When he has spent 250 happy days with me, we part company with feelings of mutual respect,—he to finish his mission, I to provide for his successor.
My early plan was to turn off 200 of this finished product each year, but I soon found that I could do much better. One can raise a crop of hogs nearly as quickly as a crop of corn, and with much more profit, if the food be at hand. There was likely to be an abundance of food. I was more willing to sell it in pig skins than in any other packages. My plan was now to turn off, not 200 hogs each year, but 600 or more. I had 60 well-bred sows, young and old, and I could count on them to farrow at least three times in two years. The litters ought to average 7 each, say 22 pigs in two years; 60 times 22 are 1320, and half of 1320 is 660. Yes, at that rate, I could count on about 600 finished hogs to sell each year. But if my calculations were too high, I could easily keep 10 more brood sows, for I had sufficient room to keep them healthy.
The two five-acre lots, Nos. 3 and 5, had been given over to the brood sows when they were not caring for young litters in the brood-house. Comfortable shelters and a cemented basin twelve feet by twelve, and one foot deep, had been built in each lot. The water-pipe that ran through the chicken lot (No. 4) connected with these basins, as did also a drain-pipe to the drain in the north lane, so that it was easy to turn on fresh water and to draw off that which was soiled. Through this device my brood sows had access to a water bath eight inches deep, whenever they were in the fields. My hogs, young or old, have never been permitted to wallow in mud. We have no mud-holes at Four Oaks to grow stale and breed disease. The breeding hogs have exercise lots and baths, but the young growing and fattening stock have neither. They are kept in runs twenty feet by one hundred, in bunches of from twenty to forty, according to age, from the time they are weaned until they leave the place for good. This plan, which I did not intend to change, opened a question in my mind that gave me pause. It was this: Can I hope, even with the utmost care, to keep the house for growing and fattening swine free from disease if I keep it constantly full of swine?
The more I thought about it the less probable it appeared. The pig-house had cost me $4320. Another would cost as much, if not more, and I did not like to go to the expense unless it were necessary. I worked over this problem for several days, and finally came to the conclusion that I should never feel easy about my swine until I had two houses for them, besides the brood-house for the sows. I therefore gave the order to Nelson to build another swine-house as soon as spring opened. My plan was, and I carried it out, to move all the colonies every three months, and to have the vacant house thoroughly cleaned, sprayed with a powerful germicide, and whitewashed. The runs were to be turned over, when the weather would permit, and the ground sown to oats or rye.