This is David & Susan Sifford's journal of what we pray is our sojourn of life (Hebrews 11:8-10) along the narrow way (Matt 7:14), even the old paths (Jeremiah 6:16), submitting to the Bible as a light unto both (Psalms 119:105). It is our prayer that these documented moments in our earthly time benefit whom God might choose to edify, but ultimately that God glorifies Himself through them.

Category: hogs (Page 1 of 4)

New Pig Pen Fencing – Update I

One thing out here is things seem to go much more slowly than anticipated. 🙂 God’s providence as first cause — His bringing about all things according to His will and plans — but, by means of other priorities becoming more important, other things to fix, etc.

Well, back in 2016, I started replacing our old pig fencing in the main pig pen with new cinder block/cattle panel fence sections I started making as part of an extension to the original pig pen back in 2014.

Last year, I started getting back to working on this main pig fence area, and recently finally finished all the panel sections and got them in place! Yea! 😀

In the 2016 blog post above, I show in the video the first few sections being done. And here is a picture from 2017 of the whole one side being done:

New Pig Pen Siding, Side 1 Complete

And here are some more ready to haul over using our goat shack caddy:

2 New Pig Pen Cinder Block Cattle Panel Sections Ready for Hauling

Once there, I opened the previous fence line:

Opened Pig Pen Side

And started dragging them in, sliding one end at a time back and forth:

Sliding Section

More Sliding Section

And stood and scooted them into place:

Siding Section in Place

It’s like a parade! 😉

Sliding More Sections

And here’s that whole back side done:

Pig Pen Side Two Done

Pig Pen Side Two Done, Other Direction

Then, it was off to the short sides. After cleaning out the previous fencing and t-posts, I slid the panels in place, and here’s the first short side done. What’s nice about these cinder block cattle panel sections is you can curve them around, which helps when trying to join with another fence line where there is no corner post:

Pig Pen Short Side Done

Pig Pen Short Side Done, Other Direction

This is the last side before cleaning out the previous fencing…lots of previous hacking at it to try to keep it acting as a fence: 🙂

Old Dilapidated Fencing

More Old Dilapidated Fencing

And here’s that last side, finally done!

Final Pig Pen Siding Done

More Final Pig Pen Siding Done

I just have to wire them all together now, and then Lord willing we’ll perhaps test it all out with a new piggy or two! 😀

Always we are thankful to the Lord for His provisions, and safety in working with these things — even though one person can move them, they’re still pretty heavy, and I have strained my back before, but God mercifully granted that I not this time, and I am thankful!

— David

Bye to Penelope, Hello to Ham

For many, many years we have been breeding pigs, keeping an offspring to perpetuate for the next round, and then selling the rest.

Well, the Lord in His wisdom decided the line would come to an end. The last one we kept was Penelope from back in 2013. In 2014, we bought a pig we named Odysseus, and put them together. Sadly, this produced no offspring.

So we tried again with a young one from the neighbors, but he got out and ran back to their pig pen. And so we tried again, and this one ended up being one we named Ardy in 2016.

By around mid-2017, I decided that he either had done the job or hadn’t, and so we took him in to the processor.

Well, after 4 months, there was nothing. I debated about what to do, with such a nice line, and being somewhat sentimental to all of the years and generations. But eventually figured it was time to call it “end of the line.”

However, that wasn’t the quite the end. The processor was busy, so we needed to make an appointment in the future.

And we tried to get her loaded, and she would just not go in, even with the cattle trailer backed up to an opening in the paneled fences right at her normal feeding area. She had lost her appetite because of the heat I figure, so she wasn’t very motivated. And so we had to cancel the processor reservation a couple of times.

Well, we tried one more time, with the trailer parked there for 5-6 days before, and the day before really worked it, even by building a temporary fence around the loading area. It was rough at points, where she tried to lift up the panel and get away (she was a big girl and not pleased at all!), and then I had to put in t-posts, but finally, but God’s graces, we got her into the trailer:

Our Pig Penelope

Another of Our Pig Penelope

Penelope's Loading Area

And here she is her last morning. She tore up the cross pieces in the trailer, and then getting her out of the trailer and into the processor was again something of a chore, but thankfully we were able to say goodbye and bring her to her final place where she would, Lord willing, become our daily bread:

Penelope Lying in the Trailer

Here is a video recapping the 1 1/2 to 2-hour loading adventure, and a goodbye the next morning:


And finally, here are some of the provisions God has granted from her:

Ham:

Penelope Ham

Bacon:

Penelope Bacon

And lard:

Penelope Fat

Penelope Lard

We’ve also had pork steaks, which are very tender, including for one of our Lord’s day’s fellowship meal — very yummy, and a real treat!

We are grateful to the Lord for the granting of the provisions from Penelope and all of the generations before her. We are thankful no one has been hurt by the pigs over the years, and we pray for direction for next steps.

— David

How to Pressure Can Bacon Pieces

Back in June we took in our large pig boar, Ardy, to the meat processor. I still have a wrist strain injury from browning all of the ground meat, but that’s another story…… 🙂

While we here are always looking to learn ways to preserve food without freezing or canning, in the mean time, I learned how to pressure can bacon several years ago and, since it is so easy, I thought I would share it with you in case it might be helpful to anyone. The price of bacon has seemed to skyrocket over the years (at least in actual prices). Wouldn’t you love to “pounce” on a good bacon sale and be able to preserve it in bulk without using up freezer space or risking freezer burn? AND, it would already be pre-cooked! Real bacon! Well, below is a simple tutorial as to how I process and pressure can bacon pieces. (Sorry, if you want to can entire pieces there are other tutorials on line). Investing in a canner and some jars/lids is really not very expensive at all compared to the savings over time when you find great sales. You can pressure can just about anything.

Okay, let’s go!

Here is how the bacon comes from the processor:

Shrink-wrapped Bacon

So, I just take it out of the package and lay it on a cutting board with my preferred knife ready to cut it into strips. REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure the bacon is still partially frozen for nice, clean cutting. As it thaws, the fat gets greasy and slippery and becomes increasingly difficult and more dangerous to cut. You may as well put it back in the freezer at that point:

Bacon Ready for Cutting

I cut it into approximately 1/2″ strips. If you want smaller pieces, cut to your preferred width:

Bacon Cut in Cross Strips

Then I cut the strips cross-wise into several small sections, again, approx. 1/2″ (cut to your preferred size). Don’t worry about trying to separate each layer; it will all separate in the cooking:

Bacon Cut Into Pieces

Yeah, Ardy was a big boy…..

Bowls of Bacon Pieces

Okay, then I just lightly cooked the bacon in frying pans, about half-way or more cooked, and the fat is released from the meat:

Pan Cooking Bacon Pieces

I then strained out the meat with a slotted spoon. If you want less bacon grease in your jar, use a colander or more thorough straining method:

Straining Out the Bacon Grease

Here is the big bowl of bacon grease I strained, which will be canned in separate jars along with the bacon. This way, the grease will be preserved indefinitely until I’m ready to use it, and it won’t become rancid:

Bowl of Bacon Grease to Pressure Can

The yield: 22 pints of delicious bacon pieces!!!

Jars of Bacon Ready for Pressure Canning

I strained the bacon grease to get out the little remnants of bacon for a clean, clear lard result:

Straining the Bacon Grease

Four and a half pints of bacon grease – not bad!

Jars of Bacon Grease Ready for Pressure Canning

I processed the bacon and grease in pint jars at 15 lbs. pressure for 75 minutes in my trusty pressure canner (don’t be intimidated, if I can do it, anyone “can” 😀 ), dutifully following the canning book instructions. We live about 1,100 feet above sea level so please can according to your own altitude and guidelines:

Jars of Bacon Pieces in Pressure Canner

And the finished product! It may not look that appetizing, but here is delicious pre-cooked bacon, ready to be poured out of the jar and used in your recipe of choice. You can heat it up and get all of the grease out of it, or include the grease to fry with, etc. When bacon is called for in recipes, it usually takes time and planning. This way, it’s all ready right away!

Jars of Pressure Canned Bacon Pieces

Here is a closer look:

Closeup of Jar of Canned Bacon Pieces

We are so very thankful to God for these provisions and a way at this time to preserve and be good stewards of them. Bon appetit!

Susan

Hogs, Hogs on the Range – Update III & Bye to Ardy

The Lord has graciously allowed us to continue putting up new pig fencing sections, around our pig pen area, and in extending the expansion area!

But first, after introducing Ardy to Penelope back in October 2016, it was time to move him along to the processor, as I figured if she hasn’t become pregnant by now, she probably just isn’t going to be.

And so, here’s a final video of that day, including extreme close up! He was a big boy! 🙂


We thank the Lord for the provisions of Ardy!

Going back to the fencing…

In our last pig expansion area update, we had put in place cinder block and cattle panel fence sections, which have really worked out great. And then, in our last pig update, we had started on re-doing the fencing of the pig pen area.

Well, here is a video update of the pig pen area and a new extended area on the expansion. I also demo how it is to move around the fence sections with just one person:


Eventually, we need to enclose the entire pen area, and Lord willing, I’ll be able to continue on that over time.

As always, we are grateful to God for continued ideas and improvements on the homestead, and the strength and resources to be able to further things!

— David

New Pig Pen Fencing & Pig Update

When I originally built our pig pen, I thought to bury the bottom of the net-wire fencing several inches to try to help with the pigs digging themselves out of the pen, but what I didn’t realize at the time was that metal wire eventually rusts and breaks apart when buried. 🙂 And so, after probably 8 years or so, and lots of pig digging and cinder blocks around the pen trying to put patchwork on the problem, it was time to put in some new fencing:

With the success of the cinder block, cattle panel fencing sections I put together for the pig expansion area, I thought the same thing might work for the pen area, although instead of half the cattle panel in height, I’d use the full height.

You can see more detail of how I put them together in that blog post, but here is one of the new, full-height sections:

And ready for delivery to the pig pen:

And here they are in place, replacing that area shown in the first picture above:

And after putting a third section in place, I thought I’d show a little video of it all, and since we haven’t done a pig update in some time, I thought we’d include an update on our two pigs Ardy and Penelope!


We are grateful to God for granting the idea and resources of the fencing, we pray they work well 🙂 , and we are thankful for the continued health, safety of and provision for our piggies!

— David

A Boar-ing Update, Take 2 & 3

As we mentioned in our last pig update, we had purchased Odysseus to mate with our female Penelope. We left them together for four months and then took him to the butcher, expecting her to deliver any time. Well, four more months passed, and…..nothing. Bummer.

I’ve been trying to figure out what do to, and asking God, as we try to do with everything, that He would direct in this. I really like the line of Durocs we have had, and have been hoping to try to breed Penelope still, but if that’s not what God would have, I have asked He would direct whichever way He would.

Well, one day much to their surprise, Mr. Bunker and family found out one of their Duroc females had dropped a litter of piglets. She hadn’t been placed with a boar, so the assumption was a wild boar got to her, which was evidenced in the characteristics of the piglets. Given that, I thought it might be nice to get one of those males and mate him with Penelope. And when they were big enough, so I thought, we began the process…

The first fellow we put with her was pretty small, although they got along pretty well. However, by afternoon that day, he was gone, and we found him again back with his mamma and siblings. We were happy that he at least made it back with them. So, we figured it might be good to let them grow up some more before trying again…

Take 3! We rounded up a young male again, which ended up being a different one this time, and began the operation of putting him together with Penelope. This at first didn’t go very well. Penelope became downright hostile, even to me at one point — very unlike her. But, eventually, they have learned to at least get along, and are cohabiting relatively peacefully now.

When trying to figure out what to call him, with his long, wild-hog snout, he reminded me of the aardvark from The Ant and the Aardvark cartoon, so we decided to name him Ardy. And here he is:

New Mating Boar Ardy

While a bit long, this video takes you on the journey of putting the first little one with her, and then how it went with Ardy. It shows Penelope snapping aggressively at me at one point, then slamming her snout full speed into a tree chasing Ardy, but also a couple of weeks later things being much more calm. And finally, I take you along for a morning feeding with them, which includes views from the bucket cam! 🙂


We thank the Lord for this opportunity, and His continued health and safety with the animals (and me at that one point). We pray He might grant provisions from these two, or show us a different direction if that’s what He would rather have.

— David

A Boar-ing Update

Over the years, we’ve traded with the Bunkers for mating pigs to be able to keep the line going, or we’ve used a boar that they had. However, this year, they haven’t had one for that purpose; and so, we had been trying to figure out how best to proceed. We were looking around and asking around the feed store in town and the like, and one contact led to another. The suggestion from some of the local pig breeders was to artificially inseminate (AI) — they said it was pretty simple. Well, I contacted a somewhat local fellow who does that for show Durocs, and we discussed it, but he also mentioned he had a boar for sale — not one of his best, but would be willing to sell it. And so, I went away to think and pray about it all.

Some time passed, and I was going to really start this process again, probably going the AI route. But as I got talking to that local fellow again, he started describing what was involved, and it was a bit more complicated than it first appeared, with having to store the semen at certain temperatures, etc. Hm. But, then I asked him about the boar he had for sale before, and he said he had that one, and another one, and he was about to take them to market, but would let me have them at market price, which ended up together being less than the original price of one pig the first time! Wow, very nice, and thanks to the Lord for that gift!

So, I went to pick them up. One of them was *huge*, and ornery, and I figured he would be difficult to handle; so I decided we’d keep the smaller one and take the bigger one to the butcher, which is what we did that day. He was probably 500-550 pounds or so, I believe, and was just as difficult to get out of the trailer as he was to get in. But we did, and then took the smaller one back to our homestead, and to Penelope.

Given Penelope’s name, we decided to call him Odysseus, and here is a latest picture of him!

Our New Duroc Boar Odysseus

And here are the latest of him and Penelope:

Our Duroc Pigs Odysseus and Penelope
Another Picture of Our Duroc Pigs Odysseus and Penelope

And this is a video of when they first met:


We’re grateful to the Lord for His timing in everything, and for the provision of the meat, and we pray He grants the next round of breeding, and a safe one, according to His will!

— David

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