Pig Harvest Day

This is my first year raising pigs. Now, I have wanted pigs my whole life. For the last nearly ten years, I have been researching which breed of pig I wanted to raise. I knew I didn't just want to have a couple pigs for a few months and then butcher them. I wanted to breed them, raise them, love them, and eat them. I know myself pretty well, and although my goal for our farm is sustainability, I also know I really love animals. Choosing the right breed for us was crucial. I wanted a heritage breed, and I wanted a really friendly pig with a super docile boar. My heart was set on the KuneKune pig breed. Not only are they just perfect for our farm, they are SUPER cute!!
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I had nearly bought a couple of pigs over that last three years, but life had thrown us a couple financial curve balls, so the money I had saved for them had to go to fixing those curve balls (one of which was our farm truck). Last year, I had saved my pig money once again, and I had begun looking for a farmer to buy them from. To my surprise and delight, I found a farmer who lives only a few hours away, as opposed to a State away. I started communicating with her, and we hit it off. I planned to buy two young females from her in early spring. Then, we had another financial curve ball, so I let her know I was unable to purchase those pigs at that time but to keep me posted for the next batch.

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Long story short, it all ended up working out in the end, and I bought those two young females anyway. The best part is the farmer and I have become friends! Amy has given me lots and lots of incredibly useful information, and I share things with her as well. Without Amy's connection to another KuneKune pig farmer in our State, I wouldn't have our amazing boar Bonaparte (the super cute, red pig pictured above). Now, I have a small farm circle I communicate with. We share ideas and connections, and most importantly, we share the same concepts of sustainable farming and the love of our animals.



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Now, to the harvesting part…Our first two pigs, Olive and Ivy, started showing aggressive traits during heat cycle, which is not normal for the KuneKune pig breed. After nearly being attacked by Olive and briefly trapped in the pasture, 😳 I immediately called the butcher and scheduled the girls to be Harvested. By this time, we had already acquired another female from different parentage and housed her with Bonaparte (they instantly loved each other, which made me very happy).

Friday, the farm kill truck came. I had stressed about the whole process for weeks. I knew this was the whole idea from the start of this venture, but we had planned to harvest the children of Olive and Ivy. The girls were supposed to be breeding farm pets. I had asked Amy and other friends to pray for me through this experience, knowing I would cry.

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God, in all of his graciousness, answered those prayers. I had told the girls what was going to happen the day before and gave them extra love, thanking them for their sacrifice. That morning after the truck arrived, my husband and I asked what was needed and began the process of letting one pig out and leading her down the path to where she would be shot. I informed the harvesters that it was very important to me that everything was done humanely and that the girls die happy. Those men were truly wonderful, telling us they would do exactly what we wanted. Our pigs are never happier than when they are munching on fermented feed. So, I put feed on the snow, and Olive joyfully began to eat. I quickly turned and went to walk toward the hay barn. The shot rang out, and I turned to look, wanting to know that she was not suffering. All went as planned. I turned toward the barn to walk to get Ivy, crying as I did.
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Tears streaming down my face, I thanked Ivy, and then my husband and I repeated the process of leading her along the path. Although my heart ached and tears flowed, I was still very pleased with our decision. There is no better way to raise and harvest animals then with the best possible feed, conditions, and lots of love, which includes thankfulness for their life sacrifice in feeding us.
I am glad that this years pig harvest is over. We look forward to the meat, and we will be much better prepared for the next time.