Today saw the realisation of a dream/fantasy Nick has had for over 35 years – that is to own a pig! They are our first livestock and we hope that they will lead a good life, eat well and enjoy themselves digging up large areas of our land (and manuring it as they go) so we can plant some great crops that will feed them and us and all the other livestock and poultry.
There’s no doubt that at this age and size they are very cute and playful – I can watch them for hours – and they already enjoyed being scratched behind their ears or down their flanks. Feeding them 3 times a day at the moment provides lots of opportunities to observe and learn more about them and their behaviour.
As they continue to grow it will be important to try to get them to bond with us to make it easier to move them around or follow us or simply behave when we are around them. I can imagine a 100kg pig that doesn’t want to do what you want it to could be a real pain!
They are definitely not going to be raised in the traditional Bulgarian way (in a pigsty with no space to roam or root or run). Our goal is to use the pigs natural instincts for finding food and keep moving them around to “plough” and fertilise areas ready for planting – maybe moved to a new area every week. We also hope in the spring to put them in a much larger area – about 3/4 of an acre that is pretty wild and uncultivated – with a few goats and the poultry all ranging together. That’s the dream, we will see!
Before anyone asks – yes, at least 3 of the pigs will eventually be humanely slaughtered and all that hard work, and lots of food from the land, will be converted into delicious joints, chops, bacon, sausage, hams and other stuff (hopefully, when we learn how). Once again, unlike our Bulgarian pig owner friends (and indeed many pig owners) we don’t want to set an age to slaughter them, or a specific weight – we will see how things go. But certainly next Christmas (2017) I plan to have a ham hanging from the kitchen beams!
And, depending on how her character develops and our general experience, we may keep Black Betty and try to raise our own litter of piglets next year to see if it is worth the trouble, and whether we can cope/manage or not. Like so much that we are learning to do, we are very happy to wait and see how it all turns out. Anyway, must go – time to feed the pigs!