Sunday, May 9, 2010


We are proud to announce the arrival of 14 new piglets here on the Phelan Ranch!!! Below is a video of Rosebud and her piggies and further down are some pictures of Lunch Box and her little ones.

They were both bred to the boar Morris. You might remember him from a previous post. I sold him to a guy in Durant shortly after that post. Morris was a Hampshire and very friendly. (I think demeanor is one of the most important qualities in a pig.)

We actually kept our sows with the growing pigs until they looked pretty pregnant. Once they seemed to be getting close, we moved them into a separate paddock that was full of tall green grass. We didn't provide any kind of farrowing hut, but the ladies found a couple of great spots and made nests in the briars. We made a point not to spend to much time with them and only peered from a distance every now and then to check if they were in labor. Both sows had the pigs on their own while we were away. No shots were given, no teeth cut, we just let nature take its course.

Just a note:
I'm not a believer in the theory of evolution (and I stress believer because its a belief based on faith in science). The idea that we started out at the bottom of the ocean around a heat vent as very simple organisms and evolved onto humans (or insert any other theory here) is not something I would bet on. I do however believe that Natural Selection does occur and it is important to allow the strongest to survive. This is extremely important if you want to build a herd just like you desire. Think of it this way. Treat your pigs (and any other livestock) how you want to be able to treat them in the future. I'll call it the "Buttermilk" rule in place of golden. For instance, if you want your sows to farrow on their own in the pasture without cutting teeth or giving shots, then let them do just that. It will tell you a lot about the sow and her abilities and it will tell you a lot about the piglets and their genetics. If you pamper your sows and piglets right off the bat, then you can count on pampering them from that day forward. Be warned... you may lose piglets and even a sow when you first start, but with time you will have a stronger, more self-reliant herd of pigs.

Rosebud gave birth to 9 piglets and they are all still doing well. Despite being deemed "Lazy" by everyone here on the farm (and yes, she is lazy, but who cares... she is a pig) she seems to be a GREAT mother. She mostly lays around all day only getting up for food, drink, or relief.

Lunch box gave birth to 8 piglets but only 5 are still alive. Two were stillborn and we think she squashed the other one a couple days after birth. She is a good mother and is very calm when we come in and see them... not too protective, but very aware of our proximity to her pigs. She is a little large to be a first time mother, hence the reason she laid on one of her pigs. I think in the future, I'll be sure to breed sows earlier at a smaller size. Lunch Box just got to big for her own good.

Like Mother like Piglet... already friendly.

Doesn't Erin look good with a pig?

What a goofy smile... I guess happiness must express itself.


  1. Beautiful little piggies!!! How wonderful... I am so envious! (g) I would love to have a little room for more homesteading, right now I'm just doing it urban, but I'm planning on someday moving up. Just learning and saving. Seeing you guys doing it just inspires me! Keep it up!! What cute little piggies!!!

  2. Grady, You gave us a pig pasture tour at Polyface last July. ( The Intensive Discovery weekend was my 25th Anniversary gift to my husband). I also have a salon onsite at my farm. I have been designing a new logo for our farm and one of my clients took a photo of a similar logo she saw on her travels. It was on a post next to a street sign that said Phelan Ranch so I googled it and found you! I'm not sure if it is the same post or sign, but what a coincidence! We are busy doing all the same things on our farm. I'm happy to be a member of your blog!

  3. Cute! I wish I could have pigs :D Glad you are having fun :D


  4. Grady, I have a question. Do you remove the feed from your broilers for 12 hours each day? This is what all the hatcheries say to do for preventing heart attacks, but Joel Salatin wrote in his Pastured Poultry Profits that you're supposed to keep them in feed around the clock. What's a guy supposed to do? Thanks!

  5. We leave the feed on 24/7. I was actually unaware that the hatchery gave such advice. This fall we are actually going to try a slower growing broiler and see how they do. This may also help prevent problems. Last batch we had regular broilers and I don't think we had any heart attacks.

  6. Thanks much for your answer.

    I had wondered if restricting the feed was keeping my broilers from growing like they should, so I'll try leaving it in now. When I was feeding unrestricted commercial starter, I did find that I had a fair number of heart attacks but it's possible that self-mixed rations are different, or it was another variable all together.

    Just for reference, here's the link to what my hatchery says:

  7. Oh my goodness! They are SO cute! We thought about breeding our pig (for about two seconds), but we are so done with raising pigs! Maybe if we had another pig to keep her company she wouldn't keep breaking out of her pen and rooting up our yard! Yeah, no more pigs for us... not for a long time anyways. Your piglets are definitely cuties though!

  8. I'm guessing you folks had a busy summer and fall. Any chance you can add some stuff to the blog during the winter?
    Those of us who are trapped in cities and suburbs would love to see more!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.