There is a hog floor at the yellow house. The yellow house is the other house on the farm. The house my grandpa was born in, where my parents lived when I was born. A tree fell on the house recently and it’s really not habitable. Please don’t be impressed that I own two houses. The hog floor is similarly unimpressive. (The new livestock trailer is not mine. The old chickens are.)
The picture above is the “good” end of the hog floor. That’s the end we use for our fall pigs. I do like to raise pastured pork but I don’t like to raise pigs in mud. So maybe I’m selling out a little bit. I don’t know. I have grass and trees and concrete. No mud.
I’m sure you have heard or said the phrase, “Happy as a pig in stuff”. Well, it usually isn’t “stuff”…
I don’t think pigs covered in “stuff” are particularly happy. Especially when it is cold. So I keep my pigs warm and dry…or at least make sure they have a warm dry option. This is the work-ey part of the show.
I have five little pigs. These bays are built for 20-40. 20-40 pigs quickly learn to go potty outside. 5 pigs lack sufficient incentive. We have to clean the aisle but also we have to clean the bedding where it gets messy. You can tell by the wet.
So we move the pigs to their new bay and clean the old one, making a compost pile at the front of the bay so we can shovel it out easily enough. I mean, as easily as one can shovel pig “stuff”.
I’m not at all happy about putting pigs on concrete so I try to mitigate the damage I’m doing to my ego by giving them lots of fluffy bedding and piles of sawdust to dig through and manure in (hopefully in that order). I also work to make sure they have fresh, green grass in their current bay. You know…pasture.
I would like to fill the entire floor with hogs just to have the manure. And maybe someday I will…just to express my inner Henderson. I need to figure out a more efficient way to deliver sawdust than just using a shovel though. This floor is very well thought out but in disrepair. With a little work I think it could be great again.
I said “again” but, to be honest, I don’t know if this floor was ever really “great”. I’m not sure this floor ever really lived up to its potential. Mom and dad moved away when I was under 2. The floor was built shortly after. There has always been some level of drama surrounding the hog floor. Interest rates rose, commodity prices fell, farmers went broke. During that cycle, this hog floor threatened to take the whole farm down. Grandpa held it all together in spite of pressures against him. Hogs were kept here until the mid-90’s. I kept open gilts here for a large producer in ’96. Then the bottom fell out of the hog market in ’98. Since then the floor sat empty. Gate hinges are frozen, fence rusted, wood rotted. It’s weird to know the history of the floor and what it cost my grandfather and to realize that it never met its potential. Even now I use it reluctantly.
The floor and I are roughly the same age. Have I lived up to my potential? Are portions of me decaying from lack of use? Is the farm better because I am here or am I just buying time for the next generation?
This was a post about the hog floor and I but it is also about the hog floor and me. I hope you will forgive the silly title.