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Friday
Jul302010

Pigs and people, not so far apart

I have been remiss about writing about some pretty key additions to our farmlet - our breeding pigs. It is not because they don't live up to hopes and expectations - they do. And it isn't because they aren't adorable - they are.

It *is* because they have added a whole new element of work to the farmlet, which has reduced the amount of time I can write about pigs, since I've pretty much been constantly *thinking* about and *dealing* with the pigs. But I have to admit, a lot of the time has been spent just observing the pigs - which turns out to be quite fun and has made clear to me why scientists have compared the social workings of pigs to those of humans.

Now that they're a bit more established (meaning, we've got a housing, food and water routine for them), I can give you a little intro to Hef and the girls:

The girls had a bit of a showdown when they first got here. Meaning, after some initial frolicking, they started wrestling. Hard. Well, let's be real - they were brawling. Poor, kind Dave actually tried to hold the girls back from each other in a panic. Have you ever seen a beginning farmer try to hold a mad pig by the rump? Have you ever seen *anyone* try to hold a pig by the rump? It's not pretty. A grown man is no match for a squirmy, 45 lb. piglet with a bone to pick. Dave called out "how can we make them stop?!"

I was slightly less concerned. I recognized this behavior. Mean girls. Call it what you want, whenever there's a pack of girls in one school yard, there's got to be a queen - and once that's established, a semblance of peace and social order is maintained. Sigh, I don't miss junior high.

Sure enough, our breeder told us that there has to be a dominant sow in the herd, and since the girls hadn't all been together before their arrival, there was understandably going to be some jostling for position. The girls were apparently each trying to show young, cute Hef that she was the one who could be the best, first mate. It was like a pack of rabid cheerleaders fighting over the star quarterback.

The beefiest girl with the blonde highlights won. And whether it was because she was queen,  or because of her size or her highlights, it was natural for her to be the one we named Lola.

Hef seemed oblivious to their scuffling. Interestingly, to further prove out the breeder's advice, the rambunctious girls didn't hassle little Hef. And when I call Hef "little", it's literal - he is a good 10 lbs. smaller than the girls, as he is a couple of weeks younger than them. But the girls still left him alone.

Hef's indifference will change at about 5 months, when his hormones will kick in and he'll be rarin' to go with the ladies. We'd like to wait until Bubbles, Trixie and Lola are at least 8 months before breeding them for the first time. And even then, we'll likely stagger the girls out so we aren't deluged with three sets of piglets on the same day or week. So we'll have to separate Hef from the girls, since, at 5 months, Hef will be like an 18 year old boy, mindlessly obsessed with getting some action. Sigh, I don't miss high school.

Hef will be our breeding boar for several years, if all things work out. It's unclear how long we'll be able to keep him - perhaps only four or five years. Because the problem with an old boar is that he'll be far too portly and large to mate with the younger, smaller, cute girl pigs in the herd. But he'll still think he can.

Sigh. Pigs and people, not so far apart.

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Reader Comments (2)

Those pigs are awesome. I am going to have to get me some of those.

July 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKevin

I love the similarities of the pigs and people! How true! I think I've known quite a few old boors (oh, boars) hee hee

July 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBecky Lemelin

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