Every year at the Renfrew Armories the local commodity groups put on an event called Farm Comes to Town. During the day groups of school kids come and "learn". I think they were grade 5s. My niece came last year when she was 11 -so what grade is that :) . Back in "the day" when this started (some 18 years ago) Colin says the schools spent a week learning about agriculture and the kids actually came interested and armed with intelligent questions. Boy, you sure can see the difference in schools these days when at an event like this one. Most schools seem to just treat this as a field trip/day off for the teacher. The kids had no questions and most of the time weren't even listening. I also wish they would break the groups up evenly, not have groups of all girls/boys. They seem to behave better in mixed groups. The schools from Arnprior were a joy to speak with. They came, listened and asked good questions -they actually listened for the answers since they had to fill them in.
It was our turn to supply the pigs on display. We brought a sow and litter and a market sized hog. Here are the piglets, they are all piled up trying to keep warm under the heat lamp. It was very cold in the Armories (for us and especially the little ones). The piglets like it about 92F. They are 3 weeks old and about 15 lbs. They love being all piled up. The market hog (no picture) is 6 months old and 250 lbs. He headed out the door on Wednesday on his way to Mapleleaf :)
In the evenings, the event is free to the public. We came back (gluttons for punishment I guess). I was hoping some of my home school/knit night friends would make it out, but no luck. Grandma came by and brought Ella. She doesn't like Daddy's pigs very much, they are much too loud for her sensitive ears. We headed around to see the other producers.
This is a beef cow and calf. I'll have to check with Colin, but they look like the type his Dad had before getting out of them (during BSE crisis). I kind of miss them, it was nice to look out the kitchen window and see the calves running around foolishly. I don't miss Colin going out at night (in the dark) for the final evening check or him nearly getting killed during calving. It's also a couple less hazards to Ella (the animals themselves and the electric fence). It also means that we now have enough land to grow enough corn to feed the pigs for a year (now that acres aren't 'wasted' on pasture).
Here's some of the sheep/lambs. Ella quite liked them, but wouldn't stand still either :)
As much as I enjoyed reading "Charlotte's Web" as a child and in school, I wish teachers would explain that it's a historical novel and not a current representation of farming today. The most frequent question we got all day was "do you kill the runts?". We don't have runts (except the odd one but the exception proves the rule). You only get runts when the sow isn't feed a proper diet while pregnant. If she's missing nutrients from somewhere, you get runts. The time period that "Charlotte's Web" is set was a time when pigs were outside and ate whatever they could find (shudder) and were fed 'slops' from the table and kitchen. Today, conventional pork producers feed a carefully formulated ration that meets the pigs dietary needs, depending on their stage of life.
The hardest question to answer was "how old do the pigs live?". Answer, 'which ones'. Market animals are about 6 months old when the hit the weight wanted by the packing plants. Sows are about 4 years, depending on their production. Colin's Mom made a pet of a pig once and it lived to be 11 years.