With winter just around the corner, you would think things on the farm would be slowing down as the days continue to shorten. Not so here at Antaya Acres. Our last fall litter of piglets arrived the other day, and are doing grand: 11 beautiful tamworth/large black crosses. They pop around that pen like heated popcorn kernals. Their energy is contagious..thank the Lord, because without the joy boosts I get from the kids and the critters, I am not sure I could manage everything I have to do each day. With 4 mothers in the stalls, it seems like the clean up side of things is never ending right now. One of the nicest things about pasture pigging is that the animals spend so little time in the barn, not only is that a more natural beautiful life for the pigs, but the clean up is also a lot easier when everyone is out on the grass. This time of year, the nights are a little colder then I am comfortable with, so we move the mommas in the barn when they get ready to farrow, and we keep them there until I no longer have to worry about the little ones getting laid on, or freezing in the temperatures a late fall in Michigan can provide. We also bring the weanlings/growers into a nursery area we have set up in the barn. This is probably more than we need to do, as all of the breeds we raise are cold hardy, but its been so wet this fall I am a little extra cautious. I don't want a passel of babies coming down with pneumonia. Brett is working on the fencing today. I have had 6 ft. fence poles up around the front part of the yard for over a month. We had hired a young man to help Brett stretch the fence, but that fell through and he's been so busy the fence poles are still stark daily reminders of the work still left to be done. Getting that up will allow us to rotate the pigs to the new pasture area, so its essential that it get finished. I can't stretch it on my own, and Brett has been working on a large barn tear down in the northern part of the thumb. We were blessed this season by the generosity of a farmer and his family, who graciously allowed us to tear down their old 40'X80'X45' gambrel barn...for free no less! It has been a tremendous blessing, but also a ton of work, and that has kept Brett off the farm for almost 2 straight weeks. They are anxious to have the barn finished so that they can erect a new one in its place, so he has been logging in a lot of hours trying to get it done as quickly as possible. What an absolute gift it is though. That barn will enable us to erect range houses on all of the pastures and put up the addition on the existing barn. Thats a feat we never would have been able to accomplish until after spring litters otherwise. I don't always thank him for all of his hard work, but when he isn't here it certainly shows. Thank goodness his dad has been willing and available to help with the teardown, otherwise it wouldn't have been manageable. Many of you probably don't realize the amount of work that actually happens in the day to day operations of a farm, but somedays it can seem insurmountable. Because we are a pasture operation, for the most part the pigs and sheep are easy: food, water, poop patrol. The kids are easy too, as I have been blessed with the best kids EVER..ANYWHERE!! Although I do homeschool, so that takes time. Farm life is hard, sometimes heavy work, but its good honest work too. The rarest commodity on a farm is time. It takes thoughtful management to make it all balance out and work so that you are reaping the benefits that make this life so appealing to those of us who choose to live it. Its easy to spread yourself so thin taking care of the critters and the chores, that enjoying the time you have with your family can take a back seat. We have had to make some difficult decisions in that regard this year. We are cutting back on what we are doing with the dogs (Australian Shepherds), and that has been really hard for me to come to terms with. We had the Aussies before anything else here, and they have been such an intricate and joyful part of our farm and family, and they will continue to be - just on a smaller more manageable scale. I have rehomed some of our adult dogs to wonderful families, and while it causes the tears to flow..I know it is the right decision for them and for me. Our last litter of puppies just turned 14 weeks old, and I still have 4 of them available. I have been so busy with farmstuff, I'm afraid I haven't taken the time I usually do to get them marketed and in their forever families. I've got to move that to the front burner today. If anyone knows anyone who needs a first class working dog...let me know. I've been blessed with the most brilliant beautiful dogs you can find anywhere. I guess today I have really had God put it on my heart to remember why we are doing what we are, and to get through the work fast so we have time for the fun stuff. Well that is it for today - time to go work, so I can find some time to play with all of the blessings I have been given! Try to do the same.
Antaya Acres Heritage Farm