December 12, 2010

when it’s nine am, twenty eight degrees, and you’re in your backyard sawing down twenty-five foot bamboo shafts to build a floating pig shelter in the woods—you’ll be smiling too.  raising animals on pasture, or in the hog’s sake, on woodlot, means to have the ability to adapt to completely unexpected scenarios—constantly!—and to react to them through the most efficient, smartest, and cheapest (ideally $zero) manner possible.  over the next two days we are expected to have the coldest weather this region has experienced in over one hundred and fifty years (this early in the season).  considering the small size, and young age, of many of pch’s residents—including our surprise newborns—we have decided to take a little preemptive action and provide some quick hay nests for the herd to nestle into. 

using the bamboo from my backyard as a frame, and some scrap metal we found on the property as a roof, we used simple metal wire to attach the metal to the bamboo, and the bamboo to the tree.  This is over in the sow pen, where the animals are many hundreds of pounds and can definitely handle any condition jah earth has to throw.  the makeshift roof was added simply to keep the hay underneath a little dryer and provide some respite from the forecasted freezing rain.  although the hogs don’t need this to survive, survival of these animals is not our only goal—their comfort is of paramount importance.  stressed animals—stress of any kind—retards weight gains, inhibits sexual productivity, and wastes our money. 

over in general population, where we have about thirty very young piglets—including some that are just a few days old—we wanted to build something that will help and hold in some warmth.  the floating bamboo is great since it doesn’t allow the huge sows to destroy our creation, but it’s open walls do nothing for heat.  bales of hay, stacked two high, were used to create a wind-breaking wall for the new mama and her babies to hunker into.  within a few days the hay fort will most likely be totally destroyed, but at least it will bridge us through these next few nights of extreme temperatures. 

in other parts of the country, producers who raise hogs year round outside most likely have large, very stout huts for the hogs to take shelter in.  our hogs, however, due to georgia’s usually mild winter, survive year round with absolutely no structure or housing in sight.  just pigs in the woods.  that’s it and that’s all.

and here’s a shot of my bro, in for the weekend, falling for the oldest trick in the book.  i told him if he dropped trow and shat in the woods the pigs would consider him one of their own.  classic.