Layla Lawlor (laylalawlor) wrote in little_details,
Layla Lawlor

Farrowing on a small organic pig farm

I have several scenes in the novel I'm writing that take place on a small, individual-owned, organic free-range pig farm. What I'm trying to figure out are the most likely farrowing arrangements for the pigs, because the novel is set during the spring, right around the time that the sows would likely be farrowing (I think - early April, temperate climate?). During the scenes that take place on the farm, the owner is constantly distracted by the regular chores that go along with running a pig farm during farrowing season ...

... except I'm struggling to determine what those chores would be, and what sort of outbuildings and general physical surroundings I should be describing, as the main character is following the owner around and assisting her with her chores. I can find tons of information online (including Youtube videos) about the standard procedures at large hog farms, but for a small free-range farm, I'm finding lots of wildly conflicting theoretical information, but very little concrete info on the day-to-day procedure of running a place like this, especially in terms of shelter for the sows and daily chores and so forth.

As far as the climate etc, this is set around Ithaca, New York. It's early April and there's damp, drizzly, near-freezing weather with occasional snow. The farm itself I imagine to be a "typical" (one might say stereotypical) farm such as I've seen in rural New England -- fenced-in fields with some woods, an old turn-of-the-century farmhouse and an old barn and maybe another outbuilding or two. Number of hogs on the farm is ... um, vague. However many one person could handle with maybe another person or two hired on at busy times.

For further background information, this is a fantasy novel and the owner of the farm is Circe -- yeah, that Circe, from the Odyssey. She claims that these are simply ordinary pigs and she's making a perfectly innocent living by raising and selling free-range pork.

What I'm trying to figure out are the most likely arrangements for the sows (are they confined during farrowing? what sort of shelter do they have?), so that I can describe the setting accurately, as well as the typical chores that Circe and any assistant(s) would have on an average day -- a typical "day in the life" of a hog farmer in the spring. Also, if I've erred and early April would not be farrowing season in New England, that would be good to know too! But then I'd need to figure out what she would most likely be doing during the day instead.

Google topics include: pig farm, free range pig farm, pig farrowing, farrowing hut, organic pig farm farrowing, etc. I've also searched on Youtube, poked around various message boards, and looked through the "animals (misc)" tag here.
Tags: ~animals (misc)

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