Forest Raised Pork


In the garden…

We’ve been raising these heritage hogs, a cross between a Large Black Hog and a Tamworth, for about a month. These guys (three brothers) are very friendly and curious about what you’ve got for them…because of course, you must be walking by to bring them a treat, right? OINK! We started them off in our garden, which had been used as a home base for our last two rounds of meat chickens. The hogs made quick work of the soil in the garden, rooting their way through every square inch of soil, finding countless bugs, weeds, worms and no doubt potatoes I missed from summer’s harvest. They turned it all over more thoroughly than I ever would have, and now we will let the chickens in to clean up the spilled barley grains that the hogs trampled into the dirt so we don’t end up with a field of barley come summer….but wait, you make beer out of barley, right? Hmmmmmmmm….

Back to the hogs… we moved them across the top part of our property to their new extra large area, which is under oaks and pines and covered with layer upon layer of untouched forest goodness. Moving hogs is not exactly like moving a dog or even a goat from one place to another – i.e. you cannot put a leash on a hog. Here’s what you do instead: first, you try to lure them with a bucket of delicious soaked corn, barley and peas (their supplemental ration) when you know they are good and hungry – which is just about always with pigs. Secondly, once they’ve left the confines of their gate and start running off in different directions, you kind of panic and try to corral them like you’re some sort of reject Border Collie to whom God forgot to give a herding instinct. Thirdly, you watch in dropped-jaw amazement when this blocky, beefy, loin-roast-on-stubby-legs starts hauling curly tail across the yard at warp speed. Man, pigs can MOVE! Finally, you get some sense back in your head and grab a couple of boards and use them as “walls” to keep the pig only able to see forward, and forward they will go! There’s no touching them or hands-on at all – you just remove “right” and “left” from their options and they move in the direction you want them to, with the help of a similarly coordinated person holding an opposing board. Of course, there is no gear shift on these cuties, so you will find yourself running at a high rate of speed, still holding large board alongside the pig (hello, biceps!) and across from your partner in crime (hello, biceps!) until you get them to their destination. Then, go back, find the others and lather-rinse-repeat. Fortunately, they really don’t like to be separated, so once we got one in the others weren’t as difficult. Once you are finished with the round up, look at your partner and say “oh, that was easy!” as your heart is pounding and you’re hiding how out of breath you are.

Of course, I don’t have any photos of this process because it was all hands on deck to make it happen. Maybe we’ll rig up a “pig-cam” next time to catch it for posterity.


In the new forest area…they really need to work on their poses, they always are doing the same thing!

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