Faye Streiff

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since Oct 08, 2015
Organic/biodynamic farmer, Naturopath, herbalist, writer. 
Appalachian Mountains
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Recent posts by Faye Streiff

We recently bought a bred AGH sow and she is so far above our expectations.  We had built a long hoop house for her with extensions at both sides of her pen out of cattle panel trellises arched to make them predator proof so she would be safe.  However, planned to turn her out a little if she appeared to be willing to “stay at home” and not try to get out as our perimeter fences are not pig proof.  Now we just go out and open her gate every morning and shut up at night so she is safe from coyotes.  She never wanders far and comes when we call her or if she sees us.  

She was raised in an environment with no green forage and in a small paddock and given pig pellets as ration.  She didn’t know what pasture was for, and these are supposed to be foraging/grazing pigs.  I started with dipping grasses and clover into yogurt which she loved and then smeared some on the pasture.  Now she herds with the goats and eats with them and forages just great.  I’m definitely impressed.  Also, her demeanor is so meek and gentle.  You approach her and touch her side and she rolls over for a belly rub.  She follows us around like a puppy and lies down with the dog for naps.  We just love having her here.  

When my husband was barely a teenager his parents had a dairy farm they had just bought.   But it came with about 10 mature brood sows (don’t know the breed, but they were a large mix), and 10 young sows.  His math teacher suggested they could make more money with pigs than with cows.  He did the math and sure enough, looked good on paper.  That same year milk prices bottomed out and they could not sell milk for enough to pay for the grain they bought, not to mention all the labor growing and putting up hay and the grain they did grow.  Horses were becoming optional, as they had always used them for plowing.  Sold the horses, turned the horse paddocks into farrowing stalls (winter pigs because they bred too late the first year).  The milk got turned into clabbered milk and fed to pigs and when they took that load to market (about a 100 feeder pigs) when people found out they were milk fed, brought 4 x the regular price.  His parents paid off the farm in three or four years, totally, from money made from the pigs, but of course, the milk was a big input too, so the cows indirectly contributed too.   He ended up managing the farm at age 14, still going to school and working part time at another job after school, while his father was away in town at his “paid” job.  I’m so very proud of him.  He’s 79 and still working as hard as ever.  
4 weeks ago
Some libraries will allow you to purchase their used books at a fraction of the new price.  Definitely worth checking into.  
4 weeks ago
I tried raising mealworms.  Put wheat bran about an inch deep in their box, and potato peelings or pieces of carrot as something to feed on and get moisture, per recommendations online and from friend I got them from.  Mistakes I made were (1) too much veggie pieces...moisture content got too high and wheat bran molded.  Started over. (2) too cold in my house, no larvae ever hatched, ever...

So kind of gave up on the idea.  If you live in a warmer climate would perhaps work.  I’m in Appalachian mountains and even now in July it gets 53 at night sometimes and the house is just cool all the time.   But I still think it is a great idea if you have the right kind of environment for them.  
2 months ago
It isn’t the soil type, it is the amount of active microbes and minerals in the soil.  We just add all the trace and major minerals.  My husband makes a blend called Maury’s Minerals which he uses here on our farm and also sells.  It has humate added to make it uptake better.  For mulching tomatoes I like to use the pine wood chips out of the goat stalls with manure mixed in, which we then compost.  Tomatoes thrive with that fungal dominant mulch, and I’m sure it gives them that good, rich, tomato flavor too.  
2 months ago
I’ve raised them without any “bought” feed, just a mineral block which I make sure each of them have and fresh water daily.  I make sure they get something high in protein, especially for growing kits, or pregnant or nursing does.   Over winter is a little harder because I don’t have much fresh weeds for them, but they get hay free choice daily in their feedback and whatever greens I can find.  Clover in moderation, with other foods, or Greater ragweed, purslane, as a source of protein.  Not only do they survive on this, they thrive.  Secret is in getting a well balanced diet for them.  Look up forages and you’ll be surprised at the high protein items that are not alfalfa or clover.  Some are even higher than alfalfa.  Dry some for winter feed for them.  I give them greens from the garden too, the occasional carrot, they love radishes and their tops, collards, kale, but not too much, it can cause indigestion.  
3 months ago
Could that be a darkling beetle larvae?
3 months ago
Any one tried a ringer mop bucket for ringing out the wash?
3 months ago
Really like how neat they look, great job!  We are putting up cattle panel trellises too, but already see some inherent problems.  Husband was cutting down white pines which were diseased and overshadowed the main garden, so used the trunks on the bottom and just attached the panels with long staples.  I can imagine they will rot after a few years and then with nothing else but occasional rebar holding the logs, will pop loose and we’ll have to rework the whole thing.  Severe deer pressure here so we had to do something to keep them out of the veggies.  The 8 foot fence didn’t work, they just jump over it.  But we put the trellises around the garden perimeter, can grow running beans or other crops inside and they won’t jump high and long so don’t come over the trellises, or so we are hoping.  
4 months ago
The larvae from bugs is already in the grain, and some, like grain millers do lay eggs on the box and hatch and go inside I guess.  Freezing grain and beans in a zero degree freezer for a couple of days kills the larvae, then you can seal in containers so bugs don’t get in from outside.  In today’s world I don’t think we can depend on electric all the time.  Anything could happen to cause grid down situations for long periods.  Drying or canning is a much safer alternative in such extreme situations.  
5 months ago
I would tend to agree with what people have already said.  You do need to take some time out, forget about things for a while and just let your body heal and have a healthy child.  Nothing else matters as much.  Once you are feeling better, it won’t feel so overwhelming.  I went through something similar about 46 years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter.  Working too hard, trying to milk a herd of goats by myself because my husband didn’t like farming and I loved it.  So I was out spreading 50 lb. bags of minerals on the pecan orchard when I was 8 months pregnant.  Had toxemia, very sick, almost lost my child.  The steer we were raising tossed me on his horns and threw me in the air, a mean goat with horns knocked me down and was trying to kill me and all I could do was roll around like a walrus and kick her off me so she didn’t gore me in the belly until she got tired and left the area.  Had the vet come out and dehorn the goat, problem solved.  She calmed down immediately.  

An aunt once told me with any kind of big projects, take it a day at a time, or an hour at a time, one room at a time or one section at a time and don’t think about the rest.  Grandmother told me to do it like the cat who ate the grinding stone, a lick at the time until it was all gone.  

Just take care of yourself first right now and relax.  It will get much better and a year from now when your little one is cuddling in your arms you’ll look back and smile at yourself for feeling the way you did.  

Oh, and by the way, I think you and your hubby are doing a marvelous job.  Place looks great, even with a few weeds.  Soil looks dry, so mulch as much as you can and remember compost (has humic acid) or humate will help sequester nutrients and water in the soil.  
5 months ago