🐖 Should you have pigs on your homestead?

Dec 15, 2021

A pig has a plow on the end of its nose because it does meaningful work with it. It is built to dig and create soil disturbance, something it can't do in a concentrated feeding environment. The omnivore has historically been a salvage operation for food scraps around the homestead. - Joel Salatin

Out of all the animals we have on the homestead the pigs by far take the most amount of time. For that reason a lot of years ago we got rid of the ones we got from a neighbor. But now here we are with them back on the homestead.

We got the original potbelly pigs because...for one the piglets were super cute, secondly we had some work we wanted them to do.

But after some time one of them had babies and those babies did not respect the fence and loved our garden. So with a FREE craigslist post we got rid of them and decided pigs were not for us.

But things have changed a good amount. Now almost 9 years later we have learned a lot more about animal husbandry and fencing and just overall farming.

Here's what's been happening this past summer I have met with forest mulchers, the forestry department, and loggers. We have 7 acres of woods that we want to turn into an oak savanna.

Picture big oaks, hickories, and other nut trees, under them the native grasses growing.

But to get there we have to clear out the canopy to only 40% tree cover. We also have to break up the soil and leaf litter on the ground.

There are two ways to go. The mechanical way, the old oil to the soil. Or We can mimic nature.

After much consideration of our holistic context, we decided that we want to mimic nature. AND nature has the perfect animal to disturb the soil of the forest floor. It's pigs.

So here we are with pigs back on the homestead.

What we have learned on their second visit is a lot already.

1. Pigs will respect a hot fence. They will also always test a fence, so keep it hot all the time.
2. Pigs do eat almost everything - not oranges or onions.
3. They are super smart. If you can keep them from being bored they will stay in the fences much better.
4. We started with way too small of paddocks. Over time I have made each new paddock big enough that they stay in it for almost a week now.
5. Pig water nipples are for sure the way to give them water.
6. Having a perimeter fence or something to catch them when they get out will make it way easier to catch them.

So here's our plan.
1. We section off about 100' at a time
2. let the pigs in to turn the forest floor over in that section
3. move the pigs to the next section.
4. open up the canopy trees where the pigs left
5. roll hay over the bare soil or seed with inexpensive grass seeds
6. Repeat over and over while we transform the forest into something that can feed the cows and sheep

Peace and Love,
Drew and Lacey

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