These youngsters were left with their mothers until eight weeks old; then they were put, in bunches of thirty, into the real hog-house, which was by that time completed. It was 200 feet long and 50 feet wide, with a 10-foot passageway through the length of it. On either side were 10 pens 20 feet by 20, each connected with a run 20 feet by 120. The house stood on a platform or bed of cement 90 by 200 feet, which formed the floor of the house and extended 20 feet outside of each wall, to secure cleanliness and a dry feeding-place in the open. The cement floor was expensive ($1120 as first cost), but I think it has paid for itself several times over in health and comfort to the herd. The structure on this floor was of the simplest; a double wall only five feet high at the sides, shingled roof, broken at the ridge to admit windows, and strong partitions. It cost $3100. As in the brood-sow house, there is a kitchen at the west end. The 150 little pigs made but a small showing in this great house, which was intended to shelter six hundred of all sizes, from the eight-weeks-old baby pig to the nine-months-old three-hundred-pounder ready for market.
Pigs destined for market never leave this house until ripe for killing. At six or seven months a few are chosen to remain on the farm and keep up its traditions; but the great number live their ephemeral lives of eight months luxuriously, even opulently, until they have made the ham and bacon which, poor things, they cannot save, and then pass into the pork barrel or the smoke-house without a sigh of regret. They toil not, neither do they spin; but they have a place in the world’s economy, and they fit it perfectly. So long as one animal must eat another, the man animal should thank the hog animal for his generosity.
Now that my big hog-house seemed so empty, I would gladly have sent into the highways and byways to buy young stock to fill it; but I dared not break my quarantine. I could easily have picked up one hundred or even two hundred new-weaned pigs, within six or eight miles of my place, at about $1.50 each, and they would have grown into fat profit by fall; but I would not take a risk that might bear ill fruit. I had slight depressions of spirits when I visited my piggery during that summer; but I chirked up a little in the fall, when the brood sows again made good. But more of that anon.
WORK ON THE HOME FORTY
April and May made amends for the rudeness of March, and the ploughs were early afield. Thompson, Zeb, Johnson, and sometimes Anderson, followed the furrows, first in 10 and 11, and lastly in 13. Number 9 had a fair clover sod, and was not disturbed. We ploughed in all about 114 acres, but we did not subsoil. We spent twenty days ploughing and as many more in fitting the ground for seed. The weather was unusually warm for the season, and there was plenty of rain. By the middle of May, oats were showing green in Nos. 8, 10, 11, 12, and 13,—sixty-two acres. The corn was well planted in 15 and the west three-quarters of 14,—eighty-two acres. The other ten acres in the young orchard was planted to fodder corn, sown in drills so that it could be cultivated in one direction.