I am a farmer, so worrying about the weather is a stock in trade. This time of year, we usually have a fair bit of rain, which is timely, given that we sow the seeds for the winter forages right now. Except there isn't much rain to be had. The last round of storms, predicted to give us three days of rain on and off, did not amount to much. And I had sown seeds. What's a farmer to do?
Here's some of our seed mix - winter peas, swiss chard, mangel beets, clover, beans, daikon radish, hairy vetch. I added a lot of oats, forage wheat, and buckwheat to that, and the turnips and rye that we let go to seed this past spring are already sown, courtesy of the pigs. If the seeds germinate and take hold now, the pigs will all get forage that should give them nutritious greens through the winter and early spring. It's a big deal. All of these good things bring health, wellness and vitality to the hogs during the winter, as well as contributing to the feed options. It is also one of the reasons our pork tastes so good. So I did what needed to be done. I gathered up every hose I've got, grabbed a sprinkler, and turned on the water. A good, deep watering at each spot has been just the ticket. Thank goodness for well water, and that the hoses reach out in the feeder pig pastures. The sows still need to pray for rain; I don't have that much hose. Here's a look at our current rotation: Here's paddock #1 right after we moved Big Lil and the babies a couple of weeks ago. Looks pretty stark.
Lil does a great job of utilizing her forage, and her babies are following in her footsteps. After a few days of rest and the bit of rain a week ago, this area was rebounding.
I am always surprised by the clover. It rebounds well as long as the rotations are of a duration of no more than 4 weeks. Here's the paddock after a bit of reseeding and watering.
Meanwhile, here's a look at paddock #2 when we opened it up for Lil and her pigs. Pretty lush and plush with summer growth, lots of squash and pumpkin.
Now, almost 2 weeks later, this same area looks like this. Lil and her industrious piglets have eaten and rooted and cleaned this area up pretty well, too. We'll move them today or tomorrow.
When they leave this area, they will have made contributions to the reseeding project. They have been getting whole bob oats and forage wheat added to their daily ration. Utilizing only 20%, they have deposited the rest of the intact seed in a handy pile of fertilizer. I'll add more of the seed mix, and move the hoses and sprinkler again. And they will be heading to this spot, to repeat the cycle.
In the meantime, I'll be sowing, repairing hot fence, and hauling water around. And praying for rain.
Merry Schepers lives on a farm with her heritage pigs in Nixa, MO.