Since we're not up for raising piglets this year, we don't need an intact male. We also learned about boar taint. If a male pig isn't castrated in good time before being butchered, his hormones taint the meat. Some butchers (including the one we used to butcher Princess last year) won't butcher boars at all because of this concern (and USDA inspectors that come down hard on evidence of boar taint).
Boar taint is the offensive odor or taste that can be evident during the cooking or eating of pork or pork products derived from non-castrated male pigs once they reach puberty.
Jamey had talked to the vet on the phone prior to the visit and thought that Jamey would be able to hold Spock while he preformed the castration procedure. Just to be sure, Jamey had lined up for a neighbor to come help. Once the vet saw Spock, he thought for sure Jamey could handle it on his own and Jamey says he likely could have but he was SO happy (as was I!) when our neighbor entered the barn at just the right moment!
GORY DETAILS (in case you're interested): Our super-hero vet chased Spock around the small stall and grabbed him by the back legs. Once he had a good grip, he handed the legs to Jamey. While Jamey was getting a good grip, in walked our neighbor and took one of the legs from Jamey. Spock was doing a handstand-of-sorts with his belly facing the vet. The vet disinfected the area with a special wash he brought along. Then, in literally 5 seconds flat, the vet used a special little razor blade to make 2-inch slits in each sac and the testicles popped right out. He then quickly cut the membrane that they were attached to and dropped them on the ground. Then, he used some sort of anapestic spray on the cuts and Spock was set back on the ground.
Spock stood oddly (for him) still and quiet while the vet proceeded to give me detailed instructions on how I could prepare the testicles for eating. He said they are the most tender cut of a hog. I stood there, trying not to let my semi-horror show, and listened politely. Sadie fetched me a container and I stood, making polite conversation with the vet, our neighbor, husband and children- all the while holding testicles in my hand. It's apparent that my 'firsts' will never end.
On a side note, have you all watched The Incredible Dr. Pol yet? Our whole family watches it on Netflix and loves it. If you haven't watched it, you really must.
Little Wesley isn't so little anymore- he's almost the size of the girls and it's a little hard to tell apart initially. He's still spoiled, though. We weaned him off the formula but he still remembers it and squeals and fusses his little head off when we come into the barn and don't produce a dog bowl full of milk. Once weaned off the milk, he remained stubborn for awhile and refused to go outside and root with the others. Now, he's like one of the big kids- rooting about, laying in the sun and enjoying the great outdoors.
Wesley- actively whining and fussing at me
We're pleasantly surprised at how quiet they are. Yes, Wesley fusses for milk, and there were the occasional piggy-yelps as they learned where the electric fences are but otherwise, there is only a low-level of happy, contented grunting while they root.
Occasionally during the day, they bed down together in the barn on top of the leaves if it's warm and under them if it's cool. Sometimes they sleep outside.
their barn space
We've had to place a large tire around their water pail because Spock, especially, likes to get in the water and roll around a bit. He still can, but the tire keeps all the water from spilling out.
I'm currently reading this recently released book about pigs and find it fascinating. It's funny- before we got bees, I did a TON of reading and preparing. With the pigs, there was some preliminary reading but now that they're HERE?! I must learn more!
I just might love them as much as our bees:-).