As the temperatures this past week we had the opportunity to process our first American Guinea Hog together on the farm.
"Sir Loin" was always an established dinner pig when we thought of raising homegrown pork, so there were no misconceptions on his final destination.
We knew going into this breed that they are considered a lard pig, and not a bacon pig. There are 2 trains of thoughts for defining pigs in general, there is the label of lard pig and the distinction of a bacon pig. A lard pig, is well, a pig that produces a lot of lard for baking, soap making, candle making, and cooking. They are typically squatter and slower to grow. A bacon pig is usually longer and leaner than a lard pig with more muscle and fast growing.
We slaughtered on site, and hung the halved pork for 2 and 7 days to see the difference in flavor and texture of the meat. We monitored day time temperatures and have a great week of very cold weather and snow.
After thoroughly reading Adam Danforth's book Butchering Poultry, Rabbit, Lamb, Goat & Pork: The Comprehensive Photographic Guide to Humane Slaughtering and Butchering. Hours of You Tube Bon Appetite breakdowns of pork, and Scott Rea's amazing videos of butchery, Ian took up the knife, and I labeled weighed and packaged.
We used just about everything from the pig, rendering lard, cuts of pork, grinding for sausage and also for dog food, as well as retaining all bones for the dogs also.
Raising American Guinea Hogs has been a great experience for us. These pigs are rarely picky on what they eat and when we are milking all of our goats in the summer months they have the ability to consume all the excess milk that is produced on the farm. They are friendly and easy to move around, and produce wonderful meat and vast amounts of snow white lard.
The lard we use in baking, cooking, and for our goat's milk soaps.
We currently have a breeding pair of AGHA (American Guinea Hog Association) Registered pigs and are expecting a Winter 2018 farrowing.
Do you know what is coming? Winter. Finally we have some winter weather here in Southern Oregon, usually we've have a few snow storms by now but this is our first of the season.
As the temperatures dip and our feathered friends cannot go out as much as they would like to, there are a few things we can do as poultry parents to help them out.
Helping our hens out in the winter, or late late fall in this case, can keep your flock healthy and keep your flock productive.
So this year I realize that I am very thankful for a family that farms together. No matter how many times I show up with another animal, or decide to raise another breed of animal, the family still puts up with it. Those tiring days of kidding where one or two or three goats end up in our house and there are hours a day of bottle feeding, they all fade away as fall and winter come upon us.
As we turn to thoughts to next year, I can only wonder what new adventures and challenges will come up. But at the end of the day, when we put up our hats and coats, and lay our bogs at the door and sit down to dinner or a cup of tea we figure it was all worth it. We wake up to our tomorrows to do it all again.
Kanzi is the newest addition to the farm. Kanzi came to us from an organization in the state of Oregon called the Oregon Cougar Action Team (ORECAT) for short, and they have a program where they are looking to place livestock guardian dogs with farmers. She is a Maremma/Pyrenees cross pup who is currently 12 weeks old. We have Kanzi as well as our adult Anatolian, Crispin.
Crispin, our mature Anatolian Shepherd
Livestock guardians are an imperative addition to our farm, since we are surrounded by National Monument and all fauna that comes with vast amounts of open space. We would prefer to live harmoniously with our wild neighbors, but sometimes they range a little too close in for comfort and these guardian dogs keep our livestock safe from them.
Cougars are regular "walkers" around here, the name I give predators that are making their loops close in to where we live, and the livestock guardian dogs barking along perimeter fences have deterred cougars, wolves, and coyotes from breaching the fence lines so far.
The addition of sheep on the farm may also increase predators along fences, because if there is one thing I have learned from livestock, is that sheep are the number one that predators would like to pick off first. They are one of the tastiest animals here, from my own experience.
We are hoping that the addition of Kanzi, as she grows up, will push our night walkers farther back into the forest versus ranging closer into our pasture areas.
We have fully field fenced pastures and barns for livestock so they are closed in at night also as predator deterrence.
We raise heritage pigs, American Guinea Hogs, on our farm and love this family friendly breed.
Storey Publishing does it again, with its latest edition of Storey's Guide to Raising Pigs, 4th Edition.
What is remarkable about Storey publishing is that they don't just release a book once, but they adapt that book over time to fit the needs of current farmers and livestock owners. I think I have edition 1 and 2 on my shelves, but this book has adopted current concepts in management practices and reformatted the pages to look appealing to the new reader.
Raising Pigs 4th edition looks great. There are highlighted content boxes that really stand out with important and relevant information for the reader.
The sections that really stood out to me are the chapters on The Hog Business, Managing your Hog Business, and also the Day-to-Day Life with Hogs because they are all relevant to the small-scale operation and even for the homesteader. There is something in these chapters for everyone. Every chapter has really great information and advice but for me, these three really stood out as applicable to my small farm operation. We raise AGHA American Guinea Hogs and an important factor in our farm operation is not only food for my family, but also the sale of livestock or breeding or for the table.
There is something in this book for the new pig owner, the 4-H project person, and even the small to large scale producer. That is what captures me about Storey Publishing, is that they consistently create a reference book that has good quality information, that is not so technical that it is hard to understand the information that they are conveying.
If you are into pigs, or just starting out, Storey's Guide to Raising Pigs the 4th Edition is updated and ready for you to check it out and discover something about the hog you didn't know before, or is filled with information that you can adopt in your own practices to increase your profit or productivity.