Pleasant Valley Farm

  (Tionesta, Pennsylvania)
Real Family Farming in Tionesta, PA
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Grass fed pigs?

The fields and garden are nearly planted.  The only major planting task left is to finish planting the last of the field corn.  However, with the rain we've had over the last few days that may have to wait until the weekend, the field is too wet to be worked right now.  But the corn that is in the ground has sprouted; we can see faint green rows across the fields getting a little taller every day.  It is amazing what warm weather and rain can do!  The transplants that survived frosting and the ones we set out this past weekend are thriving.  There are blooms on the peppers and beans, lettuce and peas sprouting, so produce will be coming soon.  I will keep everyone posted on what is available.

The animals are loving the lush pasture this time of year.  I love it too, it means so much less manure to move!  We have 6 little goslings following the proud parents around the pond and fields.  They did better than we did in the incubator!  The little ones grow so fast, I joke that they will only be cute for another 24 hours or so.  All the little lambs are doing fantastic on pasture too, and the bottle baby calves we are raising are chewing thier cud more every day.  Pretty soon we won't need to be mixing up milk replacer every 12 hours. 

Even the hogs are getting out on grass! We have been pleasantly surprised how easy it has been to put our boar and two sows on a rotational pasture.  Believe it or not, a single strand of electric fence about 8" off of the ground is enough to keep a 6oo lb animal where you want them.  If only goats were so easy! But the hogs seem to enjoy the new space and have been grazing and not rooting it up too much.  Most of the piglets are gone, we sold the ones we needed to last night at the auction.  We kept 5 to raise and they have moved out of the hog house into the pig tractor.  The tractor is a 16' x 8' pen with no floor.  We will be moving it onto fresh grass as needed.  It has all the comforts of home: sides and a roof over about half the area, a nipple waterer so they can drink fresh from the garden hose and a feeder full of piggie chow. So far it's working well, and soon we plan on doing some major renovations to the hog house, so we're glad that the pigs are happy on pasture.

The chickens are getting plenty of sunlight and grass as well and are laying beautifully.  We're not incubating much besides duck and quail eggs at the moment, so we have eggs for sale.

It is a beautiful time of year to just take in the view of the farm from our back porch in the evening while we're grilling dinner.  It's my favorite activity this time of year. 

 
 

The Start of Summer

Well, Memorial Day weekend is here and has brought summer's heat!  We planted lots of seedlings last night.  The peppers have a few blooms and I can't wait to be picking them! We hope to do some more work after the heat of the day and I'm planning to get my herb garden seeded for this year's annuals.  I'm planting Queenette basil, a Thai variety I was very pleased with last year.  Some new ones I have this year are borage, white mustard and lime basil.  I'm trying catnip again and hoping it does better than last year, it didn't really germinate.  The oregano, chives, parsley, sage, thyme and lemon basil all overwintered well and are really taking off.  I'm also glad to see peppermint coming up neat the creek, and my pineapple mint is coming back despite the prunings the goats gave it last year! I can't wait to be picking fresh vegetables too! 
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Seedling Trauma and Stunt Pigs

Well, last Friday we planted a few seedlings in the garden.  Some of the heritage zucchini, squahes and melons were getting a bit crowded on the kitchen window sill.  We put down black fabric to cut down on weeding and put the plants in.  A gentle rain fell all night and the temperature stayed in the mid 60's.  Sounds like a great start...until the wind started on Saturday.  The black cloth ended up wrapped around the moveable rabbit pen at the edge of the garden.  I'm not sure how or if we'll get it back where it should be.  Plus last night was the 3rd night in a row we had to cover everything with floating row cover because of frost.  Happily, more than half of the seedlings appear to have survived their traumatic transplanting!! My flower bed and herbs seem to have weathered through well. Some of the potatoes got nipped a bit by the frost, but they'll be ok, and the rhubarb seems to be indestructible at this point.  It's beautiful but I just don't have enough time right now to be making anything with it.

Alicia, our only ewe born last year, had a little ram lamb on Monday.  She's a dedicated mother and he seems to be doing just fine. She was born last year the day after Mother's Day, and had her own baby the day after Mother's Day this year! It's been cold the past few nights, so I put a little fleece blanket on him.  I think it makes me feel better than the baby, but it surely isn't causing any harm.  I started making the "lammy jammies" this February when most of the lambs were born out of scraps of fleece material I found on discount at Wal-Mart along with a few clearance-priced buttons.  It sure beat the prices in the livestock supply catalogs, and they were custom fit.

We'll be weaning the piglets this weekend.  The sows are going a bit stir-crazy in thier pens. They both escaped out into the boar's run this weekend.  I would have loved to have seen the 450-lb sow climb over the 3 1/2 foot stall divider. Twice. Luckily, no pigs were hurt during this stunt.  The babies are also getting very good at pushing the hog house door open and escaping into the main barnyard and pasture if the door isn't shut VERY tightly.  A cinder block propped up on the outside works too.

  Dan is done with the plowing for the year.  There is still much fieldwork to be done before all the field corn is in, but everything is moving right along.  Tom, my father-in-law, is coming to help us out again this weekend so I'm hoping for clear skies! I am also hoping to work my horse a bit behind the harrow this weekend.  Dan has worked her a bit, but she's acting a bit barn sour and I think he's a little too easy on her when she starts to throw a fit.  But I am excited to get her used to her new harness.  We were at an auction and found a gorgeous show pony harness with both a collar and the ability to hook up to shafts for a buggy or sleigh for a price we could afford. When it was brought out, I was in love with it and was sure it would go too high, but it must have been meant to be!  It is beautiful and covered in metal dots which will be shiny once I find time to clean and oil it. When we tried it on Sara in the barn, it fit like it was custom made.  I only had to adjust one buckle on the whole thing! The leather is in fantastic shape, it's just got a good layer of dust accumulated on it.  It even came with an ornate piece of leather that fits over the hames and collar just for decoration.  I told her she'll look fancier than a Budwieser Clydesdale!  The only thing I was nervous about is that the bridle has blinders on it, which Sara has never worn.  However, Dan used the new bridle with the old harness last week and said she acted like she'd worn them all her life.  Now if I can just get her used to the straps around her hind end without a royal kicking fit...

 
 
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