Homestead Animals

6 articles in category Homestead Animals / Subscribe

hogs
I have probably said this a hundred times now: Almost nothing on the homestead happens as we thought it might. Take for instance the prospect of raising hogs. We’d been talking about it for years but of course always had higher priorities. Chickens and dairy animals and barns for those dairy animals all came at the top of the list.

And then there is always this question of what will you feed the animal? We always thought it seemed like a good idea to have an abundance of eggs and milk and garden scraps before getting hogs. GMO corn and other animal feeds were something we wanted to avoid and, besides, we had a barn to finish and more milk animals to get online and didn’t even have a pigpen ready so surely raising hogs was a ways off, right?

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Well, actually no, no it wasn’t. A couple of weeks ago our friend let us know that there were some wild hogs being kept by a family up the road from us and they were looking to get rid of them. So Stewart contacted them and they said sure, come on over. He had planned to go pick them up and bring them home to butcher and maybe I would can some of it.

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Well… they were practically babies, so out the window that went. So he brought them home and by mid-afternoon he had assembled a pen beneath the old camper and grabbed the first screaming hog and threw it into the pen. Within a couple of minutes she found a way out and took off so he doubled up the fencing and we tried again.

After that, the two hogs went in and haven’t come out since so now I guess we’re raising hogs… at least until we butcher them. And while I thought that first hog that got out was long gone, I was wrong about that too. A few days after the other two hogs got settled in, Stewart found her in the food forest while he was watering trees. Since he couldn’t catch her, we decided to go ahead and butcher her that evening and got our first taste of wild hog meat which is actually quite good, by the way.

And now, morning and evening, we feed them a collection of weeds, grass roots, cattails from our pond, whatever slop we have from the kitchen, and some non-GMO grain from a local grainary. I doubt we will repeat this endeavor once the jig is up for these hogs, but then again, we didn’t think we’d be getting hogs for quite sometime…

And here we are.

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I have read from those much further along in the agrarian journey than I that there is no such thing as too much food. This is the answer given when we all ask the inevitable “How much food should we be raising?“. The answer’s indefinite nature appeals to me and our general agrarian philosophy – just keep working at it and leave the results up to God.

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And now, having gone through several years of squeaking by in egg production, I am finding this philosophy to be in fitting with our chicken situation. Our core flock has grown, mostly through chicks hatched right here on the land. We also expanded the laying production through a generous gift of chickens that are now directly under the care of the boys – 8 and 10.

There were many times that we bought or hatched out chicks to achieve this very end and by our own power. These attempts have failed many, many times… but then over the past year or so things shifted. It’s been good for us to see our own failures and watch the Lord provide by means we could never have planned or worked towards on our own.

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Stewart stepped on a nail last Sabbath evening and until this past Friday was hobbling around gingerly. I try to thank the boys whenever they come in from animal chores and particularly when they are more on their own as in last week. One morning I asked them if they enjoy the chores or ever tire of them. A resounding no was the answer and continual requests for more animals to care for (and harvest from) are thrown about.

It’s not that we haven’t wanted to expand here or there or everywhere, really – and honestly the boys and I are usually the ones shouting pigs, cows, more goats! (My involvement in these shenanigans is all the more ironic because of the very little I contribute to animal chores – besides the harvests and cooking).

But surely there is plenty of work to be done while we wait on the Lord to make our next steps apparent. Namely water and fencing and waiting for Papa to give the go ahead… and learning to stifle my enthusiasm for all things bovine and porcine. Ahem.

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But back to the egg production… I can’t fathom that there is such a thing as too many eggs… or too much milk or vegetables, for that matter. Right now we are averaging around 15 per day and, with a few dozen gifted us per week, we still find ways to use them up. It’s been such a blessing to not have to stretch out the eggs over so many days or ration these boys (and girls, but mostly growing boys!) who can out eat Stewart and I at most meals of the day.

But I’m not sure I would have appreciated it as much if we were producing plenty straight off the bat. And surely the Lord knows what is best… and surely that perspective He has granted has been worth more than all of the golden homegrown egg yolks in the world.