Friday, February 8, 2013

Pigging out!

The pigs enjoying a fresh piece of garden to digest. 
Late last Fall while walking out to do chores in the evening I would hear some of the strangest sounds emanating from my garden. Grunts, whoofs, chomps, slurps and snorts traveled through the night air and to my ears. Normally this combination of sounds would cause me to quiver in fear, but knowing the source(s) calmed my nerves.

The mysterious source? A trio of hampshire cross hogs.

So what can you do with 3 (not so little) pigs, 200 ft of Pig QuikFence and a PRS 50? You can make the perfect garden bed!

My family and I fenced off a section of one of our gardens and let some pigs work their magic. The pigs would root around in the soil feasting on the remnants of the garden, turn over the soil and breakdown the still standing vegetation. The one thing they did not eat was the beets, instead they rolled these under the fence and out of the garden. Apparently these porkers did not read the part of the book stating that pigs eat beets. Can't say I disagree with them (sorry beet lovers).

The former garden now pigpen. The panels (background and left) are from an ear corn bin. They are now used as a bean/cucumber trellis. 

Their house was framed with panels, covered with a tarp and insulated with straw bales on the outside. The original fence was reclaimed woven wire and cattle/hog panels. This setup is not very portable but it does keep the pigs in (rather than across the road visiting the neighbors).

In order to expand the pigs' roaming area without adding more panels, we used Pig QuikFence. First the pigs had to be trained to the fence. I set up the netting inside the panel enclosure and electrified the netting. I monitored the pigs until each one "experienced" the net. After this, I took the net down, barricaded the pigs in their straw hut and took down the panels. Up went the netting and out came the pigs. They stayed away from the netting and quickly took advantage of their new running area. The woofed, waddled, tilled and trotted to their hearts content.

After several weeks in their pen it became evident that the pigs were giving the fence a cautionary berth. This was easily determined by noticing that the earth was tilled up to 1 ft of the fence.

In a few months time, these pigs will make a trip to a local locker and become a plethora of delectable cuts and sausages.

The three pork-o-tillers overseeing some of their handiwork. The panels (back and right) were replaced by Pig QuikFence, a much lighter and easier to move alternative. 

As always, make sure to clean any food items produced in gardens/orchards that have had livestock or livestock manure present.