The only “farm” animals on our little fledgling homestead right now are those rough, stinky pigs. I have been inordinately slow coming around to liking those animals. They are quite different from rabbits and chickens, dogs and cats. These animals are the only ones I have had on our property so far, and pigs are STRIKINGLY different from any of them. I had full expectations within my own mind of arriving at the 4-H pick-up site to adorable little pink piglets, ready to come home and be adorable for at least a few weeks. Boy, was I surprised! Those little fellas arrived already looking completely like hogs!
As they arrived and we learned how to care for them, we had several adjustments to make. I do not know if all pigs are aggressive, but these guys are. They are not mean aggressive, but they are more than a little forward with their curiosity. The first time a new person comes around, they will be trying to chew on boots, poking with their snouts, and snorting all kinds of oinks and grunts while they evaluate what kind of person you are. This habit is fine until you remember that they are huge; they are easily knocking on 200 pounds each, and I don’t know about you, but I am not excited about 200 pounds of pig running at me! I discover quickly just how much of the prissy girl I was in my youth still exists inside my soul.
Pigs drink. Pigs drink a lot. They drink a seemingly excessive amount of water. We have 14 gallons of water in their pen, and we must refill it every day. When we raised a batch of meat birds back at the old house, I remember them drinking and eating more than our egg layers. I have wondered if that is part of it. I do not know the breed of pig we have, but it is a market hog that goes to a sale in May with our local 4-H program. These breeds that grow super-fast like that seem to be a bit higher maintenance each day.
Some mornings when My Buddy and I head to their pen to check on them, they get hyper and run around the pen grunting some kind of specific communication to each other. I have not stayed out around them enough to decipher their language, but they do have distinctive grunts and sounds for different circumstances. The first time they imitated Belle, our dog, growling at them it blew my mind. Hers too, I think. Now that we are all accustomed to each other, I find that they love to watch everything going on in the yard. When the kids are on the trampoline, they watch and listen the entire time. I like to let them know I am headed their way by asking, “How ya doing’, porkers?” They have started recognizing the phrase and coming to the fence. If you happen to give one a head scratch, you had better be prepared to spend some time patting each on the head alternatively.
If we ever have pigs again after these two, there are several things we would likely change. One thing is for sure, they are diligent workers within their space. Their pen is fully tilled, and the crossties that Bret had placed along the edges to control water flow during rainy weeks are constantly being rearranged to their liking. The piggers and I had a slow adjustment in getting used to each other, but I am glad to have them. Some days, one could almost say they are even sweet in their own aggressive, uncouth, piggy way.