RISING SUN - Have you ever heard the term ‘Chicken Math?’ It is kind of the excuse one uses when your collection of chickens gets a little, shall we say, out of hand. What was supposed to be five chickens is suddenly 25, but really. actually it’s more like 75–and so on and so forth.
Well, I’m here to tell you that kind of bad barnyard arithmetic is apparently contagious. I know this because I am sitting here in the Crawford County Independent office awaiting a text message from my beloved Chasca whom will, at some point, discover another new unauthorized piglet. Pig Math is a little different than Chicken Math, being that they’re a tad bigger, and tend to not be free. But, what can you do, the heart wants what it wants. And today, my heart wanted this adorable little Meishan crossed with a Kune Kune piglet, who Thatcher has named ‘Bumble Bee Prime.’
In the last couple of weeks, we’ve brought home four new pigs, prior to wee little Bumble Bee Prime. And, we moved the slaughter date from one of our original pigs up to November because of his extreme weight gain. ‘Mega Pig,’ ‘Big Hoss’ or ‘That really fat one’ as he is sometimes known.
Mega Pig as grown by leaps and bounds compared to his sibling pigs. Watching him sit in the pig yard and contemplate life, I am often reminded of Napoleon, the pig who assumes leadership in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. This is usually right before he gets up and lumbers over to bash his fellow hogs out of the way for the prime scraps. This action inevitably causes a cacophony of distressed squeals and grunts.
Our other new additions include ‘Buttercup,’ the Hereford boar, and ‘The Boys.’ The two castrated barrows meant to keep him company. They’re far more amusing then the larger pigs are now. They’re small, young and scrappy, they tussle and fight just like Waylon and Thatcher do, before curling up in a piggy pile in their hay nest.
I had pondered adding my little Kune Kune piglet, named ‘Nibbler,’ in with these wild boys, but quickly realized it wasn’t a great idea.
Herefords are long, lean and muscular. Even at eight weeks they’re strong and healthy looking pigs. Kune Kunes, if you’ve never seen them, they’re rolly-poly sausage-link-looking pigs. They’re originally from New Zealand and prized for their docile friendly nature and small size. They apparently have excellent meat quality as well.
Luckily for Nibbler, her future is in farrowing. We hope to have our own little litters of Kune Kunes waddling around the farm. These pigs are part of the long game of farming, as they take a lot longer than a regular ole pig to mature and be ready to breed and farrow. Which is fine with me, I figure if I have to be feeding them for awhile they might as well be friendly and cute.
Pigs are very social animals and often remind me of dogs. It is no wonder that there is such a phenomenon of the pet house pig right now. I can’t lie, bringing little old Nibbler into the house crossed my mind. She was, after all the first pig I’ve ever had that let me actually hold her and snuggle her lovingly. However, I also have Bopper. Who already terrorizes our elderly cat, and two puppies. I didn’t want to give my poor fat baby pig a heart attack from toddler abuse.
The rest of our pigs are short for this world however. One big benefit for the small homesteader is that most pigs are rather rapidly growing. All of our cross pigs, aside from the aforementioned Big Hoss, are growing along nicely. Their bodies are long, and their hams are looking shapely. They’re growing well on an organic diet, supplemented by a lot of apples and grass clippings and plenty of fresh water.So for now, it is all fun and games and buying up piglets. I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune in November, February and May as we have to convince all our little piggies to head off to market, via a trailer. But it will all be worth it, when I’m enjoying a dinner that I can say I tended to and loved for the duration of its life. That is really probably the part of farming that I enjoy the most I must say. Giving my critters the ability to live a wonderful life. They deserve the best, really, for what the give us in return.