"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pig Farming is Not Sexy


I'm sorry to disappoint those of you who were dreaming of a glamorous existence raising a few hogs in your perfectly manicured back yard, but I have got a news flash for you. Pig farming is not sexy. Not remotely. There are no paparazzi, there is no jewelry or red carpets, and there is no fanfare or glory.

There are only pigs, and mud.

this is reality.

Pig farming is not romantic. Piglets are cute, I'll grant you that, for about six weeks. Then they turn into pigs, which are not cute. They are not adorable; they do not make friends with other animals like Wilbur from Charlotte's web; and they are not clean and pink.


this is a fantasy. this is not reality.

Pigs are large, aggressive, pushy animals with teeth. They WILL knock you over, and you WILL land on your ass in a pile of pig shit. Pig shit, by the way, is one of the more offensive types of shit. Like that of other omnivores, pig shit is stinky. By comparison, horse shit smells of newly mown grass. Goat shit is practically invisible, and smells like nothing at all. Pig shit smells like an open sewer on a hot August day. And pigs shit every two minutes, on average.

Pigs are not easy to move around. It is a struggle to get pigs to go where you want them to go (this is also true of goats, but a little less so). Like goats, pigs are escape artists, and like goats, they will ruin your fences. Goats ruin fences by mashing them down from the top; pigs ruin fences by crumpling them up from underneath.

A pig's nose is like a mini-bulldozer. By the time a pig weighs fifty pounds, it is stronger than you are. I don't care if you are Arnold Schwarzenegger on his best day: a fifty pound pig can lift you right off the ground with it's nose. They are fast as deer, too: older folks might remember that county fairs used to have greased-piglet-catching contests. Whoever took that ribbon home earned the hell out of it, I'm here to tell you.


oh, you aren't scared of pigs? really?

Pigs are destructive to pasture and -God forbid - gardens. Ten minutes in your vegetable patch and you can kiss your harvest goodbye. Wherever pigs are, mud is not far behind. Put a few pigs on a major league baseball diamond and in a week flat there will be nothing but brown soup.

There is only one thing that justifies keeping pigs, and you already know what it is. It is their unearthly deliciousness. If a more delicious animal than a homestead-raised pig roams this earth, it hasn't been discovered yet. I pity the person who has only tasted supermarket pork. Pastured pork may be hard on the pasture, but is is heaven on the plate. Pork is one of those few products, like sweet corn or tomatoes, that when raised at home is simply in a whole different league than the commercial product.

In the past, we always raised one pig at a time. Then somebody told me that the pig must be terribly lonely, that more than other animals pigs need the company of their own kind. Also this person said that many of the obnoxious behaviors I complained of, such as screaming and biting, were probably related to loneliness and that two pigs would actually be easier than one.

twice as much bacon; twice as much hassle

This made some kind of sense to me, as I have myself noted that two children are usually easier than one. However, I am sorry to say, this fellow was just flat out wrong in our case. Two pigs are twice as noisy, twice as hard to manage, and twice as scary as one pig.

Here's hoping they will also be twice as yummy. :)



14 comments:

Penelope said...

So....as the person who passed on the advice from the pig farmer about 2 pigs, I feel slightly responsible for the pigish hell you describe. In my defense, those three piglets that we borrowed from said pig farmer REALLY were sweet and quiet and happy all the time, and temple grandin's new book totally backs up his perspective. So it may be that it hasn't changed the level of obnoxiousness from your pigs, I'm sure it has improved their quality of life. I'm sure that at the moment, after having just written a scathing review of pig farming, you probably don't give a rat's ass about their happiness, but deep down I know you do. Eating happy pigs will nourish you on a deeper level than just nutritionally.

Aimee said...

Sis - I spent a large portion of my afternoon chasing escaped pigs around, and then kneeling in the filthy mud repairing the pen. So you can imagine that my affection for pigs is at a low ebb. As far as having two pigs goes - I actually can tell that they are happier together. They scream just as much as a single pig, but the scream has a more contented tone to it. They exhibit a hellish happiness as they charge me in concert, and seem to actually be strategizing together to trip me up at the knees. I am glad I have two pigs - if I had just one I could never shut him up all by himself in a pen, but with two, I feel less guilty about enclosing them. Also I am looking forward to recouping some of the expense by selling the meat from one pig.
Please, don't feel bad for passing along the info, I am sure your friend is right and the pigs are actually happier. It just doesn't make an appreciable difference in MY happiness!

Olive said...

WE have always kept just one pig at a time. The next time we did plan to get 2 because of the loneliness problem, but having read your blog Aimee, we might just re-think that decision.
I add, we HAVE had pigs that are friendly and have been allowed to run free in the paddock for a short time (no where near the veg. patch) where they had fun searching for earth worms and other crawly things that congregate under the cow pats. My husband had it trained to return to its enclosure by whistling it back similar to a dog.

Ruth @ Hope, Joy and Faith Farm said...

I laughed all the way through this. We started with two pigs yearly and have done three for the last 4 years. This year we are going back down to 2. It should be a piece of cake. Having said that, I totally am in agreement with everything you said.

Diana R.Smith said...

Pig's pure nastiness is what allows a person to gladly take them to the butcher Our first year we thought we'd do it at home...only happy campers were the pigs that had a pan of dandelion wine(2000 proof--something went wrong with that).Now we get delicious pork from a neighbor and worth every penny.

www,FarmLifeLessons.blogspot.com said...

Your blog tells the truth about raising pigs. I also think so many people have a fluffy image of raising pigs instead of the harsh truths. My husband raised monster pigs and actually could not eat pork for years afterward because the found them to be so nasty. However, he's older and wiser now, ready to raise more on our acreage as soon as we get moved there full-time. I am a Texan and we go to the rodeo every year. In the back, the large pigs usually get loose and start charging like a bull --- everyone jumps up onto the railing and KNOWS to move out of the way of these creatures that can indeed be dangerous. Good post...happier piggie screams is nice, but I totally get what you are saying...

Lana

AnyEdge said...

Why no pig milk?

Aimee said...

bro, OMG you just made throw up in my mouth

Laura said...

I love raising pigs. More is not really harder, but the fences have to be hot or tight - take your pick. They will gain better with more competition for food, so your pigs will grow better as a duo than a single.

The friends that I buy piglets from call them "the cute little bastards." This is true until the first time they get out, and then you can cut out the cute part. If you can bucket train your pigs, it helps to catch them, and move them.

I had a large enclosure that my pigs had to run around (and they did - it was hilarious), with a smaller catch pen in one corner. This is very helpful when it comes time to harvest them. You can lock them in, and you or the butcher can get close enough to dispatch them without getting knocked over.

Keeping one, selling one is the way to go - you basically get your pig for free! You can't beat that, ever!

AnyEdge said...

But I was serious! Why not?

luckybunny said...

LOL great post. All true.

Stephanie said...

True story. Though for the most part our pigs are pretty docile. What are you using fence? Pig train very well to electric. :)

Dea-chan said...

Oh man Aimee, I love this post. I'm sure you're not happy with them at this moment, but just think how much tastier it'll be. Revenge on a pig is a dish best served hot and delicious. (Pretend that works)

penelope said...

i find it funny that the only one of these pics that's actually yours, from your farm and not the internet, is the one of the fancy pink piglet on a leash with a little princess on the other end...you know the one that says "this is not reality"...