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In February of 2009, my husband and I bought our first home located on a few acres in Johnson, Vermont. We live here with our dog, Ollie, two cats: Elvis and Atticus, six Nigerian Dwarf goats: May, Chutney, Poppy, Juniper, Willow, and Jokers Wild, and about fifteen laying hens. And to top it all off we welcomed our daughter, Isabel, into the world on January 11th, 2011.

We're slowly updating our 1850's farmhouse while steadily working towards a healthy, meaningful, self-sufficient life together.

This blog details our endeavors along with our successes and failures- all in good fun. Thanks for stopping by, hope to see you again soon!

May

May
May and I enjoying some sunshine
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Pigs. Need I say more?

Lovingly Posted by Melissa Monday, May 24, 2010

I had read, before we ever got our pigs, that they could be a problem with our chicken population.  When our four boys arrived we noticed a bit of interest and a couple idle bites in a chicken's direction here and there.  But the laying hens are fast, so the pigs never got more than a couple feathers out of the encounter.  We decided that between the damage they were doing to the floor in the barn, the potential snacking that would be at the chickens' expense, and the lovely smell, it would just be best to keep them in their own shed, in a seperate fenced-in pasture.  This didn't solve all our problems, unfortunately.

First off, I have to say that the damage to the barn has halted completely, minus the one time they got out into the other pasture, went into the barn, and ate all the grain we had.  Second, the smell is nowhere near as bad.  They keep their shed very clean and, thanks to the amount of space they have to move around in, only on occasion do I get an offensive odor wafted in my direction when out by their pasture.

The only thing we haven't been able to halt is the snacking.  Yes, the snacking at our chickens' expense.  There is one spot under a gate where the chickens can squeeze under and if they aren't smart enough to figure out how to get back they are, eventually, picked off.  So far not a single laying hen has been the victim, I'm not sure they could even fit under the gate, it has always been one of our almost two month old chickens.

Two or three times we have come home to find a carpet of feathers in the pigs' pasture.  They were like crop circles, once one showed up out of the blue another one did, then another one.  Then last night our neighbor's daughter stopped by to bring us some food scraps (for the pigs of course) and a few muffins (for us, yippy!) and as we were admiring the new baby goats she asked me if the pigs had a toy.  I wasn't really sure what she meant but as we neared the gate I saw the tell-tale feathers next to their water trough.

It was a horrifying sight.  Two of them had legs hanging out the sides of their mouths as they gnawed through the bones.  The other two had something as well, I tried not to look long enough to identify the body part.  I apologized to the neighbor who was probably sorry that she stopped by on her way back home, although she seemed relatively unphased.

That night Kyle and I discussed the impending downsizing of our pig herd.  We are looking forward to sending Bricktop off to our local animal processer more and more as the days wear on.  He is large enough and he gets the majority of the food.  Hopefully once he is gone we'll be able to focus on the other three, so they will grow faster.  Honestly, this is a great experience but I'm just not sure we want to get pigs again.  There are plenty of people who raise pigs, and I'd rather buy pork from a local co-op than deal with these guys again.  Chickens are so much quieter, they don't eat as much, they don't tear up your land, and they taste delicious.  I love chicken.  But then I think of bacon...oh bacon...

Well, I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

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