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We Have Water!

Colonel's Blog, Earthdate 31 March 2023...

Hey Y'all!

Happy Fast Jet Friday!! The overnight storms passed and we had a break this morning before the storms return around lunchtime. It was muggy and mid 50s for morning rounds. The animals are all good, no sheep decided to die due to the storms, at least last night. We still have to make it through today's storms. The chicks are all doing very well and we are about a week from the next incubator batch hatching. All of the animals are getting very insistent about the green grass. I mentioned that we left the Guineas in charge as we left yesterday to pick up the pork from the processor. Well, they aren't the best at maintaining order on the farm. Maybe we should have left the goose in charge...?? We returned home to a couple of chickens and both dairy cows out of their pens. The chickens aren't that big of a deal, they wanted the grass on the other side of the net, got out and scratched around, and we put them back in. The dairy cows on the other hand, are a bit of a bigger deal. They pushed a welded wire panel out of the nails that were holding it to the milking barn. They decided that the green grass was too irresistible and just pushed their way out of the pen. We have poly-wire around a larger paddock and they stayed inside the wire but the grass needs another week or so before it is ready for their voracious appetite. Shelley was able to coerce Happy back into the pen with some grain, but Betty wasn't having it. As it got dark and the storms set in, Betty decided that she would come back in and get her evening grain and we shored up the situation so they can't push out again. While we were picking up the pork, the repairman fixed our water issue. It turned out to be a hole in the pipe leaving the top of the pump a couple of hundred feet down in the well. It took him about 3 hours to pull the pump, one 20' galvanized pipe section at a time, until he got the pump up and found the section of pipe with a hole. It had a hole about the size of a pencil and that was enough to ruin the entire operation. He put a new pipe in and lowered everything back down. All is now well! When we returned, the water was back on and we had the fittings to complete the fix on the waterer. The pics above are me on the backhoe with my beautiful bride, the large pipe that the waterer sits on, a view of the 3/4" PVC in the bottom sticking in through one side, me trying to dig out a hole big enough to get the new fittings glued in place, and the entire thing put back together. I dove in skull-first, with either dad or Shelley holding me by the belt so I didn't land on my face, and glued it back together. It's deep! Today we are focusing on market prep. The first day is tomorrow and we want to have everything ready by this evening so we aren't stressed tomorrow morning as we leave.

You need to understand a few different weights and the differences between them when taking animals to a processor. I'll use our recent hogs as examples. First is 'live weight' or 'on the hoof.' That is the easiest to understand. When we delivered the hogs, one-by-one, they walk across a set of scales. They record each weight and spray a number on their back so they can be tracked throughout the process. Our average live weight for the 5 hogs was 308 pounds, heaviest was 342, lightest was 267. The next weight is 'hanging weight' or 'on the rail.' Hanging weight is the weight of the hog when the unusable parts are removed. This is the standard picture you see of hogs hanging in a cooler before being cut into parts. Processors charge by hanging weight. Our processor charges $0.85 per pound hanging weight for USDA-inspected processing. There are additional fees like a $40 slaughter fee and then more fees for things we want done to the meat, like curing hams or bacon. Our average hanging weight for the 5 was 233 pounds. Comparing hanging weight to live weight gives us feedback on how well the hogs converted. We divide the hanging weight by live weight to get a percentage conversion rate. So our average conversion was 76% which is amazing. The pork industry standard is around 72% and before this batch, our average was around 69%. The last weight is one we use to make sure everything is as it should be, the 'retail cuts' or 'final' weight. This is the weight that is going in our freezer after the cuts are trimmed and some bones are removed. Our average final weight was 197 pounds, 64% of live weight--industry average is about 57%. Most farmers will charge a price per pound hanging weight when you purchase a hog, because that is how the processors work it. A few will charge for live weight but I'm not jazzed about that method because you could get a fat hog that doesn't convert well. Take our biggest hog, for example. He weighed 342 pounds but was only 230 pounds hanging weight, a 67% conversion. Our 303 pound hog was our best with 260 pounds hanging weight for an 86% conversion. Our average order had 20 pounds of brats, ground sausage, cured bacon and jowl bacon, and standard retail cuts. Our average processing fee was $349 per hog. Now you understand a bit of processor language and pork producer stats! Oh, and we now have over 1,500 pounds of amazing USDA-inspected pork for sale, if you're interested!!

Local Farm Report for 30 March 2023:


31 Chicken eggs

6 Duck eggs

0 Goose eggs

5 1/4 Gallons of milk




Psycho & Shelley

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