Winter of 2014 was a huge obstacle for us. We broke a lot of ice, and when that was done, we broke some more. I do think back to those days with a grimace, but I also look back with pride. Our two boys were out there every night lending a hand. Those two boys fill our hearts with so much pride! And the hogs we took a chance on (and still are), thumbed their noses at the bitter cold. They survived, played, rooted in the snow, and managed to still gain weight. They proved to us beyond measure how hardy these Large Blacks are. These hogs do not need to be in a show ring to prove their worth to us. Best description for our hogs..."Heritage Bad-Asses!"
At the end of February, Wren farrowed a litter of 8 piglets. In eight-degree weather. Gives a whole new meaning to "this may be cold!" We continue to get such great stock out of Wren and Nigel's pairing. We were hesitant to breed her to Dexter, but are anxious to see the difference. She is due mid-March.
Out of that same February litter, we kept a few feeder gilts. They are so beautiful, we almost hate to eat them. However, one of our future goals is to cut down finishing times on our LBH. We want them to finish faster than the 16-18 months it has been taking us. These two girls will finish in 12 months! Doing the same thing! Different genetics yield different results. Question...is it the Warbler line, is it the Noble Sam line, or combined? I guess we will experiment with Dexter's offspring and see!
Spring and Summer brought us more grass than we could keep up with! Not necessarily a bad thing, but we did end up with a lot of Fox Tail. The hogs didn't think much of it at all. We played around with peas and oats in our sacrifice pastures. This was a success. The hogs left most of it alone until the peas and oats were mature. They will dig it up for us again in the Spring and we will plant again. Jason has ideas of a few more crops he would like to plant. Whatever he chooses, I will be busy with my little hand-seeder! We also played around with some mob-grazing and that was so cool. We will be doing more of that in the new year.
Fall brought us wonderful days of grazing, and we made our goal of grazing into November, and then beat it and grazed into December! What an amazing feeling.
December brought us an oopsie litter out of Peekaboo! What we thought would be a very small litter (she was in with Nigel for three hours at most) turned into a litter of 10! It was also our fastest delivery yet, all born in less than two hours! She was a busy girl! I smile when I hear people say how smart pigs are. Peekaboo with a wee-bit of planning...managed to secure winter in the barn with extra feed delivered twice a day! Brilliant!
This year we also added three new breeder lines to our farm. We added a Defender boar line, and this past November added Charlotte and Matilda sow lines. Our hope is to be selling breeding pairs by end of Summer 2015! We have kept busy by getting involved in the Large Black Hog Association, and were elected as Vice President. This has been exciting and daunting all at the same time.
2015 has started out much the way 2014 started out and we are back to chopping ice! However, this year we have the confidence to know that our hogs will be just fine!
Cheers to 2015!