The Berkshire swine traces back to over 300 years ago, with importation to the United States happening around 1823.
“Three hundred years ago – so legend has it – the Berkshire hog was discovered by Oliver Cromwell’s army, in winter quarters at Reading, the county seat of the shire of Berks in England. After the war, these veterans carried the news to the outside world of the wonderful hogs of Berks; larger than any other swine of that time and producing hams and bacon of rare quality and flavor. This is said to have been the beginning of the fame of the Reading Fair as a market place for pork products.
This original Berkshire was a reddish or sandy colored hog, sometimes spotted. This would account for the sandy hair still sometimes seen in the white areas of some modern Berkshires. Later this basic stock was refined with a cross of Siamese and Chinese blood, bringing the color pattern we see today along with the quality of more efficient gains. This was the only outside blood that has gone into the Berkshire breed within the time of recorded livestock history. For 200 years now the Berkshire bloodstream has been pure, as far as the records are known today.” Source Credit, the Oklahoma State Agricultural Department.
We have selected the Berkshire for our farm for the rich meat and characteristics of this breed. They are good foragers, have a strong heritage / lineage and predictable growth as differentiated from the common hog.
Our line of Berkshires is coming from another local breeder, who we are working with to establish our first boar and sow pairings. In our first year, we experimented with a couple of breeds, including a Berkshire cross and a Landrace, and going forward our intention at this point is to focus on Berkshire, and potentially add one additional breed that might focus more on bacon production or be otherwise differentiated. All of this is part of our learning process and we have learned there is so very much to learn!
Our Llama (Dalai) was originally purchased to be the herd guard animal. He has filled that role well and integrated into the family quite well. His personality is still stand offish unless you have food in your hand, in which case he is your very best friend!
Llama make great protectors, and seem to instinctively know the role. Dalai has cornered our large dogs on more than one occasion, not hurting them, but certainly containing them. We have had no predator losses in the area covered by the Llama, so while that is not definitive confirmation of efficacy, it certainly does support the case!
Dalai is from Chile, or more accurately, his father is from Chile. He was bred to be larger and of the guard temperament.
Our alpaca, Buddy, is a fun little guy and keeps Dalai the Llama company in the paddock. We don’t raise the alpaca for farm use, though we will sell the fiber to a co-op to get some fuzzy warm socks or scarves. Mainly they keep each other entertained and Buddy likes to get into the barn and investigate everything and maybe steal a bit of food from anyone who is not looking!
Our Nigerian Dwarf goats are a fun addition to our farm. When we got them, they were quite skittish and the oldest, Sushi, would not let us near her. Over time, as we spent more time sitting with them and begin around them, they came to trust us and now wont leave us alone if we are in the pen!
All three girls are pregnant and we now have our own buck, named Mattis, after General James Mattis.
The only auto-sexing breed we currently have. Copper, our rooster, was received as “packing peanuts” from a hatchery. He was very tiny and cute which endeared him to our son, Tommy. Copper has a very high pitch cockle doodle do. We bought 6 pullets to accompany him as we learned that telling gender upon hatching was simple and the hens lay a pastel blue egg. What’s not to like about that?