This is our journal of what we pray is our sojourn of life (Hebrews 11:8-10) along the narrow way (Matthew 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.
I had originally made an extended area from the pig pen for our pigs to be able to roam more using a solar powered electric fence system. This worked well for a couple of years, but then started to not work, and the pigs would just go under the wire. I even tried stringing a ground wire between the two hot wires, but that didn’t work either. I have a feeling the ground became too dry to conduct well, but I’m not sure what the root cause really was. And so, between that and having to eventually and continually replace the battery on the solar charger, I figured I need to try to do something differently.
I went through several ideas in my head, like rock walls, or goat fencing, but time and costs are issues. Eventually, given we had a whole bunch of cinder blocks left over from the original plan for our root cellar/storm shelter, which didn’t work out, and discovering that 16-foot, 50-inch high cattle panels are only $20 a piece, I thought I could end up with about 30 feet of fairly solid fence line for not too much expense. Plus, I figured that if it didn’t work, we wouldn’t be out too much. And, I could build them in sections, so that I could slowly extend the pig free-range area as I had time and resources to build fence sections.
And here’s how it went…
I cut the cattle panel longways down the middle, and then into about half sections but where no panel horizontals were sticking out:
And then I set up the cinder blocks and set the cattle panel piece in place, leaving one section open, which will be an overlap section where I can wire two sections together, although one of the sections would need to not have overhang so it could butt up against the pig pen fencing:
It just sort of worked about fairly nicely, except on the last cinder block, I needed one with a groove for the cinder blocks to position evenly:
Then I set the 3-foot t-posts in place and wire them to the panel. I really was hoping that I didn’t mess this part up because Foreman William was there inspecting!
And then it was time to pour in the concrete. I mixed in dirt so I’d use less, although I think I mixed in too much because the concrete above the top of the cinder blocks ended up a little crumbly. Being they were in the sun and it was quite warm that first afternoon, I needed to keep the concrete moist and had to hand-tamp any cracks:
Also, if I had left over concrete after a fence section was poured, I made small concrete piles that would fit in the hole of a cinder block that I could use for the next fence section:
And here are the four sections complete:
I built them over by the barn so I was nearer equipment, but that meant I needed to get them over to the pig pen. And then I thought that I could place a board across our goat shed caddy and drag that using the truck. And here are the fence sections loaded. I loaded them by setting a board in place in the back, pulling the fence section over the back of the caddy and onto the board, and then sliding the board forward so I could repeat the process for the other sections:
And it worked! Here they are, delivered:
One of the things I wanted with the design was to be able to move the sections myself. Given the difficulty of getting them on the shed caddy, I wasn’t sure, but by tipping them over and pulling one side at a time, I was able to slide them into place. Here is the back side:
And in front. I’m still not sure if I’m just going to join the sections in front there or put up some kind of gate. Either way, if we need to back up an animal trailer to that front gate of the pig pen, I figure I can just un-wire the fence sections, and move the sections apart to leave enough room:
I plan to make at least another set of four sections, although I might need a couple more sections to be able to make a nice enclosed area; and then we should be able to give it a real test by having a small, but not too small, area completely enclosed. I think it’s going to work — hopefully by God’s graces it will, and we look forward to seeing the pigs being able to start to roam a little more, Lord willing!
Back in June, the Lord granted our pig Lulu to have her litter of piglets! She had 14 in all! — one was dead when we found it, and the other died a few days later. But the 12 continued on, and are all still going and healthy, thanks to the Lord!
Here they are at around 8 weeks, the day before we took Lulu into the butcher:
And here is a video diary of the entire adventure, from when Lulu met Piggy, the boar we borrowed from the Bunkers, to shortly after the piglets were born, to the day of the picture above:
Once again, we are very grateful to God for granting the safe delivery, the provisions of Lulu and her litter, and for the continued health of the piglets.
In our last round of pig breeding, we decided to keep, raise and eat the offspring of our sow Pebbles, and breed her again because she had a good disposition and because we had a soft-spot for her, given she was the lone piglet from the difficult birth her mother had, and we had bottle-raised her on goat milk ourselves. But, as the piglets eventually turned into decent-sized pigs, and with the possible difficulty of finding a large enough mate for Pebbles, I decided to change the plans and revert back to the old way of doing things, where we process the mother as well and keep an offspring to continue the pork perpetuation.
Here is Pebbles and most of her offspring before taking Pebbles in (she’s on the left, one female had already gone to the Bunkers as a next breeder for them):
And this is Pebbles next to the offspring we are keeping for the next round of breeding, which we decided to call Lulu. We decided to keep her because she has more of the Duroc characteristics:
And so, we took Pebbles and two of the males in to the butcher (two other of the offspring also went to the Bunkers).
Once getting the meat back, we wanted to continue to practice preserving without canning or freezing, so we had some strips of meat cut from one of the younger pig’s hams, and put them in the salt brine:
And then I hung them in the meat dryer:
Then, it was time for the Pebbles Pork Chop Party fellowship meal! We held it on a Lord’s Day fellowship time, so every household contributed to the meal.
Here is all of the eating goodness:
And the group communing together around the table:
And young Annabelle enjoying the time:
We are so very grateful to the Lord for His provisions of the pig meat, and the opportunity to gather in His name and share His beneficence together.
It’s been over a year since we did our last animal update on our pig Pebbles. As you can imagine, she has grown up quite a bit; and so, it was time to continue our normal cycle and get her a mate. We bought a medium-sized male from Mr. Bunker, and of course, had to call him Bamm-Bamm.
Here are Pebbles (left) and Bamm-Bamm (right) back in May:
And again, Bamm-Bamm (left) and Pebbles (right):
We thought, based on “action” we saw from the two that she was about ready to give birth late-April or so, but it ended up two estrus cycles past that.
And by God’s graces and mercies, she successfully gave birth! — a litter of nine, with two dead, and one little guy that just could never get walking properly, and he died as well.
After last year’s difficulties with Pebble’s mother’s delivery, we were really praying this one would go more smoothly; and the Lord was gracious in granting that to be so; and we are very thankful!
Here they are not too long after being born:
And here is a video of the journey of Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm, from meeting last December to piglets in June (it’s a little long, but to me, kind of fun to see the progression). Bamm-Bamm has since been “processed” as our food provisions:
We are very grateful to God for granting these new piggies to be born, for the safe delivery for Pebbles, and for the meat from Bamm-Bamm we have been able to store away.
We just wanted to give a little update on some of the animals we’ve shown in the past, so you can see how they’re doing now.
You might remember our orphaned piglet (see the last video of that blog post) from a little over nine weeks ago.
Here she is with Sue a few weeks ago:
Well, by God’s continued graces, she’s past the piglet stage, and has grown into just plain pig stage. We had kept her in the camper until she was getting restless in there; and since our pig pen area was being used by her sire, who had been put with some of the Bunker female pigs to “service” them, with her being as small as she was, we decided to basically start swapping her and the dogs, day and night, between the dog’s outside and inside-the-barn kennels.
Here’s the transfer we do in the morning (she seems to get heavier each day!) Sometimes I can play with her shoulders, and she’ll play back. And then it’s hard to resist patting her little bum 🙂 :
Swapping Dog Kennels with Pebbles the Duroc Gilt
With some of the temperatures reaching well over 100 degrees outside lately, I dug her a mud pit in the barn:
We thank the Lord for granting that Pebbles make it this long, especially being an orphan.
Here’s Pebble’s sire, Fred (in the middle, with his current “harem”):
There had been two other females originally brought up, but with one he did his work pretty quickly; and the other one was going to go to the butcher, but looked pregnant, and ended up being so, with God granting the Bunkers several piglets.
Here is the original quintet “singing” for their supper! (They would do this each time when I would walk up with the food bucket.) Notice the choreography, and the aspiring soloist too!
Duroc Pigs Singing for Their Supper
And so, the plan is, when the Bunkers feel there has been enough time with these three together (or if Pebbles outgrows the dog kennel and starts breaking things), they’ll come get their females; and Fred will take his final ride to the “processor.” He’s going to be quite the haul, Lord willing!
Once he’s gone, we plan to move Pebbles up to the pig pen so she can start her life up there.
God has shown His graces and mercies in granting the health and safety of these provisions, and we are again most thankful to Him.
Recently, Wilma, our gilt started to look very pregnant; so I put the farrowing “runners” in the shed; and we looked forward in anticipation to the day.
Well, this past Monday evening, I went out to feed the pigs; and lo and behold, a little piglet was running around:
Wilma the Duroc Sow in Labor
We were excited the process had begun. However, minutes went by, then hours, and no other piglets. We started to look online to try to investigate the situation: some sites said they should be coming out every 15 minutes or so, some said up to and hour, some longer. After several hours (which included the several it looked like had passed before we even found the piglet, as the piglet was very dry, and its umbilical cord was already dry), we decided to try to check if we could find a piglet in the birth canal and pull it out. We found it about five to six inches in, but were unable to grab onto it in any way. We solicited help from the Bunkers, who have dealt with pulling animals before; and they worked for a couple of hours trying to pull the piglet out, but could not. We even tried using salad tongs. When we couldn’t get it out, we thought we’d leave her for the night, and see how things were in the morning, as maybe she would pass it. We also pulled the born piglet out of the pen and took it with us, so it would be warm (as there were no other piglets and her mother was incapacitated and in labor) and not get squashed or that other harm might come to it.
The next morning, there was no change. I called the vet, and he suggested we either need to get the piglet out, or bring her in for a C-section, or euthanize her. He also suggested that by then, the unborn piglets were probably dead. We weren’t going to bring her in for a C-section (he even suggested we not do that for economic reasons); and so we tried various other things, including pliers, to try to get the piglet out, all to no avail.
At this point, there wasn’t much left. We spent several hours going back and forth, trying to decide if we let things be and see what happened, because maybe she’d pass it; or butcher her, losing the sow we had thought maybe about having for a couple of litters. After prayer and lots of indecision, we made a decision. This video could be a little rough if you’re not used to this. Sadly, this part of the process didn’t go as we had hoped — it usually goes better than this:
Slaughtering Wilma the Duroc Sow
As I mention in the video above, the plan was to kill her and quickly get to the unborn piglets, in an attempt to get them out and breathing. Here was that process, which I believe no one around here as done before (at least with the people participating). If you’re squeamish, this one is pretty intense:
C-Section of Wilma the Duroc Sow
And then it was to the butchering station:
Butchering Wilma the Duroc Sow
It was a rough couple of days. Sue was up about every hour the first night (and has been similarly since) tending to the piglet, and the whole ordeal was fairly stressful.
But, the Lord, in His graces and mercies, allowed a successful butchering, which appears to have yielded quite a bit of meat and fat; and He has graciously granted a new piglet — His providentially perpetuating the species. The new little piglet didn’t have to be the first one out — she could have been behind the stuck one, and so we are very grateful.
And yes, I said “she” — it’s a female piglet; and because her sire’s name was Fred, and her dam’s name Wilma, we’re calling her Pebbles. And here she is:
Wilma the Duroc Sow’s Piglet Pebbles
I know some of these videos could be somewhat shocking if you haven’t seen or been around these kinds of things before, but I wanted to include them so you all could see some of the experiences that are part of life here on the farm.
Another aspect about being here on this farm is that we are part of a community of like-minded brethren. I was able to put out a short-notice solicitation for help with the processing of Wilma the pig, and many folks showed up, representing every household that had someone available. That is a lot of the reason we are all here: Christians serving their (spiritual) family.
Finally, once again, we thank the God of creation for His graces and mercies, and allowing us the provision of this new piglet; and we pray that He might grant this little piglet to grow and be a productive part of the homestead and community, as He might will.
Heb. 11:8-10 - "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God."
Receive New Blog Posts by Email
We will never share your information nor solicit you.