How many of you saw this picture and said, "Awwww!!" We sure did. This guy is a cutie! We picked up these 4 pigs back in November, and we couldn't be happier! We have had people tell us,"Don't you dare get pigs...they smell terrible and I won't come out to your farm anymore!" We had bought into the theory that all pigs are...well...stinky! This theory couldn't be further from the truth. Surprisingly we have not had any trouble with nasty odor, and that is greatly affected by the amount of space these big babies are given. I also add quite a bit of bedding for them in order to give them something to snuggle up in on cold winter nights, but mainly to absorb the nitrogen from their manure and urine. Inside their barn they have a nice little enclosed hut where they go to escape drafts. It is pretty darn cute to walk in and see them all curled up buried under a pile of hay. I call it the pig pile. These little guys are super smart, and some people say they are even smarter than dogs. They like to be scratched behind their ears, and they also like it when I tickle their snouts (I think they are just seeing if I have any cookies for them!).
Here is another cute shot of the "HAMiltonians" with Alexander HAMilton being the larger black pig. He is their leader and always is the first to approach people to determine if they have snacks. He is definitely a proponent for a monarchist government, and would like to ensure there is a strong central bank of cookies. If I was good with Photoshop I would show you a 10 dollar bill with his cute little piggy face on it and suggest a mass print. You can see they have done a number to the round bales I put in their pen...
This shot better shows the size of their pen. This pen will serve as the training ring to teach the pigs how to mind electric fencing. There will be a electric wire at snout height inside the will serve as the teaching mechanism. A pig's natural instinct when scared or "shocked" in this instance is to run forward. If they run forward out in the pasture they will learn that they can force their way through electric fencing. Pigs are super smart, and they need to be well trained in order to keep them contained in the 4 acre pasture they will have. In this training, they will attempt to run forward and hit the fence. They will learn that when they are shocked they need to back up. It does not take long for them to learn.
One thing is for sure...they like to till up the soil and look for goodies. Just yesterday I saw this pig pull a huge root out of the ground and eat the whole thing. He looked so happy! Once the pigs are trained they will leave this pen and the soil that they tilled up will be ready to be planted with a cover crop. They will be rotated on the pasture making it so that they don't spend too much time in one place. That is why pig farms smell so bad...the pigs exist in one place at too high of a concentration for way too long. If you forced any animal to stay in a building or a cage they will eventually smell...This model allows for the land to heal and regenerate. I will no longer need to use an engine driven tiller when I want to plant a garden...Ill just fence in the garden and let my pigs till the soil for me! I should offer my tilling services to other people...that would be a sight to see! Alas! These pigs are all boys, and males don't last very long on a farm.
If you have never seen one of these before it is because they stopped making them after WWII. I picked up this trailer a couple years ago back when we decided we wanted to raise cattle on our farm. Let's just say I got a really good deal on it. Tucked into this crazy looking trailer are 6 cute little cows:
We took them to be weighed and prepped for a wonderful life out on pasture! They are all girls so hopefully this will be the future of my breeding stock! Cross your fingers! I won't know how many will be good moms until next year, so we have plenty of time to wait. Beef is really expensive right now, and it is especially expensive for the farmer...I am hoping that these girls will be able to drop some calves in a couple years which will greatly offset the investment. It is not cheap nor easy to get into farming unless you have support. We have chosen to only accept support from consumers, which makes our job even harder!
Stop here if you don't want to hear an (educational!) rant.
Cattle are an excellent start to a good healthy farm. The grass converts sunlight into consumable energy, and the cow (multi-stomached animal) converts this grass into meat and milk. We have been harvesting solar energy since the beginning of time! The cows and goats create manure and urine for the ground to absorb and start the cycle over again. By introducing grain into their diets we have disrupted that natural cycle. We have more sick cows and dangerous levels of harmful bacteria is introduced into the system making it unsafe to consume. The milk has to be pasteurized now that the animals are not healthy. We have a whole new strange food system that is based 100% on the consumption of fossil fuels. It doesn't have to be that way. I am not against the use of machinery and technology by any means. I love having a front end loader on my tractor to move compost and mulch, but I don't rely 100% on machinery to grow food. If I had to do without the tractor, I would be just fine. Would our food system be fine without the large machinery? I'll let you answer that!