Our little piggies are now hogs. Big, 200+ pound hogs. Hershey is probably close to 300. He’s getting there. 250 easily.
The others are not far behind him. They have consumed over 2,200 pounds of food, these four hogs of ours. They are easily 4 feet long and stout fellas. They can eat 100 pounds of food in a day right now. They are a handful to manage, but still pretty nice and love a good head scratch.
I like that they still romp and frolic in their huge pen, and get darn right excited with the wheelbarrow of chow shows up. They like to be sprayed with the hose. And they totally enjoy garden goodies which they have gotten a good deal of lately, since there was a killing frost a few nights running.
But I know Maggie is getting a little weary of their ramped up care schedule. She is the one that primarily lugs the 50 pound bags back to the barn and has to roll up her pants to wade into the muddy muck to get the big heavy feeder that they routinely knock over. She is the one that they try to suck on her coat or hoodie, and she has to be very careful around when the nearly thousand pounds of hog want to give her snuffles all over if she comes into their space. They are no longer the cute little piglets of the spring, or even the teenager piggies of the summer. They are the hogs of fall and are due soon to be the pork of winter in our freezer.
I’m calling Monday to get their date for finishing school. I’m hoping it will be within the next fortnight. It will make our cold season chores much, much easier for certain.
I’ll miss them, but I know for sure they have had a wonderful life. And we’ve learned a lot about raising hogs. I’m quite certain that come spring, our barn will have another set of piglets but I do know we’ll be even better equipped to make their lives even better. And a little easier on Maggie. We want to build a super heavy, solid concrete feed bunker for them. Something that they just can’t knock over, no matter what. And that can be filled from outside of the pen. And we need a much better system for watering them. Maggie is hauling water out to them twice a day and that’s a lot of work. Over the winter, we’ll be thinking, planning and getting ready for a much easier routine for raising our hogs. It’s all a learning process and I’m so happy that we’ve done well with this first batch.
Would we want to raise more? No. In fact, we will probably just raise a pair for our own needs and a few close friends and family. Maybe three. We’ll see how it goes. I know we have lots of folks that would love for us to raise more, but it’s hard work with too many, especially towards the end. And we’re not set up for some huge operation. But I do know, we will always raise a couple each year for our own needs. It’s just so much more rewarding and a good thing. Fairly easy as well. The first four months were really a breeze. This last 2 months has been a lot more work for certain.
This year, aside from eating out and the occasional prepared food product from the grocery store, we have only eaten our own chickens and pork all year! Now, we are out of pork at this point, Sir Loin is but a memory at this point. We just had the last bit of ham from him, for dinner tonight. It will probably be three weeks to a month before our new pork is ready for the table. Part of me will probably want to wait it out. Maybe just get a little bacon or maybe just a bit of sausage from the local butchers. We’ll see how it goes. I feel good that we’re moving away from the factory farmed meats and have our own animals for our table. We’ll probably be ordering meat chickens again real soon, as we are getting low on freezer birds. If we get them soon enough, they will be ready by Christmas. We’ll see how it goes…