Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Additions to the farm

They've finally arrived. after what seemed like months of bad weather and logistical snafu's, our pigs have finally arrived at the farm. We got 1 boar and 4 gilts. We did a lot of research in making out selection with the pigs. And finally opted on these beauties, The American Guinea Hog.

For those of you who have never heard of this breed, the American Guinea hog is an old homestead pig, that at one time was prevalent on small homesteads. It is considered a lard pig, in that it has a good amount of fat, unlike the pigs that supply the meat markets nowadays.

We chose the the American Guinea Hog to raise at
Weksny Acres, because of their
manageable size, gentle nature and sustainable foraging abilities.
These characteristics make them ideally suited for a
small family farm like ours. These hogs will be
filling a functional niche on our farm, producing
outstanding natural pork on forage and feed that would otherwise go to waste.

The American Guinea Hog is listed a "critical" by the American Livestock Conservancy.
Weksny Acres is proud to have these rare pigs on our farm, and is
committed to preserving this unique American hog for use by future generations of small farmers.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Lovin' it...snow, hail and all

It's funny how things work out sometimes on the farm. If I've learned anything lately it's that a farmer has to embrace nature and the weather just as they are and love them. Let me explain..

Last year we fought an ongoing battle with weeds, got struck by invasive bugs, and went through a drought from June through September. We had to water so much that we ran the well dry more times than I can remember. When it was all over and done, I licked my wounds and started planning for the next season. I decided I was going to get a jump on the hot, dry weather and start early this year. So we did.

On January 1st, I turned our sunroom into a greenhouse. We planted seeds. And more seeds. And, just for kicks, more seeds. We started perennial herbs and got them under plastic tunnels. The growing beds were expanded and fertilized right on time for an early start. We did everything right this year.

Then it started. Not only did we get snow here in South Carolina, we got it twice. One of the snows gave us a 15-inch accumulation. Now, for anyone here in the South, that's a lot. It collapsed our growing tunnels, wiping out all our perennial herbs, except for the rosemary and lemon balm.

The weather turned nice and warm in March, just like I knew it would. We moved all the plants out to harden off in preparation for planting. Additional tunnels were ready to protect them from the typically colder night. We were back up, ahead of the game. Then April came.

For those of you who know my darling wife, you already know that her father passed away on April 1st. She was already in Kansas City, so once I had someone to look after the chickens for us, I took off with the kids to join her for a week. Two days before we got home, South Carolina got hit by severe thunderstorms. And the farm got pelted with hail. The plants that we already had in the main garden seem to have weathered the storm fairly well, though we're still waiting to see if the onion and garlic beds recover or not. All the planting trays not only got hit, but 95 % of them got wiped out. We probably lost close to 300 plants that were ready to be transplanted. So much for getting an early jump on the market this year.

Since the hail storm, it seems like we've averaged a thunderstorm once or twice a week. The rest of the month looks to be the same.

So here we are, starting over. I spent 2 days going from store to store buying plants to replace the ones we lost. Let me tell you, that doesn't sit well with a guy who harvests his own seeds to grow year to year. I still have empty growing beds, and the seeds to put in them, but it's too late in the game to do that now.

The good news is that every day, with a lot of hard work, we get a little closer to being caught back up to where I'd expected us to be. There is hope of better things to come. This past Saturday, during the latest thunderstorm, I was sitting here in the office watching out the window that overlooks the front porch. In the midst of the blowing wind and rain, the sky parted a little and the sun started shining, casting a beautiful shadow across the porch. I was reminded in a big way that no matter how much I plan, and for all the labor I put in to working this little farm of ours, nature and the weather will do as they please. If I don't know how to roll with it, and love this life for what it is, I shouldn't be doing it.

I choose to love it.