Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pigs: You've Come a Long Way, Baby

Late last fall, when we purchased a number of pigs for a very low price, I had no idea what was to come. Of course Mr. Farmer said that some would be bred and some would be slaughtered for food. Naturally, some would be for our consumption, some for our Pig-Partner and his family, and perhaps some would be sold. But who would have guessed that we would do so many new things in such a short time?

(Author's Note: Most of these things are not technically "new" to Mr. Farmer. They were for me, though!)

When the new pigs came to live with us, a more spacious pen had to be build to accommodate the little darlings. Food and water troughs were built out of plastic 55 gallon drums, cut in half lengthwise. And naturally, the pigs ended up with names, whether we meant to name them or not.

Tiffany (front), Wilma(rear), and Mamas (right)
With this many pigs to process, we had to upgrade our equipment a bit. A metal frame for hanging hogs, sitting on the ground above a rock, was replaced with a huge tree-trunk cross member and a larger capacity pulley system.

Out With The Old

In with the New

Before we knew it, however, the Man caught up with us. We didn't know it at the time, but Mamas and Wilma were expecting. Tiffany: Prince of Darkness was nearing 400 pounds. Still, we had to move them to a larger property because township regulations did not allow us to keep them on so small a plot of land. It was no small feat to move them from their lifelong home.

This big boy did NOT want to leave his turf.
 Once again, we were fence-building. This time we even installed electrified lines for more security for our precious "piggers". Then, one morning, not long after we had begun to have suspicions that the ladies were expecting... Surprise! Piglets!

Wilma's First Litter
A mere six days later we were able to watch Mamas give birth to her first litter. We even got to assist in the removal of a breach. Mamas had five babies while we watched, and another after we had gone!

This is one of my favorite pictures EVER.
The piglets thrived, and before long, it came time to neuter the males. I tried my best to assist with them by holding the squirmy little guys so Mr. Farmer could stay clean. It worked. We got the job done, he stayed clean, and all the piglets remained infection free.

I got a little dirty, though.
So there you have it: a year (almost) in the life of a pig farmer and his novice wife. But let's not forget Little Miss Farmer, who never shies away from even the somewhat distasteful tasks of slaughtering and butchering (even if she is too young to do them herself yet), and my other hero, Young Master Farmer, who hauls water up this unforgiving hill almost every single day for the pigs.

I STILL don't know how he stays upright.
Who knows what our next adventure will be? I have many reasons to love Mr. Farmer, but one is that he feeds my love of learning by constantly bringing new experiences into my life. I don't know what I will learn next, but I just can't wait!