Moving Day

Moving Day

May 2024 vol. 1

It’s moving day!

I’m a few weeks behind schedule, mainly due to the farm tour, but I finally got all of the animals moved to their spring pastures.

I think I’m getting better at this cowboy thing.  This week I was able to move over 50 head of cattle all by myself.  You may recall last year’s fiasco when I had a few calves jump out of the trailer while pulling out of the drive.  There’s always a lot of drama when you’re trying to cajole a bunch of animals into a trailer, but I managed to do it without hurting myself or any of the animals.  I took 4 trailer loads to the property we lease a few miles from the house without issue.  The grass there is belly high and the cows are loving it.

Moving chickens has become second nature, so yesterday I had no trouble moving them out on pasture.    About every month we start a new batch of 300 broilers, and after three weeks in the brooder we move them out on grass. We use stock tanks for their brooder, so I’m able to pick up 100 chicks at a time and ferry them out to the chicken tractors.  We move the chicken tractors to fresh grass every day for the next four weeks, at which point I load them into crates and drive them to the processor. 

Moving the piglets on the other hand still presents its challenges. In years past I’ve been able to coax the piggies from their farrowing pen to the adjacent pasture with patience and food. Granted it’s never easy. They’re skittish little buggers. They typically take 10 steps back for every one step forward – always returning to their comfort zone. But this year I just could not get them to move where I wanted. I tried multiple times over several days, but I couldn’t get all nine of them to cooperate. There would always be a few that would get skittish and run “home” and of course the others would dart after them. I finally threw in the towel and loaded them into a trailer.

That sounds much easier than it really is. Piglets are fast and strong. Coaxing them into our loading chute is easy enough – just withhold food for a few hours and they’ll go where their bellies lead them. But that’s where the easy part ends. Our loading chute is made for thousand-pound cattle, not fifty-pound pigs. They’re able to turn around and dart back and forth, and though I do my best to block off any exits, pigs have a cany way of escaping like Harry Houdini. I was able to get most of them to run up into the trailer, but a few squirted out and I had to catch them bare handed and pitch them in. I don’t typically use expletives, but it’s times like this that make you say “I’m getting too old for this shit”.

Despite the drama, they are much happier in their new home. They have quickly settled in and are enjoying the lush grass and mud puddles.

All in all, we’re making the most of the recent rain, taking advantage of the resulting growth while we can. Come rain or shine, looking forward to catching up with you at the market.

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