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Monday, May 28, 2012

The Pigs Are Here! Wait...they WERE here.

Who likes bacon?  Raise your hand.  

Yup, me too.  I like pork... a lot.

I like pigs too!  Very intelligent, fun to watch, very clean...and did I mention tasty?

Last year we had several requests from customers as to where they could get pastured pork.  We didn't know of anyone who had pork available so we figured that was pretty good incentive for us to get into the pastured pork business!  When I was in high school, I convinced my dad that getting a bred sow and farrowing her out in our pole barn was a sound investment.  And it was!  I got 10 pigs from her and made a fair amount of money.

I'm a participant in a leadership program and at our inaugural meeting, I was reunited with a man who I had grown up with in 4-H and FFA.  He's done some great and innovative things in the livestock industry and was still raising pigs.  He was my connection for our feeder pigs.  In January, I knew I was going to talk to him about pigs but wasn't sure of the number.  I thought, "Hmmmm, I want 25.  Hubby would probably want 4.  So 10 is a good compromise."

I came home and told Hubby that I reserved 10 pigs for us and he flipped out.  "10!!!  I was thinking 4!!"  Sorry honey, 10 it is.

On Thursday I had a meeting in Bismarck at the Ag Department and arranged to meet our feeder pigs that afternoon.  I pulled up to our state's capitol in our diesel pickup with over half a million miles on it and a stockrack in the back.  I thought it was only fitting!!!

When I arrived home, the kids were pretty excited to see the pigs.  They'd never seen a pig in real life!

I don't think the pigs had ever seen a small boy!

They look pretty harmless, don't they?  Only 75 pounds, 15 inches high...how much damage could they do?

That's what is left of the electric pig fence after we had unloaded 7 of the 10 of them.  One of them hit the fence and got a shock.  Instead of backing up, like all the other animals in the natural world, the pigs ran through it.  Wore that fence like a scarf as they raced away.

You have to understand that Hubby has never been around livestock.  And my eternal optimism only goes so far when the pigs are headed over the hill.  He was ready to post an ad online that said "free pigs, come and catch them".  

I have to admit, I was just a little worried.

But, I'm nothing if not an idiot persistent.  So we high-tailed it (just like our pigs) back to the yard (Oh, did I forget to mention we were a 1/4 mile from our house?) to get 4 cattle panels, some wire and T-posts.  We were building a stockade!

We got the fence erected and went in search of the pigs.  The two older kids were still up (Little One had gone to bed) and were tagging along on the pig-finding mission.  And we found them!  In one of my gardens.  Thankfully, no rooting had taken place.

We quietly and slowly moved them along, placing our children at strategic locations to steer them back the 1/4 mile to the stockade.  I have to say that my husband, who has never been around pigs and my children, who have never been around pigs were AWESOME!  Really, I think I married a pig-whisperer and gave birth to his pig-whispering children.

Without much action, we got them into the pen and then added the other three and bolted the door!  

Here they are on pasture, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine...from their stockade.

(Hindsight being 20/20...we should have (and we will) trained them to electric fence with the stockade behind it so that when the ran through it, they would hit the fence and HAVE TO go backwards.)  
But that's what learning is all about!  We'll know better next time...


  1. Super exciting Annie- You truly are living my dream! Are you ready for a day of 6-11 year old boys for heavy labor? Just say the word, we will be there!

    1. Andrea, I was just thinking of you and your boys now that school is out! Let's let things dry out a bit and then I'll have some potatoes to hoe. How does that sound?? :)

  2. Wow, what a learning curve to go through. Sounds like a long day. I guess experience is the best way to learn anything, but I do appreciate you post, since I now know more than I did about fencing issues with pigs!

  3. I haven't seen issues like that but anything goes with pigs. Anything. If you can get them trained to come running when you shake the bucket you're all set for the next breakout.

    How hot is your fence?

    1. The fence is running at around 3000 volts. Since being in training for three days, they have done VERY well! (I'll have to photo and blog them soon.) We had one gilt out this morning, we're not sure how, and she calmly walked back in when we opened up the fence. What started as terror for Hubby has turned to pleasure. He really enjoys them! (Of course, he may just be thinking of bacon the whole time...)


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