I have pigs again! I won't lie, the months between our first batch and our second batch were lonely. They were such a big part of my day and I loved spending time with them. I'm happy to have new ones.
I'm doing a number of things differently this time. First, I only got 4 pigs. With our last set, when slaughter day came two weren't sold yet and that really hurt my heart. It made me sick to know that they were dying without having a destination. I was able to sell them quickly after slaughter day, but I don't want to do that again. So, I got two less this time to hopefully avoid that crisis. I also got two less because the pigs during Winter really did a number on the land. I wanted to see if two less would make it a little easier, if it would be better over Spring, and if I applied certain practices (immediately sowing their last spot with cover crop) if that would help with soil regeneration. So, that'll all be something that I talk about at another date, I'm sure.
I also have a different breed this time. I found a farm, Triullium Farm, that is breeding pigs (Red Wattles) the way I would want to do it, if we ever get that far. They were more expensive, but it's important to me to support folks who are doing things the right way. Red Wattles are also supposed to be really great foragers. So, I'm hoping with it being Spring, having a new breed, and still having a wonderful relationship with Bloom Juice that the pigs will not only continue to demolish the black berry around the property, but that we'll also have to give them less fermented grain.
Our pigs are a heritage breed cross of Hereford and Berkshire. We got them from a farm in Marysville called Hogstead Farm. We got them at six weeks old right after they'd been weaned. They started off in a small nook by our garden to hopefully contain them. That was a wish that died quickly. Pigs are tricksy! We finally got them trained to an electric fence and they've stopped escaping and causing me a great deal of stress.
The pigs have an all organic diet and finding that was quite the ordeal. There are a whole lot of non-gmo feeds, but that doesn’t mean they’re organic. I also couldn’t find any “naturally grown” feed. Which basically means that folks don’t use chemicals, but they aren’t certified organic. That might be out there somewhere, but I couldn’t find it.
I finally looked up Scratch and Peck Feed, which is what I've fed the chickens since they were chicks. Turns out, they have pig feed! The entire feed is cracked, whole grain. They encourage you to ferment their feed to unlock additional proteins and to help stretch the amount you get. Scratch and Peck is also local to the Pacific Northwest, which I liked a lot. It's helping out a local business, and there's less gas going into bring us their feed.
Aside from Scratch and Peck’s organic pig feed, I found one other from payback. My particular problem with the payback feed was that it was in pellet form. The pellets easily break down in the rain, and I certainly wouldn’t be able to ferment them. I also couldn’t tell where the grain would come from. I know they’re based in South Dakota, but I couldn’t figure out where their product was actually coming from. Plus, it’s nice to order both feeds from the same place.