Grit Blogs > The Vermont Homesteader

Raising Pigs: New Additions to the Farm

A photo of Melissa Brooks SenesacBig goings-on around the farm lately. A couple weekends ago we started working on our pig shelter so we could get started on our pork production. We wanted to get them before Spring while the prices were still low on feeder pigs. But we didn’t really want to keep them in the barn with the chickens and goats for various reasons, so we thought they’d better have their own little place to call home.

We decided to build a floor for the shelter to try to help keep the pigs cleaner and dryer – in hopes that it would keep them warmer for the rest of this winter. We spent some money at the lumber mill on some pressure-treated 2-by-4s for the decking frame. (I know, probably overkill, but we figure if it holds up until after the pigs are gone we might convert it to a buck house when we have some boy goats on the farm.) But other than that the structure would be a basic pine and plywood job with some salvaged metal roofing to top it off.

It went up pretty quick, although we did run into a few problems here and there because we didn’t draw up any plans, so it was kind of piece it together as we go. But our speed-square always came to our rescue. Over the course of a couple weeks we were able to get the walls all built and covered, but we’ve yet to start putting on the roofing. Because the truck has died we haven’t been able to get the rest of the materials we need – mainly a couple more sheets of plywood that don’t exactly fit in the Scion. So we’ve been put on hold.

But today I think we might try to put the roofing on without the plywood to go beneath it – it’s probably overkill anyway. We’re going to try to move the structure to be within one of our fenced in pastures. It’s going to be a pain since we’ll have to take the walls off (thank goodness for screws), but I’m feeling more motivated now. “Why?” you ask. Well, my dear friend, because we’ve got some little bacon bits that need a home. Thats right, folks, we’ve got some piggies in the barn.

Yesterday, we decided to go for it. After finding out that half of the people selling $40 pigs were sold out, we figured we’d best get our butts in gear before we found ourselves paying more than double that. We made a trip to Fairfield where an old-time farmer had something like 50 feeder pigs for sale. Now, remember I told you that the truck has been broken down? Well, I almost hate to admit it, but we strung a tarp up within the car and layed down some straw – yep, they were going to ride home in the back of the Scion.

Let me introduce you to the gang.

Feeder pigs, Brick Top and Boris

First off is Brick Top (seen here on the left of the picture), he’s the biggest of the group and seems to be really taking charge. He’s got some nice coloring with a band of white between his red coat, and a couple little black spots on his rear end. Next to him, the little black-spotted guy in the center, is Boris the Butcher.

Feeder pig, Freddy Four Fingers

Next up we’ve got Freddy Four Fingers, all red and the loudest screamer of the bunch. He’s also the smallest and sort of the low man on the totem pole so far.

Feeder pigs all in a pile

Last but not least, check out the gray and black spotted guy on the top of the heap here in the barn. This, my friends, is Gorgeous George. Yep, this is how we found all these tough guys this morning, all cuddled together in a nice big nest they built.

Needless to say, the goats weren’t thrilled last night when these boys arrived. So we felt compelled to block off half the barn to keep them separated, but everyone seemed alright this morning. We hope by the end of the day we’ll be able to move the boys out of the girls’ house so we can all live in peace again.

So, what do you think? I feel a little crazy myself. I honestly never thought I’d own pigs … they’re not my favorite farm animal – but I do love bacon. Speaking of which, I think I need to get myself some breakfast.

melissa_1
2/18/2010 6:25:32 AM

Oh man! Yes, these guys have ALOT of personality, I'm already enjoying them more than I thought I would. Just trying to keep in mind that they're only going to be here until Fall... @Hank yeah we got lucky in that they were already castrated, whew! and we discovered their love of playing in hay the morning after they arrived...all the straw that was on the ground had been rearranged to make one really big nest. Too funny. @Sherry- thanks for the tip, I actually had tried to feed them some things by hand, but you make a great point, no more of that. I LIKE my fingers. :)


sherry 'woodswoman'
2/17/2010 9:12:10 PM

Yes, Melissa ~ they may not be your favorite farm animal right now, but you just wait. Like Hank said...you can get very attached. We have been raising pigs for several years now. I love raising pigs ~ just tonight I saved some baked potatoes with butter and sour cream for our resident gilt. You'll be shocked at what a clean animal they are...and like Hank said, they will love a pile of hay. You will come into the barn and they will be buried and toasy. Just remember, don't ever feed them by hand. (You don't want them confusing fingers with french fries.) But always give a scratch behind the ear or a nice rub down. Enjoy ~ you are in for a wonderful venture. Sherry http://russ-stickacres.blogspot.com/


hank will_2
2/17/2010 5:03:00 PM

Nice work, Melissa. I love hogs and I love the color variation you wound up with. Take care not to get too attached, they are pretty cool animals. Once the pecking order is sorted, they will play nicely ... you may want to castrate soon if they haven't already been castrated ... better flavor and better behaviour. And give them a pile of hay -- they will have a grand time playing in it and they will sleep in it. My pigs live outdoors (they have small huts) but i put some large round bales out for them and they pretty much make sleeping caves out of them after pulling them apart and eating what they want. Most of all, have fun and enjoy every aspect of their precious gift.