But as happens every year, December 26th comes along and farm work beckons. Pigs needed bigger housing.
Our current crop of feeder pigs are now four months old and growing unlike weeds. Weeds tend to grow UP while these little porkers are growing WIDE, as intended.
They are a group of five Red Wattle crosses we purchased outside of Springfield, Illinois back in September. The cost was fabulous at just $20 each since full Red Wattle feeders can easily run $100 per head. This group was a bit underweight and we were prepared to lose the smallest one, but still we were willing to take the chance since the price was good.
We got them home, put them on organic ground grain and raw milk from our lovely cow Liz. Within two weeks these babies were thriving. Even the smallest one rapidly gained ground. He is in fact now, our second largest, the gray hog in the picture above. We attribute this positive growth and robust health to a few things: lots of room outside in the fresh air to run and dig, organic feed (free of GMO grains, antibiotics or hormones), deep bedding for warmth and comfort, and raw milk for protein.
Today we moved our larger Hog Condo into the pigs lot, as they are outgrowing their original petite hutch seen above to the left. Keith used our Kubota tractor and heavy chains for the task. This larger home has been used as a farrowing hut for our full grown sows back in the days when we had our "farrow to finish" operation on our old farm. One sow and her litter would get this larger condo, thus the "Maternity Ward" labeling. Now we just buy feeder pigs at 6-8 weeks, in both the spring and the fall, and raise them for our own meat and meat for a few family members.
You can see that this larger hutch has had some serious use over the years. Just after I took this picture Keith boarded up the holes on the side and added a large piece of plywood along the bottom to keep winter drafts out. The hogs never seem to mind that the wood is a mixed variety and recycled.
In a few days, after this group gets used to the upgraded digs, we'll fence off the area around their old place, clean up that area, pull out posts and store everything until the next group comes in this spring. We like to move each group of pigs to different areas of the farm so as not to spread any possible parasites from one group to another. They also do an excellent job of tilling and fertilizing the earth of any new site, and getting it ready for whatever crop we might put in that area after they move on.
Soon we'll contact the locker and make a processing date for these five, probably end of March. This is a good thing, because we are almost out of pork chops and bacon.