Pigs in the Root Cellar

Lists are so boring but so essential don’t you think. Every Monday morning I try to make a decent list of the weeks work.   But this morning my mind seems to have slipped into a blank state. So I am writing to you instead.


On the weekend we shifted Aunty Anna (the shorthorn/hereford cross) and the big Hereford steer over to the West fields, the pasture there is growing well and the Carlos the Tiny  bull awaits Aunty Anna.

Also Molly came out of the Rat-House paddock and is in the big corner pen over on the West side – she will go to Manu the boar in  a month. I will lock her up for one more heat then they can be together. If all goes well her piglets could be due in  March. It will be cold in March but this winter I will work on enclosing the farrowing pen even further  Another list is the Babys When list. A BIG list is the Building and Repairs List. John prefers to work on machines and I don’t have many of those so the building list is a long one.

I can make no lists for the cows as I am still having trouble getting someone out to blood test them.

Jake is working on opening his new seasonal and local produce restaurant in the spring of next year so that gives me a guaranteed market for my pork, so I am growing pork for him. I will also grow his herbs with his own gardens and mine supplying some of the vegetables. This plan has been in the works for a while now, and is looking more and more positive, which is why I am growing the farm, but there are so many variables. And so many lists. And so many risks.


We still have a good ten days of reasonably mild weather ahead of us – nothing below freezing forecast yet.  The tweens (three month old pigs) will be divided up this week and the ones that are sold will move off and the ones to fatten for December will go into one field for milk and eggs and the ones who are growing through to the spring will be in another field to grow slowly.  It is nice to be able to have them outside still.

They have almost finished cleaning the thistles out of this field (these shots show only a portion of the field they are working on). This field will be resown in my special mix this coming spring. Another list – the rotation of pastures list – is kept in my head.  The fields are cleared by the pigs and resown every three or four years.  It is an easy list.


Garlic to be planted is on the list but I am hesitant with this warm autumn. I don’t want it to sprout before the winter. The ground is very warm.

All the new baby trees need to be mulched and protected from rabbits and frozen winds, I  have collected PVC pipes for this, it is not pretty but is sturdy and works well.

All the outside pigs need more straw in their houses. One group will be living in the root cellar/storm shelter until it gets really cold though would the barn be warmer than an underground cellar? I am not so sure. But I will pack it with straw and watch them closely to see how they go. A root cellar is normally about 10 degrees warmer in the winter. Pigs have been using it to sleep in all summer but I have never had so many that I needed it for the winter. It might be a great choice as long as they still go outside for their toilet.

I will take a photo of it for you today. There are cows in there at the moment to clean up the grass – (Txiki, Bobby T and Difficult) I hope they are not going down – cows leave a MESS.

We must be careful not to be lulled by this long autumn – winter will come. We do not live in a temperate region – this is a land of extremes. The heat of the summers and the cold of the winters are extreme. This temperate autumn is making nervous.

I see the sun beginning to colour the sky, time for me to get to work.

I hope you have a lovely day





44 Comments on “Pigs in the Root Cellar

  1. So far, the meteorologists are predicting above average temperatures for your neck of the woods thru November. Hopefully that will hold true and give you some extra time to work on and complete your list.

  2. Im a list maker too! Was just going over mine for the week and prioritizing. On the garlic, I have already planted mine and it has sprouted which is normal for me. I will mulch it soon and then over winter it. I guess because I am in zone 7 that this works? just curious what zone you are

  3. Many things on the list! Have coffee, will complete. That is a good plan for the tweens. I hope Jake’s new venture does work out. Restaurants are a tricky business, so fingers crossed! It looks like Boo and Ton are having a round of “Ring around the Tima” in that picture..to me anyway. What is that solar doodad? flycatcher? Have a great, warm-ish day, C.

  4. All those piggies look healthy and very happy. I would love to see a photo of your root/storm cellar. Sounds like an ideal place for winter housing. I think I have seen lovely photos on the Sugar Mountain Farm blog of his outdoor pig shelters into the side of a hill, and he is in a rather extreme mountain area. Underground should be a relatively constant temperature.

  5. I love how all today’s photos seem to involve conversations: piglets and Miss C, piglets and Tima, piglets and chooks, Tima with Boo and Ton…

  6. The root cellar sounds like an excellent winter home – it won’t creak or let drafts in when it’s windy 🙂

  7. Oh my goodness! What a wonderful plan! I’ll have to say that I’m a bit jealous 😦 I wish I had a “Jake” who was starting a new eatery who wanted my wonderful pork and veggies. Good for you!

    • Jake and I have worked together in a kind of symbiotic farming relationship for years now – this new enterprise has been a long time coming and the growth of my swine numbers is because of his new eatery really. I have a pretty hard time selling anything from here so lets hope this works out for us all. I am nervous though – it is a tough business.. c

  8. When you saw “the sun beginning to colour the sky,” and told us you had to get to work, I thought, “Well what has she been doing all this time at her computer?” I mean, these messages you send out to the world, they are pretty important work: a kind of art that tells stories of a life that is lost to most of us, a history that we missed, a vision of nature and grace–if one believes in transcendent experience–that we desperately need.

    Sorry if this sounds overblown. I don’t know how to say it otherwise. Your work is important. Through creative use of modern media, you evoke ancient stirrings, buried memories of earth, open sky, and interdependence of plant/animal/human life.

    Thank you.

    • Oh what a wonderful thing to say – I feel so heartened by your words – and in fact it makes me look at what I am doing with fresh heart too.. bless you – thank you.. c

    • I have to agree albert. I know my days would be less without this blog. It ties be back to the earth, to the cycles of life, the successes and failures of raising your own food. It brings memories of my father telling me about working on his brother-in-law’s farm in Iowa almost a century ago now, the different things the animals would do, the hard work but surprising rewards. I wish I could have a little farm of my own, but that is probably beyond me now. I’m glad this blog is here, I can share with everyone in the daily updates.

  9. The quality of light in all these photos is magnificent. Whenever it occurs in Sacramento, California, I ask people if they can see that lovely light. They can’t. So I guess it is up to you and me, Celi. Kudos, girlfriend! Much love, Your Gayle

  10. One of those count your blessings years. The farmers in the TX panhandle are having a huge cotton (and other crops) year after so many bad ones.
    It seems like a bit of a lull – 85F here today – sort of like the water between sets of waves if you surf…good to enjoy and appreciate, but get ready
    Hope your Holler-Ring is spooktacular

  11. It is a warm fall, but I’m loving it. The nice days have been great for getting the corn harvested, if it were raining we would have a terrible time with all the moisture content. These nice warm days are a blessing. Although, the old timers say we will have a hard winter, only time will tell.


  12. Here’s how I describe my approach to lists: “Every day I write down a list of the things I’m not going to be doing that day!”

  13. Albert is SO right. Yours is the only blog I read EVERY day. Your photos and stories ground me but are thought provoking as well. Your prose is creative and your photos beautiful. You are doing what most cannot, important work indeed. xx

  14. What kind of seed do you use to reseed and do you plow or till prior to planting?

    • John levels it and plants my cocktail mix of grass, legumes, forbes and brassica. Then later in the summer we put the cows on it. This year I am adding cow peas. I look forward to seeing how they go.

        • Oh mercy -off the top of my head – that is quite a list. – um – white clover, red clover, yellow clover, chicory, alfalfa, sunflowers, wild lucerne, timothy, tall fescue, pinto beans, turnips, rapeseed, some others that I cannot remember – I mix it 1/3 grass 1/3 brassica. 1/3 legume. I would need to consult my list for a more accurate answer. And it is buried in the spring file. hope that helps

  15. I think the pigs will be warm enough, being out of the wind and dry go a long way for comfort. The only concern might be if there was an extended cold or wet spell and the pigs stayed in the root cellar too much. Air movement probably isn’t the best in there and a bunch warm piggies and moist air with everybody breathing it over and over can start a cough. Warmth wise, root cellars were meant to keep the garden crops (potatoes, onions, carrots, turnips etc) through the winter cool without freezing.
    I have to say the bright red piglets/ tweenlets are my favorites. They just seem to catch my eye. Might just turn me into a pig person yet.

    • Yes the lack of ventilation is a consideration – though the door will always be open. – they will be fed out of doors – so that will get them out a couple of times a day but yes – that is a good point

  16. I hear you about not trusting this long fall. I keep thinking one day we’re going to get clobbered! I’m surely not putting off any of the winter prep. chores, That said, they’re calling for 75* F tomorrow – go figure.

  17. Do you save and reuse your lists? Last year ‘s first week of November list for this year? Or is it a blank slate each week?

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