Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Test Pig.

Posted on | December 13, 2011 | 5 Comments

One of the main goals in farming is getting through winter with fewer mouths to feed.  After all, once the forage runs out, even free range animals depend on feed bags for their meals.  That, or the pansies on the deck.

So with that goal in mind, I sold the last of this season’s ducklings, traded some guineas for a stud visit by a Nubian buck, made plans to butcher the extra roosters running around during the children’s Christmas break, and took the last goat kid to the flea market.  The flea market is not an ideal place for selling livestock but it’ll do in a pinch when an animal really needs to go.  Besides, if I didn’t sell my final buckling this weekend then he would have to be banded and given as a wether to someone who buys a spring kid and doesn’t have any other companion goats.  I explained this to Chad, the buckling, as we loaded him up in Pretty’s lap.  And I set the castrating tool and the rubber bands on the deck stairs so we could get straight to it if we returned home with him.

Taking due note of this, Chad refrained from soiling himself on the short drive down the road, pranced prettily at the end of leash as we strolled through the market, and wagged his tail appreciatively whenever someone stopped to rub his knobby head.  So Chad found a new home with a family who had 7 does and no stud to service them.  Which was good.  But they didn’t want to pay cash for him.  Which was bad.  But they were willing to trade one of the several 24 days old piglets they had brought to market in exchange for him.  Which was good.

They didn’t know anything about breeding goats.  So I answered their questions about breeding, kidding, and milking and assured them it was sooo easy that they were going to love every single minute of it.  Which was bullsh*t.  I didn’t know anything about taking care of a piglet.  They answered my questions about raising pigs and assured me it was sooo easy that I was going to love every single minute of it.  Which was bullsh*t.

All in all, a fair trade.

On the ride home with the pig we worked our way through a flurry of concerns.  Since the flea market isn’t known for the healthiest of animals, we had to decide what medications should be given to get him off to a good start and if we should put him back on milk even though he’d been weaned at 3 weeks old.  We had to pick a name, of course, which was ridiculously tough because he was a barrow and all the good Christmas names were for girls (Eve, Noel, Joy, etc).  Most importantly, we had to decide who would tell The Other Half that we went to the flea market to get rid of one mouth to feed, but came back with another.  Farming is filled with difficult decisions.

Finally, we decided on a dose of wormer, some aureomycin in his water for a few days, and some arnica for his back leg which he seemed to be limping on a little bit.  Also some bottle feeding of goat’s milk to build him up and keep him friendly.  The kids settled on Papa Noel as a name since it was festive, suitable for a male, and they had just learned that was the Spanish term for Santa Clause in school.  It was unanimous that Pretty should break the news to The Other Half since her promise to help take care of Papa Noel was actually sincere.  Plus, we coached her reminded her to explain how Papa Noel would be the test pig before we got pigs in the spring to seal the pond. The spring pigs had always been in the farm plan and this would let us know what pig raising and butchering really entailed before we got in over our heads.

We settled Papa Noel in the back pen of the barn where we keep kids separated from does during the night.  The fencing would hold and by the time kids were born in February he’d be big enough to move to the pasture pen.  We managed to get most of a bottle in him and he even gobbled down some pig feed softened with the rest of the milk.  We grabbed an extra doghouse, put it in the pen, filled it with straw, and watched as he snuggled in.  Pretty escorted The Other Half out to the barn when he got home from work and he agreed it was a decent trade and a good idea to go ahead and try out a single pig.


A happy ending.


Because at 2 am I woke up and sat straight up in the bed, gasping with the realization:

In about 6 months we’ll be butchering SANTA CLAUSE!

Ho.  Ho.  Freaking Ho.


5 Responses to “Test Pig.”

  1. Jill
    December 14th, 2011 @ 2:40 am

    OMG! There sure is a lot of activity at your house!! Glad I don’t live tooooooo close that your fun would get mixed up with mine. My brother did the experimental pig a couple years ago and he had a lot of fun and a pig picking (in WI) on Labor Day. Now it is a tradition!! He now does 2 per year and the meat lasts the winter. Of course my nephew keeps them WAY supplied with venison. Oh, and milk and cheese from the cow herd. I think the llamas are the extra mouths to feed, but they are cute. Oh and all the barn cats that need just a little kibble to keep them kid-friendly (human, not goat). Hmmmm, sounds like your house with teenagers! Keep writing, Stevie. You always bring a smile to my mug.

  2. Sherry Herry
    December 14th, 2011 @ 4:54 am

    Ha Ha Ha Ha…..

  3. Kelsie
    December 14th, 2011 @ 5:09 am

    Oh that is funny right there!!!

  4. Erika Robbins
    December 14th, 2011 @ 6:06 am

    lol……I wondered how long it would be before you ended up with a pig! Can’t wait to hear about it!

  5. High on the Hog. : Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk
    June 9th, 2013 @ 7:02 am

    […] see, Papa Noel, came to us with his tail […]

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