Hope and Winter Growers

Hope Taming Pigs

One of Hope’s jobs is to tame pigs. After they are weaned she visits with them in the fields and winter paddocks so that they learn about people. A little petting each day goes a long ways towards making the livestock manageable.

Outdoors: 24°F/4°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 66°F/61°F

Daily Spark: Correlation does no cause causation.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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14 Responses to Hope and Winter Growers

  1. Nance says:

    ahhh . . . Hope is such a sweetie. (and what a wonderful head of hair she has! I did too as a child!) Anyway, it looks as tho Hope is winning the war of taming the pigs and piglets. Good job, Hope!

  2. Sal says:

    I would bet that Hobbes is a necessary part of the process as well- after all, pigs that are tiger-friendly must be more valuable to tiger-growers! But how do you desensitize them to wooly mammoths?

    • *grin* The tigers are very important and ever present with Hope. As to the pigs and mammoths, the piglets grow up around breeder pigs who are 600 to over 1,700 lbs and 12′ long. The size difference between a new born piglet and an adult breeder is about 300 to 400 times. I’m sure that from their perspective when they’re small like those in the photo the adult breeders look like elephants and mammoths to them, especially in the winter when their winter coat is denser.

  3. I am so happy to see that Hope has not yet outgrown her striped friend. She is obviously the best pig whisperer EVER

  4. Bob says:

    I love the stuffed tiger… my daughter has long since outgrown those things. She had one just like it. Now she likes cars and phones.

  5. I love all the multiple-species photos. Pigs, ducks, and chickens. Pigs, tigers, and Hope.

    Does there come a point when it’s too dangerous for a relatively small child to wander among relatively large pigs? I found that, even though we had only three pigs, once they got to about 200 pounds I was wary of going in the pen without a distraction (snacks!). The pigs were friendly and curious, and it wasn’t difficult for them to knock me down, especially if it was muddy. I suspect Hope is better at navigating pigs than I am, but do you ever worry about an accident?

    • Yes, we’re careful of that and we arrange things to try to prevent accidents – safety is a way of life. The issue is most when the big animals are crowding together such as if there is a treat. For this reason she can go into the areas with smaller pigs, and I’ve set them up with this in mind, but she has to be careful and have an adult with her around the bigger pigs because they can bite, they might push against her and they can step on her. As you discovered, even an adult needs to be alert and cautions around 20,000 pounds of pork on the hoof like there is in the fields. Even one pig finisher outweighs most adult humans and breeders can easily be in the range of 600 to 1,700 lbs.

  6. J says:

    Hello Walter,

    I love your site, though I’ve never commented before. I’m aiming at starting a farm in the future and having some free range pigs. I’ve worked with pigs before, but not enough to really know anything. Could you provide some tips about how to train raise pigs to act calm and friendly around humans?

    I recently read an article in the Nov/Dec issue of Countryside & Small Stock Journal called “Raising animals that may try to eat you: A pastured pig experience.” I was very disappointed because the authors had no advice on how to do it. They only told their experience of how when they first got pigs, that they were aggressive at feeding time. But they never actually solved the problem.

    I have stayed as a wwoofer on different farms and my brief experience with pastured pigs was like the one from the article. However, I visited a farm for a day that had free-range pigs that were incredibly calm and tame, even when treats were brought from the garden. If you have time to do a post on this subject, or even just a reply, I’d be really appreciative.

  7. Orrin Murdoch says:

    Hi Walter,
    At what age did you start giving your kids tasks on the farm? It seems as though they are all an integral part of the farm so would love to hear some details about what you did to foster that integration.

    • As soon as they were able to do anything they started helping. Picking up stuff in the house, picking up trash outdoors, doing dishes, cooking with us, feeding and taming animals, herding, weeding, planting, harvesting. The lightest tasks probably start out at about eighteen months. Once the child can move independently they start helping, start doing things along side us. Like any beginner they’re not as efficient but everyone does things to their ability level. For example, this morning we lifted a 600 lb block of granite into place – everyone did what they could and it moved. One key is making participation rewarding, another is demonstrating by doing. Then teach them to ask, “What can I do to help?” and have real meaningful things that they can do that move the family forward.

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