Thursday, March 26, 2015

Pigs on the Homestead..Meet "Fern" and "Wilbur"
So, I just spent an hour creating this post and then Blogger decided to erase all my efforts and thus, I am giving this post one more try. (Remaining composure and trying not to throw laptop at the wall. Ah-hem.)
That's right. We decided to jump in feet first and get pigs this spring. Meet Fern and Wilbur. They are 8-week-old Yorkshire/Hampshire cross piglets and are the only 2 from a sow's litter. The owner's are friends from church and are't these 2 little guys just stinkin' cute?!

When we got the call that they were ready for pick up, the oldest 4 kids and I jumped into the car (after loading it with a cage and nets) and were on our way. We hung out and chatted, admiring their herd of beef cattle as we prepared to catch the piglets. Lots of spring calves!

Here's Mama Pig and she wasn't happy about us taking her babies. For sure!

Lincoln, admiring one of our friend's mama cows

"B" was a great help and demonstrated his pig-catching skills quite well I should say. We dressed in boots and play clothes ready to help, but this lad knew what he was doing and after about 20 minutes, and then a little chatting as we loaded up, we were on our way home.

They did very well on the car ride home. I was surprised.

Rob met us at the car and helped carry them to the pen. He estimated them weighing in around 20 lbs. each, but we haven't found a way to weigh them just yet.

They took a few minutes, but then warmed up to their new home and came out, exploring.

The next morning, Ranger decided to jump the pig pen fence and round them up for us (You're such a great help Ranger!). It was off to Rural King for some chicken wire and thanks to Lincoln, he took initiative and a hand staple gun and after about 2 hours, had the entire pen enclosed with chicken wire. We really didn't want to use wire, keeping the authentic weaved wood look, but we also didn't want the dog jumping in and out, nor the little rascals escaping. Chicken wire it was.

Their first mud bath was really fun to watch. Snouts poking in and out of the warm earth. Just as God intended. Makes me sad thinking about all the pigs in feed lots on cement who never see the light of day. We feel so honored to give these pigs a great life up until the very end.

You really haven't lived until you sit in a chair in the warm sun, watching baby piglets burrow in the mud. It's fascinating!

Lincoln has taken a special liking to these pigs. They trust him the most out of all the kids, probably because he spends the most time with them, putting in the most care. They really are clean and intelligent animals, despite what people may think. No odors coming from the pen and they are very easy to train.
We decided not to get them wormed nor cut their teeth. I'll be using a natural tonic of rosemary herbs, fresh garlic and good old Diotemaceous Earth for worming. They won't be on fresh grass (for now anyways, until we get our pastures set up) so we're not too worried about worms. I found THIS website very helpful and have been using THIS book for the past year and I wouldn't farm without it! Really.
The plan for these pigs...well, Fern will remain on the farm here with us for as long as possible and Wilbur, well, he'll be fall bacon. Yep. I don't think I'll do well emotionally on that one, but you never can tell. Maybe he'll escape one too many times and I'll be happy to see the guy go.
Anyway, pigs naturally begin reproducing around 9 months of age and although Fern and Wilbur are brother and sister, with pigs, they can interbreed and supposedly, it doesn't effect their offspring. They're one of the few animals that you can do this with. So, after Wilbur "does his thang", he'll be bacon and Fern will produce a litter of piglets later on for us to sell and keep one or two for more butchering.
We're excited to learn about a new animal that we've never had before. Chickens, they're old news. Cows, we're ALWAYS learning something new about them (my personal favorite!), dogs, cats and ducklings, been there, done that. But pigs! We're reading a ton and the kids and I are learning so much.
So, here's to pigs! {smile}

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