Big Pigs!

The date for the processor has been set. Yorkie and Hampie, my very first two pigs, will go to be slaughtered and butchered on July 20th. It’s exciting and a little scary, and it came sooner than I expected. I’m going to really enjoy watching them these last few days, and I hope I really enjoy eating them when the time comes. I don’t think I’ve posted a lot about the pigs since I first got them, but plenty has happened.

At their first weighing on April 22nd, Yorkie was 53 pounds and Hampie was 46 pounds. At their last weighing on July 3rd, Yorkie was 202 pounds and Hampie was 193 pounds. They have averaged 16 pounds a week of growth apiece. The couple of times I’ve gone away for the weekend, they’ve been visibly bigger when I got back!

Back in April and early May, Joshua and I treated both pigs for mites. It was hard to be sure of the diagnosis, since I’m going off of pictures and descriptions on the internet. They were scratching a lot, and we looked into the safety of treatment options and decided to go for it. After the Ivomec injections, they stopped scratching right away, so it worked!

At one point, Hampie had a little swollen place near her mouth that I worried about. I couldn’t get in her mouth to figure out what it was, so I just kept an eye on it. When I could, I tried to press on it to see if it was painful to her. It didn’t seem to be bothering her, and it never got bigger, and a few weeks later it was gone. Who knows?

It’s been fun to see the different personalities between the two pigs. Yorkie likes belly scritches. Even when she’s eating, she’ll fall right over to have her belly scritched, though she still tries to eat at the same time! Hampie wouldn’t let me touch her for the longest time, but eventually came around to love scritching behind the ears and will even stop eating to get them. If I’m scritching Yorkie’s belly, Hampie will come stand on top of her to try to get some loving of her own.

At first, Yorkie was a bit of a bully with the food, trying to keep it away from Hampie. As they got big enough, I got them two food bowls. Yorkie would come over and butt Hampie away from her bowl, so that Hampie had to continually move out of the way and go seek out the other bowl. Lately, though, Hampie’s been holding her own.

Both pigs try to eat everything, of course. Any time a new item is introduced to the barn or the pasture, they try to eat it. This meant that early on, both pigs tried to take a bite out of me. They were small and it didn’t matter, but as pigs get bigger, they can do serious damage to a human, either from biting or crushing. They get so excited at feeding time that I started taking in a little switch in with me. I’ve never really had to smack them hard. I just say, “Back!” and wave the switch between us, and this keeps them from rushing me or trying to take a bite out of me before the food is on the ground. As they’ve gotten bigger, I’m careful to keep my hands away from their mouths, and I’ve gotten nervous about new people going into their space.

I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to find a place for slaughter. There are so few places in the country left that do small processing. I wanted to find a place that was small and friendly enough where I could potentially even watch. Fortunately, a neighbor mentioned a meat shop that might do it. Joshua and I visited, and they didn’t do processing, but they pointed us to a place across the street that did. We checked them out, and it looks good. The date is scheduled for July 20th.

Before the big day, the last complication was figuring out how to get the pigs in the truck for transport. Joshua and I (mostly Joshua) built a ramp to lead into the truck. So far, we haven’t gotten the pigs to go up the ramp. I keep trying to entice them in there with food, but they haven’t gotten very far yet. At this point, the food is in the truck, and I hope they’ll get hungry enough to go up there. It’s only twelve days until the processing date, so I’m hoping to have them used to the ramp by then so that getting in the truck is one less stressful thing on the list for that day.

Okay, narration over. Time for pictures!

They spot me:

And come running over:

Something’s happening. Must root!

Ooh! A new thing to try to eat:

Nope. Not interested: