One thing about this Heritage Farming business is mud. Mud caked tight between our tire treads. Mud on the grass, mud in the barn, mud over the top of our boots, mud on the laundry room floor. Mud in our hair, mud under our fingernails, mud in our eyes, ears, and nose. Mud that has taken every glove, both left and right, that we own. Mud on the driveway, mud down our little country road.
Mud in the trailer, mud outside the trailer, hell, mud all over the trailer. We have mud in holes, mud on mounds, mud making its rounds all over our farm. Mud on the hogs, of course, and the pigs. Mud in the garden, mud on the gravel… mud, mud, mud. As Dawn would say… who has this special penchant for finding pun in words… ‘we’re tough mudders’…
Ok, you get the picture.
But we are human beings – supposedly at the pinnacle of animal ‘intelligence’. We have overcome everything, you know… impenetrable forests, swift rivers, deserts, brutal cold, intense heat, droughts, monsoon’s, floods… our manifest destiny. So, we should be able to overcome this ‘mud thing’…
…this ‘mud thing’ could be easily rectified if we owned a section of land with pastures as far as the eyes can see… or if I decided to put all of our acres ‘under hogs’… but I won’t. So our ‘dry lots’ (a midwestern term for hog pens… a total misnomer in the Pacific Northwest) are sprinkled around habitat islands… soon we’ll be planting pastures in an area where we can give young pigs a ‘fresh start’ on vitamin/mineral rich grass.
In these ‘dry lots’ hog huts work best on wooden decks with a front porch… where in theory anyway these hooved mammals can ‘knock the mud off their feet’ prior to entering their domiciles. And this actually works most of the time. Boards that make up these ‘hut decks’ are spaced the width of a horseshoe… the thing that was at hand first when I was looking for a spacer for such work… these gaps allow any water that gets in the huts to drain away. I’ve also found that heavy bark works well in high traffic areas, particularly for the younger pigs. But this stuff needs to be used judiciously because it’s a bit pricey.
So… if you’re lucky enough to own a big farm with lots of pastures/wooded areas (that the hogs will plow with a unique level of determination if kept in an area too long), this ‘mud thing’ can be minimized. If you’re like the rest of us scratching out an operation on a moderately sized piece of ground, you’ll need to be careful not to ‘nuke’ the landscape by letting hogs run willy nilly across the countryside.
Key words/tools of the trade: Muck boots (tall). Rubber fishing gloves. Heavy duty raingear… pants will look like they’ve been through a paper shredder over time… thanks to those hog panels that are never cut flush with the upper horizontal wire. Head lamps (Fenix … as bright as car headlights). A tough beanie that can be changed out to a simple baseball cap when the sweat gets started in earnest. And enough Grit to make Rooster Cogburn proud.
And as Mr. Cogburn so aptly said: “watch yourself sister! Everything in these woods either will bite ya, stab ya, or stick ya!”… And I’ll add … sink ya if you keep the hogs in one place too long.