Farming,  Homesteading

Piggies

Since this is our first venture into pigs, I’m going to be keeping extra notes. Things to know or remember for future use. The piggies are doing well!

It took awhile for us to really see it, but they are definitely bigger. They actually lost a little bit of weight in their first week here, because we had such a drop in temperature that we were not prepared for. Thankfully, they appeared healthy otherwise, and since they have not only gained weight, but definitely grown bigger.

The weight loss, I suspect was solely from being cold. They didn’t eat a lot the first few days after we brought them home. They ate fine the initial day we brought them home, but they laid snuggled up together at first and really didn’t move around much, and we really had to spend a lot of time with them. As I noted previously, I had to put food and water in their shelter and check on them frequently, as well as add extra bedding in and put a tarp over the shelter.

After that initial temperature drop, it started to warm up a bit, and they have been playing outside quite a bit. They eat from their feeder, wrestling each other in the process, and they have spent a lot of time rooting up their pen.

It’s just shy of three weeks since we’ve gotten them, and just the other day, I added a new bag of feed to their feeder. They still had a little bit left of the first bag, but maybe only a day or two’s worth. So for starting, two 25 lb. weaner pigs ate about 50 lbs of feed in about 2.5 weeks. I’ll have to pay attention to how fast this next bag takes to be used.

Once the weather was nice enough after the first week, they started to eat out of their feeder. They will wrestle each other out of the way. It took me a bit to get used to the metal clang from the feeder being closed. I always know when they’re eating, thanks to that bang!

We have been feeding them leftovers, and they love it. I still divide some of it among the other animals. If the food has chicken in it, we don’t feed it to the chickens, and if it has pork in it, we don’t feed it to the pigs.

One of the roosters got brave enough to jump the fence and play around in the run, but we chased him out for his own safety. The pigs are still small enough that they probably wouldn’t try to eat him, but I’d rather not promote the chickens doing that. The chickens have definitely taken more of an interest in the pigs. When I go in the pen, the chickens follow me into the first gate, but stay behind when I go in the second gate.

Will these guys be friends?

Poppy has calmed down and is less interested in the pigs and less jealous. She still clearly doesn’t totally know what to make of them, but she’s adjusting. Less barking, less growling, and she doesn’t whine at me when I go in by them now.

The kids are still very interested in the pigs. Most of them want to go in their pen with me when I check on them. They like petting and scratching the pigs, and the pigs love the attention. Sausage particularly enjoys a good scratch. Gideon loves looking at pictures of the pigs on my phone, and he’s been talking about them a lot. Adeline is a little jealous that the animals all come to me and follow me around, but I told her that’s what happens when you do most of the feeding! There is a near daily conversation amongst the kids about how the pigs will be breakfast someday, so that’s good. I want to make sure their expectations stay realistic.

So far, there have been no pig escapes or attempted escapes. There are one or two areas that I’m keeping an eye on, but I think we’ll be okay. Scott would like to add some electric wire into the pen to make sure they don’t try to get under the fencing, but I would like to wait until they’ve cleared more of the grass and weeds around the perimeter. No decision has been made as of yet. I guess we’ll keep watching, and when I feel like we need to do something, we probably will.

They have done a great job of rooting up the pen so far. They have cleared a little over half. They definitely root the easy areas first. Anything that was just woodchips before was the first thing they tackled. They’ve been slowing working a larger area. As we give them leftovers, we put it where there’s ground to work up, and then they work the area as they eat.

Scott and I were talking, and we think we might fence in the area to the south of their pen. We were going to do it years ago as a garden space, but never got around to it. Some of our plans have changed, but that space is still open and would work great as another pen. Then we could either move them when they finish this area, or when we get pigs next year (I should say “if” as we should really see how this year goes before committing to anything), we can put them in the new pen. That would allow us to plant the fenced areas in between pig rotations. Even if we ended up planting crops like root crops in them just for the pigs, or planting them, harvesting what we want, and leaving the rest for the pigs the following year… I don’t know. Things to think about. But I think we have enough fencing to do the second pen this year if we want to.

It took awhile for us to confirm, but the pigs did figure out how to use the automatic waterer. They kept poking around at it without drinking from it when we were around, but the kids have now seen them using it multiple times. We were just making sure their water pan was filled throughout the day until we could confirm that they were using it.

Other things to note: They run and jump! I maybe mentioned it before, but they play kind of like puppies. I’ve seen movies like Babe and Charolette’s Web where there are real pigs in the movie, so I have “seen” some of these behaviors before, but it’s different to experience it. The kids call it “going Turbo” (like the movie about the snail) when the pigs take off. They run for any number of reasons. If Poppy gets too close to the fence or barks at them or just looks at them wrong, they’ll run. Then again, they’ll also sniff her and grunt at her and stare at her for fun, so… They also run if the kids run inside of the pen. I tell them not to, but they haven’t quite figured that one out yet. They run to play, they run if they get spooked, and they’ll sort of run up to me if I bring them scraps from the house.

As strange as it is to say, we feel like it’s a real homestead now. Scott especially feels that way, because it’s more than a response of just “oh, we have a garden and some chickens.” I mean, we’ve had a LOT of chickens, we butcher our own meat, including venison, and our garden isn’t just some small garden. It provides a good chunk of our food for the year. And we have an orchard, and we’ve had bees a few times, and we’re constantly growing and improving, and it all adds up to be a lot. Somehow, pigs change how we feel about it. Maybe it feels more complete? I don’t know. But we like it! Anyway, that’s all for now.

Love and Blessings~ Danielle

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