Trust me, you don't want pictures with today's post.
I always think that I want to know everything -- and I really mean everything! But every now and then I learn something first hand, and I think, you know, it was really okay not knowing that. Such was the case of the pigs and the chicken.
Before I ever thought about getting pigs, a neighbor said to me, "You don't want pigs. They'll kill your chickens." I didn't think much of it at the time, because I didn't want pigs. We'd been vegetarians for 14 years, and I was perfectly happy with my goat cheese and fresh eggs. But after we ate a chicken and then a steer, I started to think about bacon. Well, there's only one way to get bacon -- pigs.
So, I searched all over Illinois for Tamworth piglets that weren't vaccinated and drugged up, and I found a farmer two hours away with weaners to sell -- that's what they call feeder pigs that are weaned and ready to be "finished." Geez, it's nearly impossible to explain this without a bunch of jargon. Okay, I bought two piglets that had just been weaned from their mother. And that's how we got into hogs.
Anyway, our first pigs were practically perfect in every way -- even by human standards. Looking back on it, they weren't very piggy. They didn't root up their yard. They ate the grass. They were even so sweet tempered, I hated sending them down south. I wasn't even sure that I would ever want to raise pigs again, because it was tough at the end to send them away. But then the meat arrived, and it was delicious. The chili reminded me of the what I ate at the local Mexican food restaurant where I grew up, not too far from Mexico. So, we did pigs again.
Each batch had its challenges, but just when you think you've got something figured out, life throws you a curve ball. Of course, that was my mistake -- thinking that we had this pig thing all figured out after five years! So, two days ago, Jonathan comes in and says, "Mom, I think the pigs killed a chicken."
"One of them is running around with a chicken foot in its mouth."
Okay, as horrified as I was at the thought that they'd killed a chicken, I was even more disturbed to think that a chicken was flapping around out there with only one foot. If he'd told me he saw a dead chicken, I'd have been content to live with his report. But I didn't want some poor bird out there suffering, so I pulled on my coat and went to see what I could see. It wasn't pretty. The chicken was quite dead and not resembling any chicken that I'd ever seen before.
But, why? Why did they kill her? I've always thought that if I kept my animals happy, they wouldn't do things like that. Well, the roosters were the first to prove to me that I could not make them happy. No, the only way a rooster is happy is if he has about 15 or 20 hens all to himself. Then he's happy. If there are too many roosters -- therefore not enough hens -- the boys start killing each other. Why can't they just get along like the hens do? But I digress . . .
Okay, back to the pigs. We've raised a dozen pigs now, and not one of them has even looked at a chicken cross-eyed. The chickens, being free-range, can go into the pig pen whenever they want. Normally, they even eat corn along with the pigs. So, I just don't understand why these pigs would decide they want chicken for breakfast one day. I'm leaning more towards the idea that they did it for sport, since their feeder had plenty of food in it, and they didn't even eat most of the chicken. I hate wasting food.
Just when I was thinking that maybe we'd try raising a gilt (girl pig) again and have babies -- I'm reminded of our one and only experience with that, and it wasn't pretty. Maybe we should just stick with getting weaners every summer and finishing them in the late fall or early winter. Having pigs for six months a year is challenging enough.