UPDATE: The HamCam has sadly been taken down for the season. The pigs are fine!
Say howdy to the ModFarm HamCam! You’re watching the American Guinea Hogs of Pettitoes Farm, located in Warwick, Massachusets. With the help of Claudia Lewis, you’ll be able to watch these guys 24/7 (yes, this cam has night vision). We’ll let Claudia Lewis explain the story of Pettitoes Farm:
“Several years ago I convinced my husband, Zac Marti, that it would be a good idea to raise American Guinea Hogs, a small heritage breed that works well in a backyard setting. We never planned to be farmers, we just wanted to feed our kids.
Fortunately, the house we purchased is in a forward-thinking town. The residents of Warwick adopted the Massachusetts Right-to-Farm Bylaw — this means that every new landowner must sign a form that states ‘It is the policy of this community to encourage the local production of food and other agricultural products and to conserve and protect farmland for its natural, scenic, and ecological value. This disclosure informs buyers or occupants that farming activities, including the raising and keeping of livestock, take place in the Town of Warwick and that such activities (which may occur on holidays, weekdays, and weekends by night or day) may cause noise, dust and odors. Those occupying land in Warwick should expect and accept such conditions as a normal and necessary aspect of living in a rural town.’
These pigs live twenty or so steps from our back door. We have trained them to a bell – because how else can you live with pigs outside your kitchen window? When it is time for some grain, kitchen scraps, or, their favorite, a tote full of treats from Hillside Pizza in Bernardston, we ring a bell. When they hear that ringing, they react with much squealing, jumping, and, if we are too slow, salivating. Thank you, Temple Grandin, for teaching me that pigs experience anticipation.
We also feed lots of hay – they eat it, and the excess becomes deep-litter bedding. We add cooled ash from our woodstoves and some powdered lime to balance the soil pH in the pen. We want to be able to enjoy the beauty of our yard while breathing sweet-smelling air!
It is just so cool to to see what we can recycle into meat. It is satisfying to remove opportunistic plants from the yard, pesty stuff like knotweed and goutweed, some of it picked feet from the tree where a pig is hung for butchering.
I chose the name Pettitoes Farm as a nod to Beatrix Potter. In her “The Tale of Pigling Bland,” she named a character Aunt Pettitioes. I have always appreciated the irony of naming, in a children’s book, the well-dressed, purse-carrying auntie pig after food considered offal – pig’s feet.
I hope that HamCam is a positive experience for folks. Though it is still snowy and damn cold, Fannie and her crew are still lively! If you’d like to learn more about this breed, check out guineahogs.org, or send me a message at [email protected]“