Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bring on the pigs................

My husband has always wanted a pig. Ever since I met him at 16 he has wanted a pig. All through our young married life he has been tempted to stop at the sign along the road that advertised weaner pigs (or is it weiner?) I have been successful in talking him out of it until now. Now mind you, there is no eating of the animals on our small farm. If you land here, you stay here for life. I have nothing against anyone that chooses to raise and butcher. I have even enjoyed the fruits of their labor. I just can't eat anything I raised. I learned this lesson at age 15 when Gabriel (the name I called him)/Soupbone(the name my dad gave him) was put on the table before me. So I figured we didn't need a pig. My husband was sure he needed a pig so we decided to find a pot bellied pig for our glorified petting farm. It wasn't that easy. Pot bellied pigs were all the rage about 20 years ago but now are not that easy to find. They have fallen out of favor because people have discovered they are " PIGS." I did my research. I went online and read about them. Websites showed tiny pigs cuddling with their owners and I thought "How cute, I can do that". So my husband had the brilliant idea of going on Craigslist to look. I am ashamed to say I am now addicted to Craigslist. Anyway, it wasn't too long before someone posted two pig sisters Daphne and Fiona. They were socialized, spayed(that's important) and friendly so off we went to see them. A darling young couple met us at the gate with their beautiful babies in tow and we went to go see the pigs. Daphne and Fiona were just what we wanted. The little toddler was even in the pen with them. My husband was in love, especially with Fiona because he loves Shrek and she has a cute white mohawk. We loaded them in their custom made traveling crate and brought them home to the farm.
That was the end of our peaceable kingdom.
The llama, Koo, hated them. He made noises I had never heard him make before in the 4 years we have had him. The goats hated them. It was hate all around. It went from everyone grazing calmly around the pasture to everyone running and crashing through bushes trying to get away from the pigs. They weren't even housed with the other animals but just the thought of pigs sent all into a frenzy. To make matters worse, I was scared of them. Me, also known as Dr. Dolittle to my friends, was just a bit afraid of them. I then realized the only time I had been around pigs was when my best friend and I had hung out in the pig barn at the fair because the best looking boys showed pigs. That was the only contact I had with them and I wasn't paying much attention to the pigs.
Daphne and Fiona challenged me and snapped at me when I tried to pet them. They demanded food so I fed them. They were definitely pigs. They didn't challenge my husband, well really they did he just didn't notice. It does no good challenging anyone if they don't even notice. I, being the animal person, noticed everything they threw at me. So I complained to my hubby that I didn't really like the pigs and he replied "Well I do" Hmmm.....being the problemsolver that I am I got online and asked advice. I am not sure what anyone did before the computer. I poored out my problem to perfect strangers and the answers came flying back. My pigs were going through puberty! So it seems that around 18 months pigs will naturally start challenging you. They also were mourning the loss of their family and first home. The advice was give them time. Pigs are amazingly smart and clean, I have come to realize. I sat down by their pen and had a talk with them about us coexsisting together and I swear they understood. Little by little things have gotten much better. The llama has stopped making the weird noise. The goats have stopped crashing through bushes and the pigs will let me give them a good scratch. They come when called and will sit on command. We have learned how to trim their feet. Not an easy task as there is nothing to hang on to on an angry pig but we are do-it-yourselfers and won't pay anyone if we can do it ourselves. It wasn't pretty. Let's just say the neighbor came over to see what was killing the pig.
Once again it is my peaceable kingdom and all I have to say is....................bring on the buck.

15 comments:

farm mama said...

It is so exciting to see another farm-related blog!! I am totally addicted - read all three of the ones you mentioned every day (even re-read them when there is no new post). "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" has got to be the best book of all time - absolutely life-changing!!

deconstructingVenus said...

Ahh! My mom beat me to your first comment! (farm mama is MY mama). I love this story. I feed on this sort of thing. Love it love it love it. I love to hear real-life stories of people feeling their way through farming stuff. How big did your potbelly pigs get? I know everyone wants them when they're tiny and cute , then they turn into big PIGS. He he. Do you have to trim their husks, or is it only the boys you have to do that with? My best friend growing up had 2 potbelly pigs. The boy was not overly social. They just stayed up in their pen and didn't do much. Do potbellies root in the dirt? I had thought that if they did, this could be an interesting choice for us. Fairly likely I'd be able to sell babies, and they're certainly smaller than full grown pigs.

goatgirl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
goatgirl said...

I am so excited to have comments on my blog!! Yes the pigs do root. They can till up the field in no time. I was fasinated by how strong their noses are. We are going to get some hog panels and move them around the property so they can root it up. They would be great to put in a garden spot to get it tilled for spring. Fiona weighs about 50 pounds and Daphne about 70. Good managable size. Thanks for writing!

Jennifer said...

I too read Belle, Marigold and DV's A journey in your dreams. And I am so happy to now be able to read your blog also. All of your experiences and (the others) are really giving me insights to the farm, goat, chicken, duck, pig,etc world. I will be fortunate to have a big garden this summer and be able to freeze and can. But a year from now I intend to be ordering my first flock of chickens. Now I must concentrate on patience, patience, patience.......;o)

goatgirl said...

Jennifer, Patience has never been one of my virtues. I feel for you girl. I once kept a Nubian doeling in the backyard of the duplex my husband and I were renting in town. Following rules isn't one of my virtues either. It was "No pets allowed"
What you need right now while you wait for everything else is a chicken tractor....Have you heard of that?

deconstructingVenus said...

Jennifer, I totally agree with goatgirl. You should totally go ahead and get chickens if at all possible. Talk about easy! You can even make a little moveable chicken coop for 5-10 hens out of scrap stuff. Theres a great book out there called "The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It" and he has plans in there how to make a small coop out of old fertilizer bags. He also has step by steps how to take care of animals/do farm stuff simply the old fashioned simple ways. Check at your library first, but you'll probably end up buying it. It's a treasure. http://www.amazon.com/Self-sufficient-Life-How-Live/dp/0789493322/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1195315451&sr=8-1

Jennifer said...

Hmmmmmmm, Even while I live in a camper until the house is built??
Maybe I can talk my husband into the idea as long as we don't receive any chicks till maybe April? We should have enough area cleared by then. Boy, I hope we have broken ground by then for the house. I will research this and plant the seed (idea) in my hubbys brain. ;o) How do you think we got out here in the woods in the first place? Ha,Ha,Ha! I love this blog stuff. You guys will keep me sane while I adjust to the solitude. But I am determined. My grandmother homesteaded in Wyoming from 1916 to 1923. So If she could do that then I can survive the next year of building a home and getting settled by George! And we have better tools! Not to mention the internet. She gave birth to 4 children out there and lost 2 of the babies. That is one reason they moved back to Iowa.
By the way, we live in central Virginia now not far from Charlottesville. (Not far from where John Boy Walton lived.;o)
Thanks Girls, I am going to check out that book.

Jennifer said...

WHOA, all I said was," I think we could have maybe a dozen chickens this spring in one of those mobile chicken house thingys". He said "good idea!"
Now I have to decide what kind of chickens to get and where to order them. Do you guys have favorites?

farm mama said...

Ohmigosh!! My grandparents homesteaded in Wyoming also (not far from Ft. Laramie in the southeastern corner of the state. My mother was in school, so it must have been in the late 1920's or early 1930's. They raised 5 children and stayed in that general area for the rest of their lives.

I am sure you will be hearing from DCV about chicken breeds - she did extensive research before deciding on hers.

deconstructingVenus said...

Jennifer, I'm so excited you're getting chickens! I personally like the dual-purpose breeds which lay a good amount of eggs and are also hefty enough to eat after they've outlived their productive breeding years. Or you could go with a scrawny nervous egg laying machine chicken, but at the end of its days it's good for nothing but the trashcan, and thats more horrible than eating them if you ask me. If you just want pets with eggy benefits, the dual purpose are great too, or you could get some fancy shmansy bantams or something oober cute. I shopped the internet exhaustively before settling on Ideal Poultry. They are the cheapest any way you slice em, they have a HUGE selection, and not only did every chick survive transport, they also gave me 2 extras for free! I'd like to get heritage breeds next time and have the satisfaction of knowing I'm helping an ancient and hard working breed from dying out. They're more expensive though, and I thought it best to learn on regular chickens.... just in case. :)

goatgirl said...

Jennifer, that will keep you sane on the long winter nights ahead. I have had Rhode Island Reds and Araucanas with the Araucanas being my fav. They are colorful and friendly and lay beautiful eggs. I have also had a variety of banties. They are awesome mothers. You gotta love a momma that will stand on your head and peck in defense of her children. Right now I only have a couple of hens that are my neighbors that have "free ranged" themselves on over to my place. They did keep me in eggs all summer, as long as we could find the nest. I need to build a critter proof henhouse before I get any more. I have my eye on hubbies woodshed, which would make a perfect hen condo, but so far he says "forget about it" He has built me so many animal houses that I will bide my time and catch him in the right mood. Usually after he has bought another motorcycle.
So have fun planning for the chickens this winter Jennifer and did I mention "I love John Boy"
DCV is probably too young to know who that is:) but I bet farm mama does

Jennifer said...

Well, I got out my "Animal,Vegetable,Miracle",book and made a list of the chickens they had and the chickens you all suggested. And I now have chickens catalogs on the way. I must limit myself to no more than 12 chickens, well maybe 15. But thats all!

Farm mama, my grandparents homesteaded in near Chugwater.

Goatgirl, my husband intends on getting a miniature or regular size pony. Our granddaughter is 4 right now and in a couple of years she will really enjoy the pony. Up until a few weeks ago we lived 3 block from each other :o( But they moved into Charlottesville and we moved a little further out. So now we are 37 minutes apart. I miss her stopping over anytime of the day but next year she will be in school all day and we still manage to see each other two or three days a week. It is not hard to find a reason to go to town.

Now I have another question. I have started reading about poultry and am finding out about all kinds of problems and parasites that can effect them so now I am imagining all kinds of problems and that I will have to wear a mask and gloves just to be around them. My husband says I can't see the forest for all the trees. I tend to get hung up on all the possible details and potential problems. But by what I see and read of people that have chickens I don't really hear of any problems. I like to do research and find out all the in and outs of a situation to know what to possibly expect and how to handle it. Like moving out here, I have researched copperheads (never seen one) and have a file of what to do if bitten by one and I also bought some camo snake proof gaiters! I have not worn them yet but I just like to be prepared you know.;o) And I know all about black bears too. Sometimes they come this way looking for food. So my plan is if they come here I will just stay inside and set off the car alarm! That should scare them away. Growing up in Iowa the wildest animal I ever saw was a stray cow or pig or bunny rabbit!
Well, thanks girls. I really need to start my blog about our homesteading/building experiences. I will have to research blogs now. ;o)

farm mama said...

Jennifer,

I have to laugh - you and DCV must be like two peas in a pod. She about had a nervous breakdown before she got the goats, especially over what to feed them. Casey, her wonderful goat mentor, finally got her to relax and stop overthinking everything, and it has been much easier than she thought. She can also tell you all about copperheads - she wishes she had never seen one!!

I know right where Chugwater is - not far from where my grandparents homesteaded.

deconstructingVenus said...

Jennifer,
I was able to find this website for you. I did this before I got my chickens and it was a lot of fun.
http://www.mypetchicken.com/breedQuestions.aspx
You take a quiz based on what qualities you need in a chicken and it tells you which ones match up!