By Michael O’Donoghue, Upland Farms
My wife and two children moved to North Carolina a little over four years ago and have been homesteading on 23+ acres near Kerr Lake. We’ve had history and experience breeding high quality bird dogs (Vizslas) but never any other of what you might call farm animals. We got some chickens and that’s been going ok so we said; “What’s next?” I wanted something low maintenance (dog breeding can be very intense), strong forager (didn’t want to spend a ton of money and time on feed) AND, we’ve got a terrible issue with the invasive Chinese Privet. I’ve spent way too much money and time trying to get rid of it. Maybe something would eat this stuff?
Getting Started with the American Guinea Hog
I purchased one of those all about xxx for dummies books on breeding cattle…well as an amateur, raising cattle seemed way too much for me at my novice agricultural husbandry level. All the homesteading forums said unless you’re into goats and prepared for their unique escape artist talents with fencing, don’t go there and I listened. So, I started looking around at various hog and pigs breeds, doing extensive internet research. I came across the American Guinea Hog Association (www.guineahogs.org) and liked what I saw, joined the association and started asking questions. Wow, what a great group of folks! I was sold on the idea, and we bought two gilts (young females). I thought, “Well if this doesn’t work out, there’s always a salvage value in the pork…”
I’ve become an avid gardener and have had an acre garden with a literal ton of excess produce that we gave away to neighbors and I just hated to simply compost, so when Chocolate and Brandy, our new American Guinea Hogs, cleared out the Privet, stayed in their easily constructed electrical two-strand fencing and gladly ate all excess from the garden that was it. True love!
Love being what it is, we had to get Brandy and Chocolate a mate. Enter Balzam. You’ll note that we’re using name criteria along alcoholic/medicinal lines, ha ha. We’ve just been blessed with a litter from each of these sows and the herd is numbering 13. Still Privet yet to eradicate, so check back for progress.
Oh yea, I’m originally from Arkansas (of Arkansas Razorback fame) and now I can finally “Call the Hogs” and really mean it!
Michael O’Donoghue, Upland Farms. His email is email@example.com.