Thursday, May 24, 2012

Welcome to Genevieve and Horatio

We seem to have fallen into the trap of even more animals, a Guernsey house cow, Genevieve, with her calf Angie and another pig, a registered Wessex Saddleback boar called Horatio. Horatio is a shy little fellow just under ten weeks old, fresh from his journey across Bass Straight today but given time he will grow into a large robust boar ready to take his place among the sows.  We picked him up at Burnie and as he is only little and the weather is cold, decided to transport him in the back of an old Toyota wagon we use as a farm vehicle. The plan was good but the pig had different ideas. First he clambered over the rear seats and then pushed his way into the front where he found an obliging lap to snuggle down on and go to sleep.
Where are we off to?

It's lonley back here.

I really like this spot.

We started with three Wessex Saddleback sows, added three Tamworth sows and a boar, and now have Horatio and four deep red gilts to keep him company as he grows up.  When they all grow up we will produce around two hundred pigs a year.
 With the icy blasts of winter threatening to unleash their fury and more pigs due to farrow I upgraded the heat lamps we have in the stables for the piglets.  As the cold fingers of winter creep through the pens the sows push up a bed of hay directly under the heat lamps for her piglets. Given a little freedom they make incredibly intelligent mothers. 

Genevieve the Guernsey cow had a slight problem, one horn growing straight out and another growing hard against her head, only just missing her eye. We got her home and I immediately took both horns off. With her vision restored she went out into the paddock with her calf following close behind. Looking at her now you would never know she once had a problem horn.
The Guernsey cow originated on the Isle of Guernsey around 960 AD. They were developed from the best bloodlines of French cattle, Norman Brindles from the province of Isigny and the Froment du Leon breed from Brittany. They are known for producing high-butterfat, high-protein A2 milk.
Genevieve with her calf Angie

We are a little premature getting a house cow as Leven River Farm lacks anything we can use as a dairy; all available stable space is taken up with pigs or chooks. Before spring comes I will have to build some sort of shelter so Michelle can milk her in the dry and a pen to shut the calf up at night. She is not a big milker; she has been giving around ten litres of milk a day but that is much more than we will ever need. Next step is learning to make cheese.