We sent our two pigs off to freezer camp a week or so ago. We estimated them at roughly 350 lbs. each. As in the past, they will fill our bigger freezer with about 400 lbs of meat. At that stage of the game we are usually ready to see them go. While pigs are friendly, they are very strong and become a potential hazard to their handlers. I was having Zina take out a cattle prod with her to zap them away if they took to rubbing on her too hard.
We thought we would be done with pigs for the winter, anticipating more arrivals next spring. That would make WAY too much sense and be WAY too logical for us! A break? We don’t need no stinkin’ break!!
We had done some searching for information on pigs that don’t grow to be such massive bull dozers. There are Kunekune’s, Potbellies, miniatures, etc. On a random You Tube video we ran across American Guinea Hogs. I did some research and discovered that they were once the most common homestead pig in the South East but due to agricultural changes, moving to large scale production, they had gone almost extinct. In recent decades they have made something of a come back. They are slower growing than conventional breeds and have a bit more marbled meat. Our traditional hogs were always very lean, and in this climate made the meat a bit dry. They also don’t get as big as a typical pig. They are very docile and make very good parents. Even the boars are easier to be around. They are unique in that they aren’t big grain eaters. They like grass, alfalfa and all the table scraps one can muster. For minerals, they get a little bit of pig feed, but mostly they will roam around grazing.
So last weekend I checked into the American Guinea Hog Association and actually found a breeder here in Colorado. She indicated that she had some piglets so we decided to take the plunge. It was one of the more unusual trips to pick up livestock. They are a retired military couple living at 9000 feet way back in the hills west of Colorado Springs (About a three hour drive).
We picked up a registered female (Who we have named Petunia) and two little boys. They are 6 weeks old and are about 5 lbs a piece. They will reach breeding age at around 6 months. Gestation is 3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days. So it will be about a year before we have actual bacon seeds from Petunia.
So once more into the abyss. Our thinking was that if we bred our own, we could eliminate the roughly $300.00 a year just to acquire new piglets, save some money on the ton of organic feed we had to buy every year, and have a breeding pair should the African Swine Fever that is currently decimating the Asian hog population find it’s way to the U.S., which seems inevitable.
New pets, new pigs, crazy farmers, wouldn’t trade it. In fact, the trip out there to pick them up, which took me through rush hour and the city, reminded me of how high my constant base line stress levels were when I was still working. No wonder my blood pressure has come down. I was so happy to get back home. At least with farm animals you know where you stand. People, I find, not so much. Donovan is honking as I finish writing this: “Get off your butt and come feed us!” Predictable, and peaceful. Gotta go milk as well.