Green Fields and Happy Pigs

It has been a while since I posted, and things around here have been busy but not rushed. There’s a big difference and I think I’ve only really started to appreciate that since we moved out to the country. But I digress…

The biggest project and first priority around here has been the new field. It had to be raked and seeded, and yours truly did all the raking herself (I’ll take a bow). Sure we could have hired a tractor, bought a fancy attachment for the ATV, or just built one ourselves like the neighbour did (he attached a long rectangle of chicken wire to a heavy log and dragged it around his property). But it just seemed easier to go out and do it by hand. It was a learning experience to be sure, and it also allowed me to get a feel for the soil in the field and which spots had better soil than others. I was very pleased with the final result, especially how I ended up piling the last bits of debris along the field border, which saved me having to toss it all into the trailer and then dump it. It was dusty work during the dry summer weather spell we were having, but right when I finished the skies opened up and it has rained pretty much every day for the last week. Soon there was green coming up everywhere and Husband and I were running around pointing and shouting in excitement. The photo below is taken from the “test patch” we seeded when we first started raking. The rest of the field is sprouting little cotyledons of grass and clover and I can’t wait to see what it all looks like when grown.

By the way, the fenced-off area in the topmost photo is Husband’s heritage wheat project. It’s pretty cool and I’ve been bugging him to write some posts on the subject. Stay tuned!

The field project was briefly interrupted by the arrival of the pigs, who quickly outgrew their little paddock. Husband expanded the area and they are very happy as there’s a nice muddy wallow they like to hang out in. I am amazed at how strong those pig noses are and what they are able to root out of the ground, even at their relatively small size. I am, however, getting tired of hauling feed to them 2 or 3 times a day so I’m wanting to get a pig feeder. We are also hauling water to them, which they are drinking out of a bucket. This is less than ideal, and if they weren’t the only livestock we’re caring for it would probably be intolerable. First, they love to turn their bucket upside down which means we are refilling it at least once a day and often more than that. We really need to get a proper water trough that they can’t tip over. Second, there is only one outside tap on the property; it’s on the side of our trailer. So to water the pigs we need to go get the bucket, bring it up to the house, rinse and fill it, and bring it back down. This is fine for now but eventually we’ll have more animals, hopefully a barn, and we’ll need a water source further down the property. We have several options we’re looking at; the one I’m most excited about is rainwater harvesting. But more on that later…Meanwhile the pigs seem very happy and they are doing a great job of clearing the land under their hooves. (sorry for the blurred photo, but they didn’t want to sit still for me that day!)

With the field done I quickly moved on to my next project: getting plants into the ground. I was given some leeks, chives, and oregano by my neighbour. Then a friend came to visit and brought me raspberries and some inedible plants. And then Husband went to a local farm for their annual heritage tomato seedling sale and came home with a bunch of vine and bush varieties. These had all been sitting in pots for too long, so I got to work making a bed for them.

I still haven’t figured out exactly where my eventual garden will be. It will be a thing of beauty, with several raised beds in rotation, pretty pathways, and all surrounded by deer-proof fencing. But that will have to wait until fall. Meanwhile, I picked a spot in the field where I knew from raking that the soil was nice. I measured out a 4 x 12.5 square and began digging. If I hadn’t suspected it already, digging confirmed that underneath the thin layer of nice topsoil is heavy and rocky clay. I added four bags of Sea Soil to the bed to build it up a bit, as well as lime and complete organic fertilizer (I’m using Steve Solomon’s method; more in a later post).

After much digging and raking I was able to put the tomatoes, raspberry, and leeks into the ground. I’ll put the inedible plants in the flower garden near the house, and I’ll put the oregano and chives in a pot on the deck. I have no idea how well the tomatoes will grow; this was as slapdash as they come. Right after I got the plants in I came down with a rotten cold, and the first one in a year that has landed me in bed. For the last three days I’ve been wholly unproductive, but am finally starting to get my energy back. Between that and some visitors it’s been a slow two weeks but I’m looking forward to tackling the next job…whatever that is, I haven’t decided what to do next!

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Categories: country scenes, critters, gardening, working the land | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Green Fields and Happy Pigs

  1. Pingback: DIY Soil Test « the Starter Acreage

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