Last year Big Son was involved in 4-H and his project was pigs. We have an old barn that we use for 'things' like this. Some of our livestock is seperated out based on its needs and the pigs were in need of houseing. We bought 4 of them and Big Son wanted to share the pictures we took of them when we first bought them. When you show a pig for a 'meat animal project' they have to be of a certain weight range to be considered as part of the project. They have to be under 60lbs to be able to show for the local fair. That way everyone participating has a good shot at 'making weight'. Makeing weight means they have to be a certain weight by fair day 'weigh in'. If they are under that weight, they are not allowed to show because the are not a 'finished' animal... I know - lots of farm talk in this! Weigh in, finsihed, making wieght etc.... Anyway, he wanted to show you pictures of last years pigs. These pictures were taken March/April of 2007.
We had bought a 1 barrow and 3 gilts with the hope that we would raise a few of our own. A gilt is a female, unbread pig and a barrow is a 'nutless' pig.... I love saying that instead of fixed sounds naughty right! Otis was the barrow and Tillie, Bessie and Maude were the girl pigs. In the above picture from left to right is Otis, Maude and Tillie.
Bessie is the white pig - we call a pig like her a blue butt because they have blue spots or markings on - well, thier butt. Bessie has issues with having her picture taken. When others say talk to the hand, she says speak to the rump.
Now, when you are looking for a pig that is going to be a great 'meat pig', you want hams baby! Bessie had hams!! Her 'butt cheeks' were nice and round yet long and muscley, is that a word muscley? If not it should be...
Otis was Big Sons 'show pig' - He was the lucky one to go to the fair and be judged as a meat animal.
Here Big Son and Lispy are 'pig wispering' - Lispy thinks its a crock of crap. His theary is, get the "pig cane' and they will move where you want them to go. However, Big Son is more in touch with his emotional side and would rather convince the pigs that they want to do somthing than force them to do it.... whatever works huh.
Here Lispy is trying to demonstrate how to handle a pig. She weighed more than he did at the time but he is fearless - FEARLESS I SAY!! I know some of you are thinking, why is she letting those kids get close to those animals like that? I was in the pen with them and the pigs were small compared to when they grew. We strive to teach our kids how to 'handle' animals and never, no matter how much you love them, care for them or trust them, that they are an animal and they DO turn on you at times. We have very calm livestock for the most part, because we feel it is important to work with them so they are used to us, but that NEVER asures us that they will not have a bad day just like people do.
So, Big Son did well his first year and the judge told him that he had a great pig!! Otis was bought at the meat auction by our neighbor who is a butcher. All of the animals sold at this auction are going to be processed for meat, so he knew all along it was coming. That said, it does not make it any easier sometimes. Knowing who bought Otis did help him know that he would be well cared for in his last day and that he would not 'suffer' in his death. Our neighbor told Big Son that he had done a great job in raising Otis and that he had lived a great life at our home. We raise animals for a living. For milking, meat, breeding etc. - but we care for them as though they were gold. In our eyes they have a purpose, wether for milk production, meat production or for the eggs we sell - they have value and are a living creature that deserves respect, love and a good home. We like to make sure that they have everything they need to be healthy and happy as an animal can be.
So, anyone got questions about raising pigs or showing in the fair? I would love to post more about what we do on the farm if you are interested.