Monday, October 1, 2012

Raising The Pigs

We raised our own pig (for meat) for the first time this year.  We started from scratch back in April building a pen with help from friends and family, plus getting everything else we would need.  In return for their help we also raised pigs for them and two other friends.  So we ended up raising five pigs our first year!  Talk about jumping in head first to the unknown.
Our pig the day we got her
I had no idea what we were getting into other then that "pigs stink" or so I remembered from being a kid when my aunt raised one.  I knew I would have to help with the feeding and interact with the pigs as Thad works during the week and I was not looking forward to it at all.  I will admit that being short did make the thought of a 200 lb. pig very intimidating.  I was worried that no matter how hard I tried not to I would find myself attached to them only to have the time come to get rid of them.  I also worried how our kids (3-6yrs) would handle the situation as the rest of our animals are "pets".  We let them know from the beginning that we would be raising them for food or "bacon" and that they pigs were not "pets" to keep.  We didn't name any of the pigs other then calling them "Our" pig or so and so's pig to help prevent any attachment to them.  
The pigs really weren't that hard to raise.  The guys must have built a great pen for them as the pigs didn't escape once not even when they were tall enough to climb up on the fence and try to come over their feeder when I fed them.  Although half way through we did have to make changes to the feeder as they would not stay out of it making it almost impossible to get feed in it.  I would feed them in the mornings when I did the other animal chores and Thad would feed them at night.  He would always give them extra attention and play with them.
We did have one pig that wouldn't eat for a few days.  It was in the hottest part of the summer and this summer was hotter then normal for here.  After an online search and questioning friends who had pigs we ended up giving the pig Gatorade and feeding it separately for a few days.  It was soon back to normal but was the smallest pig at butcher time and I believe it had to do with not eating those days. 
When the day came to butcher the pigs the kids and I went to Grandmas house so we wouldn't have to witness the end.  I know its all part of raising animals for food but I was not about to subject the kids to this part of it.  The kids did know what was happening that day with out seeing all the gory details.  That and I did not want to be here for it myself either.  I think it was the best decision as the first thing our daughter said when we got home that day was can we have "bacon" yet and not really caring that we no longer had the pigs.
I think our first year was pretty successful considering "Our Pig" (the biggest for the beginning) ended up being 200lbs!  Since we already have everything set up we will most likely do it again next year.  Oh and as for the smell I remembered as a kid was so dreading it really wasn't that bad.  Maybe it was that the pen was not right next to the house or that having the other animals first has made my sense of smell less sensitive?  
Our pig a week before the end.  Some how they never appeared as big as they really were in pictures.
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