December 15, 2010 piggus pileus

you’ve never really seen a pig pile like this.  they scatter when i approach, so the photo isn’t representative, but believe me, fifty pigs of a rainbow variety of sizes and colors and personalities, lying one on top of another and trying to keep warm, is a memorable site to walk on in the woods.  it’s a good ol’ fashion pig pile. 

they have really been utilizing the hay we put out, and it seems to be making a big difference.  the newest piglets, and the new mama, have established their own side nest, and over the last few days we have added several feet of insulation surrounding them.  as you can see in the video yesterday, mama uses her nose and some grunts to keep the piglets in the warm zone she (we) created.

and then there’s this guy.  do you see him?  which one of these is not like the other one…

this runty little tamworth piglet, who is most likely between six to nine weeks older than our newborns, is holing up in the nest as well.  he’s smart i guess, and found himself a pretty cushy little spot. 

he’s a little weak, and has a minor cough, which i’m hoping is not something the piglet’s can catch.  the forecast claims tonight is the last viciously cold night (for now), so hopefully everyone will bounce back stronger and warmer on the other end.

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. 

October 17, 2010

today the piglets approached me with a cease and desist letter for im high on cooking.  turns out they’re in talks with nbc for their own spinoff blog, and they’re lawyering up.  the letter describes me as a talentless hack, accuses me of intellectual property theft, and claims that on a percentage basis “cute posts about the piglets accounts for the largest segment of my website by over forty percent more than its nearest contender—dumb jokes.”

October 13, 2010 pick a size, any size

what began as an unintentional experiment-piglets being birthed in general population—has turned out to be a great success.  the tamworth/berkshire crosses which were born a couple weeks back are not only healthy and happy, but are completely socialized into the herd after just two weeks standing up.

although they still spend much of their time milking and napping with their mother, they also spend part of the day on their own—foraging and mimicking anybody willing to be near them. 

they nose around at the slop, sniff the earth, and find choice shady spots.  they are learning to be pigs, just the way they should.