Hogs are a great animal to have on the homestead. Young hogs are referred to as pigs, and babies are called piglets. We usually raise one or two pigs a year because they are so useful to us. They provide natural pork, fertilizer for the compost piles, and even some manpower--or pigpower in this case. Homesteaders of long ago knew all this, and so they used their hogs wisely. They didn't have the benefit of the modern machinery we know today, so when they needed to clear an overgrown area, break up the soil, or even pack down a seeping pond, they'd just send in the hogs. The hogs would do what they do best--root around. Hogs love to eat grubs, roots, and other treats hidden deep in the soil, and they will stop at nothing to find them. This can be disastrous if they decide to root for grubs in the garden, but it can really come in handy in the right situation. Using an animal's natural instincts to get my work done is right up my alley, and they're always happy to lend a helping hand--or hoof. Cloven hoof in this case. Actually, their snouts are the most helpful part of their anatomy. They use them like shovels to dig out their snacks. I've gotten distracted again, haven't I? Back to my story...This past winter I put a piglet in a moveable "chicken tractor", and I used her to clear a large area full of grass clumps and compacted soil. I just moved her around every so often, gave her some supplemental feed, and made sure she had plenty of water. By springtime the grass was cleared, the soil was turned over, and the grubs were gone. It sure saved me a lot of work, and it gave her something useful to do all winter. I love it when a plan comes together!
I love farm animals. There are plenty of good reasons for this: they provide food, income, fertilizer, pest and weed control...they can even till my garden for me! But what I really love is having odd farm animals just wandering around. I like to just sit and watch them happily scratch, root, or strut about--doing whatever comes natural to them. Sometimes it gets a little crazy, but they're such a big part of the homestead equation, I can't imagine not having them.