Wolf Ridge has gone to the pigs.
The environmental learning center just outside Finland purchased 12 pigs this spring to help clear the scrubland on the organic farm. The pigs were 55 pounds when they arrived at the farm near the end of April, and were put to work digging and rooting around the field.
“Now they’re about 100 pounds, so they’re growing pretty fast,” said Tori Dahl, farm field manager at Wolf Ridge. “We imagine they’ll be about 250 pounds when the season is up and they will become food for the dining hall.”
Dahl calls the pigs “extra staff members” because of all the work they do turning over the dirt, digging up roots and rocks on the scrubland and creating fertilizer.
The pigs are the second step in the process farmland preparation process. Last year, the land was covered by forest. After clearing away the brush last summer, farm manager David Abazs suggested bringing in pigs to help the process along. Abazs used pigs to improve soil at his own farm.
The pigs are placed three to a pen. The four 12-by-12-foot enclosures are moved along the ground as the pigs do their work. The pigs find food in the ground, but are also fed table scraps, barley and fresh water.
Although they will be slaughtered at the end of the growing season, Dahl has a habit of naming a few of the pigs: Babycakes, Piggeroo and Waffles. Piggeroo earned his name when he tried jumping out of the enclosure.
“None of them have escaped yet, though there have been some close calls,” Dahl said. “They’re smart animals, which I knew, but it’s something else to see it.”