Thursday, April 16, 2009

We Want to Hear From You!

Meet Dozer our 1100+ lb boar. The name Dozer comes from bulldozer since he can knock over anything. I guess that is to be expected when 70% of his body is solid muscle mass and a low center of gravity gives him incredible lifting abilities. Dozer is actually very mild mannered and loves to be scratched. I will share a few quick examples of his strength.

A few months ago I had Dozer's previous owner come over to help me get a blood sample so that he could finish transferring the American Berkshire Association registration papers over to my name. In order to do this, we had to corner him and get a drop of blood, similar to a diabetic pricking his finger to measure his blood's sugar level. I have a weighing scale that doubles as a chute for handling the pigs that would allow me to do this type of task. However the scale is only rated to 500 lbs. And Dozer stands at least 8" taller than the top of the scale's cage. In fact Dozer's back is level with my belly button and I stand 6'2". He is over 8' long from nose to rump! My point being that there is no way he would fit into the scale. So James (the previous owner) and I herded him into a pen. (My pens consist of 8' long railroad ties weighing 200lbs each buried 30" into the ground. Attached to those are welded wire hog panels that are stapled into the posts using 2" long barbed fencing staples. Each post has 20-25 staples securing the panel to the post.) Once we had him in the pen, we cornered him using 1.25" thick plywood panels that we were holding. Dozer didn't like the idea of being confined, especially since he is used to playing anywhere on our pasture he wants. He decided to turn around which about knocked us both over. Now his nose was facing a hog panel secured to a railroad tie. Dozer decided he wanted out, so he simply put his nose down and under the panel. With one swift jerk he sent all 25 staples flying out like a machine gun from the bottom to the top. Bent the panel into a 90 degree angle and simply trotted back out into the pasture. We finally cornered him in his hut and were able to get a blood sample. However, what I thought would be a 10 minute chore turned into 1.5 hours!

Since the weather has been warming up the last few weeks, the pigs have been playing in their trough more than they have been drinking from it. Our trough is actually an old steel bathtub that weighs about 50 lbs. I estimate that it holds 70 gallons of water when full meaning that it probably weighs around 600 lbs. when full. Hollie has been filling it up everyday only to go out and find it tipped over. Hmmmm... I wonder who the culprit is... Well yesterday, Hollie finally caught Dozer in the act. She had just filled the tub back up. When she turned around he was bouncing and playing with a full bathtub on his nose like it was a ball. It only took a few seconds of this until it tipped over and the rest of the pigs ran over to play in the mud.

We trust Dozer when we are working around him, but we never turn our backs. As sweet as he is, he is still an animal. As Hollie often reminds me, "He could bite your leg right off you know!". I like to use a pitchfork when I am working around the pigs. If a pig tries to push or charge, I can quickly put the tines into the ground and create a barrier in between me and the pig. In a worse case scenario, I can use it as a weapon to defend myself. Fortunately that hasn't ever happened.

I have had a few people contact me and state that they have tried to leave a comment but have been unable to. Since I am new to this whole blogging thing, it took me a little while to figure it out. I think I had some settings wrong, which hopefully have been changed. For those of you who tried to leave comments before, we would love to hear from you now. We would like to hear your comments, suggestions, questions etc... What do you like about our farming philosophy? What do you dislike? What is most important to you when choosing a farm to buy your food from? I like to follow a few other farms just to compare notes, perhaps that is why you read this blog. Is there something about our farm you would like to know more about? We are anxious to hear from you!

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