The Peaceable Kingdom: Raising Goats and Pigs

Author Nancy Bubel describes raising goats and pigs fed organically with home-grown food and garden plants.

| July/August 1971

  • Goats on the Farm
    Goats in the pasture on the farm.

  • Goats on the Farm

The fence around one corner of our Peaceable Kingdom sags a little and the gate is made of an old screen door and pieces of lath saved from repairing the kitchen. Elegant, it's not. But then elegance never really was one of our things. It keeps the goat people in what we think of as their place.

Their idea of their place has more to do with pruning the orchard and browsing along the hedgerow. Still, they seem happy here and we tell them they're lucky to have a cozy shed that the sun shines in, with manger space for all and the option of going out into their own yard at will.

We've noticed that larger, more professional herds are often, necessarily, very closely confined. That doesn't prevent us, though from dreaming of a big capacious barn with room for cats and broody hens and hay and all the goats we could name. And we could name quite a few! Each goat we meet seems to be like no other and we're already looking forward to next kidding time and speculating on what we'll get.

In the other corner of the Peaceable Kingdom we have . . . pigs. Got them in the spring as feeder pigs. Funny fellows. We haven't named them, since we intend to eat them and know the parting will be tough enough as is. Mike says "Man is the only creature who makes friends with the animals he intends to eat." How will our OWN ham taste? I hope we'll be able to enjoy it! We talk about butchering them ourselves but we really haven't the equipment, much less the whole idea of how to proceed. It would be good to do it cooperatively, if only we knew some other amateur pig raising cooperators!

The pigs are fenced in adequately for now, away from the goats. But we know the fencing won't last when they're stronger and rooting more. We've been advised to either ring their noses or to put in a low strand of electric wire. We lean toward the wire and someday soon—however reluctantly—we'll get one strung.

We hope that as much as possible the pork will be OUR pork. That is, fed as many home-grown meals as we can provide, as unchemicalized as we can get it and positively without hormones and antibiotics. We bought a bag of hog feed, but give the pigs only a canful a day, often mixed with skim milk. The rest of their chow is dandelion plants—greens, flowers, root and all—and table and garden scraps. They've learned to like these and they do seem to be growing! Also, they're pigs for comfrey and will eat all we give them.


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