Mini Pig Fiasco of 2019… and Puer the Pig

Mini Pig Fiasco of 2019… and Puer the Pig

After the Great Pig Fiasco of 2018, I thought we were done with pig fiascos, but February arrived and so did the Mini Pig Fiasco of 2019.

When we sold off the pigs back in October, we were left with a pot belly pig, and male and female mini pig. The seller had told us both the pot belly and female mini pig were due to have piglets on Christmas. Well, Christmas came and went and no piglets. New Year’s came and went, no piglets. February arrived and no signs of piglets, so we assumed the seller lied and there would be no piglets. We also assumed that since there were no piglets or signs of piglets, that there would be no piglets, ever, as in someone was sterile.

Mini Pig Fiasco of 2019. new born piglets

Then came the cold rainy morning, when Vince found piglets. It was probably the coldest day all winter, it had been raining for days so the pig pen had standing water in areas, and the female mini pig gave birth to five piglets and walked away and left them. By the time vince found them only two were still alive.

This was the last straw, I already disliked the mini pigs because they were extremely anti-human. Mini pigs are meant to be pets and these hated humans, so they were useless as pets. Then she abandons her piglets to die, I was through with her.

We took the two piglets, warmed them up as best we could and began feeding them, every two hours…

Mini Pig Fiasco of 2019. black and white new born piglets

Mind you during this first week with the piglets, Isaac had his tonsils removed, so that was fun. Well, for him it actually was, he had fun playing with the piglets as he recovered.

I was worried the boy piglet wasn’t going to make it because he refused to eat, it was a huge battle to get him to eat, but then one day he started eating and never looked back. However, the girl piglet began to take a turn around a month old and she didn’t make it.

Thankfully the boy, who we called Puer (latin for boy), was thriving and playful.

Mini Pig Fiasco of 2019...Puer the Pig

The kids loved him, he ran around the kitchen and living room squealing and would chase sock feet.

But the question arose, what does one do with a mini pig?

Puer the mini Pig on blanket

As I said earlier, they are meant to be pets, but they are also pigs which means they root and tear things up. He would get big and eat a lot of food. Which means on a small farm, he would be a big waste of money. Yes, you can argue they love he brings would be worth it, but the reality is, the kids lost interest in him quickly and he got annoyed with them quickly, so I didn’t foresee years of love and affection between them.

Puer the mini pig and baby girl

So when he was weaned, we put him up for sale. I was still a little on the fence about it, I was worried he might not be bought as a pet. I didn’t want him as dinner, I wanted him to be happy and loved. The lady who ended up buying him, was the kindest lady, who had owned a mini pig in the past. Her daughter wanted another pig and she had told her once she was down with nursing school they would get one. So Puer was renamed Wilbur and went to home to make one little girl very happy.

And our kids? Vivienne didn’t mind one bit, and while Isaac was sad for a minute, he was happy Puer made someone else happy.

Elle

 

When All is Said and Done

When All is Said and Done

We are finally done with The Great Pig Fiasco.

We kept trying to make the best out of a bad situation, but in the end we had to step back and be done.

Nothing was as “advertised” and a complete disaster. The docile pigs who “cuddled” and “came to their names,” were so stressed out they were about as docile as an angry mama bear, and most certainly did not come to their names. On top of it some of them were in fact angry mama hogs because the seller sent moms to us while babies were still running loose at her house. She “never found” one sows piglets, so I am sad about their fate.

There was also conflicting information all around. Such as, They supposedly only got out because she was in the hospital and her helper let them out. But then she said one had been out for three weeks… two weeks before she was in the hospital.

I could go into more of the chaos but I am over it and don’t want to drag it back up. We learned our lesson and will not do business with her type again.

So when all was said and done, we sent three hogs to the butcher for us, kept the Potbelly (Jelly Belly) and the two micros (Lilibet and Philip,) and sold the rest.

Last Saturday was the Oxford Maker’s Market, while I was there, Vince and our buyer were at home loading up the pigs. The ease with which they loaded them up was a relief as well as a comment about the previous situation.

Since I was alone at the market, I took the time to get caught up on my Bible Study. I had gotten a couple weeks behind and apparently Someone … ahem God… had known I would need those lessons in that moment and not when they were originally scheduled. Funny how He knows just what we need and when.

When I got home, the dust had settled, and kids were asleep, Vince and I discussed the plans for the farm and what we wanted to do next.

This time we did what we should have done before the pig fiasco started, prayed … and we haven’t stopped since.

We aren’t giving up on the farm, but we are shifting our focus a little bit. We are going to step back from trying to force this into a business and focus on letting it bring joy and grow at its own pace. I’m not quite sure fully where we are headed, but this time God is guiding the way.

When All You Can Do Is Laugh

When All You Can Do Is Laugh

At the end of August we put a downpayment down on a ridiculous number of pigs (57 to be exact.) Several of them were pregnant and for some reason we thought this was a good idea. The plan was to pick them up at the end of September/beginning of October. Then we would try to sell off the ones we didn’t want to keep for breeding and separate the ones for meat.

Since we also decided to turn our rental house into an Airbnb, and have two kids, the pig pens were coming along slower than we hoped. But no worries, the Airbnb was finally up and running and we could spend the next week finishing everything up.

Then the baby gets sick, then I get sick, then Vince and Isaac get sick, we were struck down by a nasty stomach bug.

So here I am nursing the baby, who still doesn’t feel great, while Isaac and Vince try to get some rest after being up sick all night. Then the phone rings, Vince answers, Vince makes a confused face, “Well as I told the lady, I would pick them up at the end of September or the first week or October. We aren’t set up for them right this minute.”

Turns out the lady is in the hospital, the pigs keep getting loose, she told the sheriff’s department we had paid in full and they were ours, so we get a call from the sheriff’s department about “our” pigs getting loose and “destroying” neighbors property.

Vince gets himself up and dressed to go over there and try to figure something out, two of her neighbors help him, and in the end he comes home with three scared pigs, and a somewhat plan to get the last of the fencing done tonight and start bringing the rest of the pigs home tomorrow.

This is clearly some kind of test and all I can do is laugh and give it to God.

The best part is as I sit here and write this I glance over the tabs to see I have a Facebook notification, my mom commented on the photo of the pigs… She laughed… I mean what else to you do in this situation.

We will see how tomorrow goes, and for now I’ll be the crazy person in the corner laughing.

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Pigs, a Learning Experience.

Pigs, a Learning Experience.

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Normally when I start something new, I spend weeks to months researching about it before I jump in. I read numerous books, articles, blog posts, all the while taking meticulous notes. I still feel woefully unprepared, but it eases my mind a bit. I did this with gardening, canning, new babies, chickens, and goats… I did not do this with pigs.

With the pigs I read a few articles, while Vince “read” <a href="http://Storey’s Guide to Raising Pigs, 3rd Edition: Care, Facilities, Management, Breeds“>Storey’s Guide to Raising Pigs, by Kelly Klober. Turns out he didn’t finish it, and didn’t actually get to read nearly as much as I thought he had before I bought four pigs. This was my fault I really should have communicated with him better about the purchasing of the pigs. In case you were wondering the following was the extent of the pig purchasing conversation:

“I found five feeder pigs outside of Senatobia. One was a male so I told him just the four females, would this date or this one be better to pick them up?”

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Vince responded with a relatively calm look and picked the later date and we bought pigs.

I do have to say, I’m super proud of ourselves for how quickly we learned, I wish we could have learned a different way, but experience is the best teacher.

We had the pigs about five and a half months and in that time we tried: two different shelters, three different fencing methods, two feeding troughs before giving up altogether on troughs, and never found an easy watering solution.

Learn from us, don’t do what we did!

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We had a “plan” for whenever we got pigs, we were going to rotate them around the pasture using electric fencing, then life happened. When we went to pick up the pigs the fencing was up, but they had no shelter. Life had gotten in the way and the pick-up date snuck up on us. Well, we intended to pick them up early enough to fix the shelter once we got them home. Then the baby had napping issues and the pig wrangling took longer than planned, so by the time the shelter was ready and the pigs were in the pen it was dark and we were exhausted.

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Everything seemed to be going well and they happily lived in their pen for about 1-2 weeks and then we moved them to the next pen and fresh pasture. They remained there a whole TWO days before they escaped. They escaped later in the afternoon and we lured them back in with food and found out the fence was not charged and therefore not sending a shock. We worked long after dark to secure the fence using woven wire, then we went to bed. Both electric fencing and woven wire were recommended to hold pigs, but only if the fence actually shocks and the woven wire is EXTREMELY tight. When we woke up to the dogs barking frantically and pigs in the front yard we realized the woven wire was a no go. The rest of the day was spent purchasing hog panels, setting up a new pen, wrangling pigs, and lots of threats to kill the pigs right then. To add to the stress we had an ultrasound appointment that afternoon to find out gender and we barely made it.

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Turns out for us hog panel worked best for us. We first set up the panels with electric wire along the bottom, just in case, but they covered it in dirt pretty quickly, so we gave up on that. Using panels and T-posts we were able to create a strong enough enclosure that was also easy to remove once they moved to the next section. Once we figured that out it was much smoother sailing.

We also learned that in wet winters like this one, we have a flooding issue. The pigs didn’t seem to mind, they made mud and had a blast. We, on the other hand, did not enjoy the mud, nor do we enjoy the mud in the other areas that are now flooding, but that is a whole separate issue. We also had to worry about how to get them to the butcher with all the mud and soft ground. We were terrified that the truck and trailer would get stuck.

As our butcher appointment got closer we started trying to plan for moving the pigs in all the mud. Sunday we took a leap of faith and drove the trailer down and opened a new pen around the trailer. The pigs were fascinated with the trailer and even slept there that night. This was one thing we had learned in the little research we had done. Let them get used to the trailer before you try to drive them onto it, and it worked. Monday when it was time to go, they easily got into the trailer and were loaded up in about ten minutes. Thankfully the land was dry enough that we drove out of there with no trouble. After months of troubles and worry, the final move was easy and calm for everyone involved.

img_4091It is supposed to rain for the next week, but once it dries out enough we will start dismantling the pens and let the land rest for a while. We made a rule of no new animals (except chickens) until the beginning of May. That gives us time to work on other projects before baby arrives, and gives us a month to adjust to life with a new baby. This also give me time to better research pigs before we get anymore.

Pigs…

Pigs…

Something possessed us, mainly my love of bacon, to add pigs to the farm…

I’m going to take a moment to remember how much I love bacon.

It could be much worse, we have had them two weeks and they have only gotten out twice.

We had originally talked about getting Gloucester Old Spots. Vince found some breeders back in the spring, but the female was pregnant and I wasn’t sure I wanted to jump into that many pigs at once. So we put pigs on the back burner. By the time I felt well enough to function and discuss pigs, we had trouble finding Old Spot feeder pigs. Vince found some… thirteen hours away… that wasn’t going to happen.

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So I searched Craigslist. I found some Yorkshire/Duroc mixes only an hour away. So we bought 4, because I love bacon.

IMG_2584We got them home and in their pen, and I named them Prosciutto, Sausage, Bacon and Ham. Our plan was/kinda still is to rotate them around the pasture. We started them on a small section of what was the garden this year, within a week they tilled up the spot. So we moved them to the next section. After two days in this spot it was mostly tilled and two pigs broke free that afternoon. We got them back and ‘fixed’ the spot they broke free. We woke up the next morning to the dogs barking as the pigs explored around the house.

IMG_2688We spent the rest of that day fixing a new enclosure, chasing pigs, and seriously contemplating sending them to the butcher early. With the exception that we took a break to find out Baby #2’s gender, that day was all about those stupid pigs.

It turns out something was wrong with the electric fence, so instead of being electric it was just a simple flimsy net that they just walked straight through.

This time they are in an enclosure of hog panels and electric wire that gives a much more powerful shock… Vince and his dad both decided to test it. We were a bit worried it wouldn’t discourage them, but once Bacon decided to bite down on the electric wire, not once, but twice, they seem to stay away.

IMG_2476They have now been in this section four days, every night and every morning we pray they stay where they are.

Despite the craziness, pigs seem to make this feel so much more like a farm. You can’t have pigs in a backyard in the city!

Pray for us that they stay where they are supposed to be…