Following that successful "experiment," we knew that pigs would eventually become a permanent part of our plan. We knew that we could always use them here as workers in the garden and pasture, turning soil that needed turning, weeding, keeping snakes at bay, and so on, and we knew we'd certainly want to continue to put meat on our tables from a trusted source: us. But we also now believe that we can make a "go" of it from the business side of things, selling pigs for others to enjoy, either as garden workers, food, breeders, or even pets. So we set out to choose a breed.
We knew from the beginning we wanted to choose a "heritage" breed, a breed that's been around for a long time, and which hasn't been altered too heavily. And we had almost decided on the Large Blacks, when we stumbled upon the AGH. It was love at first sight.
We also liked the fact they are a smaller breed of pig, with adults topping out at 200 pounds or so at 2 years old. The AGH is known for it's docile and pleasant temperament, and according to many stories we've found posted in various online forums, it's not uncommon for AGH sows to allow their owners to be present when piglets are born, and even allow the piglets to be handled without the aggression often seen in other breeds. Of course, it remains to be seen from our own experience whether such acceptance by the sow is a tendency of the breed or a characteristic of individual sows.
Lucky for us, we were able to locate an AGH breeder within a pleasant driving distance (1.5 hrs), and they were kind enough to allow us to make a visit to their farm and ask lots of questions. Here is a short video I shot with my iPhone showing several piglets from a couple of their recent litters:
The folks who welcomed us to their farm could not have been nicer, and we had a wonderful visit discussing all sorts of homesteading topics, touring their place, and meeting several of their gorgeous Dexter cattle and their two beautiful Saanen dairy goats.
We would likely have left there that day with two little gals and one little fella, but unfortunately the little fellas outnumber the gals at the moment, many to none. They've had almost nothing but boys in their litters so far this year, but our fingers are crossed for a saw that is due to deliver any day now. If there are two girls in that litter, they will be ours, and they are saving one of the little men in the video for us, to serve as our initial herd boar.
Now here is the bad news: we can't have them until they are 8 weeks old, and i don't know if I can stand it! So I'm saving my gas money to go back and visit as often as I have to get my "piglet fix." In the meantime, I'll be watching an awful lot of the video above.
Hey, keep your eye on this blog for future updates, and we'll be adding an AGH page to our website soon, where we'll post photos registration numbers for our pigs and their litters, and we'll eventually have information for those of you interested in buying for meat or live pigs. We've joined the AGHA and are awaiting our membership information, so as soon as we have it, we'll post it there.
~ Tommy Alderman, Pig Man.