Winter El Niño and rain dances.

Winter El Niño and rain dances.

Winter has finally hit us on Morrigan Farm, it has been a long time coming, we normally gauge how winter is going to be when the first frost arrives, the norm is around Anzac Day, April 25th, it has taken another 5 weeks to reach us, what is Winter going to be like?????, I wish I knew.

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The days are getting shorter and the working hours are getting less, but there is always something to do, firewood collecting and fixing broken pipes caused by the big frost’s is all in a days work.Frozen pipesFirewood

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We have started to prepare for the coming months with our winter vegies and have been busy looking at our water storage. We have just installed a 90000 litre water tank, we went with concrete tank, and our decision was based on water quality and also cost.

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Orana Tanks

Orana Tanks

Orana concrete tanks installed it, it is poured on site and only takes 2-3 days to complete, it is great to see the mould go up and then a concrete tank appears when taken down, if you are wanting a quality tank give Jamie a call at Orana Tanks.

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Ready for RainWe have completed the fencing of our reserve and have starting to prepare for the planting of 1200 native trees in the spring, we are hoping to have some woofer’s to help us.

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We have upgraded our small cabin we use to accommodate our visitors and wwoofers , with a kitchenette and a shower/ toilet block to be added soon.

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The Dorper sheep have been busy with a population explosion and the occasional small mob that is constantly escaping, has been keeping us busy with the husbandry duties.

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The pigs continue to produce the little bundles of joy, and the feral pig population has also been a bit more active, we have seen lots of digging but the early morning walks have so far proved unsuccessful in finding them.IMG_4764

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Fox’s have also been a bit of an issue, I have had success in dispatching a few, but the few cunning fellas still allude me.

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With the long weekend approaching its time to get ready for some visitors, and hopefully some extra hands to do some chores.

 

 

The silly season is over and its time to get into serious mode on the farm.

The silly season is over and its time to get into serious mode on the farm.

We celebrated the holidays with family and friends, too much eating and drinking and the occasional trip down to Windermere dam to do a spot of fishing in the boat.

the silly season

Black Betty

We have lots of plans for the coming year so its time to start.

the silly season

Chicken/ veggie garden

We have been converting our veggie gardens over to yards we can cell graze chickens and pigs in while they are dormant, this involves installing netting around with a gate, and a permanent water supply   for the livestock, we have made a good start and will continue when the current crops are finished.

Riparian Enhancement

We have  received a grant to fence off around 3 hectares to regenerate with native trees, more fencing to be done with around 350 meters required and then the planting of 1200 native trees, this is a very exciting project and we hope it becomes a demonstration area for the future.

New additions

We have had 2 sows give birth to piglets within 3 days of each other, this was more luck than management but it worked out well with selling and weaning all able be done together.

Several alpacas have also been added to the farm, with one very

the silly season

Young Alapcas

different young male, his unusual markings will make him stand out in the flock.

Along with the regular drop of Dorpers, we have a bit of a population explosion happening

the silly season

Dorper Sheep

The local Landcare group which I’m involved in, has several projects to kick start the year with, so there isn’t looking like a lot of free time just yet.

All this along with the regular happenings, we are looking for our next lot of helpers, wwoofers are wanted.

Wessex Saddleback Pigs,Does it matter if they are Pure

Wessex Saddleback Pigs

Does it matter if they are Pure, of course it does.

The gaining popularity of the Wessex Saddleback pig is very pleasing to us at Morrigan Farm, we love this breed of pig and support others wanting to start their own breeding program.

But like most popular animals, the dollars can take over in the quest to breed and sell their livestock.

Wessex Saddleback Pigs,Does it matter if they are Pure

Eva heavily in pig and farrowing, she is a Beatrice line in pig to a Satellite boar

I regularly have people contact me regarding breeding and wanting pigs to start or complement their breeding program.

The first question I always ask is “what bloodlines do you require”, as it is helpful if planning to successfully breed your chosen pigs.

The answer most of the times is “I don’t know”, but they are pure.

A little history on the breed

Originally derived from the New Forest in the South of England, the Wessex Saddleback evolved as a foraging breed in natural woodland pasture. Its lack of adaptability to intensive farming resulted in its decline and subsequent extinction in its native England. However, pedigree animals were imported to Australia 80 years ago, and it is raised there outdoors all the year round under free range conditions. An Australian herd book was established, and the breed is supported by the Rare Breeds Trust of Australia.

Now the dilemma

The issue we face when breeding Saddlebacks, is trying to keep the genetic line different to eliminate too much inbreeding.

Inbreeding causes gestation problems and low birth rates, not much point putting time and money into a breeding pair if you end up with no surviving or very low survival rate.

I have seen some terrible examples of “Saddlebacks”, some with short pointy ears, white markings everywhere, and also some very fine looking pigs, but with their bloodlines unknown.

Wessex Saddleback Pigs,Does it matter if they are Pure

Part of a litter by Eva and Felix.

Are they Crossbreds ??

First cross Saddlebacks can display all the right features of the breed, the saddle is what most people first see and want, keep in mind that even out of the best of the parents, not all will have a full saddle.

It’s the other features that need to be looked at, the ears, stature and so on, and what I think is most important is the bloodlines they have descended from.

If you want to successfully breed and to preserve the saddleback pig as we know it, you will need to know the lineage of your chosen pigs.

The crossbreeds that look like saddlebacks, can tick all the boxes of the breed standards, but when it comes time for reproduction, the problems become clear.

These are the pigs I have seen a lot of in my travels, they then get labelled “saddleback cross”, and the piglets with good markings get sold as “pure”, and the circle continues until all resemblance of the saddleback has disappeared.

Something to think about before purchasing

I’m not saying that you need to purchase “registered pigs”, I prefer to sell ours with a recipe than a registration paper, and it doesn’t make them breed better or taste better.

All breeders have piglets available that aren’t suitable for registration, but they have proven and traceable bloodlines.

If the seller of your chosen pig, can’t provide the linage, you are dealing with an unknown linage, so how do they know they are pure.

And how do you choose a suitable mate for your pig, just blindly buying can work, but then you are going to have to sell the piglets, unless you eat a lot of pork.

Wessex Saddleback Pigs,Does it matter if they are Pure

Example of cross bred piglets

Selling Pigs

Getting rid of your piglets can at times be hard to do, you will find everyone is after them or no one is interested.

The sale yards can be an option, black pigs generally get marked down, this includes well marked saddlebacks, anything that has lots of spots and varying colour’s get marked down even more, sometimes passed in.

 I think it is easier to sell pure pigs with proven and traceable bloodlines, then you also have the option to register.

Research what you are wanting to do with your chosen breed, look at your markets, and make informed decisions and know what you are buying.

If the linage is unknown, be very careful with your goals.

Like most of the pure old breeds, the saddleback has a very small gene pool in Australia, this is a current list of what is in Australia.

The Bloodlines are

Males

  1. Pilot
  2. Prince
  3. Dominator
  4. Satellite
  5. Charlsun (Sir Charles)

Females

  1. Doreen
  2. Sunset
  3. Lucy
  4. Lass
  5. Beatrice
  6. Adorabelle
  7. Mary
  8. May

The Last Word

Knowledge is the key to any breeding program, knowing your animals, their good and bad traits, gives you the advantage over the back yard breeders of just any pig. Morrigan farm is available for vists to see how we run our pigs and just to get to know this gentle breed of pig.

Regards

Craig Dennis

Morrigan Farm

 

Bee’s Morrigan Farm’s first hive

Bee’s Morrigan Farm’s first hive

We have just placed our first hive of bees, sourced from a local swarm.

Bee's Morrigan Farm's first hive

First hive

We have been wanting bee’s for some time, finding the time and the knowledge to get started was our first quest.

Thanks to Adam of Cudgegong Honey for helping us  get established  and always willing to share his knowledge.

The hive was purchased from Hornsby Beekeeping supplies, they are great and easy to deal with, no question is to hard for them, they are very helpful.

 

I have found them very easy to mange, and no stings so far and the book that is published by the NSW DPI ” Bee Agskills” is a great read for the first timer.

Bee's Morrigan Farm's first hive

Inside the hive

I check the hive a few times a week, so they get used to me and I can see what they are up to.

We already have grand plans to have lots of hives and selling lots of honey……..

 

 

Summer BBQ’s, Vegies and new babies

Summer,BBQ’s, Vegies and new babies

The last frost has gone, and we are planting to get into full swing for the summer growing season.

Summer,BBQ's, Vegies and new babies

Getting Ready

Our planting so far has been, Tomatoes ,Pumpkin,  Corn, Cucumber ,Squash, Zucchini, Egg Plant, Capsicum, Lettuce, Beans and a few others and  more to come.

We have moved and rebuilt our compost system, this is a regular event, we always find somewhere better for it and along with the upgrade, it keeps us busy for a while.

Summer,BBQ's, Vegies and new babies

New compost centre

 

 

 

Poultry Processing Day

Well it took us a while to get our act together to host our first poultry  kill day.  We planned on a small event so only advertised on Facebook. We were overwhelmed with the response with people wanting to come but decided to cap the numbers to make it more manageable for us. So our apologies to those that missed out but stay tuned for the next day. We just need our rooster population to build up!

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The roosters were all selected the night before and some people bought their own. The day was designed to be a hands on event and it was great to see  everyone jumping in to have a go.

We processed about 12 birds from slaughter to fully dressed and ready for dinner.

The day was finished off with a sausage sizzle for lunch, with our own” Free Range pork sausages”

Overall it was a fabulous day, we met some great people and we hope the participants enjoyed it as much as we did. We got to see a few roast chicken pictures that night which was great.

New Babies

New additions to the farm are 3 goslings, who are being parented by 2 mothers.IMG_4768 IMG_4761

 

Pigs are always coming and going, the last of Josephine’s litter will be picked up next week.IMG_4764

Lambs are always plentiful this time of  year, we marked 22 newbies in the last weeks.

wwoofer

Our wwoofer Jana, has moved on it was great to have some extra help and to show a visitor to our country, our farming practices  and our community, we wish her well with her travels.

Long Summer Days

Summer is surely a great time, long days and to finish of the of the working day around the pool and BBQ’s with family and friends ….we are living in the lucky country.

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Cheers until next time……………………….