Pigs are popular these days, especially teacup pigs who are worth up to $2,500.00 each. However, our family loves real farm hogs because they are friendly, smart and crafty. For twenty years we have raised meat birds, laying hens, 4 pigs, a calf and loved an old Arabian and a beautiful warm-blooded show horse.
When the local hog farmer drove over to deliver our four little piglets in the spring, he stayed for almost an hour enjoying their introduction to free range living. In fact, most of the family stood around their pasture, watching and laughing. The piglets literally leapt and twisted in the air in utter bliss as they emerge from the truck. Like most modern farmers, our neighbourhood supplier built an efficient, modern, clean setup. That meant that his hogs never breathed fresh air, saw the sun or touched dirt or vegetation.
As soon as the piglets settled down, they dove into the tall weeds, making pathways, connecting little round flattened areas so they could sun bath, rest under a tree, make their way to the food, their mud bath and the low wooden shed with straw bedding. Our pigs were very clean and they loved the outdoor shower the kids gave them by spraying water from a hose. The water cooled their sunburns as did the ensuing thick coating of mud. I don’t know who had more fun-the kids holding the hose or the pigs.
Pigs are intelligent.
One cold fall day, Michael slowly coaxed 4 huge pigs in from the pasture. Rather than turn into the dark, strange barn, they rushed past my stunned husband and ran down our long lane. Instead of tearing down the lane after 200 lb. hogs, Michael simply stayed put and yelled,
“Hey boys, come on back.”
The pigs stopped in their tracks, turned around and came running straight home. Michael grabbed four apples, tossed them into the barn and his pets trotted right in. Obviously the way to train pigs is with food.
Pigs are not simply intelligent, they are down right crafty.
One especially cold fall, we decided to bring our old laying hens (who we kept feeding, even though they were on pensions), into the same barn as the pigs. The pigs helped to keep this particular barn warm. The dim-witted birds kept flying over the six-foot partition to hover near the warmer hogs. Our crafty omnivores actually turned their backs on their prey and pretended to ignore them. It was incredible watching these pigs lure the unsuspecting birds into their trap.Everyday the skittish hens edged closer and closer to their new warm friends. These sly predators waited until one chicken left the flock and then they slowly backed their dinner into a corner. When the hen was distracted, the pigs turned in unison and pounced. It wasn’t long before all 15 tough old birds disappeared. I do mean disappeared because pigs eat everything. Imagine a pig chewing on a sinewy chicken leg with all the toes splayed out like a fan, sticking out the side of his mouth! Pigs are pigs.
Everyone remember the admonition,”Quit Eating like a Pig”?
It takes on new meaning when you actually watch these creatures devour massive quantities of food. It was a jaw-dropping experience watching pigs dive into their food up to their eye balls. They relished feed soaked in jam combined with day old stone ground and whole wheat bread. During our first year raising pigs our manure soaked garden grew giant vegetables and monster weeds. We fed the pigs a ton of broccoli, swiss chard, wheelbarrows of freshly pulled weeds, 6 ft. corn stalks, corn cobs, damaged tomatoes, kitchen scrapes, baskets of bruised wild apples, pumpkins…..The neighbours still rave about the delicious ham with only a quarter-inch of fat on it!
Although we treat our pigs like pets, we don’t feel bad about eating them because they live happy free lives at our farm. I call our pork, chicken and beef happy meat. I must admit though, there was one poignant moment when three-year old Katie stared at the meat on her fork and asked,
“Is this Josie?”
I was standing behind her about to help someone else cut their meat and I waved my hands frantically and mouthed,
All the kids lied obediently and said in unison,
“No, Katie, that’s just a pork chop.”
Katie smiled and started eating.
Pigs, Pigs, Those Intelligentt Pigs is one of ten chosen stories up for consideration for the editor’s choice award.
This week we’d like to organize things a little differently. If you would like to recommend a story then please share it with your friends on Facebook. We’ll then track the number of times each story is re-shared, which is a more accurate way of seeing which stories will be popular.