On Friday the 1st November Claire and I moved onto the farm on North Manakau road. Since then it has been a complete blur of moving in, getting settled, meeting people, buying screws, poles and washing machines and touring the farm in our newly inherited 1987 Land Rover 110.
Already the house is looking and feeling great and Claire has taken to being a domestic goddess like a duck to water but there is work to be done on the farm, lots of it. I have given myself the goal of making an income from the livestock by February 2014 and this means the grower pigs need to be six months old by then, simple maths will tell you that I need to buy the two month old weaners right now. So the search for the pigs has already began.
Three days ago I went to my first livestock sale yard and auction in a small rural town called Rongatoa, about an hour north of the farm. As with most farming in New Zealand and Australia the focus is mostly on cattle and sheep but they had a few pigs up for sale, set well away from the rest of the stock and looking very forlorn. Now I don’t know much about pigs, yet, but I can tell you that these pigs didn’t look happy, there were 5 white pigs (presumedly from a larger litter) and if you look at their ears in the photo I took (above left) you will see they are quite badly sunburnt and overall looked scrawny and dirty, they sold for $101 a piece. In contrast, today I drove over 200km to visit a true free range farm just north of Wanganui where I met the very gracious Gill and her husband. Whilst scoffing two homemade savoury scones, washed down with a good ole cup of tea we discussed the pitfalls and merits of pig farming. After this we went for the obligatory farm tour to see all the pigs, the boar, the sows and the piglets.
They all looked very happy and enjoyed the freedom of walking around the whole paddock. The 9 piglets they had for sale were all 100% Large Blacks (Devon) piglets and generally seemed in good shape, five sows and four boars. So I bought them all for $75 each and they will arrive in the first week of December, just in time for me to have completed the work on the farm.
So the pigs are coming but I don’t have fencing, water troughs or feed set up. I have chosen the best paddock to start off the pig project but I need to get it prepared and only have three weeks to do it. I will be installing electric fencing (the property is already electrified so I just need to structure the fence lines), dropping a water line from the high paddocks on the other side of the fence and buying an auto feeder. All in a days/weeks work.