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Life on the Farm


A little jolt keeps the pigs where they belong

By Dean Mullis
Dean Mullis
Dean Mullis writes from Laughing Owl Farm in Richfield.

Frick and Frack are running free again.

We had to dismantle their pen of hog panels to make a training pen for Olive and Pickle, our two Tamworth piglets. We set up the panels, ran two strands of electric fence on the inside of the panels and hooked up the charger.

Pigs quickly learn to respect the boundaries of a hot wire, but you have to have a physical barrier up as they learn, or the first time they get bitten by the shock, they will run forward and break the line and will not want to go back.

Now that Olive and Pickle know all about electricity, we are going to move them to a 30-by-100-foot section of the garden that has a waist-high cover crop of hairy vetch and rye on it. We are going to set up some pig netting as the physical/visual barrier and run a single hot wire on the inside of it.

Secret to making it rain

Christy of Underwood Family Farms brought 400 sweet potato slips to market for us one Saturday. We ended up sticking all 400 in the ground and hand-watered them in.

They seemed to be doing well, but after temps in the 90s on Monday and Tuesday, they were struggling and we lost a few.

Tuesday evening, after I got home from work dealing with irrigation issues, I decided to make it rain and started laying drip irrigation lines on the sweet potatoes.

I got 400 feet of drip line up and running and had just finished laying the other 400 feet when there was a huge clap of thunder directly overhead. I was done and headed to the house as it started to rain. We got a much-needed quarter-inch followed by a half-inch on Wednesday.

Dean Mullis writes from Laughing Owl Farm in Richfield;
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