Heeeere pig pig pig!!!
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Heeeeeere pig pig pig pig!!

Once, that call would have simply brought the pigs running for breakfast. They would grunt and bounce in place, waiting impatiently for their breakfast. I’d come out with a bucket, wade through a traffic jam of knee-high piggers, and race them to the feeder so I could get the bucket dumped before the whole trough was filled with pig faces.

But the daily filling of a trough couldn’t go unnoticed forever…

First it was the Ebony. She is the silliest goat I’ve ever met… Once she realized that the pigs (for all their grunting and squabbling) didn’t seem to care at all if she ate with them, in she dove!! Seeing that delicate face almost up to her eyes in sloppy pig scraps, and coming out with a chunk of cantaloupe rind as big as her head, is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen…

Funny-lookin' Pig

Then came the chickens. We have our laying chickens in an enclosed pen, but we allow our momma hens and their chicks to free-range. Once they realized how messily the pigs eat, they started hanging around the edges and snatching whatever the pigs dropped. The chicks quickly learned how to dodge clumsy pig hooves and now they race to be the first to grab the crumbs.

Then the ducks. Oh the ducks… Our Muscovy ducks are bigger than standard breeds, and braver too. They don’t wait for the pigs to drop food, oh no. They waddle up, bold as can be, and pluck food straight from the mouths of the pigs. And if the hundred-pound pig decides to try to grab it back, he gets treated to a duck bill right in the schnoz. The perplexed looks on the pig’s face is comic gold…

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And finally, our Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dog (LGD). Dozer is the perfect farm dog. He never steals from his charges, even if bread is dropped near him. He is usually the first into the feeding area, but he quickly runs to the back of the crowd out of the way and sits waiting. He is so patient that I have often passed out all of the bread by the time I notice his forlorn face staring at the happy duck eating bread right at his feet. When I finally call out his name as I find a piece to throw to him, his happy puppy dance makes my heart sing.

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There is no happier time on the farm than this. Watching all of these wonderful animals eating together as friends is an amazing feeling. We’ve always made a point of owning animals that are good-natured, but finding that amiable nature in pigs is a never-ending surprise. We might not get the huge yield that the giant hogs produce, but the sweet, gentle nature of our heritage breed gives our farm a sense of unity, and makes every day on the farm a joy.

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About Katrina Lester

I drew my first breath in a tiny house on Little Nickelbush Farm. It didn't have the name yet, but I grew up steeped in its spirit. Now I'm nearly 25, with a young daughter that I'm teaching the same principles to. It's a long road, but a fun one!

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