We brought three piglets home from Flying Shoe Farm yesterday. These piglets are so healthy and active, I was really lucky to find a farm that raises such beautiful pigs. These are a cross between a Duroc boar and a Berkshire sow. Both hearty breeds, both heritage varieties, and both known for their great tasting pork! These ones have been started on non-GMO grains, which the farmer was having to truck in from a distance, adding to the already substantial cost. I wish there was more of an option here. We buy organic feed and it is $36 per 20kg. The piglets will likely go through a bag a week by the time they are full grown. That makes for pretty expensive pork. So we have put out some feelers for organic farmers in the area to perhaps start growing custom grains and we can mix our own. We have the land, but not the equipment for such a crop.
These pigs will also be pasture raised, rotating from pasture to pasture every few days to keep the grass under them green and fresh. If they stay in one spot too long, they root up everything, and turn the soil into really fertile planting ground, but nothing is left for pasture, so I would have to replant.
To supplement their diet, we'll feed them fresh veggies from the garden, trimmings, zucchini that gets too big, extra eggs and goats milk, and they will be happy, happy pigs. They have such personality and are really friendly, intelligent, chatty and a joy to have around.
We hope to keep one of these gilts (young female pigs) to breed in the fall. The other two will be harvested likely in October or November. I already know that harvest day will be a very hard day for us.
One might ask, then, why we raise pigs? The answer is not simple.
They are a small part of some dwindling populations of heritage hogs. Factory farms prefer the pink skinned, fast growing, fatter variety bred for the factory farm model. Docile pigs, that don't complain and put on weight quickly.
These pigs - and their pork are different. The pork itself is redder than you will find in the grocery store. The flavour is stronger. If you are my age or older (50+) you will remember a pork roast from your childhood that was tender, moist, browned to perfection and succulent. Can't say I've had one of those from the store since, but there is hope for our future! Those porcine pasts were raised differently. Not on concrete floors in large windowless barns, but on green plants, and muddy wallows. They ate apples fallen from a tree and acorns and nuts from under the fallen leaves. Natural, healthy, happy pigs create natural healthy, happy pork.
I spoil my pigs with love and scratches on their bellies, good food in their tummies, sunshine on their faces, backs and feet. Their days are spent as they should be. When the time comes, I'll make sure it is quick. Most pigs spend a lifetime in misery. Mine will have one bad day. In the meantime, they are home.
Rob and Karie Young started Manic Organic Farm with two things...One, the purchase of bare land in 2007 and two, a joint dream of relaxed country life. Well, maybe not so relaxed!