Despite holding off a little longer this year before starting with veg growing, it seems that I was still far too keen even though some of the seeds were initially planted inside to germinate. Eventually they still needed to be planted out but the weather in our part of the world just hasn’t warmed up as quickly as I’d hoped.
After a slow start there is finally something to show for all the efforts now that the red cabbage and red brussels sprouts have been transplanted in the raised beds last weekend.
Unfortunately things don’t look quite so good where I’ve been planting seed directly into their final growing positions. The raised bed that was set aside for carrots and parsnips this year looks distinctly unimpressive and I may need to investigate a backup plan if nothing happens soon.
After last years successful crop, there was no reason not to grow swede again and at least this has proved to be more resilient. The netting is already up to protect from the expected rush of pests even though the plants themselves aren’t yet of a size to make much of a meal for the bugs!
On the bright side though, the soft fruit is doing well in the temporary home of a raised bed. Eventually this will be moved to a permanent home but I’m taking my time with that after learning a hard lesson when planting fruit trees in what turned out to be an underground pond in winter!
As part of the preparations for pig breeding in the future, it was clear we needed some more quality pig accommodation. So far we have only kept weaners for a few months at a time and never any through the winter.
The best of the arks that we inherited on moving here – a double skinned, insulated tin ark – has proved invaluable so we ordered another one just like it. Although that’s not to say that the other slightly rusty ones won’t be pressed into summer service when needed.
After a little puffing and straining the delivered pallet was unpacked and the various pieces moved to what will become the pigs next home. A quick glance at the instructions was all that was needed initially before making a start.
There were only a couple of minor false starts when the instructions weren’t too clear but these problems were easily resolved by taking a look at the existing old ark we have. It’s not exactly the same construction because at a rough guess it must be around 20 years old now but it’s close enough to be of some use.
Once the first roof layer was on it was time to get the insulation layer in place before adding the second roof layer. At this point the problems started to appear with the pre-drilled holes not lining up in all the various parts that I was supposed to bolt together.
Most problems could be resolved with a little fudging and some judicious use of the hammer but as it neared completion there were some which were obviously never going to work. Some longer bolts and a little careful drilling soon dealt with this and the final covering was properly fixed.
Once all the construction work was finished and the tools had been packed away it was just a matter of throwing a load of straw in the house so that the pigs could make their own bedding arrangements.
Although I’m pleased with the results of my efforts I’m probably more proud of my pigs who simply followed at my heels during the transition between pens. There was no hassle, no chasing runaway pigs, just a calm orderly stroll through the woods from one pen to the other!
There has been some good progress with many parts of my original plan for 2015 but as always there is much more that I would like to get done. Mostly it is time that is the issue but increasingly there is also the question of money as well unfortunately.
Now that we’ve made the decision to have a go at pig breeding, it made sense to get all the required equipment in place. This became much more important after the recent wet weather when we saw exactly how much mess 4 pigs can make.
Even though their current enclosure is far too big for just the 4 of them, some parts of it are becoming very well-worn and are desperately in need of a rest.
I thought about covering up the bare patches with something but when I tried that the other day with grass cuttings from the lawn the pigs just turned it into an afternoon snack!
The newly fenced pens are all ready to go so we will be assembling a shiny new pig ark in one of them and then moving the pigs over as soon as possible. More on this in a separate post because it turned into a major undertaking!
We still need to decide which 2 gilts will be kept for breeding over the longer term and that won’t be easy. It’s hard to tell them apart now without trying to differentiate based on particular aspects of their conformation which are better for breeding purposes.
We’re still waiting for our first foray with cattle but have at least made the decision on what we will be getting. In the end we chose to get two 3-year-old Dexters that have calved before which should mean future calving will be less problematic.
They have also been running with the bull over the last few months and should be in-calf but this means a slight delay while the pregnancy is tested to determine a predicted calving date.
There will no doubt be a flurry of bovine pictures to replace the excess of porcine pictures in due course!