Jan 5, 2012

Days like these I wish I were a Pig!

The cold North wind blows and the temperature says 17 degrees. I bundle up in my winter farm gear and head out to the barn. Winter gear in Ohio has nothing on the Northern states but it is still cold. The barn water has frozen for the first time and this makes chores take some extra time. Winter guests at our house are familiar with 5 gallon buckets lined up in the entry way along with our family’s barn boots and coats. Not ideal for a girl who likes everything to look just right, but for winter it is a necessity.

The sheep have wool to keep them warm and stay in the barn most of the time, the rabbits are in the barn and the chickens have a clean coop with extra straw in their nesting boxes and thank goodness for the heated water, it cuts off lots of chore time not having to crack more ice. Our animals have it good, but I think they all would like to be hogs in their climate-controlled barn that I recently got to tour.

Through the Ohio Farm Bureau AgriPower Porgram, I got to visit the Standing Oaks Enterprise. Carol Wildman, who is in my class, and her husband own and operated this hog farm. It had been many years since I have been at a larger scale hog facility. We divided up in our 3 groups and set out for a few different areas of their family farm. They were kind enough to allow us to take photos.

We saw them do some artificial insemination, we saw some baby pigs that were just a few days old and then also saw castration. Each area was fascinating and to see the family work together and move so many hogs though their facility from start to finish was just eye opening. There is nothing better than working on a farm doing something you love or have a passion for.

I am a very hands-on person. I am not afraid of much and always want to try new things. They allowed us to see how they dock tails on the little pigs and how they AI (artificially inseminate) the sows (female pig). I must say it was quite exciting for me to AI a sow. I am very excited to find out how many pigs the sow has.

What is so impressive to me when I visit larger production farms is how clean and temperate the barns are. These hogs are kept at the same 70-degree temperature year round. They do not have to worry about rain, snow, wind or hail. Some people wonder why they have to be kept inside all the time. The answer is simple, for their protection! Their environment can be controlled and this takes away so many worries for disease, temperature changes and environmental conditions. When you step outside and the wind and cold air chills your bones, you may wish you were a pig too!

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