I have found that farming basically means “figure it out”. There is always things that happen that you need to fix or change, and I frequently find myself questioning my choices. Scott and I were driving home together and were discussing and prioritizing the “farm – to – do – list”. One of the big things is to decide on a sheep barn. I was certain we would have had that barn by last fall, and then at least before lambing, but things happened, we adjusted and postponed since we couldn’t quite figure out exactly what we wanted, and here we are, still without a “proper” barn. Just to be clear, the barn is for us and for our convenience, not for the wellfare of the sheep. They do really well in their run in. In the winter I covered most of the opening with a tarp to cut down the wind. Worked great, but I can’t say I like the look. I like the barn look!
Another thing we decided to change is in which direction we want to take our “pig farm”. We love the Mangalitsas. They are sweet and friendly and have excellent meat. What I don’t love about them is the time they take to mature and their excessive rooting. Well I happen to think it’s excessive. They probably don’t agree and are just being Mangas. The fact that they can take a large area and make it look like a construction site in a very short time does mean that we have to re-seed their fields and pens every time we move them. And of course, it increases the amount of mud in wet or snowy conditions. Which tells me – and Scott sighs when I tell him- that we need more pens for them. OR …. we can switch breeds. Or both!! We looked at all the traits of other pigs out there, and decided that we thought the Tamworth pig could be a good compliment to our lard pigs. Fast growing, the optimal bacon pig, a pig that thrives outdoors and is sweet and friendly. Last week we welcomed Rosie the Tamworth! She is a sweet giant and will be turning 1 year old in June. We love her red color and we look forward to her and Oliver’s babies when she’s ready!
When Rosie arrived to our farm, she walked by every other pig we have- and it seemed like she was sweetly saying “hello” to every one. Here she is greeting Oliver.
I recently asked Scott how many hours he has spent on fixing the Meishan’s pasture vs the Mangalitsa’s. He’s a staunch Mangalitsa supporter, but he finally admitted that I had a point! He spends HOURS on the Manga pens, clearing the electric from dirt mounds, fixing holes and reseeding where as we spend zero time on those things with our Meishans. So we now have “Meishalitsas” coming in July… a mix between Meishans and Mangalitsas that supposedly will be awesome and actually faster growing than the two are separately. AND we got two more little Meishan piglets. They don’t even act like piglets, they act exactly like puppies, and they talk with me constantly!! They sit in my lap, crawl over my legs, stretch out next to me, and flop over for belly rubs. I love all my pigs, but the Meishans have a special place, and it will be exciting to see how it all works out! The one thing I know is that when it comes to preserving heritage breeds, you “eat them to save them”. If there is no use for them, people will turn away from them, and when it comes to the Meishans, they deserve to be both saved and appreciated!
Change can be exciting, but it’s also makes me a little nervous… are we making the right decisons, will we get the “perfect” tasting meat, while also getting the kind of pigs that will do the best on our limited amount of acreage? You can technically put 8-10 sows on an acre, but does that mean that you should? I know that if we did, we would have no green areas left, so we are trying to be wise stewards of both our land and our critters. I am so very grateful for this chance of learning, and of working side by side with my husband striving for the same goals. Often when I stand and watch the pigs, chickens or sheep I’m filled with this deep sense of thankfulness. I am truly blessed to be able to live this life.