Whew, that was a close one! We were planning to pick up our 12 organic Berkshire piglets tomorrow. However I received a very sad phone call earlier this week, our producer had some very large losses in the snow and cold and he very regretfully informed us –No piglets! I fired up the emails and phone calls, only to find no spare piglets, or not the breeds I need, or litters not even farrowed yet. I really can not run into December; I am not set up for caring for animals in the cold. Frozen water tanks, snow shorting out the portable electric fencing; not to mention that cold pigs are hungry pigs, they will burn calories to stay warm rather than gain muscle! No thank you. I found a commercial pig operation who could get me all the pigs I wanted, but not a heritage breed. His piglets have been bred to do well in confinement, gain fast and efficiently on grain (and they are white -ouch can you say sunburn!).
You might be thinking, a pig’s a pig, what’s the big deal? Would you buy a cocker spaniel to herd sheep, or a chihuahua to track a cold trail? The heritage breeds of hogs are better adapted to rooting, grazing for a living. The Berkshires are mostly black and won’t have a problem with being outside all day, as long as they have some mud to wallow in. They are adapted to the pastured lifestyle. I was prepared to do no pigs if I could not find the right pigs. In the spirit of being open and receptive to ‘one door closing…’ we started to explore the idea of lambs, baby beefers, milk goats. What else could we do with 15 acres of pasture, livestock water tank, portable electric fence and 5 months?
An email led me to the American Berkshire Association and a farm in Plateville -Porkchop Ridge. A fun name for some serious pigs! Yes he had Berkshire feeder piglets, they will be ready in 14 days! No they are not organic, they have received vaccinations and they have been on commercial feed. I am not (yet) an organic farm, and I can be flexible and do the best job possible with what I have. These little(ish) guys will be on grass, in the clean air, They will receive non genetically modified feed for the next 4 months of their lives. They will have names: so far the girls have decided on Porkchop and Bacon; last I heard they were discussing ButtRoast (would that be Butt for short?)
I am feeling so comfortable and satisfied with our family’s decision to make the switch to one parent working outside the home (farm). Things just continue to flow and work themselves out. I am not a Christian, but I have to say there is a Force at work in our lives right now. When you stop to really listen to what that little voice is telling you; suddenly it becomes a shout so loud it just fills your soul and leaves no doubt that you are on the way to something really important.
I promise, no more metaphysical stuff. Next post: feed decisions (also known as putting your $$ where your mouth is)