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Observations from Groundhog Day, 2011 - Spring is coming soon!

Posted 2/7/2011 1:00pm by Julie Hurst / Roy Brubaker.

Happy Groundhog Day! The farm is encased in icy crystal this morning.  Fences take the weight of gravity's frozen pull the hardest.  The electro-net that keeps the sheep in their winter pasture is toppled over on its side.  The sheep, seeing no better opportunity for feed, are content enough to hover close to the hay feeders that give them both warm bedding and sustenance.  Bob and Bud, Roy's team of Belgiums, seem to enjoy the sound of their hooves crashing through the crunchy snow.   The cows and calves too have opted to hang out around their bale feeders rather than damp barn this morning.  Thankfully, Punxsutawni Phil did not see his shadow this morning, so spring is close at hand. 

The hogs on our farm are not about to burrow into the ground and go to sleep.  They have been reunited; three sows with their litters, a bred sow, and the boar, in a barn pen we once used for winter lambing.  After the initial fight to establish matriarchal dominance, they settled into rooting and burrowing through the deep hay and manure that has build up there in the last couple years.   Roy noticed that they are actually eating less --even with the little pigs lining up at the trouph beside their mamas.  Our current theory is that they are less stressed being together.  Pigs are herd animals and while the fights to establish a "pecking order" are a little frighting to watch, once dominance has been determined, they seem much happier.  The little pigs seem especially happy in their new home.  They dash around in packs, stopping to dig and root, always aware of a sow that is standing still long enough to grab a drink.   I have yet to figure out if the sows have become community property or if the little pigs are choosy about where they get a drink.  From what I've observed, the mamas and babies seem more concerned about who they sleep with than who they eat with.  If I am quiet, and leave the dogs their kennel, I get to glimpse the sows burrowed deep in the hay with their fat babies snuggled against their bellies.  It is a scene I hope to capture on film to share with you.   It is a sweet moment that triggers an urge to bake bread or  pile on the sofa with my daughters to read.