One doesn’t have to spend much time on our little farm to realize that we love animals. We love them for all sorts of reasons but mainly because they help support our sustainable living-ish lifestyle. You can read more about that in a previous blog here: Sustainable Living-ISH
Photos by Tiffany Johnson
Photo by Jessica Creech Photography
Sheep, goats, rabbits, alpacas, a cow (named Cowley) chickens, and a couple of dogs have all been a part of the mix for a while, but our son Fielder had insisted that we raise our own pigs. We discouraged him from this idea because pigs and a rustic outdoor wedding venue don’t necessarily go hand in hand. Pigs are loud and if left in a small confined area, they do not smell too pleasant.
During this past off season, Daniel and Fielder found three small pigs and raised them to maturity. Quickly after, they found their way into our freezer. With the help of a close family friend, the boys managed to process and butcher all three pigs here on site. However, everyone agreed that we wouldn’t be able to raise traditional pigs here on the farm mainly because of the noise and rooting.
Pigs don’t necessarily make the cute “oink” noise that children’s toys suggest. It is more of a high pitch screeching noise, like something from a horror movie. To top it off, they root everything! If you aren’t familiar with this behavior, pigs will use their snout to tear up the ground to gain access to insects and other things in the ground. At first glance, it doesn’t appear they could do much damage, but just three pigs went through about half an acre of pasture in one day. When they were done, it looked like someone had tilled the field and dug a few big holes.
Discouraged, Fielder and Daniel went back to the drawing board to determine if raising pigs was even possible. After a few months of researching and looking around, they found the perfect fit for our farm: The American Guinea Hog.
The American Guinea Hog is unique to the United States and has been around since the times of our forefathers. If you were to visit a homestead in the early 1800s, no doubt you would have seen an American Guinea Hog.
One of the most important features of this hog for us is the fact that they graze and forage more than the larger hogbreeds. Only growing to a maximum weight of around 200 lbs, the American Guinea Hog roots only a minor amount and spends much of the day eating grass and other plants. This shift in diet drastically changes the texture of the meat, making it more tender and more red in color than traditional breeds of pigs.
Out of all the things that made us lean toward the American Guinea Hog is their disposition toward people. They aren’t an aggressive breed and have been known to be more like pets for their owners. So here we are with two breeding pairs. So far so good. Only time will tell if they work out like we are thinking they will. As Daniel would say, it’s just another experiment.