Here Piggy

piggies

Sure enough after talking about something the universe decides to kick it up in high-gear. During lunch while working on getting the garden ready for the raised beds I noticed some foraged earth in the chicken area (much more then they could do). After closer inspection I could see that the pigs had gotten under the fence between them and the chickens. I threw the logs back on the fence line and went on with my work. Just as I was getting one corner of the garden clean up finished I hear a noise and turned around…

Pigs exploring the chicken area
Pigs exploring the chicken area

they simply bypassed the fence and log, and went on to explore and eat some more

pigs exploring some more
pigs exploring some more

I was easily able to get them back over to their side after getting some cracked corn and yelling “I smell bacon” while lifting the fence. The came running from under the coup to under the fence and started going to town on the corn. With the pigs back where they belonged I went and grabbed the stapler, then went around stapling the fence to the logs to hopefully keep the pigs from going under.

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luckily no issues with the pigs and the chickens.

I really hope that this has been happening for a few days and that we simply hadn’t noticed. Because it would explain why they haven’t torn-up the in ground veggie garden area as well as we had hoped.

Hopefully that’s the only animal drama for the day. till later, Cheers.

Its been a while since we talked about the little porkers, which have been renamed Jerry (because he not nice like our neighbor Jerry) and Ben (because it matches and he really is sweet, always runs over to get pet)  . I am still in the process of finishing up their pen setup,  partly because it isn’t in its final spot yet and I need to process more timber.

First you must enter via the wood door made from scraps from their pen housing

gateway to the world of pork
gateway to the world of pork
We had bought a corner sink for the basement bathroom, got home and realized we needed the old faucet hardware, which was $100+ from the net/big box stores. So we use it to feed the pigs table scraps. We just holler “I smell bacon” and they come running.

The still unfinished pen's backside
The still unfinished pen’s backside
As you can see we ran out of the  shingles we bought from our local habitat for humanity and I had to use some that have been kicked around the chicken coup and shop since we moved in (from previous owners).  To date (other then the roof plastic, shingles and screws) all the lumber for the pen is from trees cut down behind the shop and processed with the Alaskan chain saw mill.

inside view of the pig pen
inside view of the pig pen
As you can see, I still need to finish processing lumber for the one side, and then put the finishing touches on. Pigs seem pretty happy, keeps the wind and rain off of them. I was in the process of putting in more straw for their bedding, as well as feeding them when I took this picture. They really are a playful bunch, loved knocking around the empty 5 gallon pale I kept their food in

pigs lovin the simplest of things
pigs lovin the simplest of things
Lastly their 2nd main purpose of life on our mini/micro farm. To root out all the grass, weeds and bugs from our in-ground garden area. They haven’t been that good at it, but they are rooting around eating up all the nasty’s that are bad for our garden. An added bonus is they poop like crazy, so they are fertilizing as they go. Once we are ready, I will till the whole area.

The pigs are grubbin
The pigs are grubbing
You may have noticed that we have electrified the base of the exterior fencing, areas we don’t when them to burrow under. So far it has been working and they are aware of the shock they get if they don’t mind the fence.

Well that’s it for now. Till later, Cheers.

piggies

We are pleased to introduce you to “Bacon’ator” and “Porky’Pickins” Ben and Jerry (left to right)… We did have a 3rd little piggy; but we made an amateur pig raising mistake and did not provide secure fencing in one section and lost one to our naturally inclined hunt/kill dog Harley. So we are down to two…

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How we acquired the pigs:  plus their pedigree

I did some Craig’s’listing and found a local’ish guy (40min drive) selling off his pigs (females and cut males) for what seem to be the area norm ($50-60 a pig) we talked a bit and I learned what feed he uses  (which he was kind enough to give me a barrel of) also a little more about them and why he was selling them. He was raising the to butcher and to sell what they didn’t need. The main reason that he is no longer raising pigs due to health reasons .  Their feed was a 5 grain mix with sweet feed (none pellet, very “rough” stuff) that he buys in bulk and uses the same feed for his beef cattle. I also asked about their parents/pedigree which is Landrace and Hampshire, their mix I was told will reach about 300pounds at 6 months and max out around 800pounds.

The Plan: why and what to do with them

We I wanted pigs for a while now, so while on NY Christmas trip I vocally committed us to actually doing so by sharing with friends and family to expect a pig roast sometime in the summer… X-mas passed, New years passed and then I realized in order to make the August deadline with a hog large enough for 15+ people I would need to get them soon, so I craigs’listed and surprised Jamie with 3 little piggy’s one Friday afternoon…

The plan for 3 pigs was for a reason, 1 to roast, 1 to butcher for the non-existent freezer and the last to sell to cover costs of the pigs and feed… However due to lack of readiness the pigs got out into the backyard, which is our dog territory. This means my animal hunter/killer got to them “Harley” whom has a history of getting/trying to get animals on our hikes, deer, turkeys, birds and porcupines (which he got a mouthful of quills from that I had to pick out of his tongue and upper mouth by hand because he was to in shock from the pain to walk,  we where over a mile from the nearest road and 2 from the house) . One of the pigs got killed, one injured and saved, the other untouched.

The Work: Building a fence and hut

I used the Alaskan chain-saw mill and a circular saw rig to make the timber used for the pig pen hutch which is 8ft long, 5ft deep 5ft high front to 4ft slanted roof enclosure. I made 12 2x4s at 9ft long, and to date 14 9ft long 1/2 thick boards for the exterior of the pig pen frame and roof. We went to a local habitat for humanity re-sale store for roofing shingles ($6 a pack, though vent cap shingles) and some drainage ditch piping ($6 for 12ft with connectors). We grabbed 50ft x 3ft high welded fence from Lowes for about $30. Then after the pigs got out, we used the excess goat electric fencing and posts to run a low-line around the pig pen interior (about 1ft off the ground) and we where able to tie into the existing eclectic fence.

We still are not yet done with the pig pen. I need about another 3 boards for the roof and 3 for the front and 4-6 for the one side… but I am waiting on a new tool to complete the timber for that (much quicker then 10mins a board, less gas and less waste)

To date I have spent about 10hrs building the enclosure for the pigs, between planning, milling, and building. Most of this time was spent milling the lumber. For the feed dishes since we have young pigs we are able to use basic food dishes from tractor supply for water and galvanized for feed. I did get an auto-watering unit, but haven’t hooked it up as we have had 10-20degree nights since getting the pigs. I will hook that up once the weather gets better and I finish up the brew room (That’s another story).

Feeding: what we do

As mentioned above, we got lucky and received a free barrel of feed from the guy that sold me the pigs (though I did “pay” for it by having  a 55 gallon drum of food covered in mud and pig smell in my front seat of the jeep while having 3 pigs stinking up the trunk), so it cost us about 2 weeks of stink. haha. I had before going out to get the pigs bought two bags of hog/pig feed from tractor supply, we also had a bag of really unused whole corn for the goats sitting around.

Do not use these dishes for water, they rust with-in a month
Feed dishes – $4.80: going to build a trough soon
water dish
watering dishes, 3 gal $9

On day one I just gave a scoop of the new pig food which went untouched. I then started feeding them from the barrel of food (they ate that of course). Once there was enough free room in the barrel I added in one bag of the pig feed I had bought, after more time I added a bag of whole corn and mixed of course. So they are now getting a 1/3 mix of pre-us food, corn and bag pig feed. The goal is to mix out their normal feed with the mix we can sustain and buy.

Volume/Frequency of feeding was a topic I search for and searched for and the best I got was “whatever they want volume wise, but at least 2x a day”. So we do a scoop of pig feed for each one, 3x a day. We use a plastic 3quart feed scoop from tractor supply

scoops
3 quart, $3

MISC Feeding: Who doesn’t have food scraps

So on-top of the normal pig feed mix, we have extras we like to give. We found that after researching with the almighty giving google the general rule of pig feeding is: no meat by-products (oils included), and no large amount’s of raw potato’s; Otherwise you are free to “do it up.” We keep a fancy’ish bucket by the kitchen door for scraps to bring down whenever we go down to feed them.

basket
scrap feed basket

So our neighbor Jerry Thompson has been shooting guns out of his house at 5:30am (sometimes earlier) when he gets angry as “warning shots,”  we decided we should invest in some more cameras to monitor our property incase he gets more irate.  Being of tight budget I have had to find a balance of cost to quality ratio and then do some good deal searching…  the main camera we are adding to the system will be to monitor the backyard. We have also be adding several other cameras around the property.

Tons of work to do still. On part of which is that I am tweaking our current camera/alert system ( BlueIris)  I am testing changes and features out now with our current cameras.  We may change it out for iSpy depending on what features actually work and function well (face/person tracking).

Let me tell you about a story of 3 little pigs. Correction we are down to 2 little pigs. Harley read the original Three Little Pug story

  

We don’t really know their birthday but they were 35lb when we got them so I’m guessing DOB 11/01/2015 ish Landrace/Hampshire crosses. One is going to butchers for chops bacon sausage ect. The other is going to butcher for a pig roast on our sons 2nd birthday weekend. I don’t really think we need a whole pig for that so maybe we’ll tweak the plans before then.

Harley is now in a 8ft tall 132 324 square foot cage inside an electric fence inside a chain link fence. And the pigs now know that Harley’s barking and wagging tail is not because he was wanting to play with them. Pigs are very smart and love to play. They play with a soccer ball with me and our son. I want to raise happy pigs. I don’t know if happy pigs taste better but I like all of my animals to be happy. It’s the hippie in me 🙂