Finally, they are here! 5 wee piglets are now established out in the hayfield near Field 4 with apprentice Andrew’s blue pig house and a perimeter electric fence. Ezra and I drove the minivan up to Cornerstone Farm in Palmyra last Tuesday to fetch ‘em, and we all made it back home safely in spite of band after band of thunderstorms keeping things interesting.
Now, the piglets themselves are keeping things interesting. Sonya was out of town this past weekend, and on Saturday evening, with the kids asleep, I put on my rain gear and ventured out to check on the wet, wet farm. Farm stand put away? Check. Greenhouse OK? Check. Sheep? A total of 5, wet and vocal but fine. Chickens? Wet, clucking softly in their coop. Piglets? None. Zero. Gone. Shit! Really? A quick look around the perimeter, and there was the problem. We have the pigs out on a section of hayfield that Sonya plowed a couple of years ago but which we then wound up not needing. So, the land, having never been spaded or worked further, is uneven and full of ruts. The pigs are out there in the hopes that they will smooth this land out somewhat as they root and dig and do what pigs do. But, alas, part of their fence was over a dip in the field and they rooted around in there just enough to get under the fence. I followed their trail out into the hayfield…a series of trails through the grass pocked with spots where the group stopped to dig around some. I eventually found them all together, and then the real fun began. There’s nothing that quite puts you in your place like chasing 5 piglets around in a rutty hayfield at dusk in the pouring rain. After numerous fits and starts I herded 4 of them back into their area and finally tackled the fifth and carried him back. With everyone back in their house, I shifted the fence as best I could and made sure they had plenty of grain. Keep ‘em full, I figured, and they won’t want to wander. So far, so good…no escapes since!
Back to that rain… If the veggies don’t work out, we can try rice. Or perhaps use the tractor to create some earthworks and channels and give a fishery a try. To state the obvious, it’s wet out there, friends. Wet, wet, wet. We don’t have a proper rain gauge (Lydia made off with it and hid it somewhere last summer), but based on the water levels in a few buckets laying around, I’d say we’ve received somewhere between 6 and 8 inches since Saturday. That’s…nuts! We’ve seen some sun in the last 2 or 3 days yet also had some isolated downpours in the afternoons to keep things in a soggy holding pattern. The fields are a mess, and the animals are miserable. Son and I had to go out earlier this week and move the pig house and put down a layer of straw inside to keep the piglets warm and out of the mud (yes, they love mud, but when it’s warm…not windy, rainy, and only in the 40s). The sheep’s pop-up tent collected so much water last Saturday night that it collapsed in on itself. The sheep more or less just use it to keep out of the sun, but the wet weather also meant that I had to put off moving them to fresh grass for a few days.
And yet…onwards! CSA pick-ups are scheduled to begin next week, and we’re planning to send folks home with lettuce, Napa cabbage, herbs, green garlic, and more. And we’re still trying to stay on track with our planting. We got beans, herbs, eggplant, peppers, and more in before the deluge, and so far this week, we’ve managed to get sweet potatoes into the ground inside the back of the greenhouse and winter squash planted out in soggy Field 4. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that things will dry out quickly…rot and disease become real issues with this level of moisture. The weeds are loving all this rain, too, and as June gets rolling, much of our time and energy in the coming weeks will shift from planting to weeding.
Many thanks to volunteer Brittany Wallingford and CSA workshare members Eddie Watt and Brian McNulty for their help on the farm over the past 2 weeks. Tasks they’ve all helped with include rolling out greenhouse fabric (for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and squash) in Fields 1 and 4, weed-wacking, fence-baiting, and planting, planting, planting. We appreciate all your hard work, folks!