The hog is an animal for which we have no especial liking, be he either a tender suckling, nosing and tugging at the well-filled udder of his dam, or a well-proportioned porker, basking in all the plenitude of swinish luxury; albeit, in the use of his flesh, we affect not the Jew, but liking it moderately well, in its various preparations, as a substantial and savory article of diet. Still, the hog is an important item of our agricultural economy, and his production and proper treatment is a val
able study to all who rear him as a creature either of profit or convenience. In the western and southern states, a mild climate permits him to be easily reared and fed off for market, with little heed to shelter or protection; while in the north, he requires care and covering during winter. Not only this; in all places the hog is an unruly, mischievous creature, and has no business really in any other 280 place than where he can he controlled, and kept at a moment's call.
But, as tastes and customs differ essentially, with regard to his training and destiny, to such as agree with us in opinion, that his proper place is in the sty, particularly when feeding for pork, a plan of piggery is given, such as may be economical in construction, and convenient in its arrangement, both for the swine itself, and him who has charge of him.
The design here given, is for a building, 36 feet long, and 24 feet wide, with twelve-feet posts; the lower, or living room for the swine, 9 feet high, and a storage chamber above, for the grain and other food required for his keeping. The roof has a pitch of 40° from a horizontal line, spreading over the sides and gables at least 20 inches, and coarsely bracketed. The entrance front projects 6 feet from the main building, by 12 feet in length. Over its main door, in the gable, is a door with a hoisting beam and tackle above it, to take in the grain, and a floor over the whole area receives it. A window is in each gable end. A ventilator passes up through this chamber and the roof, to let off the steam from the cooking vats below, and the foul air emitted by the swine, by the side of which is the furnace-chimney, giving it, on the whole, as respectable an appearance as a pigsty need pretend to.
At the left of the entrance is a flight of stairs, (b,) leading to the chamber above. On the right is a small area, (a,) with a window to light it. A door from this leads into the main room, (c,) where stands a chimney, (d,) with a furnace to receive the fuel for cooking the food, for which are two kettles, or boilers, with wooden vats, on the top, if the extent of food demands them; these are secured with broad wooden covers, to keep in the steam when cooking. An iron valve is placed in the back flue of the furnace, which may fall upon either side, to shut off the fire from either of the kettles, around which the fire may revolve; or, the valve may stand in a perpendicular position, at will, if both kettles be heated at the same time. But, as the most economical mode is to cook one kettle while the other is in process of feeding out, and vice versa, scarcely more than one at a time will be required in use. Over each kettle is a sliding door, with a short spout to slide the food into them, when wanted. If necessary, and it can be conveniently done, a well may be sunk under this room, and a pump inserted at a convenient place; or if equally convenient, a pipe may bring the water in from a neighboring stream, or spring. On three sides of this room are feeding pens, (e,) and sleeping partitions, (f,) for the swine. These several apartments are accommodated with doors, which open into separate yards on the sides and in rear, or a large one for the entire family, as may be desired.
The frame of this building is of strong timber, and stout for its size. The sills should be 8 inches square, the corner posts of the same size, and the intermediate posts 8×6 inches in diameter. In the center of these posts, grooves should be made, 2 inches wide, and deep, to receive the plank sides, which should be 2 inches thick, and let in from the level of the chamber by a flush cutting for that purpose, out of the grooves inside, thus using no nails or spikes, and holding the planks tight in their place, that they may not be rooted out, or rubbed off by the hogs, and the inner projection of the main posts left to serve as rubbing posts for them—for no creature so loves to rub his sides, when fatting, as a hog, and this very natural and praiseworthy propensity should be indulged. These planks, like the posts, should, particularly the lower ones, be of hard wood, that they may not be eaten off. Above the chamber floor, thinner planks may be used, but all should be well jointed, that they may lie snug, and shut out the weather. The center post in the floor plan of the engraving is omitted, by mistake, but it should stand there, like the others. Inside posts at the corners, and in the sides of the partitions, like the outside ones, should be also placed and grooved to receive the planking, four and a half feet high, and their upper ends be secured by tenons into mortices in the beams overhead. The troughs should then, if possible, be made of cast iron, or, in default of that, the hardest of 284 white oak plank, strongly spiked on to the floor and sides; and the apartment may then be called hog-proof—for a more unquiet, destructive creature, to a building in which he is confined, does not live, than the hog. The slide, or spout to conduct the swill and other feed from the feeding-room into the trough, should be inserted through the partition planks, with a steep slant the whole length of the trough, that the feed may be readily thrown into any or all parts of it. This slide should be of two-inch white-oak plank, and bound along the bottom by a strip of hoop-iron, to prevent the pigs from eating it off—a habit they are prone to; then, firmly spiked down to the partition planks, and through the ends, to the adjoining studs, and the affair is complete. With what experience we have had with the hog, and that by no means an agreeable one, we can devise no better method of accommodation than this here described, and it certainly is the cheapest. But the timber and lumber used must be sound and strong; and then, properly put together, it may defy their most destructive ingenuity. Of the separate uses to which the various apartments may be put, nothing need be said, as the circumstances of every farmer will best govern them.
One, to three hundred dollars, according to price of material and labor, will build this piggery, besides fitting it up with furnace and boilers. It may be contracted, or enlarged in size, as necessity may direct; but no one, with six to twenty porkers in his fatting pens, a year, will regret the expense of building a convenient appurtenance of this kind to his establishment.
285 A word may be pardoned, in relation to the too universal practice of permitting swine to prowl along the highways, and in the yards and lawns of the farm house. There is nothing so slovenly, wasteful, and destructive to one's thrift, and so demoralizing, in a small way, as is this practice. What so revolting to one, of the least tidy nature whatever, as a villainous brute, with a litter of filthy pigs at her heels, and the slimy ooze of a mud-puddle reeking and dripping from their sides? See the daubs of mud marking every fence-post, far and near, along the highway, or where-ever they run! A burrow is rooted up at every shady point, a nuisance at every corner you turn, and their abominable snouts into everything that is filthy, or obscene—a living curse to all that is decent about them. An Ishmaelite among the farm stock, they are shunned and hated by every living thing, when at large. But, put the creature in his pen, with a ring in his nose, if permitted to go into the adjoining yard, and comfortably fed, your pig, if of a civilized breed, is a quiet, inoffensive—indeed, gentlemanly sort of animal; and as such, he is entitled to our toleration—regard, we cannot say; for in all the pages of our reading, we learn, by no creditable history, of any virtuous sympathies in a hog.