Sunday, June 20, 2010

Piglet Cam: We're Eating What Momma's Eating!

Our Large Black Hog piglets at 3 weeks old! They have decided that whatever their Momma is eating, so are they. Prudence is such a good momma, she tolerates their sitting in the feed bowl, etc. Some even try to nurse while she's in the process of eating for eight.

See how the piglets grow:

Monday, June 14, 2010

Micro Oinkers

Rub their silky round bellies when they are fast asleep, and the piglets oink oink oink, stretching their little legs out front and back, lengthening like silver slinkies, luxuriating, without ever waking up. Very funny.

Piles of Piglets

First thing in the morning, when the sun is just starting to warm up things after our cool high-desert evening, I find piles of plump jet black piglets, lounging against the barn, basking in the rays.

The micro oinkers are 15 days old today.

I sit for a while and soak up a few rays myself, pleased to be in such excellent porcine company.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Piglet Cam: Large Black Hog Piglets at 10 Days Old

Eat and Play.  Eat and Play.  Sleep.  Eat and Play.  Nap.  Repeat.

Such is the life of a piglet.

Registered Large Black Hog Association breeding stock available and Heritage Pork Community Supported Agriculture Shares available. Details here.

See how the piglets grow:

Learning is Remembering: Fine Grass Fed Pork

Learning is Remembering — Plato

There's a lot to be learned about raising grass-fed pork from some of these old farming books.   Our Large Black Hogs have free access to all the fresh, high grade, alfalfa hay they want.

Alfalfa farming in America, Joseph Elwyn Wing, Sanders Publishing Company, Chicago, copyright 1912.

The Hog a Grazing Animal—The truth is the hog is by nature a grazing animal. While not a ruminant like the cow and sheep yet it has capacity to take care of a good deal of coarse herbage and is better for having it. There must be a certain amount of bulk in its food to distend the stomach and intestines in order to keep the animal in health.

Fine Alfalfa Pork—This matter is so essential that I here present part of a paper read by one of the Government inspectors before the Kansas State Breeders' meeting at the Kansas agricultural college:

As these alfalfa hogs came down the alley to the scales, they were certainly hogs for the packer, raised at a profit—thrifty and ready to yield good-grade pork, for a good price was realized. You could notice that they were well up on their expanded feet; their height, length, and bones all rounded out with even fat, covered with a glossy, glistening, heavy coat of hair, and keen eyes alert. Their backs were straight, broad and well curved into long, deep sides that had plump, pointed even-shaped hams at one end and arched shoulders at the other.

Their bodies were solid and the meat was of that marbled appearance of lean and fat, for the fat of an alfalfa hog is whiter, and here is where we get the two strips of lean in the bacon—rustling for a living makes muscle.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Girl Next Door is the Future of Food

I've been contemplating whether I can help make the world a slightly better place with a herd of Large Black Hogs.  Maybe so...
 RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Women farmers are key in solving world hunger, according to ActionAid, a nonprofit group that fights the causes of poverty around the world.

And while the concept of women in farming is super-hot right now (the Gap even started selling farm dresses and women's overalls this spring), the revolution that's taking place across the country—the feminine approach to farming—might be enough to save the future of food, according to Temra Costa, author of the new book, Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat (Gibbs Smith, 2010).

Read the whole article here.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

In the Paddock Right Next Door

Our Large Black Hog Boar Tater is not happy with this adjoining paddocks business while Prudence tends to the little ones.  But he was really beginning to annoy her those last few days, wanting to romp and play as she was becoming increasingly serious and heavy with piglets, and she needed some space.

And he's not as isolated as he looks here in the photo.  He can talk to Prudence and piglets right through the fence.  If only I could explain to him that adjoining paddocks is a very very short term arrangement.

Today, one of the piglets ventured out of the farrowing house, and big daddy and little piglet had a very lively conversation, a snout to snout symphony of boar snorting and piglet squeaking.  Tater is beside himself with big boar excitement at all of the sounds coming out of the farrowing house.  And he nearly swoons with joy when Dear Prudence ambles out to say hello when the piglets are fast asleep in their bed of deep straw.  We'll recombine everyone when the piglets are a little larger.  Unfortunately for Tater, as we're just starting out building our herd, I don't have any other pigs to keep him company in the same paddock during this brief twin bed paddock period ...

Meanwhile, we have to deal with poor Mr. Dejected as he stands at the fence line, snorting his soiltary song way out loud.  Our boar is always quite friendly, but now he follows me like a dog, nearly velcroed at my heels everywhere I go, rumbling his discontent, because he is in need of some company, and I'm making a point to be extra kind to him, as all of this is quite a change in his routine.  He's had lots of brushing, back scratching, and belly rubs.  The neighbors brought him a bag of vegetables the other day in an attempt to cheer him up.

Boars are, after all, quite emotional creatures.

Piglet Tails All in a Row

Silk Purses and Sow's Ears