Next step, PIGS!
One thing that helped us try new things is the kids joining 4H. I LOVE 4H! I could talk about the benefits of the 4H program for hours!! But not today.
Today, I want to share the next big step we made in homesteading. We got PIGS! Kaylee wanted to raise pigs so this was the perfect excuse to have her try it.
They are SO fun! They have so much personality. They are another animal we love watching. We will raise them as long as my health remains.
This is based off of Kaylee’s first 4H demonstration – “what do pigs need to be healthy.” They need shelter from the sun (and snow in Idaho), fresh water, proper food and mud when it’s hot. Maybe straw when it’s cold. And for your sake, they need fencing! Ha! Like chickens, another very basic needs list.
Let’s break down this list. Our pigs’ shelter is simple. The roof is made out of part of a fence, wired to steel fencing posts and in the spring, lined with straw bales. Fencing is made out of hog panels wired together. Our waterer is a 55 gallon plastic drum with a bite valve hog nipple that we refill regularly. Our pen is within reach of a water faucet and we have a hose that reaches the pen to fill the waterer and make mud on hot days. Why is MUD necessary? Pigs can’t sweat so that is how they keep cool. If your pig is lighter colored then the mud also acts as sunscreen.
Our first few years, we fed the pigs out of old pipes cut in half but now we have an automatic hog feeder that keeps the food dry. I have gotten our feed several places. The local feed store is probably the cheapest and easiest but I try to feed my animals 100% organic because you are what you eat. Modesto Milling and Scratch and Peck were my favorite brands before I found a local source. I purchased them through azurestandard.com delivery service. I don’t purchase my feed from them all the time but I do use them for so many other things and especially my bulk seasonings. Recently, I found a farmer that sells his locally grown, organic feed and I buy it by the ton. It is much cheaper per pound but when you purchase by the ton, it’s still a hefty bill!! And I have to go scoop it out of his bins. But I save a lot of money.
We visit the pigs once a day. Give them scraps, give them scratches, make sure the feeder is full, waterer is full and mud pit is muddy. IF they get out, they know where “home” is and lead them back.
Even though everything our pigs have is re-purposed, I feel they live in the Taj Mahal of pig palaces and hope they do too. They have plenty of room to run and play, a big mud pit when it’s hot and all our food scraps. In fact, I clean out our freezers and pantry in the summer just so the waste is put to good use – bacon! We know where each pig’s favorite scratching spot is.
You may think – HOW could you eat something you raised?!?!?! Have you heard me say that Happy Meat Tastes Better?? These animals have the absolute best life. They are cared for and loved on, given everything they need and I know everything that happens to them. They are raised with space and are treated with love. I know what they ate. The only bad day is their last day. And it is over in an instant with no stress to them. And I am thankful that I know our meat is safe from all contaminants. Yes, it is a little hard that last morning but I keep talking or singing until they are no longer here. They are comforted.
You may wonder why I am sharing all of this. You don’t live on a farm, you don’t have the ability to raise your meat. That is true BUT anywhere you live, you can know where your meat comes from.
When we live in the HUGE Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, we belonged to an amazing food co-op. We received all our meat, eggs, milk and most of our produce every other week from this co-op. The farmers delivered their products early in the morning of pickup and then all was sorted and I picked up what I ordered in the afternoon. The farms had days that we could tour and we attended and had fun seeing who provided our food. It was amazing! And I am sure that where ever you live, you have a local co-op. OR you could attend your local farmers market. Once we moved to Idaho, I went to our local farmers market and found my local food suppliers. That is how I found my pig farmer, milk man, and butcher!
I love knowing that tI don’t have to worry when I see meat recalls. My food was never in those places. I love knowing that my animals were happy while they were living. I love knowing that when I purchase from a local farmer, I know that I am helping out his family.
Do you know any farmers near you??
Bloom where you are planted!