We have been working all winter toward a goal, converting the area in front of our house into a food producing monstrosity! To do that, we thinned out the trees creating a glade or meadow, we have mulched up all the branches. Finally area was ready to go! Sadly, our friends tractor, that would dig the swales, had a sick day. So, instead, we decided to spend the weekend cleaning shop.
Swales for a Pig
The plan was simple. Our friend would bring his tractor over and dig us some swales. In exchange, he would get one of our little pigs (a boar to bread with his gilts). We planned for a lovely warm day and called it.
That morning our friend pulled into the drive with his tractor on a trailer. We unloaded the tractor and let it idle while we flushed out our plans (what I wanted and how he was going to go about it). As we wrap up the conversation, the tractor stalls. At the time, he was not too worried because apparently it does that sometimes. When we went back to the tractor, it would not start. After several attempts we rolled it down to the flat area to see if that would help, it did not.
Eventually I called our neighbor Jim who has been running tractors for years. He agreed to come take a look and help us out. While we were waiting, we towed the tractor back up hill and got it in place to load back onto the trailer.
When Jim arrived we tried a few things, none of which worked, and concluded that for some reason the tractor was not getting any fuel. So, using Jim’s tractor, a snatch block, and some tow straps, we dragged the sickly tractor onto its trailer and that was that. Swales would have to wait.
A Filthy Mess (Cleaning Shop)
Last year we cleaned up the wood shop. However, the shop contains two additional rooms. Last fall we converted one room into a barn. The other is a general storage and animal feed room. With no real plan in place for the space, it has gotten a little out of hand…
Cleaning out the storage room suddenly jumped to the top of our priority list with the swales on hold. Every great journey starts with a first step, so did this project. Our first step was getting all the old animal feed bags out (we have been saving them to use as ground cover for spring planting). Next step was hoeing the cement. No seriously I ran a hoe across the cement… to scrape off all the cat diarrhea. Unconventional, maybe but it worked.
With half the shop now clean it was time to start organizing. The tools were stacked outside and the new freezer was moved over next to the old one. We started by stacking the straw bales in a corner. Next we lined up the feed cans and hung up a scale for weighing various feeds.
We still needed a space for animal accessories and gardening supplies. Thankfully, the room has two halves. We had already moved the straw bales out of the way which freed up lots of space. Next we took the bucket of trim and put it in the mother-in-law house where it came from. With that we moved around the extra shelf, ran the hoe over the ground again, did a lot of sweeping, and all that was left was a fair bit of organizing small things.
It took a lot of work but the end result of cleaning shop is a much nicer space that we may actually be able to use!
A New Feeding Routine
Part of the reason we wanted/needed to clean up the shop was animal feed. As it was things were getting hard to manage. Additionally we have been wanting to change how we feed the animals to a soaked/fermented feeding style. With the shop as it was there was no way we could store feed while it soaked.
The reason we wanted to implement this feeding style is simple. Fermented feeds have several benefits over dry feed. The first is that the bacteria pre-digest the feed making it easier for animals to digest and get all the benefits from. The second is that it increases the protein ratio of the feed. Also, as an added bonus, it helps animals like pigs get more water in their diet and increases the feeds volume so that they feel a little fuller.
After cleaning shop we actually had a clean and open enough space that we can actually implement our new feeding regiment!