The curious case of the roadside pig

Some months ago Ebey Farm wrote about the passersby who stop and watch his pigs. It made me smile at the time, and about a month later we got our weaner pigs. Time passed and finally our pigs got brave and started rooting in the pen. Their pen is by the side of a road.

The next thing we know we have people in cars rubber necking and reversing to get a better look, school children staring out of the bus, and neighbors taking detours on walks to stand near the fence and watch them. All the interest in our pigs got me thinking. I, too, had never seen a pig in real life (in my memory) other than at the county fair. Lee grew up in Indiana so he occasionally saw pig farms, but certainly never pigs on grass. Here in Oregon, you will commonly see cows, sheep, horses, lamas, alpacas, and chickens but not pigs. It’s funny that such a common part of the American diet is such an uncommon part of the American landscape.

I’ll admit to rubber necking at uncommon animals just as much as the next person. Someone a few miles from us has an emu, and I always look for it as we drive by as it’s not always in the field. When we lived in Phoenix, there was a house in town with a single Bison in their yard. Every time I saw it I was nearly jumping up and down in my seat and giggling, because you just don’t expect such a big hairy animal within city limits. Near Aggie’s breeder up toward Sweet Home there is a whole herd of Belted Galloway cows. I love those cows. They are pretty uncommon, and those were the first I had ever seen in real life. I wouldn’t mind having one of them in our field.

(Hint hint -> Lee)

Since the pigs are getting out more for some daily rooting we are hoping they will do some damage to the resident blackberry vines that live in a corner of the pen. You will occasionally see people online mention using pigs for clearing brush, blackberries, and stumps. I guess what we really should have done is set up a pen at the front of our house, drilled some holes around the two cedar stumps, filled them with corn, and let the pigs at it. I’m sure that would have caused at least one fender bender.

Hmm, our pigs don’t really seem sparking clean like those fancy magazine cover photos.

Today a neighbor brought by some of their old pumpkins so the pigs and the chickens got an extra treat.

We still have 5 pumpkins of our own to feed to the pigs, but we had to give one of the new ones to the chickens. They always seem more appreciative because they pick the skins clean.

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18 Responses to The curious case of the roadside pig

  1. Ali says:

    The hens do love a pumpkin for a treat. I just brought one out from storage for them. I’m really going to spoil them and pop it in the oven for a bit while I cook our ham from our locally raised pig. Delish! Happy New Year!

  2. Lynn says:

    We all like to check out unusual animals. I have even been known to photograph other people’s alpacas, just because I think they are so darn cute! Your pigs may be dirty, but they are cute, too! Their date is drawing near, isn’t it? You hens are very pretty. Are you still planning on starting fresh in the spring with new chicks?

  3. Ron says:

    I’d be a roadside gawker, for sure. I love pigs. 🙂

    Yours are looking great, they really seem to be gaining well. They look just like our first pair.

    Ron

  4. lee says:

    Ali – Yeah, I would bet that baked pumpkin would be especially enjoyed by the chickens. We fed our pigs some of last year’s baked spiced winter squash (emptying out the freezer) and they loved it. Much pig pushing ensued.

    Lynn – Yes, alpacas are very cute, although I hear they spit like their cousins the camels. Robin’s just placed an order for 26 chicks for next year, so we will definitely be replacing most of the current flock.

    Ron – Hey, glad to see you are back online! We’ve missed your blog. Just this past week I remember wondering aloud to Robin about how you were doing.

    I appreciate the confirmation as to the pig’s growth. I know they’ve been growing, but I have no real sense of their current weight. My hope was for a 210-220 lb hanging weight, so I guess I’ll need to take a bunch of photos the day before they are butchered so I have something to compare against in the future.

  5. Ron says:

    Actually, you can use a tape measure to find their weight: http://www.thepigsite.com/articles/541/weighing-a-pig-without-a-scale. It works pretty good. I’ve tried guessing and I’m not very good at it… I’ll stick my neck out and say yours are maybe 150-160? I’m probably way off… one of the photos they look pretty hefty and the other they look kinda long and lean… gotta use the tape measure.

    For Christmas, Abby got me a pig coffee mug. Seeing your photos is making me remember just how fun those critters are. They sure do get into their food! 🙂

    Ron

  6. Benita says:

    Having grown up on a dairy farm with cousins who owned hogs, I must say I adore piglets. They are so cute and they run very fast.

    Yours are growing very quickly!

  7. lee says:

    Ron – Hey, that’s a good idea. Thanks! I’m going to give it a try. I’ll post results when I get a chance.

    Benita – I continue to be amazed at how fast they can run as adults, especially for an animal that can’t seem to bend in the middle.

  8. Collin says:

    I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. If you don’t mind, I would love to occasionally quote your blog and send some of my readers over to your site. It’s nice to see more Oregonian farmers online. Unfortunately, I cannot have pigs in the city limits (Portland), we are restricted to chickens, goats, and bees. I have chickens now, want bees and see no use for goats here at my home. Well, keep up the good work!

  9. lee says:

    Hi Collin, no problem. I don’t mind links or quotes with attribution. Not sure we’re all that quote-worthy, but hey, I agree it’s nice to see Oregonians growing their own food. I don’t usually post ping-backs, just to keep down the clutter.

    Milk goats seem like too much work to fit our lifestyle, but with enough grass a couple sheep could be useful in town. In Gene Logsdon’s book All Flesh Is Grass he does a back-of-the-envelope calculation as to the meat-raising potential of the verdant green suburban lawns of the U.S. (assuming you’d want to eat something that had eaten that many chemicals) and the numbers are pretty staggering. I’m told that in New Zealand they use sheep to keep city parks mowed. If only we were that efficient over here…

  10. Leigh says:

    I had to grin about the passing pig watchers. Made me think of one day last summer when I was out taking our llama for a walk. Two guys on a scooter drove by. They were going at a fair clip (for a scooter) but when they saw us, they both rubbered their necks and I could hear one say, “That’s a big dog!”

  11. Pingback: Pig on a bathroom scale » Farm Folly

  12. lee says:

    Hi Leigh, ha, that’s a funny story! And to think I groan when people call our sheepdog a poodle.

  13. Charity says:

    Oh, think how horrified all those poor kids on the bus are going to be when they see the butcher wagon pull up to your house…. But the bacon will be mighty tasty.

  14. lee says:

    Hey Charity, I don’t think the kids will be too traumatized. The pig appointment is for 8am on Saturday, so all the school kids will be sleeping or watching TV. That said, I think there’s something inherently imbalanced in a culture which eats so much meat but views animal butchering as horrific.

  15. Charity says:

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with prefering not to see the processing of the animals into meat. I’ve seen it a number of times myself, even helped a time or two, and definitely prefer not to see it.

  16. lee says:

    No, I don’t expect people to enjoy the process of butchering. I was commenting on the negative attitude that American society has toward people who butcher their own food. 60 years ago, a large percentage of households had their own flock of chickens, and Sunday chicken dinner was plucked only hours before it was eaten. If you did the same thing today, you might have a neighbor report you for animal cruelty.

    Yet, during the same time period American meat consumption per person has gone up by 55%. Far more animals are being raised, killed, and butchered, but it’s kept neatly out of sight. How much has this cellophane wrapped convenience accounted for the rise in meat consumption? How much do the low prices allow us to ignore the hidden horrors of our industrialized food?

    I’m not suggesting everyone should be raising pigs in their backyards. I am saying that as a culture, the lack of respect we show toward the animals we raise as food does us no credit. I’ve heard many people say, “if I had to butcher my own meat, I’d be a vegetarian.” For me personally, if I’m not going to be a vegetarian, I feel that I need to butcher my own meat.

  17. Rae says:

    That is so funny, because I’m guilty of doing the same. There used to be a couple of what I believed to be highland cattle off Stafford Rd, and I always had to crane my neck to catch a peek. 🙂

  18. This post was cute. Since reviving our farm in the last year, we’ve had people stop by to look at the pigs, and everyone in town knows us as the people with the turkeys and pigs in the yard. Our turkeys followed us everywhere and even played croquet with us:)

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