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The Post-Apocalyptic Permaculture Pig

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The Post-Apocalyptic Permaculture Pig

Postby cernunnos5 » Sun Nov 01, 2015 10:46 pm

The Post-Apocalyptic Permaculture Pig

(There are 7 parts to this)

If I croak tomorrow, I owe the Prepper and Permaculture world a brief synopsis of what we have learned about raising a pig on a harness. This is outside of most North Americans idea of how to raise a pig. I won’t try to sell you folks that this is “The Way” to raise a pig. Just “A Way”. This was a problem solving experiment, mainly to deal with the incredible expense of fencing or lack thereof in a wold of diminishing resources, both materials and financial. If we screwed up this experiment, we simply would have filled our freezer early and “eaten” the loss.
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Re: The Post-Apocalyptic Permaculture Pig

Postby cernunnos5 » Sun Nov 01, 2015 10:50 pm

O.K. That’s way too serious of a way to start one of my posts. I’ll start again with the words of one of our farm sitters. “Taking the pig for a walk was the high point of all my farm experiences. I was frightened at first but then it was fun.” Mr Wu (bonus points go to anyone that guesses why we named him that) grossly outweighed her at less than a year of age. At this point, I don’t even leash him when taking him for a walk around farm with the dogs. It’s something to see, a huge pig, galloping across the fields with the dogs. It’s a little more intimidating when he is charging towards you like a small buffalo. I’m sure glad he likes me. This is one happy pig. Clearly we did something right…in spite of that certain people told us that we were doing something bad and this might even be cruel for the animal. I had worries, myself. These worries began to flow away the first few times he rolled over onto my feet to have his belly scratched…or when, one time, he broke out of his pen, he didn’t run off into the forest but sauntered up to the front door with a “What are you guys up to” look on his face.

Now, I take great pride in that I could beat most large dogs in a fight if they attacked me. I trained myself for that. I’m a little rough around the edges. A couple days ago, I came to the conclusion that I would not be able to win in a fight with this pig. Just like the dogs, he was born to fight. Just like the dogs, he likes to rough house as play. A couple of days ago he hit me with a sneak attack. He likes to drive himself between my legs from behind in an attempted to knock me over. My usual defence is to sit on him and ride him around for a while like a bronco buster. This time, he caught me off guard and after a few seconds on the ride, crashed down into bushed in a winded huff without any of my secret ninja pride intact. I looked over to him and realised if he attacked me now…I was done. Instead, I could tell he was doing the piggy equivalent of at laughing at me and his triumph. My point is that this is a happy pig that likes me and has a way better life than most animals we raise for food. At the moment, he is harnessed to a large tire in the garden, tilling up the garden and weeding or working in mulch. He is a pig with a job. A permaculture job. A post-apocalyptic permaculture pig.
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PAPP 3 Touch training.JPG
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Re: The Post-Apocalyptic Permaculture Pig

Postby cernunnos5 » Sun Nov 01, 2015 10:54 pm

So, how did we get to this point of me on the ground with a pig laughing at me and why should you consider this option, especially in a survival, prepper, permaculture, collapse of western, business as usual society context. And why should you listen to me besides that I am so charming? I have no pig raising experience. I have no farm experience other than the last few years. I am something of a Survival Expert though that means little. Some people know me as C5 or Cernunnos5. A C5 Rule Of Survival is- “There is no such thing as a Survival Expert. Anyone claiming to be is just trying to sell you something”.
Like I said, I had been trying to figure out a way to deal with small livestock raising without the expense of easily sourced or debt financed fencing of our fields. We just can’t afford to fence our fields. We can afford electric fencing and solar batteries as a mobile option…but these are a short term solution to a much larger problem. If you need to feed yourself but the money is gone or that fencing or batteries are no longer available…well, that whole C5 survival expert status means I have to solve that little problem for the next generation of have nots. People have probably seen tethered goats. One online friend had faced the same problem with her cow. She solved it by tethering it to a tire. The cow could eat is pasture and pull the tire further into the field for fresher grass…but couldn’t runoff down the road to run amuck.

The big Lightbulb moment for me was visiting Cuba. For those not familiar with the subject, Cuba is often referred to as “The mini Peak oil” With the embargo in place and the collapse of the Soviet Union ending their oil supplies, Cuba had to adapt to non-Big Ag, mass production food systems coming to a complete stop. When we arrived, it was the end of the dry season, the rains hadn’t arrived yet and grazing was withered. Lots of animals were looking pretty thin. They were also all tethered, tied to anyplace there was grass. Instead of bringing food to the animals, they brought the animals to the food. Oh good. It wasn’t just me waxing all survivalist with this little problem.

Then we saw a pig out in a field. A couple of piglets were hanging out with it. Why was this pig so far away from people? Did it escape? Was it wild? Then I pointed it out to MrsC5, “Are my eyes deceiving me? That pig is on a leash. I didn’t know that was possible. The little ones aren’t even running off. They are all staying with the big one…unattended.” Then the little wheels started spinning in my head. Might I have just solved our pig fencing dilemma. A day later I explained to MrsC5 that we were going to have a pig on a leash. Luckily, she was immediately on board. Whew. Thank goodness I didn’t have to explain this nutty idea to her. It would be a hard sell to most people. The next insight while walking around in the rural hinterlands of Cuba is that all the houses had fenced yards…but the fences were often hodge podged together from any scraps they could find. A rusted piece of metal from the beach was wired in with scrap wood, boulders, cactuses, whatever could be scavenged. Most likely to keep pigs out…or in. I never asked. But my theories about fencing in a world with severely limited resources was there in front of my eyes. It was the small, excessively rusty beach metal, carefully woven into the fence that sticks with me to this day.

There is another C5 Rule of Survival- “There is a big difference between KNOWING in the Biblical Sense and KNOWING in the Porn sense” Unless you have first hand experience in it…assume it doesn’t work…no matter what you saw on youtube…or what you read in my self proclaimed survival expertlyness bloggeryness.
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PAPP 5 put'em to work young.JPG (125.81 KiB) Viewed 720 times
PAPP 6 Used to it.JPG
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Re: The Post-Apocalyptic Permaculture Pig

Postby cernunnos5 » Sun Nov 01, 2015 10:59 pm

We wanted pigs because pigs were going to be the only way to get the necessary fat intake to survive a Canadian winter without slowly starving to death. We had already learned that chickens weren’t sustainable here, in spite of just assuming we could raise chickens as a survival assumption. A belief I’d had all my life. Knowing in the biblical sense knocked that right out of me. I can’t grow the food they need to get through a winter in this location with limited machinery. I tried. I failed. But I could grow rabbit or pig food. Perhaps you have read the old stories of people that had all the rabbits they needed but starved to death anyhow. Rabbits don’t have the necessary fat. Neither do deer for that matter. Bear, geese and beaver, yes…but we had already given up on the idea that any wild food source would still be around in a collapse setting. Most of the wild animals we take for granted almost went extinct during the Great Depression. It will be worse now. Think of hunting on the very last day of hunting season. Your chances are slim. So that leaves domesticated pigs. If you want cooking oil, it’s going to be lard.

But with everything else going on around the prepper farm…it had moved into the category of “Next Year” jobs. Next year became next year the next year and so on.

Then one of our Prepper Team members made the decision for us. We got a call, “Guess what? I Just bought three pigs. Berkshire, Tamworth cross”. I jokingly replied, “One of those is for us. Right?”
I didn’t actually think he would say yes. OK. It took a few weeks. He was using the old reasoning. If you raise three pigs and sell two that pays for your own pig in the fall. But I think he got curios about how we were going to raise him with this whole tethering idea. We were caught off guard because we wanted to start with a much cheaper breed. It was after all, a practice pig. If we screwed it up the first time, we would just eat what we did wrong. But our team member had already chosen the friendliest and least skittish of the three for us. The one that was most curious and didn’t mind being scratched. The more Berkshire of the three. This put us into a panicky scramble. I had a day to whip up a small enclosure out of recycled fence material I already had on hand. I had to make sure he couldn’t dig underneath. I don’t know how to raise a pig. I butted it against the chicken coop to break the wind. (I’m going to mention this here, just incase you get bored and stop reading. Putting the pig next to the coop was a fantastic accident. Rats had become a problem in the coop. They were too savage for the cats and too fast for the dogs. Heck. They were too savage for the dogs. The pig cleared them right out. It’s a predator that roots out rodents. All rats have left the entire farm. GONE)

O.K. Less story telling. Just the facts. Lets start with what I did wrong right off the bat. You have to start this process at a much younger age than we did. Your pig needs to be touched, scratched and handled as young as possible. Our relationship started with me having to wrestle him down. It turns out I was good at this because of the dog fighting I mentioned above. Just pin it to the ground, pick it up and put it in the truck. I had to do it again a few days later to get the harness on him. Big mistake. To a pig, the only thing that pins it down is a predator in the process of killing it. It didn’t trust or like me again for quite a while. Pigs never forget. MrsC5 hadn’t been the one to pin him so she had to take over trust building with the pig. I was the big bad wolf.

Trust got rebuilt as he realised there was benefits to this arrangement. In fact, we are onto a new phase of his training. While I write this, he is off leash outside. This is new and has had its own problems we are working out. He gets a few hours of wandering free now…
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PAPP 9 solar pig.JPG
PAPP 9 solar pig.JPG (129.61 KiB) Viewed 720 times
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Re: The Post-Apocalyptic Permaculture Pig

Postby cernunnos5 » Sun Nov 01, 2015 11:03 pm

Back to early raising. He started in a small enclosure. Two days later, the entire enclosure had been tilled. We were amazed. This little pig was a tilling machine…and the wheels in my head started to turn once more. Anyone who has ever tried to till a garden by hand knows that is not as simple as first envisioned and your first real fear of possibly having a heart attack. People try to get around this back breaking work with deep mulching or cardboard mulching on any other way to avoid tilling. We suddenly had a non gas powered tilling machine. A single minded eating machine. The implications were huge. Then came the next training. I built a small fenced square that could be moved and place it where I wanted tilled. Getting a leash on the pig was the next problem. Remember, he didn’t trust me now…and I once again had to wrestle him to get the leash on. But I did and then walked him over to the new enclosure. He went right in and started tilling. Pigs are smart. He knew the enclosure was his safe place. We had to leave the leash on him and he just dragged it around for several months because it was easier to grab the leash than try to pin him to get it on. What a change to today. Now he comes up to the fence to say, “Please leash me because I want to go out. He is easier to leash than my dogs. It only took about three days for the pig to figure the leash thing out. He figured out that I was taking him to a new place for him to till. Let the healing begin.

Slowly his leash got longer when we tied a rope to it. He got attached to the fence or a tire. Unlike most pigs, he got to go places. It wasn’t long before the next big experiment. After a few beers I decided it was time to walk him to the top of the property. The pig, the dogs…and the cat. The cat had already embraced these walks. She knew if she walked in the fields she was hawk food so to explore further she would have to chase the dogs for safety. This was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. A small multi species commune on a walk, bound together for mutual support. The pig was curious enough to follow on this new adventure. It was going fine…until the kitty decided it would be fun to stalk the pig. Understand, the pig had grown fast…but even with this huge size difference, the pig’s instincts kicked in. Instinctually, pigs seem to know that big cats are its major predator. This tiny kitty was death incarnate….and he yanked me home at a run to the safety of his safe enclosure.

As spring turned to summer and heat increased, we knew we had to get him out of the sun as leaving him tied in the field was cruel. Apple tree training had begun. We wanted some of the undergrowth under the trees cleared out. Air flow for tree health, a soft place for apples to land and ease of access, and eventually the goal - bring the pig to the food instead of bringing the food to the pig. As a bonus, interrupting the worm cycle of them surviving in the ground again after the apples fall. We still had to trim out all of the undergrowth to keep him from getting tangled…and boy, can that pig ever get himself tangled.

Which gets us to one of the down sides of this type of pig raising. It’s way more labour intensive. A pig is a social animal. It\s cruel to have a single pig unless YOU are willing to be its social pig herd. You have to be around. You have to check up on it regularly. You have to adjust his harness every few days because they grow so fast. If you don’t…that harness will strangle him or chafe his skin causing cuts and lesions so you really have to invest the time of touching and handling him. And you have to be there to hear him squeal when he gets himself tangled, which he will. If we go out someplace, he has to go back in his stall so we don’t come home to a strangled or panicked, traumatised pig. Your main garden will need a sturdy fence because the pig is going to escape occasionally. Pigs are uber smart and driven by hunger. Mr. Wu learned how to open the fence gate within a short period. He pushes open doors, lifts, raised gates, tests every possible escape route. I’ve even seen him try to lift the rope that ties the gate shut because he knows it slides into place.

Your pig WILL escape. Getting him back in his pen takes some simple training that is easy. Tie a bear bell to the feed bucket. He knows if he hears that bell, glorious food awaits and food is his single driving force. The bell sends him frothing.
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PAPP 12 Free Piggy.JPG
PAPP 12 Free Piggy.JPG (127.52 KiB) Viewed 720 times
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Re: The Post-Apocalyptic Permaculture Pig

Postby cernunnos5 » Sun Nov 01, 2015 11:07 pm

Now, the next big problem. All this hands on relationship completely changes the relationship. It had always been, I pop this guy in the fall and he goes in the freezer. Then that day came when he plopped down onto my feet and rolled over to have his belly scratched, exposing himself in the same way my dogs would. The second time he did it…I went, “You Bastard. You are going to fuck me up. How can I shoot you?” Now that was always the intension. He was always food and had a time limit. I am “Survivalist enough” that I could shoot and eat my dogs if I had too…but doing so would hurt my soul and I would have to carry that. Now the pig trusts and loves me as if he were one of my dogs. I can do it if I have to…but don’t ask me to. I need a friend that is not invested emotionally in him to pop him for me. I can handle the rest. I just can’t handle betraying him. This is a common problem for pig farmers. Because of this, a common practice is to trade pigs with another farmer. Killing and eating a pig is fine. Killing and eating the one you became emotionally involved with can be difficult.

Then Mr. Wu got a lease on life. An execution reprieve. The same prepper team member that we got him from was so impressed with his size and personality…that he encouraged us to keep him for a few years as a breeder. He had decided to go purchase a sow and together, we would breed our own pigs. To cover our loss of winter food, he would share half of his own boar. Now we are going from zero experience to pig breeder. There will be much more to learn.

Speaking of learning…or our lack thereof, we found out just yesterday that our pig is not suitable for rotational grazing. We would need a different type of pig for that. Grazing pigs will eat grass. Mr. Wu has never been interested in eating grass. He is a rooter. If you want to have grass fed pigs…you need a pig that eats grass. Ours isn’t it. Grass is just in the way. He wants the worms, grubs and field mice. We are really disappointed by what he won’t eat. Our intension had been to winter him on carrots and Jerusalem artichokes. He is not interested. Our next experiment will be trying to boil them on the woodstove overnight to see if he will eat them cooked…but we don’t know yet. The experiment continues. So know your pig. Until then he will partial winter on apples and squashes we have stored all over the house. And pig rations but the goal is to get him fully off pig feed. We need food that we don’t have to drive to. Food produced right here.

Ours roots so we are using him as a rooter. He is a cold weather breed so he will be out for the winter with a shelter he can go into as a dry place to sleep and escape the wind. We fenced a temporary winter enclosure that our intension is to be an extension to our garden. We wanted to move the garden closer to the house so we have to walk less which really does take up a lot of our farming time. Walking back and forth really does consume time when added up over the year so we have to streamline our calorie and time expenditures. Of course that means expending more time to build him a new area next year. His previous pen is devoid of all life and hard. Yes, all weeds are gone…but so are the worms that are also tillers. Eventually, we will have to introduce new bugs by adding hay as mulch to bring the soil back to life.
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PAPP 15 Newly tilled by pig.JPG
PAPP 15 Newly tilled by pig.JPG (110.38 KiB) Viewed 720 times
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Re: The Post-Apocalyptic Permaculture Pig

Postby cernunnos5 » Sun Nov 01, 2015 11:10 pm

So. A pig on a leash. A pig with a job. A pig I can take places. A pig to remove rats. A pig I can release to intimidate trespassers. LOL. A pig that produces life dependent winter fat. A Post-Apocalyptic Permaculture Pig. That’s all I got. I hope you can make use of this information
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Re: The Post-Apocalyptic Permaculture Pig

Postby cernunnos5 » Wed Nov 04, 2015 6:49 pm

Though it hasn't had much interest here, This post went mini viral over at Permies. http://www.permies.com/t/51217/small-fa ... Pig#413230.
Ive gotten comments like, "Totally the best post I have ever read! Thank you for sharing! "
1110 views and counting so far. Its now out there. The population will do with it as they wish.
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Re: The Post-Apocalyptic Permaculture Pig

Postby cernunnos5 » Thu Jan 14, 2016 4:40 pm

Here is some upgrade photos based on Mr Wu's new girlfriends showing up for wintering and breeding. Hint. Because he has been trained, he has taught the girls what to do. Because he likes me...they like me...and this is fascinating because one of the girls trusted no one and was total scetch. Mr Wu taught her how to love...and now she is into me. I take the pigs for a walk in the fields and they don't run off. Its fun to watch the pigs running just because they think running is fun. Happy, smart pigs
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He taught them to dig sunchokes.JPG
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Mr Wu is a chick magnet.JPG
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Chick magnet.JPG
Chick magnet.JPG (92.15 KiB) Viewed 506 times
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