The Josephine Project ~
It all started when Daneen casually mentioned " We should get some pigs" …… Well anyone that knows me knows that statements like that are pretty dangerous to say around me. It didn't take me but a flat second to get on the internet and start looking at pig breeds 🙂
As I was cruising around the web I saw a photo of spotted piglets!!! OMG!!!! They were the flipping cutest things I have EVER seen!!!! Turns out they are Glouscestershire Old Spots and there are only about 1000 here in the US!!!
Photos of GOS Piglets from the GOSA site.
I somehow found the name of a GOS breeder in Oregon and had 2 gilts shipped to me. ADORABLE!!!!!
They are a very sweet breed and get really huge!!!! Since I am a breeder at heart I knew I had to find a boar for the girls. GOS breeders use a color wheel to figure out what is a best match for their sow because there are so few here and the gene pool is tiny. Each line of pigs belongs to a color group… either Blue, Green, Black or Red.
Another interesting thing is all the girl pigs are named after their mother. So my girls are Josephine I and Josephine II.
I bought and shipped a black group boar from New York to "hang out " with the girls. Since my mothers name is Josephine I thought I was being clever and named my new boy pig Andy ( My fathers name ) …. My mom didn't really appreciate the humor in that.
Andy was doing great until we found him dead in the stall one morning. I think he was bit by a rattlesnake.
All my pig breeding dreams went up in smoke. I am not located in the pig hotbed of the country so as life and other priorities took over my pig breeding days were pretty much over. The girls are getting up there in age and even if I bought another piglet it would take time to get him old enough to breed.
While at the Dalmatian National in Kansas a short time after Andy died I saw that there was a GOS breeder not too far from the host hotel!!! I asked a couple of friends if they wanted to go look at pigs with me… They said sure!!! It was fun and ride over to the GOS farm my friends started freaking me out by telling stories about how they had heard of people killing people and throwing the bodies to the pigs and not a trace of evidence would be left!!! Then they started in on that they would ask the farmer " sooo how many pigs would we need for … let's say a 180 pound man" I turned to them and laughed then in a very stern voice " Don't you guys dare say any of that stuff to the farmer, I REALLY want him to sell me a pig!!!!!"
Turns out he didn't sell me a pig 🙁
So now we are 5 years later after bringing both Josephine's here to our ranch and no boar and no piglets!!!
Last week I was reading posts on the GOS Yahoo group and come to find out that it looks like my girls are the last of the Josephine line!!!! Daneen said " You're kidding me! Sell them and get a good price!!!" Um…..Nooooooo
They are my girls and the right thing to do is get them bred….. and continue the Josephine line!!!!
I guess me and the girls have been quite the topic in the GOS circle and the cause of some excitement in the US GOS world, and I do think that this Josephine Project is important. I love my girls and would hate to see the Josephine line die off.
I was contacted by email by several people in the GOSA club and got a call from a man named Luther.
He sounded like a very kind man and was interested in seeing what he could do to help me get these girls bred.
He and his wife Julie have a farm in Oregon and have several GOS pigs including 3 GOS boars!!! Turns out he got his original pigs from Rich in NY who I bought Andy from ….. IT really is a small world.
With that phone call from Luther & Julie was born " The Josephine Project " There were a few initial obstacles that we had to figure out, first being the 1000 miles that stood between the sows and their boar. Luther and I agreed on a half way point to meet and exchange the girls…. then we ran into the second and third obstacles…. I don't have a trailer and have never actually pulled a trailer. So I got on the phone and spoke with every livestock/horse hauler and friend that had a trailer …. I even toyed with the idea that I could just load them up into our white sprinter and they could ride in the air conditioning all the way to our meeting point. I thought long and hard about that option ….. Daneen probably would not go for it and then there was the tiny detail of how were we going to safely transfer both girls from the sprinter to the trailer???? Visions of two big spotted pigs galloping down the I 5 sent shivers down my spine then chuckles because I could then visualize me running after them yelling "GIRLS come back!!!!"
After zero luck finding a hauler or a trailer, Luther decided that it would probably be easier and safer on the girls if he drove all the way here. I agreed. No transfer and less stress all the way around. Boy was I thankful!!!
Project Josephine is classified as highly time sensitive. I could hear the girls biological clocks ticking away every second. So the plans were set. We tried to think of every possible think to keep the girls safe and comfortable on their journey. Pigs don't sweat and can overheat very quickly and we have been having record high temps. Luther brought a generator and a huge fan that he could run to keep them cool if he needed to.
So today was the big day. I have been telling the girls all about their new adventure for a few days now. Luther drove up with a beautiful huge trailer that was filled with hay, straw and a big pile of shavings that we hosed down so the girls could keep cool. He also brought a bunch of zucchini squash the size that I have never seen before!!!!
We divised a makeshift chute from horse corral panels leading from the barn to the trailer. I didn't feed the girls today so they would be super hungry and maybe a little more motivated to load up into the trailer. We got a bucket of feed and had some apples and the monster zucchini in the trailer waiting for them. One of the Josephine's must have got a whiff of the food and hopped right up into the trailer. The other Josephine was not so keen and turned around to go back into the barn. We got her turned around facing the trailer again and she must have heard her sister making smacking sounds as she gobbled the first zucchini. Well that is all it took…. she then hopped right in and we shut the trailer door. Super easy peasy.
So with a tears in my eyes and wishing them a safe journey and sending lots of pink and blue thoughts (more pink than blue) for the girls, I watched them travel down our road and heading to a new phase in their lives.