April 5, 2022
When the first generation of settlers set about creating farms from the forest, most were trying to transplant European agriculture to a foreign environment. Many brought with them European seeds and animals in the hopes that they would thrive in their new circumstances. There was, inevitably many adjustments to be made along the way.
When the first generation of migrants brought livestock to their new forest lots, they typically had no field to keep them in, and so they pastured them at large (the term ‘fence’ is derived from ‘defence’, as in to keep animals out, rather than in). Some animals fared better than others. Cows ended up eating all sorts of forest plants, that farmers might have preferred theyr avoid, which often flavoured their milk. But if there was any animal that was did well on its own, it was the pig.
Throughout much of eastern North America, pigs went feral in large number—they did not survive in nearly the numbers in Canada that they could regions further south. After a few generations in the wild, they became hairier, with longer snouts, and could be aggressive. Called razorbacks or alligators, they were known to attack children, and many people were wary of them. Before long, some of them were every bit as difficult to hunt as wild game. Once they were no longer needed for food the populations were eliminated through much of North America.