summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

Friday, April 25, 2014

Getting Ready For Pig Production a.k.a. Bring On The Pork

I never thought that we would get pigs and we didn’t…Becky did.


She began with two Hampshire gilts purchased from a mountain man in Rockingham County.  Then, she added four younger Tamworth gilts (unfortunately, one died) from a female breeder south of Roanoke.  Then, a Berkshire boar from a high school ag program - you have to get that male involved if you are going to have babies. Then, she added two Berkshire gilts from this same school program. This group of swine makes up her initial breeding plan. 
Lastly, she purchased 9 mixed breed pigs from her local pig mentor and friend to feed out and process to sell pork before her very own pigs are ready. 


The first litter of baby pigs has yet to arrive.  Due date is early May.  With the arrival of her piglets, she will also be selling feeder pigs for those more adventurous and wanting to feed out their own porker.

pregnant Hampshire

Are these enough pigs for Becky?  Well, it depends.  If she is able to grow a viable market for her pork, then it is not. 


I will be her biggest fan because I love PORK with dumplings and sauerkraut - my favorite and often served Sunday meal during my youth.  Unfortunately, it will be up to me to make it…no mother or grandmother to lead the way. 


But, one person a clientele does not make.


Becky is a hard worker and strives for success and satisfaction.


I know that her pig pen will be well populated with pigs in no time.  I am betting on it!




FYI - Becky will be selling beef, lamb and pork at the Staunton, Virginia Famers Market (Wednesdays starting May 14, 2014) or locals can call her directly to make purchases. 



Thursday, April 17, 2014

Let the Gardening Begin

My gardens are a mess.


Quite frankly, I was a bit amiss in keeping all the beds and plants up to snuff last season.  I was just plain lazy. So, the ramifications are catching up with me this season.


Happily, this year is much different.  I think I have already done more weeding and trimming in a few nice spring days than I had all of last year…the entire year.


Therefore, I am not only over joyed but I have more incentive to keep that pace throughout the growing season.


I am not working in an organized manner.  I see something that needs clipping here…I clip it.  I see something that needs cutting back there...I cut it back.  This, of course, is not the usual routine for me.  I usually weed and trim one section, one bed at a time.  Maybe that is my miscalculation.  Willy nilly seems to work better and I am enjoying, not lamenting, every moment.  I will stay the course of no course and see where I end.


I hope I will end with a better maintained garden and one that is more productive in terms of blooms, scents and overall beauty.


One planting, really 12 plants which I hit extremely hard this season, was my miniature barberry shrubs.  Miniature they are not.  Or, more accurately, were not.  They had reached a height of between four and six feet.  


In the years since planting these 12 barberries in what was to be a formal ‘knot’ garden, I would trim back the rebellious branches, trim the height a bit and that was it.  I thought about doing the same this year.  Then, I decided I would experiment and cut back two of the 12 to six- inch stumps and see if they would sprout.

At that point, I got really crazy.  I had Glenn take a chain saw to each one.  I decided to cut all 12 down and I hoped all 12 would sprout back.

I think the paper wasps are also mad at me...notice the large nest (top left of photo) in a still standing (for the moment) barberry

freshly cut barberry displays this brilliant yellow color

I will keep you posted. To date, it seems like all 12 stubs have developed buds which is a good sign that they are still alive. 


Of course, Sam and Omie (my long-term resident mockingbirds) are a bit miffed with me.  Those barberries were their favorite nesting site in the yard as the thorns provided just the right amount of protection needed against our three cats. 


The holly shrubs would be a suitable alternative.  Maybe Sam and Omie will think so, too.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Amazing Day

What an amazing day I had today!


Notice the radiant RED eye?
It all started when I saw an Eastern Towhee perched in the dogwood tree just outside my kitchen window. I was washing dishes and was lucky enough to catch a rare sight, for me that is, of this beautiful bird.


That event alone would have warranted the title of AMAZING, but no, I was fortunate to chalk up even more amazement as the day proceeded.


I took my walk through the pastures today.  The grass is still short, so I thought I would take advantage of this benefit while I was able.  Hopefully, in a few weeks the grass will take off and I will be unwilling to trek through the tall blades. I will be forced to stay on the vehicle tracks.  But, the amazing thing is that the grass is now GREEN, not brown, not kraft paper like, but GREEN. The transformation is fast. One day the grass is washed-out brown and the next day green.  Today is that next day.


With dogs running far ahead of me, I had no reason to rush.  I wanted to enjoy every single moment.  The dogs would return to check on me.


I left the yard walking past the chickens enjoying the warm, sunny weather.  I walked past the near empty pole barn.  All the surplus hay we purchased to get us through the winter is gone.  I continued past our old, inherited relic of a trailer, no longer habitable except for some wayward wildlife that might find refuge inside.  There are plenty of holes with which to enter.  I continued, starting downhill, walking toward the pasture where the cows and sheep currently reside.  I stopped to count the calves - four cuties.  Our 2014 calving season has officially started.  I continued downhill to the pond.  There I was greeted by a pair of ducks and a pair of Canada geese.
I slipped into the pond house and out onto the deck to observe these water fowl from an acceptable (to the birds) distance.  They were fun to watch as they all glided over the water near the dried cattails.
blue-winged teal
Canada geese
I have never seen the pond so ample.  It was above full pond as water was running out the overflow pipe.  The dogs rested and stepped into the water numerous times to quench their thirst.
Sammy attacking some pond weed.
Upon leaving the pond area, we (me and the dogs) passed the cows again and Sammy had to show his puppy dominance with a bit of barking.  Then, he took another sip of water from the stock tank before we continued on our way.
Down the alley, I first heard then barely saw a bird.  The song was unrecognizable to me, but on further inspection I was glad to be able to identify the meadowlark darting about the middle pasture.
Starting back up hill toward the house, I made slow progress past some red cedar groves because I was looking for deer antlers.  Becky had found a nice one about one month ago, so I thought I would take a few minutes to search.  Unfortunately, there was no antler for me. The last leg to the house was the most difficult because it is the steepest.  But, I made it.  The dogs, already waiting at the top, encouraged me as they patiently watched my slow ascend.


Amazing… green grass, baby calves, ducks, geese, meadowlark all within the length of my walk on this gorgeous spring (yes, I think I can actually call it spring now) day…let’s not forget that towhee.


And, as I write this, I turn my head and see a herd of deer grazing in the barn lot, just yards from my desk.


It is just one of those days…one of those AMAZING DAYS!
Note:  We have never seen blue-winged teal in our pond - this just might be a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence - again, AMAZING!