Agricola Farm is in production! Our first test run has started. We took our first pig (Cassandra) to the slaughterhouse. The trip and the transportation went very smoothly. She was slaughtered within 2 hours of her arrival (which is ideal) and had a few pig companions to talk to while waiting. I toured the place and everything looked very well organized, clean, and professionally handled. I am very happy about that! We used to do our own slaughtering and considered that an important aspect of the process because we could make sure the animal was as relaxed and happy as she could be up until the last second. Now we must use USDA approved slaughterhouses, and out of all the alternatives this is a good one. We took Cassandra there in the early morning when the weather is a bit cooler, and the trip is only fourteen miles of backcountry roads. We did continue our tradition of giving the animals a chocolate treat on their last day. Pigs love chocolate, but I am not sure it is very good for their diet, so we reserve it for their last meal letting them experience it at least one time.
Last Wednesday Farmer Ale used the MAd River Food Hub to prepare the first 100 batches of sausages and to try our test run of coppa, pancetta, culatello, prosciuttino, and bacon.
YEAH!! Agricola Food is coming to your table soon!
Recently we experienced a beautiful sunset at the farm. The purple sky reflected on the wet road dividing the north and south fields making the road look purple. We were closing the chickens at 9pm and fully enjoying the view. I have to admit that at 8:30pm I was not so happy about the prospect of having to come back to the farm. We had already been there at 6:30 to close everyone for the night, but the chickens just did not want to go in. It felt like herding a bunch of 3 year-olds. So we left and came back at 8:30, and the chickens walked back into the coop without any trouble. We locked the coop and said good night. GOING BACK WAS ONE SMART DECISION!
We heard from Alex, the farmer living close to the barn, that a large bear visited the barn at 10pm! Apparently he touched the fences and made a scream that is hard to repeat. Alex thought that someone was impaled and dragged down the street. Then his house lights came on and caught the bear straight in the eyes right before he turned towards the woods with such a vigor that Alex could hear the floor shaking under his feet and could hear his panting while he was several yards away.
So ... 1) the electric fences work against bears and 2) always close your chickens!
The BIG move is done! We moved all the big pigs! Now the big pigs are in the yard in the back of the barn and the piglets are in the front (sharing an area with the chickens). The move was great! Thanks to Annie Murray-Close, Keith Burt, Emily Albarillo (who came all the way from NY city!), Waldo Siple and Mary Siple!!! It was fun (but ... we may have a different definition of fun from most people.) The pigs easily followed from the lower field at the Silver Street Farm all the way to the horse barn where Waldo perfectly backed up the animal trailer we borrowed. It took quite a bit to get them from there to the trailer itself ... and I have learned something valuable: pigs do not like slopes! They are much more likely to go up a step, as long as not too high, than they are to go up a ramp, even if the ramp has a very gentle slope.The slowest of all was Spots. She really wanted to check out the situation first. After the other pigs got into the trailer and started enjoying the hay, the bread, and the water, she decided it was cool to try herself and dutifully stepped into the trailer. I guess another piece of advice for anyone out there wanting to move pigs: do not rush and do not force an adult pig to do things that are completely against its will. We were gentle and calm the entire time. As soon as Spots started complaining because she was feeling forced, we backed off. There is no way you will win a fight with a hog, so be mindful, sweet, and calm. It is an exercise in zen :) oh the things pigs teach you!!