It’s been an exciting week. We got the call on Monday that our piglets were ready. Husband frantically worked at finishing Casa Porcina, while I prepared for my Mother’s first visit to our new place. The electric fencing was up, but the shelter was not complete.
Originally I wanted to just lay some straw bales in a U-shape and use the plastic corrugated sheeting from the old greenhouse as a roof. But Husband had other ideas. He bought four of those concrete support blocks with grooves in them (usually used for decks). He stood 2×4′s up in them and screwed them together to make a 4 ft high “corner”, then put up particle board walls that were secured to the 2×4′s. Daughter got to pick out the paint colour (which was selected from the “oops” cans at the local hardware store: custom mixes that had been rejected by the customer).
When he got to the ratty old greenhouse to salvage the sheeting he was struck by an idea: he took the whole roof off and put it on the pig house.
He then supported the front with two slim logs (drawn from our massive pile: it is helpful having lots of logs around!). They are dug down into the ground and there were already nails poking down from the support beams on the roof so he just pounded those into the tops of the logs. We think it looks very “rustic chic”!
Finally the big day arrived. Turns out we were the first people they had ever sold piglets too – they generally keep them all for their thriving pasture-raised, drug-free, free-range pork business. But they’d had a surplus of piglets and Husband had convinced them the pigs would have a good home at our farm. It was great that the owners were so concerned the pigs be well cared-for, and not shut up in a barn or fed hormones, etc. They asked us if we wanted black or brown piglets and we said “one of each”, so the guy brought them out in a pig box which was basically a wooden crate carried on the front bucket of his tractor. He then plucked them out by the hind legs and into our dog crate they went.
Every now and then on the drive home they would let out an oink, which sounds remarkably like a loud burp. This would elicit peals of laughter from the kids and then the adults. It was only about an hour’s drive home and soon the pigs were exploring their new home.
They started rooting in the ground right away and soon had a nice wallow dug for themselves in which they rested. We feed them three times a day with a combination of fresh kitchen scraps and commercial pig feed, the latter watered down into a mash. We’re still experimenting with how much to feed: it’s supposed to be enough that they can clean it up in about 20 minutes, but so far we are giving them too much. Better that then underfeeding them which, at this stage in their lives, can stunt their growth. Watching their snouts in action there’s no doubt they will make great land-clearers; the soil where they are is very nice and loaded with worms and bugs – they seem to be enjoying the feast! We will soon be expanding their paddock to make it bigger, but for now they seem content. There is lots of straw in their shelter and last night I saw they had made a nice bed for themselves and hunkered down together. The dog is very curious but apparently doesn’t view them as prey (they weigh as much as she does right now, about 40 lbs) so she isn’t trying to go after them. She also gave us all a live demonstration that the electric fence works, so she stays clear of the pig paddock now!
It’s time for me to go feed the piggies their breakfast. There’s more going on here, but it will have to wait for another post. Meanwhile I’ll leave you with this cute shot: