Tag Archives: red wattle
Awwww…..spring on a working ranch. It’s a busy time. Hence my absence from this blog (so sorry!). But I promise I will make it up to you. I have some exciting news!
As I may or may not shared here, I kept one of the gilts (that is a young female pig) that I was going to eat this year. M (the pig) was special from the beginning. First off, she is pretty, she is half red wattle, and half old spot – a wonderful mixture of heritage hog breeds. You guys know how I feel about crossbreeds (hybrid vigor is our friend).
When I got her home she immediately established dominance over the rest of the pigs. She went up to any piglet pen-mates that looked at her funny, and pushed them. She was the head hog after that. Something I respected.
As she grew it became more and more apparent that M was indeed a special hog. She was sweet and gentle to the people that would visit this winter. She always met me at her trough at feeding times. She absolutely loved to be forked, scratched and walked around the ranch. And would often hold conversations with me when we hung out (come on, you’d hang out with your pigs if you had them too).
When I finally started thinking about keeping a sow, my pig expert friends offered advice such as “look for evenly spaced nipples”, “know her mom”, “a good attitude counts”, and “make sure she has at least 14 teats”. M fulfilled all these requirements. I decided to keep her and use her for my foundation sow.
Now this meant I’d either have to get a boar or artificially inseminate (AI) her. I know I’m not ready for a boar yet, and I do have a really awesome, supportive veterinarian! He helped me find some semen and came over and AI’ed M last month. While he was here, he also taught me how to AI a hog. It was easier than I had expected.
Unfortunately M didn’t take last month. I can’t say I am surprised though, it was rather a stressful day, as the pigs next to her had their “appointment”. Just like people, stress doesn’t help with conception rates. However, this month I did it again. I bought York semen from CSU Chico. I am an Agriculture alumni, so I do love to support them, and that is where a lot of my swine knowledge comes from in the first place.
I was able to AI M three different times this heat. I’m so proud of myself that I was able to learn this skill and perform it without fear, all by myself. The last session felt really good, so I have super high hopes! A pig’s gestation time is three months, three weeks and three days and her heat is every 21 days, so I will know soon if I am gonna be a Daddy!
I am enjoying and learning so much from my hog endeavor. It has become a great source of pride and confidence for me. When I started years ago I never really planned on loving it this much and certainly didn’t think that I would ever have a sow or AI! I’m excited to see where this chapter takes me!
Check out these other hog farmers:
It’s no secret that this ranch girl has embraced social media like my life depended on it. Some might call it a hobby, my Parent’s call it an addiction, I think it’s a necessity in this day in age. Recently, my social media persona and “real” life has collided in some big ways. The result has been some rather amazing and interesting opportunities.
The catalyst for this recent wave of attention was an article by Edward Ortiz in the Sacramento Bee. Randy Pench contributed beautiful photos and awesome video that accompanied the online version. But first let’s back up just a whisper shall we?
Mr. Ortiz started following me on twitter sometime back. Of course, I followed back because I get all kinds of excited when journalists, teachers, and/or people I lurk follow me. These are the people I learn from, these are also the people I want to learn from me. I respect their thoughts and opinions and I know others do too.
Mr. Ortiz emailed me last fall and wanted to talk about my hogs. Since my falls, springs and summers are generally my busiest times, I had to wait until January to have him and Mr. Pench out to see the ranch and hogs. Winter is the time I get to dedicate to my hogs and opening this ranch’s barn doors.
Opening your farm or ranch “barn doors” can be a terrifying thing to people in production agriculture. Unfortunately, we expect to be attacked for what we do. There is just much mis-information being put out by our opponents, we are forced to play a never-winning game of catch up.
That is why I take such a transparent stand. I want every reasonable person, who has a thirst for knowledge about their food, to come on out. I want them to know what I do, and why I do it. It really is in my best interest. Having a reputable paper like the Sac Bee come out, makes me accessible to more than a ranch day ever could.
If you get the chance my fellow farmers and ranchers, I urge you to reach out to your local media. Follow their facebook and twitter pages, answer their questions if they ask. I’ve had such wonderful and positive experiences interacting with the media, especially with the Sacramento Bee.
My dream of being a real pig farmer is slowly coming true. Tomorrow I get to pick up my second load of hogs to finish, for a grand total of 18. As many of my longtime readers know, raising hogs has been quite the journey.
I had to ease my Parents into the idea of raising hogs again. I did it as a child in 4-H for many, many years. I was too petite to raise steer, I wouldn’t be caught dead with a lamb or goat, so hogs it was! I have many fond memories of raising and showing my hogs and the sense of pride I had providing meat for my family, still makes me feel warm and fuzzy.
As a child, my Dad raised hogs. Back then, the ranch was more of a farm, complete with dairy cows and grain crops. The leftover milk from the dairy would be combined with the grain from the fields for the hog feed. My Dad swears the pork was different back then, and I believed him. I knew the key to raising hogs again would be producing a pork product that was like Dad remembered.
I knew that if I raised heritage hogs, and tweaked their diet just a whisper, I could create some pork like my Dad remembered. I managed to convince my Parents into letting me get a couple heritage hogs, just to see. Well, that turned into five hogs and Adult 4-H. And that turned into me quitting my full-time job in town and ten hogs. Now we are here.
When I started pestering my Parents about getting hogs again, I never thought I would get to where I am now and where I am thinking of going. I didn’t plan on enjoying hogs so much. I didn’t plan on the meat being so very different and very good. I have quickly accepted the fact that there is no going back now, I like pigs too much!
Since I have doubled in size every year (and don’t plan on stopping!), I needed a new pig pen. The old pen I was using was older than I am by several decades and was not doing a good job of keeping the pigs where they needed to be. This caused several problems when the pigs ate my Dad’s cable to his TV, and my Mom’s flower bed. However, moving my pen meant drilling a well since I did not have a dependable water source and that was just not something I could afford. But then something magical happened.
The most important thing to me, as I grow, is to be “sustainable”. Yes, I know that is an ag buzz word, but for, me it means doing this project in a way that meets my needs the best way it can. It means, not getting a loan from the bank (I learned from my student loan!), it means recycling materials when I can (but not super old materials that break all the time, so I waste all my time fixing them), it means doing things just a whisper different (outside the box is good!).
I am so excited to have this opportunity to do my own thing. I love working and being with the cattle, but I love having some independence on the ranch. My Mom made sure to instill in me growing up two “rules”: 1) always have financial independence and 2) develop as many marketable skills as you can. I feel like my pig operation is fulfilling both those “rules” and providing food for my family and friends – it feels so good!
If you get a moment please check out these awesome “real pig farmers”. Remember every farmer does what they think is best for their land and pigs. I urge you to ask them questions – the why’s and how’s are so important!
- Charles and Carol Wildman are used to the challenges. Their youngest child has Down Syndrome. The family farm is a seven day a week commitment. And market volatility makes the future an uncertain place. But as their daughter Mindy Wildman says, “When times get tough, we lean on our faith. And we lean on each other.” Find out how the family manages daily challenges on its seventh-generation farm in South Charleston, Ohio.
- A video about pork production
I am a farmers daughter, farmers wife and farm mom! I am married to a 6th generation farmer, raising the 7th generation -along with my In-Laws we raise corn, soybeans and hogs on the original farm land granted to his family in 1834!
- My First Visit to a Pig Farm – Did it Smell Bad?
- My name is Wanda Patsche and I live in southern rural Minnesota. I am a wife, mom and grandmother with five grandchildren. My husband and I grow about 1000 acres of corn and soybeans and raise about 4400 hogs a year. We use modern farm technology to improve our on-farm efficiencies.
- Carolyn CAREs – Committed to Agriculture While Respecting the Earth
“Forking” is a trick I discovered from having Silly the teacup pig. I wanted to know if it worked on all pigs, not just pets. “Forking” is just light pokes with a fork, any fork! Pigs can’t even handle it. They stop whatever they are doing and often “flop” over. It’s a great skill to have when trying to vaccinate your pig, or trim it’s hooves, or put her harness on.