Thursday, August 23, 2012


We got the pigs moved in a few weeks ago and boy was doing that an adventure. Getting Rosie loaded involved a half days work and many trial and error attempts.

First we tried asking her to go in with food, only to have the trailer fall over and scare her. apperently the small trailer needed a counterbalance for the 500 lb pig climbing in. ok, fair enough, makes sense. After that she was afraid of the thing. Next we tried forcing her in with cattle panel (as suggested in a pig book). she just stuck her nose in the cattle panel and tossed it (and me) aside. Or busted through a wall, or the trailer, or whatever she thought would make us leave her alone. Finally we built a chute (experienced pig farmers know thats what you need in the first place) got her in with food. Still, she wasn't inclined to go in the trailer so I got the hose and sprayed her. Actually, that was a wonderful humane was to get her to move: it was hot, so it wasn't terrible for her to get wet...just annoying enough she moved away from the water. So i sprayed her face when she tried to nose out of the chute which got her to stop trying to break out and then sprayed her backside on up into the trailer. It worked! She went in and stayed calm (thank goodness because she could have busted through that rickety trailer if she wanted).
The beautiful lady using a natural sleepmask

Yes, Rosie is a big girl.
When we got to the farm the neighbours came out to watch us unload. Rosie didn't turn around, no she decided to back out of the trailer which worked for a few steps.....until she stepped off the ramp, tripped, fell on her butt and rolled out. A rather graceless exit, if I may say so. She was okay, though. The neighbor exclaimed, "Thats a pig?! I thought a baby hippo was coming out!"

The next night we went to pick up her new boyfriend. Well, THAT was an adventure coming back up a twisted, steep mountain side gravel road with a 500 lb boar we didn't know in a rickey trailer in a manual S-10 Chevy without 2nd gear. Lets just leave it at that. Oh the adventures of moving farm animals without money.
 Anyway, the boars name is Mr.Pig and he is Gloucestershire Old Spot. His breed was designed for running under orchards and picking up fruit that fell on the ground before it rotted and attracted insects. His former owner was chopping down trees and turning it into pasture and used Mr.Pig to tear up the roots of the trees and undergrowth. I think he said they cleared 2 acres that way.

While I had hopped to use Mr.Pig in a similar way and run him under the orchard that we don't have planted yet I'm not sure how long we can keep him and his appetite. But we have two goals with him: a friend for Rosie and to breed Rosie.

Oh yes, did I mention the other thing I liked about his breed? Well, as I understand it modern pig breeds don't necessarily know how to have sex. Infact, the farmer either has to help insert the boars penis into the sow OR just skip the boar and use artificial insemination which means the farmer has to track the sows ovulation cycle and administer 2-3 doses of semen when she is in heat. Personally, I love Rosie but thats a little too friendly for me. I want to be the matchmaker for my animals, but i don't want to be involved in their sex lives.

However, these modernbreeds are MODERN, farmers once upon a time did not have AI, nor the time to stand around and help their pigs breed. The Old Spot breed can breed without human help. Mr.Pig is proven aka. he has made babies already: his balls work and he knows how to use them.
Who's got big balls? I've got big balls!

His breed creates alot of bacon. The fellow we got him from recently slaughtered an old spot that gave him 75 POUNDS of bacon, plus hams. Rosies breed (Yorkshire) can be made into bacon, but overall the meat is very white. Instead it makes good roasts, tenderloins, and other white cuts. The fellow we got Mr.Pig from is very excited about crossing York with Old Spot as he says its the best possible mix of breeds. We shall see.

Rosie has mixed feelings about Mr.Pig. He's kinda a dick at feeding time as he pushes her away from all the feed troughs, but he is another pig to hang out with. I remember one day I fed him and he was in the corner chowing down on the slop I gave him. Food was literally flying everywhere and his ears where bouncing everywhere. then at the other side of the pen I had food for Rosie. She ate slowly, calmly, happliy chewing her food, looking around, took another bite walked over to the bathroom, went pee...came back for somemore food...went for some water...lalalala....and all the while in the other corner food is flying everywhere as Mr.Pig was choking it down fast as he could. What can I say? Rosie is a lady with manners, Mr.Pigs a bit of a country bumpkin.

Rosie has cycled, though. Her first few days with mr.pig she was not thrilled. I went to visit them one day and he was asking for backscratches from me, and she was nosing around his balls. At one point he was ignoring her, she stuck her nose between his legs and went *womp!* right into his balls. He went crosseyed, flew a foot in the air and let out a squeal that said it feels the same for all guys.  Next day she showed signs on her backend of being in heat. Hopefully he preformed his duty and she took. We may have pigglets in the couple months. Lets hope!

One last thing. The pen they are in is temporary. We want to build a paddock system and run them through the fields and forest rotating the pasture giving it a chance to rest. In some cases we will use the pigs on a very limited space to tear out weeds and rototill, then move them off and plant on the cleared and fertilized ground. If we can time this right we can really make the whole property healthier...if not we can mess things up. Compare the pen from when we first built it to 3 weeks later:

There is alot of bare ground they have opened up and their "fertilizer" is all the the corner and easily spreadable. It is defiantly time to move them before the ground gets too bare and compacted, but its pretty amazing to see how they can clear land so quickly. I am going to try and figure out a way to get up easily moveable fences that keeps Rosie in (thats the key part. she walks right through electric fences, tears through cattle panel is she chooses) and try and use them to clear a path through the woods. Well, its worth a try at least.

That was alot of pig info. I'm still learning about pigs myself. If you have questions or comments feel free to ask and I'll try to answer. More pig stories soon enough.

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