Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Drove of Daves

We took the plunge last weekend. And a serious plunge it was at that. On Saturday, Dan and I took a rare-- very rare-- kidless morning and drove our minivan up to Vermont to pick up three piglets. We'd thought long and hard about the "pig thing", more than we usually manage for all the impromptu livestock and plantings around here. We understand that this particular "pig thing" is irrevocable. These piglets are barrows (castrated males) and there is no other end point here. They are to feed us, and our extended family and friends. I'm sure I will write a lot more about this-- the hard parts, the better-than-factory-farm parts, but today, I'm going for light, a sort of "I went to Vermont and all I got was these lousy pigs" sort of thing.

So.... it was a beautiful spring day. We took off (kidless!) with high hopes and dog crate full of old hay and not much else. We were giddy and expectant. Our children were elsewhere. We'd had a lot of coffee and not much sleep. It was like a skewed farmy version of a date.

We found and picked up the piglets, warned by the woman who raised them that the "pig stink" will stay in our van for a really long time and on our hands and clothes too, no matter how often or well we wash. We saw several humongous pigs at the pig place. (Dan hadn't really had a chance to see a full grown pig before. He was pretty astounded. And not in an entirely good way. They are, after all, really REALLY big animals...and the pigs, I should note, were my crazy idea.)

Anyway, the little guys fit in the dog crate. They were quiet on the drive back. So quiet, we had lots of time to think about the new animals we'd taken into in our lives and all the complications that might go with them. By the time we unloaded the crate in our newly created "pig area", we were feeling a bit of trepidation. The piglets were too. They stayed in the crate.
By then we were late for our kid pick up and took off for an evening little league baseball game.

Not an auspicious start to the Maggie's Farm pig enterprise.
But it was like Christmas morning around here on Sunday. We all got up and tiptoed out to the barn in our pajamas to check out the piglets in the cool clear (rainy) light of day. They were out, and terrified of us... for about two seconds! Once the little guys figured out we came with offerings of yogurt, french toast and banana, they were all over us, nuzzling boots and sampling flannel pajama sleeves. Then they romped a bit (Yes, pigs romp!) and chowed down some more and then romped and the kids (and Dan and I too) fell in love with them.

Pigs (So far....) are awesome. They are a lot more easygoing than sheep, that's for sure, with simple, predictable needs (pretty much just food and sleep) and it is truly a joy to watch them eat. (I can't explain this. You'll just have to get a couple of pigs and see for yourself.)

Beforehand, we'd talked a lot about NOT naming the piglets. We'd been told-- several times-- that this makes the slaughter part easier and planned on a simple "Pig 1", "Pig 2" and "Pig 3" system. That was chucked pretty much immediately. Joe, a certain Dr. Suess story about Mrs. McGraves who named all her sons Dave" fresh in his mind, suggested Dave, and we all thought that could work. We'd name the piglets all "Dave"! Of course, they quickly distinguished themselves. And now we have "Scratchy Dave", "Pointy Dave" and "Stubby Dave". A drove (The term for a group of pigs) of Daves, as it were.

For all you readers who want a little farming information with your effusive piglet descriptions, the Daves are all Tamworth/Glouchester Old Spot crosses. We are feeding them a mix of grain, cafeteria leavings, vegetables and dairy products from a local store. They are not as hard to keep in as we'd been led to believe (So far) and they are very, very cool.


Christy said...

I'll be following this story closely. We are thinking about pigs next year.

P said...

Hi Christy!

I'm wondering how the pig thing will go too. So far, so good. They are much easier than sheep, that's for sure. We'll see how we feel about the project in the fall...


Anonymous said...

I love it! Very creative!That's actually really cool.

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