By Rae Lewis.
As Autumn turns to Winter and our outdoor gardening season officially ends, we have recently welcomed 8 adorable piglets to the Homestead. These piglets provide so much fun and joy for students and staff alike. Having them at the farm also offers daily therapeutic opportunities for students to engage in a structured routine of caring for animals while developing bonds and being an active part of the growth and development process. Many of the homestead students have taken on a personal attachment and responsibility to ensuring the health and safety of the baby piglets. It’s truly amazing to see how much effort the students put in to work hard for these little babies.
Everyone who visits the farm also has an opportunity to enjoy some cuddle time with these little ones. In fact, every week when town students come out to the Homestead to participate Farm Camp where they learn about farming and gardening, they all get an opportunity to sit and play with the piglets.
The parents of these little bundles of love are Wombat and Wendy. They too were also once homestead piglets raised by our students. Wombat (a Half American guinea hog and Kune-Kune pig) was bought from a small Homestead in Grants Pass, Oregon. He was only 12 weeks old when he was moved to the farm in October of 2015. Wendy (a full American guinea hog) was bought from another farm in Redding, California, and was only 6 weeks old when she moved the farm in November of 2015. There is an old farmer’s saying that a pig’s gestations period is “3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days.” Although that may not be exact, it was close enough because our baby piglets were born on October 24th.
Wendy gave birth about an hour before students woke up that Monday morning. We moved Wendy into her own space on the farm so she could give birth and raise the piglets alone for the first few weeks. Soon the piglets started getting brave enough to go outside and venture around the pasture. They were introduced to their father Wombat who seemed to take to them immediately, and they spent a lot of time running around together as the most adorable pig family.
You can often find the whole sounder of swine eating compost, roaming around the fields, and rooting in the pastures at the homestead. However, when the winds wail and the snow falls, you will find them huddled together in the barn, often with a student or two keeping them company.
When they were born, the piglets were at just a few ounces each and small enough to fit comfortably in a single hand. Now after just a few weeks, each weigh a few pounds and are big enough to run around and find food for themselves, though they are still feeding from their mom. They will start to be weaned over the next few weeks until they are entirely self-sufficient. Though the farm will be unable to keep all 8 piglets we do hope to keep a few and sell the others to local area farmers looking for some amazing pigs. For now, all of the piglet will continued to raised, loved and appreciated by students and staff alike here at Dragonfly’s Homestead campus.