The cows charged down the hill lining up along the gate in anticipation as the white delivery truck pulled into the barnyard. The chickens joined them, and all waited for the doors to open and scatter treats out on the ground.
Twice weekly we pick up five to six barrels of discarded food from Shaw's in Gilford. Most are items that have passed their “sell by date” or are trimmings from fruit. Shaw's has taken a proactive approach to recycling … they put the fresh vegetables and fruit into barrels we provide. We collect these edible scraps to bring back to the farm and serve to our cattle. Occasionally the pigs are offered cream cheese or butter. We never take meat, and the fruit and vegetables we get are fresh and crisp. While the dates on packages are expired, the food is not.
These barrels save approximately $56 in hay (one large round bale) each week, and the cows love the variety of their contents. Imagine if you ate cereal all Winter, that would be like a cow eating hay. Then imagine being served fruit twice a week. The cows love the diversity, and that is why they come running when the truck drives up. Chickens get in the act by picking through the scraps for berries.
As Summer creeps upon us, we'll be increasing trips to Shaw's because more people buy fruit and veggies in warmer weather. Not only do we get scraps from Shaw's but several times a week Grappone Conference Center gives the farm bucket of kitchen scraps; food that has never been served and is refrigerated. Great North Aleworks in Manchester also gives us three barrels each week of spent grains which is a by-product of making beer. Our pigs get a tasty meal of the utilized beer grains mixed with pig food. Just like the Conference Center, we like to keep our livestock menus attractive and delicious!
It is finally warm enough for the six surviving piglets to move from our porch and back to the pig house. Their mom is fully recovered and is now living with the big pigs. Thanks to everyone who offered to help feed them. I'll be in touch with details now that these squealing bundles of joy have moved off the porch. They still need bottle feeding until they learn how to eat solid food.
The calf count is at eight with five more expected soon. All the calves are doing well, even the little guy born in the ravine during the storm two weeks ago who still is without a name. Stop by the farm on Saturdays to check out piglets and calves. It'll be fun to see the six pig babies grow into 300-pound hogs. Soon they'll be eating spent grains, but for now, their diet is milk...lots of milk …and without a mom to care for them they need to eat four times a day. Oink!