I think Gene Logsdon once wrote that farmers build barns for themselves, not their animals. There are several bad reasons for this:
- Keeping up with the Joneses – If it works for car sales, it works for barns.
- False economy – Because 4x more debt will make your animals 400% more productive.
- Anthropomorphism — My animals need someplace warm and cozy just like I do.
This last reason is probably most common among homesteaders (and horse people). You look out in the field. It’s raining and cold. The sheep are probably soggy. You feel guilty. But, let’s consider: sheep were bred in Great Britain (the land of raining and cold) and they are covered in wool (nature’s most effective insulator when wet). Do your sheep need a barn, or do you need a barn so you won’t feel as guilty?
Yeah, that’s a tough one.
And so, on day 2 of owning pigs I was snuggling in bed and thinking about our two pigs trying to stay warm in the pile of straw I provided. “It’s going to get colder. I should build them something,” I thought.
Before anyone starts calling me a ‘horse person’, here are my reasons:
- They really would need shelter if we have another 10° spell like last year.
- Warm animals burn fewer calories. I’m paying for the calories.
- Straw always finds a use around the homestead. (Composting pig manure?)
- It’s Oregon. It’s a tarp. What could be more natural?
The Craigslist Feeders
About a month ago someone advertised two single-bin pig feeders on Craigslist for $25 each. Since these go for $100 new at the local farm store, I sent him an e-mail. No response. Perhaps he sold them or simply forgot to provide a phone number. (Check!)
On day 2 of owning pigs he called me. I almost said, “No thanks, I have an awesome $18 feeder” and then I realized that would be stupid and promptly bought them both. So now we have two like-new pig feeders. They were used for the last couple months of a 4-H pig about five years ago. I’m not going to install one right now, but when I get tired of feeding them twice a day I’m going to mount one very securely and provide a rain cover for it. I’m told that these feeders suffer most of their damage by being torn off the wall and dragged around the pig pen.
Finally, in other news, I put up a pig journal page to record the details of our first pair of pigs.