New Pen Progress: Slow, But Steady

First: Measuring, marking, and re-measuring.

I could dedicate an entire tome to the mistakes I’ve made in founding this farm, the things I’ve had to learn the hard way. Sure, some due to lack of available resources before I set out to do it myself, but others certainly to my own pure cussedness, too. That’s not to say I begrudge a one of them, I’ve always been inclined to the “hard way” of learning, but every once in a while I do pause to note those projects I wouldn’t be undertaking had I done it “right” the first time. This pen expansion and adjustment, to some extent, is one of them. The expansion, not so much, that’s a simple side effect of growth — three cheers! — but the adjustment, definitely.

660 linear feet of fence awaits.

Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and I’m finding that foresight might as well be blindness when it comes down to the finer details of building a farm from scratch. At the end of the day I can’t say with any kind of confidence that it would have been possible to anticipate the things that have propelled our decision to make these adjustments, so I just keep telling myself that it’s all part of the journey. I’m almost believing myself at this point.

Holes augered and posts laid out.

So, what are we changing? A few things:

1) Most of our pens used to be constructed of rigid livestock panels — some hog, others cattle — which can be seen pictured in this recent post. They’re not a bad choice for hog fencing, in fact, they’re an excellent choice under certain circumstances and we’ll continue to utilize them in some places on the farm, but we’re ultimately switching over to a woven wire field and electric combination. In the past we’ve had some of both and we’ve simply come to like the combination better than the straight panel fences. It’s also more affordable on the larger (yet still small) scale we’ve grown into.

The woven wire is held to the wood posts with barbed fence staples.

2) These pens are larger overall, than the pens they’re replacing. A couple of existing pens will remain, but all of those being replaced were smaller than what we’ve moved to. This allows us to better accommodate larger batches of pigs as we continue to sync up our sows farrowing schedules. Batch farrowing will hopefully allow us to both better meet demand and better reduce our overhead and pass those savings along to customers. Yay! for good food at more affordable prices.

At least one gate hung.

3) And last, but not least, we’re moving most of the pens from one area of the farm to another. The move serves a number of purposes, the three most notable are increased biosecurity, improved supporting infrastructure for loading and moving hogs, and better ability to host groups comfortably. We’re working to accommodate groups for educational purposes and the newer location is flatter (the farm’s not called Olive Hill for nothing) and will sport a better layout for this purpose.

IMG_70561015Boar pen started.

As I write this we’re about 75% done with the construction, a process that began with site clearing; a whole lot of measuring, marking and re-measuring; and will ultimately culminate when we move the pigs into their new digs.

Small Humans with big boots “helping”.

The goal is to have everything done by the end of the holiday weekend, including getting the pigs moved so that next week can be spent tying up loose ends before we’re World Pork Expo bound.

Insulators dutifully hung at 9″ and 18″.

I’ve mostly managed to convince myself that I’m not being overly optimistic, but I’m also all too familiar with how the homestretch of any given project seems to be the longest. In the meantime, the lawn could basically be mow, raked, and baled at this point and the garden is not far behind. It’s quickly being taken over by weeds in my early-season neglect and I don’t think any of the seedlings are happy with their continued existence in the house. (Though it was cold! this morning so I’m glad they weren’t already outside.)

Step-in posts opposite t-posts prevent the current from jumping to the woven wire.

All of which means I need to quit type and get back to fencing. Back with another update soon! (I hope.)

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