boarstud is getting a makeover during construction, so the boars needed to be moved.  On Wednesday, Brandon loaded up the boars and hauled them up to our existing sow unit.  This will be their temporary home until renovation of the boarstud is complete.  The boars love this new home!  They are surrounded by approximately 1000 females and it appears they are enjoying the hormones in the air.

Yesterday, all of the lab equipment and other supplies necessary for collection were moved to the sow unit.  My daughter Maddie has been to the boarstud with me countless times and she was an invaluable resource for our employee Will as he set up a collection pen for the boars in the gestation barn.  Maddie felt pretty good about being able to give orders to the barn manager.  She did a terrific job laying out the collection pen.  Yesterday evening, Brandon and I made sure the new facility was going to work for collection by working a couple of the boars.  It appears this temporary set-up should work just fine.

While all of this construction and moving and collecting are going on, I’m still finding time to train for the 1/2 marathon.  Teresa K. and I are going to run the “Udder Run” tomorrow morning.  This is the race that happens during our towns “Volksfest” celebration.  It’s called the Udder Run because of our towns huge ties to agriculture, dairy in particular.  The weather is supposed to be cool, which is perfect for running.

As I sit down to write, my mind is pulling me in 500 other directions.  I’m thinking about the bars and bbq I need to make for my nieces graduation, the training run I should be doing, the phone calls and appointments I need to make, the endless list of household chores, planning our annual pignic, my husband who has become as scarce as a clear spot on our kitchen counter.

Lunch Break

Brandon has begun construction on a new barn, actually three barns, to house our sows that will make replacement gilts.  The sows that live in these barns will be bred with semen that has the maternal characteristics we find favorable in a sow.  The sows in our current unit are bred with semen to create butcher hogs.

So construction has begun and Brandon is in his element.  He functions best

Checking out the farrowing barn pit

when the stakes are high and the deadlines are tight.  Even after being married to him for 16 years, I’m still surprised at the environment that he thrives in.  I don’t know a lot of people who enjoy dealing with the constant hiccups and headaches that arise when tackling a big project.  Brandon appears to welcome the challenges.

Yesterday my four kids, my nephew, four high school boys, my father-in-law, my brother-in-law, and Brandon laid the flooring for our farrowing barn.  Tomorrow the walls will go up on one of our gestation barns.  The project keeps clicking along and the weather hasn’t been too much of a hindrance.  We have pigs scheduled to arrive the first week in July, so the gestation barns need to be ready.   Stay tuned as the barns take shape.