ballerinafarm ballerinafarm

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Hannah @Ballerina Farm  🌾Married to my soulmate🌾Mothering five littles🌾Juilliard ballerina 🌾 Pig rancher. Cattle rancher. Mountain farm. 🌾City folk turned farmers🌾Utah

We don’t call it Ballerina Farm for nothing! Your one stop shop for delicious pork and ballet in boots! 😅

3 farm boys taking a breather and talking shop with their dad.

Donkey update: We have overall been very pleased with Margot the livestock guardian donkey. As stated, we adopted her from a wild donkey herd on federal lands. She spent 60 days with a donkey “gentler” prior to our adoption to take the edge off her wildness. She follows us around like a puppy dog and has already assumed the role of farm protector. I feel very confident if a predator tried to invade Margot would have no fear fighting off the marauder. How do I know this? Let’s just say we’ve seen her in action. Margot isn’t exactly cordial towards the pigs yet... Domesticated pigs, by nature, are incorrigibly accepting and social with other animals. They each took turns going up to Margot to compliment her on her long legs and well trimmed hooves. Once they entered her comfort zone, however, Margot went on the offensive. If the approximating pig was in front, she lowered her head and barreled toward them. If to the side or behind, she unleashed a brutal kick. I saw 2 pigs get kicked in what certainly was a painful blow. You could hear the squeals in China. One pig lost feeling in his tongue for almost a day. The other pig I was impressed stayed on his feet. Neither was expecting to get kicked in the face. Luckily, no pigs have been seriously injured and they now sprint by donkey when their paths cross. Today was better. They are starting to figure each other out.

Spring time means mending fences and clearing ditches (!) so water can run freely without obstruction. Flat fields with a slight slope are the best kind for flood irrigation. Water in a ditch at the top of the pasture is released in intervals as it slowly flows down until it reaches the end of the targeted area. This can be used for pastures, orchards, row crops, or even a small residential garden. Lazer leveling fields can make flood irrigation more of an exact science. Over half of all irrigated fields in Utah use flood irrigation. The soak is so deep that waterings can be weeks apart. Many farmers have changed flood irrigation in lieu of sprinklers, which evenly spread water and use less of this precious resource. Now sprinklers are on the hot seat, with research claiming sprinkler water doesn’t soak deep enough to recharge ground water levels, causing creeks and wells to go dry. We have used both types (flood and sprinklers) and each has their pros and cons. We keep up to date with the research to make informed decisions on our own farm.

We posed a question a couple weeks ago on what types of animals would be good at protecting the pigs from predators. Dogs, llamas and donkeys were highly suggested. We weighed the pros and cons and decided to adopt a wild donkey. Around 80k wild mustangs and burros (donkeys) roam 10 western states as protected animals under federal law and are “Living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West”. Donkeys were brought by the Spaniards in the 1600s and were vital as work animals in mining and travel into the 20th century. They were eventually replaced by modern machinery and many were set free into the wild where the flourish to this day. Unlike horses which flee at first sign of trouble, a donkey will stand its ground to protect its territory.

Happy Mother’s Day from Ballerina Farm 💖

Something about being stuck in this hog feeder made me crave a jacuzzi. Told Daniel to "fillerup" with hot water, I was ready for a nice long soak.

I keep telling our neighbors we are pig RANCHERS, not pig farmers. Most of them (cattle ranchers) chuckle, one gets the shivers. It’s not everyday you meet a herd of pigs roaming on range pasture. Now all I need is a little pony to herd the pigs around back on the mountain. A horse might be too tall, wouldn’t want to lose track of the little fellas. A little pony would be just right. I joke with Daniel I’m going to get him a pony so small his feet will be dragging on the ground and his legs rubbing against sagebrush as he chases after pigs astride his noble steed.

Preparing meals on the welding table amongst the tools and knick-knacks brings me joy. Cooking for my family causes the kids and the hubby to come in from the fields to see me and I get to hear about their latest adventures. Keeps my loved ones close to me. Mom always told me: Families that eat together, stay together. ❤️ #farmlife

Daniel has been rising early to finish the range fencing. Today the crew finished exterior fence. 😅It took 10 days. A little more interior fencing to go. Something about fencing makes Daniel look like Pa Ingalls... (swipe)

I said “Lois, you will be a 2ND generation hog farmer!” This was her reaction...

Daniel and I decided last fall that we were going to try something different for the pigs. Instead of putting them on the irrigated pasture in the meadow, we decided to pigify the range pasture fence and put them back there with the scrub oak and brush. By doing this, we can keep the irrigated pasture for the cows and haying. It’s a big experiment and it’s taking a lot of work, but we are hopeful the pigs will thrive on the range as long as we keep them stocked up on water, shade and grain. Though not lush green like the meadow, there are plenty of forbs and grasses for the pigs to add variety to their diet. We do worry about predators on the range and are working on solutions for that threat. Ideas are welcomed. See our cows (black dots) in meadow below.

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