In desiring to become food sustainable on the land, we decided to join other families in starting hog production. In a local ad paper, someone found what were called Duroc pigs, and after some research into them, we all decided they would be good for us. Initially all of the families’ starting pigs were placed together in the Bunkers’ pens; but eventually we separated them out, and this picture to the left is the pig with which we ended up. She was big as a hippo when we got her, and so we named her after a famous one of the past: Henrietta (think “New Zoo Review”).
Before moving her to our land, we built her a farrowing pen and shed so that she would have a place to give birth. Here are some pictures before moving her in:
Here is the watering trough, made from mortar around rocks. I put rebar across it to keep the pigs from laying in it but ended up cutting a couple off because they interfered with them getting to the water, and the pigs have since dislodged one. Also, the trough is in the direct sunlight, and the water gets algae very easily during Spring and Summer. So, if I had to do over again, I’d add a rock/mortar divider in the middle to split the trough into two sections, to act as a better barrier in keeping them from laying in it, and to be able to have one side functioning while I let the other dry out so that it can be cleaned. I would also build the rebar lower into the rock/mortar walls for added holding strength, and I am planning on putting some sort of sun canopy over it to try to help with the algae (so as to not use chemicals):
This is the inside of the shed. The railings inside are there to give the new mother support as she lays down after giving birth, and it allows for the piglets to have a place to move out of the way so as not to be laid on by the sow (which apparently happens quite often). I also made it so the railings are removable so that once they are no longer needed the pigs can have use of the full shed:
Well, Henrietta was indeed pregnant when we moved her, and the Lord graciously granted us piglets! 9 were originally born, 4 dead and 5 alive (3 male and 2 female):
Over the first couple of weeks, within about a week of each other, the two females died of unknown reasons; and we were left with 3 males and no way to reproduce. So, we made a deal with the Bunkers that they could have one of our males (which usually grow bigger than the females thus giving more meat) in exchange for one of their females, allowing us to hopefully perpetuate our hogs.
When the piglets were at the age to be weened, we took Henrietta in to be processed by the butcher. When we got her back in packages, Sue spent a good deal of time learning to properly can the different parts of a pig (from bacon to pork steaks to ground pork), and we were able to can her in entirety (except for what we were eating during the canning process). Here is a picture of the result of Sue’s excellent job, and we are still benefiting from God’s provisions of this pork:
Sue also learned how to render and can the lard. Lard, we have learned, is very useful in many ways, including replacing butter (even for cooking popcorn!) and fueling “fat lamps” (which are similar to oil lamps):
Out of the 3 piglets, one has been processed, one is planned to be be processed soon, and we pray the traded for female is pregnant. Here is a current (Spring 2008) picture of our male and female:
We hope to eventually learn to do our own processing too, and to learn ways to store the meat without canning.
We are again thankful to the Lord’s providence for granting us the successful raising of the pigs.
Now we have that certain something that goes great with apple sauce! 🙂