And then there were two.

Only two of our original five pigs are still on the farm.  They seem to be enjoying the fact that there is less competition at the feed troughs.  We’ll keep them a few more weeks at least.

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Our end of year review is fast approaching. That’s when Cherie and I take a day or two and carefully go over all aspects of the farm operation (as well as household management and finances) and make decisions for the next year. Last year we decided to raise 4 hogs this year, instead of our usual two.  We ended up raising five, but one was for friends of ours who live in an intentional community in town.  We only raised 4 to sell.

I’m considering increasing again, perhaps to ten and perhaps going to year-round production.

If we do that we still probably won’t get new piglets until spring.  As soon as the last two fatties are gone, I’ll open the gate and let the goats enjoy the forage that’s been stockpiling in that pasture for 8 months.

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12 comments on “And then there were two.

  1. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, it will be quite different without the pig antics around the homestead. They add such a joyous element to chores. Well, at least that was my experience anyway. Bucket fed calves were the same. All the animals were glad to see the person that fed them but pigs seems to be the most active about anticipating food. They are just little food machines and I was always fascinated by there trough manners (none) while eating. My hog raising days was symbiotic with milking 13 cows. The separated cream went to town to be sold and the 20 gallons of skim milk twice a day went to the hogs. I don’t remember the exact count but some where between 10 and 15 hogs would slurp up the milk in less than five minutes. All the while squealing, pushing, shoving, and trying their best to get as much as they could. A scoop or two of ear corn and then they would run the pasture in between the milking times. I suppose the sounds of firing up the milking machine was the signal for them to come back to the hog barn because they were always ready and waiting when the milk came. Back in the late 1960s that small herd of pigs paid for an entire year of college. Back then I attended a major in state college for $1500 a year. It included the college dorm living with all meals included. Books were maybe another $300 a year. I am totally shocked at how much the cost has risen in 45 years. Ah, the good old days. Well, they are old but not all were good. 🙂

    Have a great last of enjoying the pigs day.

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    • Bill says:

      It would be nice to have a lot of milk like that to feed the pigs. Ours have to make do on the feed we give them, along with surplus veggies from the garden (today that got a big bucket of sweet potatoes) and whatever they can forage in the pasture.

      I certainly understand the cost of higher education these days. Just a few years ago we were paying tuition to 4 different schools at the same time. It felt nice when that finally ended.

      Liked by 1 person

      • bobraxton says:

        We have one offspring. What we were paying (Ivy) 1989 to 1993 graduation is about one third of today’s list price for private university. Tripled from $80,000 for four year up to around quarter of a million dollars. Our offspring has two (currently ages seven and three).

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  2. valbjerke says:

    You’re fortunate to have enough land to pasture raise year round – but you will need to consider rotating the areas you raise that many pigs on. I loved the fact that our pigs could ‘work’ the soil for us – saving us some back breaking labor, but we also discovered there’s too much of a good thing. We’ve had to leave a few ‘areas’ fallow for a couple of years to recover.
    When you sit down with your wife to hammer out a plan for next year (my hubby and I do the same thing) be sure to put a value on you own labor input. We were so busy trying to accommodate the demand for our pork, we went to year round production – it took about three years to completely burn out. Mind you we had our own boar and four sows, and we both work off farm – still – there’s something to be said for giving yourselves a break over the winter months. These days we’re happy to see the pigs off to the slaughterhouse in the fall and not have to think about it until spring. 🙂

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    • Bill says:

      Excellent points. Ours are particularly rough on the pasture this time of year when they’re bigger and when there isn’t as much good stuff to graze. And I do appreciate the break when they’re all gone. I’m definitely inclined to stick to the way we’re doing it now, but maybe with a few more pigs.

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  3. They seem smaller somehow without the bulk of the others to back them up. Are these the ones being fattened up for sausage? Year round – yes, I keep toying with that, but for me it will mean keeping them indoors for a good part of the year, and that’s a level of work I’m not sure I’m equipped for, hence still just a thought. I look forward to seeing the outcome after the review.

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    • valbjerke says:

      We kept ours indoors in the winter – with access to the outdoors if they were big enough to tolerate the cold. I will say though – they probably took ten years off the life of the barn. Bored confined pigs are busy destructive pigs 🙂 On the good side – the barn stayed warmer for the layers, on the not so good side you have to stay on top of the manure shoveling to keep the humidity down – not to mention the lovely smell of ammonia from the mess.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Bill says:

      Yep, they’re going to stay until they’re 400+. They’re real fat now, it just doesn’t show in the pictures. I tried to tape one this afternoon (which she usually doesn’t mind) but she didn’t want to cooperate today. My guess is that they’re about 325-350 now.

      Our winters are a lot milder than y’all’s, so our pigs would manage fine without needing to come to the barn. They have a run in shed that would keep them dry. Still, Val made some good points and it seems better to give the land (and us) a break from pigs over the winter. Plus that paddock becomes good winter foraging for the goats.

      On Just Another Day on the Farm she recently posted that spring piglets there cost $150-200. We paid $60 for ours (up from $40 last year). If our prices go as high as what she has to pay, then we may have to rethink how we do it.

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  4. bobraxton says:

    good plan(s)

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  5. avwalters says:

    Those are spoiled pigs.

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