Monday, February 04, 2013

Ah good planning!

The beginnings of the pig barn 2009
Long time readers will remember that this little farm was built from nothing. All the buildings here, we put here. Houses were moved in, and animal shelters were designed and built (with some help) by my dad.

Most of our building materials were salvaged. Which saved a lot of money, if not time. My dad always had a lot of ideas. He had farm experience before we began this adventure. So, he was looking to design the buildings to make our work in the future easier.

One of the features he installed in the hog house was automatic waterers. This involves running the water line to the barn and plumbing the interior. Nipples are inside for piglets to access, but the adult water nipples are outside to help keep the inside of the barn dry. This system works like a charm for all but a few weeks of the year.

Weeks, like the last couple,  where temps fall and stay below freezing create extra work and care to keep the hogs in water. The hog house is well insulated. The hogs themselves are fine all winter as long as their is enough bedding material (and a heat lamp for piglets.) The water pipes though, they require some heat. Below freezing temperatures mean we are running some sort of portable heat, most often kerosene.

While everything is nice, warm, and safe inside, there still are those nipples outside the building. They require a little more attention. On really cold days, especially cold windy days, we will head to the pig barn at least three times a day to keep these babies thawed. We use a small propane torch to thaw them out.

Most of the time it doesn't take too long to get them thawed, but this year it has taken a little more work. If you've had pigs, you know they are hard on buildings. We did quite a bit of winterizing work to this building in the fall. We missed however, that the interior and exterior walls where the water nipples are have been pushed apart a bit, and that it needs insulating again. The years of using heat for these pipes has also worn away at the hardwood around them. All of this allows a lot more cold air to that pipe. On really cold days, we have to thaw the inside elbow and use the heat longer to get things moving.

Last week I was having a particularly hard time getting the middle pen going. To complicate matters, this was the pen where the new, and rather protective, momma was with her piglets. I was trying my hardest to thaw that nipple without going inside her pen. Then I saw the flames. Something between the walls (in hindsight I'm pretty sure it was the plastic sheeting insulation,) was on fire. It wasn't a lot of fire, but enough to make me panic a bit. I couldn't stomp it because it was between the walls. Any significant source of water was frozen, and at that time, there was no snow on the ground.

I ran inside the building, and there it was, a fire extinguisher. I imagine dad put that there with just such a issue in mind. A quick squeeze of the trigger and all was well.

Later, I figured out I could reach that inside elbow from the other pen, and there have been no issues since. Add to the to do list: getting the extinguisher charged, checking other buildings for extinguishers, and working on that wall of the pig house.

1 comment:

  1. You guys work so hard. I feel so completely lazy!