Butcher Week

This week has been full of death, and I think it has taken its toll on me. Sunday we butchered the remaining 4 meat birds plus the 1 barnyard mix who was shacked up with them. That wasn’t difficult, all went as planned. We did end up plucking by hand which was HORRID, but we got the job done. I’ve included a photo below of the barnyard mix and the Cornish X for comparison. The barnyard mix was a week older and still SO much smaller than the Cornish, which is why I won’t even attempt another meat breed. Although they’re a stupid bird, there is NO comparison between Cornish X for meat production. They were 8 weeks old when we butchered, and all of them were right around 10lb live, our largest was 8lb dressed.

Then, Monday the pigs went to butcher. They loaded just fine, and the enclosure we made in the truck bed worked perfectly. When we arrived at the processors, the issue we had was unloading them. They didn’t want to get out of the truck bed, and unfortunately the worker was not patient and began shocking them with the cattle prod. This caused them to scream like no tomorrow. They finally unloaded down the ramp into the holding pen before being processed, but listening to them scream and seeing them be visibly distressed was awful. I put a lot of effort into ensuring that they had good lives, and that they were not stressed learning to load into the truck. They were very calm on the drive to the processor, but all in vain because of their stressful unloading experience. I only hope the meat is not negatively affected.

Monday night was a tough one for me. I was sad. I enjoyed having the pigs. Certainly, my wallet will be happier not having to feed them, but I miss their “talking,” and their eagerness to eat ANYTHING we put in the pen with them. It is so odd having an empty pig pen. I am keeping my eyes to the future though, the pig pen will become a mini orchard filled with dwarf fruit trees, berry bushes, and grape vines. It will become a turkey paddock in the spring of 2019 for our Thanksgiving turkeys. Our next batch of pigs will live in the woods, with more space and the ability to forage entirely. I am excited for the pork that we will receive from our first pigs, and I understand that I gave them a good life, and in death they will provide for us. I know that their lives were 1000x better than hogs raised in CAFOs, and their meat will be healthier for us.

Empty pig pen 🙁

Death is a part of life. No life exists without death, and we must all pay the toll one day.

Our Pigs Are HERE!!

Yep, that’s right, our piggies have arrived!

We went and picked them up from Cables Piggery in nearby Silver Creek, GA. We are very pleased with them. They were born around April 7-9, so they’re just shy of 8 weeks old. We estimate them between 20-30lbs. They’re Hampshire x Duroc crosses. I think they look most like Hampshires, black and white (and super cute). I’m trying not to name them, because then I know it’ll be game over and they’ll never leave. They’re both gilts (unbred females), so I guess they could become breeders, HA!

We actually had to meet in a Walmart parking lot due to flash flooding in the area. I’m sure the shoppers loved hearing the screaming from them as we picked them up and transferred them from trailer to our dog box.

We got them home and they had gotten a bit car sick, puked all over the dog box. Unloading was stinky and not fun. But once they were in their pen, they calmed down and their tails curled right up. We gave them some food and water and filled their kiddie pool.

The piglet with the all black head is very talkative, slightly larger, and more confident but also more wary of humans. The smaller, white-headed piglet is very curious and less dominant. They both LOVED the eggs I gave them. They seem to have healthy appetites. They were also enjoying rooting everywhere that there was fresh dirt, which is inconveniently around our fence posts. We started digging out their wallow in hopes that they’ll take to rooting over there and towards the center of the pen.

I laid down some hay for them and they snuggled up and slept under their overhang and stayed dry. I’m nervous to go home, I hope they’re still in their pen and haven’t escaped. I am enjoying them thus far. Just thinking about the possibility of them reaching 200-250lbs each, providing us with likely over 250-300lb of pork is an AMAZING thought. I hope they don’t prove to be too much of a pain in the a$$, but we shall see.

Pig Waterer

Though we have yet to get our pigs (speed bumps keep arising), we are preparing as much as possible. One thing I did decide to go ahead and have ready to go was the pig waterer. Why am I making a waterer for a pig? Because. Pigs wallow. They love water, and won’t hesitate to dump their water trough and roll all around in it. I don’t mind this at all, however I don’t ever want them to be without water to drink – so I’m making them a waterer.

It’s about the same process, slightly simpler, than when I make rabbit waterers. First, order your drinking nipples. I ordered these from Amazon, they come in a set of 5 which I like because things do tend to break or become run down after a time. Once you’ve got your nipples, grab a 5 gallon bucket with a lid and drill a 1/2″ hole in it. Then, insert your 1/2″ watertight conduit hub into the hole. Screw your nipple into the conduit hub and you’re done! Easy, simple pig waterer.

You can hang the waterer off the ground so they can’t knock it over, but so that they still have access. I’m not yet sure how quickly they’ll drink a 5 gallon bucket – I assume probably every couple of days it’ll need refilled. I’ll post more updates when we get the pigs to see how the waterer is working.

I’ve also been debating teaching the dogs how to use the waterer, and making them one for outside during the summer. We shall see.

Heritage Livestock: Pigs

I realize I haven’t completed my full series on heritage breed livestock via TLC!

This post is regarding heritage breed pigs. I thought it was fitting as we are preparing to get our first pigs at the farm. Pigs can be beneficial on a small homestead in so many ways. First and foremost, they provide pork, sweet delicious pork. Pigs can also quickly and easily aerate a plot of land, making it more suitable for planting and habitation by microorganisms (earthworms and various other soil flora and fauna). While they are aerating the soil, they’re also fertilizing it with their manure, and tilling everything together. Pigs can be a great way to turn a garden plot in the fall and prepare it for planting the following spring.

While pigs make good homestead workers, they do require some care. They need access to a shelter to prevent frost bite in the winter and sunburn in the summer. They also require a place to wallow, which helps them stay cool and free of biting insects. They love the water, so it’s best to water them via a watering system, similar to what we do with our rabbits – this prevents them from taking baths in their water tank. They are voracious eaters, but can and will eat pretty much anything, so if you can work out an arrangement with your local farmers market or grocery store or even with your neighbors to gather their food waste, feeding pigs can be relatively simple. Pigs are notorious for escaping fencing, but there are ways to train them – electrifying hog panels can teach them not to challenge the fence, and they can often be moved down into double or triple strand hot wire which will contain an educated hog very well. You can also use very sturdy fencing such as pallets or hog panels, just ensure that they can’t be rooted under.

There are 3 breeds listed as critical, another four as threatened, and two on the watch list. I will briefly outline each breed below.


Choctaw: American breed of Spanish stock; small size bred for lean meat; hanging weights read more

Animal Purchase Etiquette

This post stems from the many sales and purchases that were conducted with my meat rabbits this weekend. I’ve been buying & selling rabbits (and other small livestock – horses too, but that’s a different story) for quite some time now, and I’ve met all sorts of people through my adventures. I decided to put together a post regarding SMALL ANIMAL purchases, since large animals and livestock are entirely different – though some of the same ideas and mannerisms still apply. The goal of this post is to provide both buyers AND sellers with some solid guidelines, especially to those new to the small livestock trade.

Step 1. Find an animal (or animals) that you are wanting to purchase
Shopping through Craigslist, Facebook, or local advertising sites and ads are great ways to find animals. Craigslist has a farm & garden for sale section, and many Facebook pages still continue to run animal sales ads even with the recent ban on animal sales site-wide. Determine what sort of stock you’re looking for, then get to searching. It can also be beneficial to post some ISO (in search of) ads, and in doing so, people with whatever you’re searching for can contact YOU! Remember, don’t contact people who have animals for sale if you’re NOT a serious buyer, that’s just wasting the seller’s time. Once you’ve found what you’ve been looking for, there are some considerations to take into account and some things you need to ask about before pickup.
1. What type of animal is it? The type of animal will determine things like transport cages, how they should be transported (truck bed vs back seat, etc.), and what provisions you’ll need to have prepared before you get your animal(s) home.
2. How many animals are you purchasing? Often, people can meet in public places (ie. Walmart parking lot) for pickup/drop off of animals, depending on the type and quantity of animal(s).
3. How far away is the seller? This will determine if you can make a quick trip in an evening after work, or should reserve a couple hours of travel time for a weekend.
4. How much are you spending? I recommend everyone keep detailed records of this, including how much the animal was purchased from, how much purchasing supplies for your new animal cost, and the cost of travel (gas, meals if necessary, etc.). This will help you keep a better handle on when/if you break even with your animals if they are for production uses.
***It is also important to note that prices can typically be negotiated, HOWEVER, do NOT low-ball a seller. Do your research, figure out what typical, comparable stock (ie. NPIP cert, show quality bantam rooster / pedigreed but meat quality Silver Fox rabbits, etc.) typically go for BEFORE you try to haggle. Most sellers who have been in the business for a while have their prices set for a reason (ie. feeding high quality, organic feed, specialized breeds/meat lineage, etc.). Don’t expect an animal for nothing and don’t assume that you’re doing them a favor by taking the animal off of their hands – a lot of times, sellers are doing YOU a favor by offering their animals to the public.

Step 2. Set up a day and time to meet for pickup
Once you’ve found your animal(s), set up a time to pick up your new addition(s). In doing so, make sure that you’ve done your research beforehand and figure out how far the pickup location is from you. Choose a time that you can show up ON TIME, or even EARLY! Do NOT keep a seller waiting, or they’re likely to refuse to sell to you again in the future. A lot of small scale sellers will want to meet in public – I personally use Walmart parking lots for sales since I am not keen on having strangers on my property. If you are going to the farm instead of a public place, plan to arrive on time and do NOT bring any other animals along with you (seems like a no-brainer, but I have seen it happen) to prevent possible biosecurity issues, and out of respect for the sellers. Regardless of pickup location, show up ON TIME – don’t waste the seller’s time waiting on you to arrive. If for some reason you end up deciding NOT to buy the animal, be straight forward with the seller, don’t run them around and keep them hanging – again, wasting their time and they’ll likely not sell to you again.

read more