Pig Farming on the Homestead

Learn how to feed and care for pigs on your homestead.

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    The Keener Memorial A-Frame served as a pig shelter.
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    Pigs are hearty eaters and have enjoyable personalities.
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    A traditional, V-shape pig trough with three sections.

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Himself and Herself gave us a glimpse of what it is to be a pig. When they rested, they were out straight. . . sometimes half submerged in mud. When they scratched themselves against a corner of their shelter, their enjoyment of the itch and the scratch was both comic and complete. Shower baths from the sprinkling can on hot summer days made them all but sigh with satisfaction. Both pigs had the sense to step on a cornstalk to make it easier to eat and it wasn't long before they learned to recognize the peculiar clank of their feed pail handle (as opposed to the clatter of the goats' pans). The shoats would always come running, snorting and hollering, when they heard the bucket's hopeful sound.

Last summer we raised two pigs on our acre. We had no barn, fancy feeders or waterers. No pasture either. What we did have was plenty of weeds and garden leftovers . . . and what we ended up with was plenty of pork. Yum. The real stuff, lean and delicious, and it cost us an average of only 37¢ a pound.

We had several things in mind when, bumbling amateurs that we were, we decided to have a go at raising our own pork chops:

1) (And carrying the most weight) . . . We'd read enough about hormones, antibiotics and heavily sprayed feed given to commercially raised animals to want something better for our family and friends; 2) We wanted to see how fully pigs would use up the by-products of gardening, canning and foraging; 3) All we knew about hogs was what we'd read . . . we wanted to see how they would respond to us and each other;

4) We thought we might even save some money.

Our plan was to buy shoats (feeder pigs) in early spring, fatten them up over the summer at the slow but steady pace of whatever was available and have them butchered and frozen in the fall. That's pretty much the way it worked out.

While getting ready for our venture, we did a lot of reading. The most down-home, reassuring sources were parts of COUNTRYSIDE Magazine, an article by Victor Croley in the November 1968 issue of ORGANIC GARDENING AND FARMING and a small green book we found in a secondhand bookstore: HOME PORK PRODUCTION by John Smedley (Published by Orange Judd Publishing Co., N.Y., 1946).  



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