At the end of last week I was lucky enough to attend a seminar about raising pigs. Offered by the local UMaine cooperative extension and presented by a professor with a PhD in swine husbandry it was an educational and engaging couple of hours. Knowing very little about pigs or what it may take to care for them I went in with an open mind ready to learn
Curious to see if a couple of pigs would be a good addition to Camp Runoia’s small organic farm and garden program, I was interested to learn more about if overnight camp could be a good home for a few hogs. Our farm and garden program has been operational now for a good number of years and is a popular tag up choice. For campers who have little access to gardens or to small livestock it is a fantastic, fun, learning opportunity. The program includes growing vegetables for our camp kitchen, maintaining the flower gardens and taking care of the animals. Campers are eager to hang out with the goats, feed the chickens and play with the bunny.
As other local camps have small farms too and there has been much talk about pigs, we were curious if they would be a good expansion for us. The seminar quickly answered a lot of questions and rapidly brought on the realization that much of what we assumed about keeping pigs was more myth based than scientifically factual! We were hoping a couple of pigs would significantly reduce our food scrap waste in the dumpster but it turns out they really can’t eat a lot of table scraps and what they do eat needs to be pretty well sorted. It is very hard to get the nutrition that they need to grow from ‘waste products.’ Another compounding factor was the time it takes to raise pigs until they are ready for butchering. We were hopeful that three months at camp would be enough but really they need about six months to be ready for eating. This brought me to the third factor that emotionally it would be pretty hard to send our pigs well loved camp pigs off to market!
After two hours of lecture, asking some good questions and learning so much interesting information it really was easy to determine that the only pig at Runoia this summer will be out Guinea pig ‘Cream Puff’. It was great to learn so much about something that I knew so little about and also feel confident in making the right decision based on facts. Putting life skills into action.