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We have a consolation saying here: “That’s farmin’!”  Things aren’t always Disney music, sunny days, and smiles all around.  Yesterday was one such day for Mark.

It started with a phone call that delayed his start on chores.  When he finally got out to the barn, he found a sow had unexpectedly had her babies.  Two had died of exposure already, the remainder were huddled in a depression under a board.  He gave the sow a nice pile of straw to nest in and then tried to retrieve her babies for her.  Mrs. Pig wasn’t impressed with his help and stood protectively between him and the piglets.  After much time and effort and dodging of mama pig, he managed to relocate the little ones.  With relief he watched mama pig settle into the new deep straw nest with her babies.  Then he had a heart stopping revelation: his cell phone wasn’t in his pocket.  He called it with the house phone and, sure enough, it was somewhere in mama pig’s nest.  That’s farmin’!

Today was another event.  Culling is a regular activity on a farm as we seek to put our energy into productive animals and minimize our losses on less productive ones.  There was one little sow who has begun, in the last few days, to make a practice of ranging farther than the fence allows.  Of course, once she’s out she’d like to be back in with her friends, but refused to go through the easy way in and couldn’t go the way she came.  Chasing in pigs is time consuming, dander raising, and non-productive.  Additionally, we don’t want her showing her friends how to go exploring.  So, she becomes a culling candidate.  That’s how farms work.  The farmer balances the productiveness of an animal against the cost of her illness, behaviour, etc. to determine if she’ll stay or go.  This sow’s name just changed from Future Mama to Bacon.  She’s not to the first escapee to be culled this way.  We’ve never lost a pig to the woods or swamps–they come home one way or another.

Part of the point of the story is to relate normal pig behaviour and how farmers typically deal with it.  Here are a few more pieces of information relating to the DNR’s stance on hog production:

DNR’s article on feral pigs

What breeds are feral?

What makes a pig feral, again?

Happy farmin’!

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