Friday, November 12, 2010

A day on the farm

     No day on Spence Farm is "normal". People ask us what a day is like and it is really hard to say for sure. Every day is different. Most days we get up and get the "inside chores" done. That includes feeding the inside cat (Petie Parker, aka Spidey Cat) and putting the part-time outside cat (Spunky Brewster) outside. Spunky catches basement mice for us at night, especially when I have plantings under the grow lights. We get our breakfast, check our emails, spend time writing blogs or whatever, and then do the "outside chores".
     The Outside Chores consist of opening the chicken house door, opening the duck house door and giving them water, opening the Big Barn door for Gimpy the turkey, and leading Hannah and Ginny our Jacob sheep out to their pasture. The sheep are spoiled and so go into a stall in the barn at night.
     Then...right now...there are three pig cages. One has Swee (mama or "sow") and her latest batch of babies ('the babies'). Another has 'the little kids' which were born in March this year. There are three gilts (girls) and a boy (boar). The boy is to go live at another farm soon. The third cage has Sam. Sam is our big daddy ("boar"). He is about 200 pounds and just like a very large muscular dog. He loves his belly rubbed and loves Spunky. We move the 6' x 10' pig cages to the next available green area, give them water, and sometimes a treat of apples or squash or wheat berries. The last chore is the cows. We have Surprise (see her mug shot on the farm website at and her daughter Dini (short for Houdini as she used to get out all the time.) I call Dini "Devil Dini" because she is getting her horns and looks a little devilish, not to mention her personality fits it. We check their water and about every three days move their electric fence area so they have new food to eat. They are eating our corn stocks and some alfalfa right now.
     We don't feed any of our animals in the conventional way of "feeds" containing a lot of grains. We try to keep them on pasture as long as we can and then feed mostly hay in the winter. The poultry will get some of our own grains (wheat, barley or oats maybe) and sometimes left over apples as a treat when it is very cold and the bugs and grass are gone. But, we let them "free range" (walk all over the place) and feed themselves what they know to be healthy for themselves. Feeding the hay and pasture and our own grains cuts the feed costs dramatically.
     Chores are done again in the evening. But, in between that time all kinds of other things are happening. Today we are watering inside the hoophouses, having about a hundred high school Agriculture students out for tours, and harvesting more turnips (never ending it seems!). We are also working on discing up the ground where our spring wheat and alfalfa will be planted.
     A disc is a contraption that we pull with our big tractor. It has round discs on it that slice into the ground and help chop up the existing grass or other cover crops. We don't want to till the ground until we are ready to put in a crop because we don't want the ground to erode or blow away and lose all the nutrients. We try to keep some kind of crop on it until we need to plant. However, we are discing some areas lightly now to break them up. The existing crop will be killed during the winter and the tilling easier in the spring. That way if the spring is a wet one (usually the case) we won't have to disc and can just till when we get a dry window of time.
     I suppose this blog will be able to give a better idea of how the seasons change what we do on the farm and how every day can be different and exciting. Keep checking back to see what is new!

1 comment:

  1. It's great to get a better sense of what basically goes into your typical day. I have a much bigger appreciation for the cycle of events that happen on a daily basis for you all!