I know, I know, I haven't done a blog post in 10 months! To be honest, this year completely got away from us. I was re-reading the last post and saw all the lofty goals and visions we had for the year, most of which have most certainly not happened. We tend to fly by the seat of our pants around here, which makes for an interesting time.
One of the reasons our spring plans were altered was a pair of new arrivals that we welcomed in April. A friend of mine actually tagged me in a Facebook post of a friend of hers. This woman had run a pig rescue for many years and now, due to circumstances beyond her control, was moving and needed to find a home for the last four pigs in her care. A blind Meishan name Eyore, another large farm pig name Furnace, and two pot bellied pigs. Acting on pure impulse, and without thoroughly consulting Kyle I agreed to take on the pigs (Note to self: check with life partner before huge life altering decisions next time). I spent the next few months anticipating their arrival and planning where they were going to live.
Finally the day was upon us, I received a text message from the woman we were getting the pigs from and she informed me that only Furnace and Eyore would be coming-those were the two largest pigs. Apparently the pot bellied pigs had watched them get loaded into the trailer and refused to leave their pen. They would be staying on with the woman who was moving into the house.
They arrived by a third party delivery and when the man opened the livestock trailer I was, well, to be honest, I was slightly horrified. I don't know if you know this, but farm pigs are HUGE! Like, mythically huge, like something I could ride into battle against my enemies if I was on a quest to Mordor huge. At least that's how they seemed getting off of that truck. Furnace laboriously grunted and hefted himself down the ramp and into their temporary quarters. Eyore took a little longer, being blind he was disoriented and a little scared but eventually found the trail to follow his friend.
I texted Kyle saying "I think I made a mistake, these pigs are so big". His super helpful husband response? "Well how big did you expect a 1,000 pound pig to be?"
Kyle came home from work and found me outside the gate, simply staring at the pigs in shock, and awe. He peered over the gate and said "Oh my god, they are gigantic!" I just looked at him. And then I cried. He hugged me and told me everything would be fine, and I sniffled and then we got to work.
I'm not going to lie, the first few days were strange, the pigs, especially Furnace, seemed curious but also sad. I am sure they missed their home and were uncertain was this place held in store for them. I had bought apples because I was informed they were one of their favorite treats and I cautiously offered them through the gate. Once Furnace knew I had apple offerings, he greeted me with enthusiastic grunts when he would see me. Eventually their shed was completed and we moved them to their permanent lodging. By then we were pretty comfortable around our newest, and by far largest of residents. We enlisted the help of four friends to walk the pigs the acre or so to their new abode, we were slightly concerned- what if Furnace decided he wanted to go left when we wanted him to go right? What if Eyore couldn't figure out where he was supposed to go at all? Our fears were unfounded, with the temptation of some food, Furnace went exactly where we needed him to go, and Eyore almost convinced me he wasn't blind at all.
We have had a learning curve with the pigs, Furnace is very sweet and loves belly rubs, he is also a fully grown, boar. he is neutered which makes him much safer and more predictable to deal with. But the fact of the matter is, he is the first animal we have had on the farm who could really, truly hurt us if he felt like it. Thankfully, as I have mentioned, he is a sweetheart and has been raised as a pet. He ever so gently will take treats from my hand, and grunts in recognition of us. He has torn through two pools this summer and I am brainstorming what to do for next summer to keep him cool. Eyore is equally as sweet, although he is a little more shy due to his blindness.
All in all, the pigs have been a fun addition to our homestead, I still feel a bit unprepared with them, I've done some research to try to find out how best to care for them but most things are either geared towards pet pot bellied pigs or raising farm pigs for meat. There is not much out there on raising farm pigs as pets. We seem to be doing okay by them though. The pig shed already needs repaired and fortified and I am already stressed about keeping them warm this winter (I stay pretty anxious about most things on the farm, so that's not really a surprise).
Winter will also bring food challenges. We have been very blessed by help from so many angles when it comes to feeding the impressive beasts. Our friend and alpaca mentor sets up twice a week at local farmer's markets and she has set up a bin for donations to the pigs. Twice a week she hauls home goodies that other vendors and visitors have left for them. Fresh produce that farmers didn't want to haul home, and food from refrigerator clean outs that the customer's bring with them to drop in the bin. In addition, another alpaca friend got us in touch with a local church that often has extra food from their food pantry that they donate, most of it is bread and baked goods that we pick up every Friday. Furnace and Eyore love these treats and we only have to supplement every once in awhile with commercial pig feed. Once fall hits the produce from the farmer's market will be gone, and we will probably need to buy canned fruit to help get them through the winter. We will keep trying our best, and hopefully they will be forgiving of any mistakes we make along the way.