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Tall grass and fat pigs

Posted 5/27/2010 12:00pm by Julie Hurst / Roy Brubaker.

The grass has now out-paced the harvesting mouths of our sheep and cows.  Pollen from the mature grass hovers over the pastures like a light fog in the early morning or late evening sun.  When driving a four-wheeler through the grass to move a water tank or mineral feeder, it is like little explosions or fireworks are going off just ahead of us as the metal rack bolted onto the front bumps the heads of Kentucky bluegrass.  At dinnertime, we complain of itchy eyes and Riley's asthma, which rarely acts up,  is irritating her lungs enough that she's been using the nebulizer and has a short-term prescription of prednisone.   When Roy moved the sheep into a new paddock last evening, they disappeared into tall grass; this morning they reappeared, as little white bumps poking out of the now-thinning grass.   Two new lambs were born yesterday and we feared that in the move they might get lost -- their hungry moms rushing on ahead like mob-shoppers on Black Friday -- but when I rode down this morning to check for them, they were comfortably nestled in a nest of grass next to their moms.  Thus begins round two of our spring lambing (so much for our plan to concentrate lambing into a month!)  Thankfully, only a few ewes will be lambing over the next week or two, and then we will truly be done for this season.

Our five Berkshire sows are really growing fast.  Pigs have an amazing rate of gain compared to sheep!  We've moved them over into our big cattle loafing pen for the summer.  They have more than enough space to root and run around -- in fact -- going into that pen can be a little scary.   They are not shy like sheep nor do they move deliberately like cows.  They are gregarious and quick.   They come right up to me snorting and bumping like paparazzi -- maybe they think I'm Jennifer Anisten, or more likely, Woody Allen.  I am a little shrill and neurotic at times.   Thanks to Charles and Tammy, our dairy farmer neighbors down the road, our pigs are very happy right now.  For the past week they've had several gallons of fresh milk every morning.  After the girls get on the bus, I pull our Radio Flyer wagon down the road to the Kline farm and haul back two five gallon buckets of fresh milk for the pigs.   Several of his cows have "freshened" (just had a calf) and their milk is not allowed to go into the tank for several days.   I feel like the valley milk maid -- pulling my wagon, milk sloshing over the edges of the buckets, as I make my way home to feed the pigs.