By Tuesday the boar piglets had spent two days and two nights on the loose. We were still worried about them getting eaten, but at least we knew they were alive. We had seen them in the distance on numerous occassions. It was like those Western movies where the cowboys ride off in the distance. Only this time it was our boar piglets, shadows on the horizon, rapidly propelling themselves along with their impossibly short legs.
On Monday morning, after a full day of piglet searching with no luck and our heads full of disappointment, frustration, and some sadness, we faced each other in the kitchen. I could see from the look on Scrapple's face that he was still beating himself up and had almost lost all hope of the piglets return. The day before we canvassed the farm with two friends and Scrapple's sister. We walked through the woods, checked the ponds, peeked into all the brambles... no piglets. At one point we caught one escaping the perimeter fence and chased it back in, but otherwise we were piglet-less. We left food out at the two paddocks and turned off the electric fences for the night. I tend to be more of the optimistic (if sometimes unrealistically so) ilk and had remained relatively convinced that they would come back for food up until leaving the house that morning. However, after finding their food untouched on Monday morning and no sign of piglet hooves in the rain-soft-path through the pasture, even I was starting to lose my conviction.
When we started down the road of farming we wanted to raise animals that could survive well on their own. With pigs that’s almost a zero possibility proposition. There aren’t wild pigs out there that you can control on your property and rely on them eating only what your forests, orchards and fields naturally produce. You have to feed them something, or grow food for them. Fortunately, we have the dairy and pigs love the leftover whey from making cheese. Nine out of ten pounds of milk ends up as whey water, one pound ends up as cheese. That's a lot of waste at the average dairy. We aren't your average dairy. Our pigs will consume the whey and turn it into pastured and whey-fed pork. It’s a great combination and is one that dates back hundreds and hundreds of years. Many symbiotic relationships have been lost in the industrial farming world; we plan to bring them back.
We've been lucky enough to have not one, but three visitors here on the farm for the past few days and man has it been a treat! Scrapple's sister came for the week on Monday and two of our friends from the city arrived on Thursday. It has been so lovely to have their company and the opportunity to show them around and watch them enjoy the farm. These visitors weren't here just to smell the roses, they came ready to work! In addition to the usual daily feedings, milkings and cleanings, we made cheese and ice cream, rotated the goat paddock, cleaned out the keet's brooder (it's HUGE), moved the cow paddock, set up two new paddocks for the piggies, repaired the cow shelter (which broke again a day later in the 2nd storm this week), weaned "The Buckling" (Mayday's baby), and cooked up a storm. I'm actually sure I'm missing a few things in that list
We’ve been posting a lot of photos over on Instagram recently, including the one above. If you use that app you should follow us. Sweetbreads takes some great photos throughout the day. I get to live vicariously through her updates, it’s fun. She also tweets a lot of them, so you can see them on Twitter if that’s more your style.