Last week was a big one for our pigs—they graduated! Assured that they had reached a good size to fend for themselves and were sufficiently trained on the electric fence, we let them out of the training paddock of their piglet youth and into the 5 acre parcel of pasture and woods prepared for them on the hillside above their shed.
After a few minutes of warily snuffling the invisible line where the electric tape had been, the pigs found the endless sea of green grass too alluring and began poking their way into new territory. Within three days they had already marched their way to the top of the grassy hill, munching and rooting as they went, and this week they started venturing into the dark forest.
We could not be happier with how quickly our porcine pals have taken to their new home. There are few joys in life to match whistling and seeing the tree-line shrubbery rustle for a few moments before a pack of pink piggies bursts out, grunting excitedly, ears flapping wildly as they race as fast as their trotters will take them, eager to see what tasty treat awaits. An armload of kale? A bucket of windfall apples? An assortment of garden greens and overripe cucumbers? No matter the menu, they are always appreciative diners—being sure to nuzzle their waiter’s legs with their dirty snouts between noisy bites.
The pasture provides plenty of room for them to roam and a large variety of green vegetation for them to taste. Even more tasty treats can be rooted up in the rotting wood of the forest, but the trees also serves as a necessary sanctuary of shade—during the heat of the afternoon, the pigs can be found nestled in the cool dirt they’ve dug up at the base of one of the leafy walnut trees.
We had hoped they would clear up the underbrush on the whole wooded hillside, and they are doing a phenomenal job so far. On the hunt for fallen nuts, tasty roots, and juicy grubs, their stout snouts root through fallen branches, rotting stumps, and the thorny tangles of shrubs that have choked up this copse of maple, oak, walnut, and birch, without disturbing any of the full-grown trees. When they are through, it will be a breeze for us to thin the smaller trees, letting in sunlight to promote understory grass and maximize growing potential for the fruit, nut, and other beneficial trees.
It feels good to see our pigs romping and roving all over their new territory, acting just like pigs should. Good pork comes from happy pigs, and happy pigs live on healthy pastures!
This is a guest post by our Priest of the Porcine, Casey Wing.