Posted by: A Part of the Solution | May 1, 2012

Piglets’ Progress

Another duration of time has passed for Ruby’s and Garnet’s offspring. When you’re talking about pigs, it’s always true ‘they grow up so fast!’ We have already stopped using the creep box, as most of the piglets are too full in the posterior to squeeze through the openings. Instead, we’re setting out four bowls of food–two larger and two smaller. Ruby and Garnet monopolize the big bowls, and the piglets share the small bowls and such mouthfuls as they’re wily enough to snatch from their mothers’ bowls. Besides oatmeal, mash, whey and chopped produce seconds, our pigs all get grass clippings on a daily basis. They like to eat the grass clippings. They like to play in the grass clippings. They like to nap in the grass clippings. There’s hardly anything about grass clippings our pigs don’t love.

Garnet’s piglets, younger than Ruby’s farrowing by two weeks, are over their shyness about being handled by people. Half of them run right up when anyone goes into the lower level of the barn to flop over right onto their shoes. This is the piglets’ universal signal for desiring a belly rub. They also like having their backs scratched, their jowls rubbed, and their ears too.

Like all pigs, our pigs have very poor eyesight. They can barely see anything until it’s inches away from their eyes. This is one of the reasons pigs may startle easily. Nature amends this deficiency by providing pigs with an amazing sense of smell and a very keen sense of hearing. Our pigs like to know where we’ve been since we visited the last time. They find out by sniffing and nibbling on whatever adheres to our shoes or boots. It’s cute to watch, but hell on shoe laces–which they will invariably untie in the sensing process if one’s laces are not double-knotted.

Pastured pigs, with freedom of locomotion and room to maneuver, have group motion patterns similar to shoals of fish–without quite so much three-dimensional mobility (as in they don’t form clouds of swirling, darting bodies in motion). Instead, the swirling, joining and breaking off happens with something of a carpet-of-pigs feel to it (if you can imagine such a thing). What’s most difficult to understand, until you’ve witnessed it with your own eyes, is their extreme agility, speed and grace as they go racing through their pastures playing tag, keep-away, and capture-the-flag.

The little ones in the barn are only a few weeks from being re-housed in the woodland pastures. They’re packing on weight. At six weeks, Hyacinth easily weighs as much as the dog–about 30 lbs. Tiny, on the other hand, probably weighs only fifteen pounds. But he’s two weeks younger, and the runt of his (or any) litter. And in two more weeks, who’ll be able to say how much weight he may be able to gain. Tiny’s still a scrappy go-getter and always up for some rough-and-tumble or a dare to fetch something tasty from one of the Mama food bowls.

Darwin, and three of his girl cousins (Goody, Sika and Petula), will be leaving the farm to live nearby with someone who’s fallen in love with the humanity and honesty of pastured pigs. We lavish extra time and attention on Darwin whenever we’re in the barn. The boar with the sweetest temperament is the boar which lives longest in this world. And we want to be able to borrow Darwin back when Strawberry’s and Juniper’s breedable offspring are of age, eight or nine months or so from now. And no, you’re not confused–Juniper and Strawberry are both still pregnant at this writing. The life cycle of a pig is accelerated by our standards.

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