"Sus scrofa" • color lithograph • 18" x 18" • editioned
First color litho done. This is the first in the Bestiary: A Study Guide to Animal Taxonomy.
This fat little guy was the lone male in my group of 8 pigs I raised 2 summers ago. He and 3 of his sisters were from a herd of a wild-type hybrids bred by a neighboring farmer. The farmer breeds these hogs to survive out on a huge pasture, with little supplemental corn. They’re typically very thin, lean, and survive on whatever they can find out on pasture. Well, when we brought them home to our little pasture to be raised with 4 little pink piglets (typical, white, hybrid–probably Yorkshire, Landrace, Hampshire crosses), they made themselves at home. Since they were older, they quickly showed the little pink piglets how to cool off in the mudhole, where to find the waterer, where to bed down, etc. They were great older siblings to the pinkies.
One thing drastically changed for these wild guys when they moved to our place–they suddenly had free-choice hog feed (corn and soybean mix) from a huge feeder, open 24/7. They ate ravenously. Never before had they had access to this type/quantity of food. They began to swell as the weeks went by. They didn’t really grow up, but rather, out. They became enormously fat, and this guy here in the litho, swelled up like a watermelon. I thought he would burst. the little pink piglets however, grew like typical, white, yorkshire-cross hybrid American hogs–up and long and lean. They grew to enormous proportions–long, gently arching backs–looking like walking mountains from the side.
These wild guys ate very messily, food flying everywhere as they would grab a mouthful of feed, then whip their head out to look for predators–that part of their behavior stayed the same–they were always looking out for potential danger. When they whipped their heads up and out of the feeder, the grain literally flew out of their mouths and through the air as they munched with mouths open (as pigs will do).
Well, fall came, and they went off to the butcher. When we got the meat back, the white hogs’ meat was lean, and huge cuts (porkchops the size of dinner plates and all that), while the wild hybrid’s meat was heavily marbled and the cuts were tiny. The porkchops were actually cute–tiny little things–looking like baby porkchops. The bacon was the opposite of what you’d want in bacon–it was white, with a light marbling of meat!
So, they aren’t the best hogs to raise when you have free-choice feed available if you want lots of meat. But, if it’s lard you want, these are the hogs for you!
The series is inspired by my Zoology 335 class (Animal/Human Behavior with Patricia McConnell). More in this Animal Taxonomy series will be produced throughout the rest of this year, and then printed in artist’s book form (the Bestiary) as well as separate, framed prints.