Monday, March 27, 2006

Spring Plowing


I finally got the pigs out into the garden on Saturday. We decided to expand the garden a little bit this year because it always seemed like we didn't quite have enough room for all the squash and sweet corn we wanted to grow. The pigs do a great job in killing off the sod that we need to get rid of. Besides, they didn't have anything constructive to do until the cows go out on pasture and they can get into the cowshed to start turning the bedding pack into compost. I have a junky old horse trailer parked in the garden for the pigs to spend the night in, but so far they have opted not to. I'm certainly not going to try and force them. These pigs are my breeders. There are gilts (young sows), and the black and white one is the boar. The white ribbons in the foreground is electric fence polytape. Pigs are very respecting of electric fence, but they have to be able to see where it is.

2 Comments:

Blogger Scott Holtzman said...

Sure could have used a couple of those fellers' on my property (villiage ban) would have saved me 11 hours behind the tiller and been good eats the end of summer.

Just thinking about "eating" your equipment so to speak, seems rather odd but 'just', as well.

Regards.

4/16/2006 12:23:00 AM  
Blogger Walter Jeffries said...

Peter,

On my Sugar Mountain Farm blog you had asked if our pigs root in pasture and how to limit that...

If you look in the background of that photo you can see how the pasture looks after a month of the pigs and sheep. This section is heavily grazed but they didn't dig it up. They are about to get moved off that area so that it can re-grow. They rarely dig in the nice pasture areas. They do root in the brushy areas, uprooting the saplings. Digging rarely goes down more than a few inches.

I find that if I confine them to too small an area then they will dig down as much as six inches or so. I use this feature of the pigs to till my garden and crop areas. They also fertilize at the same time. An easy way to have them do tilling is to use poultry netting. That fences a 40' x 40' space. I leave the pigs in until they have turned it up well. After I move them out I move our chickens in. They break up the poops, smooth the soil, eat any bugs and remaining plants. This leaves a nicely tilled, fertilized and smooth garden space. Then I move the hens out and plant immediately. The trick is not to leave the pigs in an area so long that they pack the soil.

Conversely, for pasture that I don't want to have tilled by the pigs I am sure to give them plenty of space. When they have lots of room I find they root very little. They graze instead. When they do root, it is only an couple inches down. Again I follow them with chickens who smooth out any bumps. If you are getting excessive rooting I would give the pigs more space. I see them do the most rooting early in the spring when they first get out on pasture and then

If that doesn't work then it is possible that there is a difference in breeds although I doubt that would be the reason. Our pigs are primarily Yorkshire with a little bit of Glouster Old Spot and Tamworth.

The other possibility is what one considers a problem. Take a look at the close-up of the photo above (click on it) to get a sense of what our field is like after they have grazed a section heavily.

Cheers,

-Walter
Sugar Mountain Farm
NoNAIS.org

5/10/2006 12:14:00 PM  

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