A tomato plant (the classic annual veggie) typically ripens from seed to fruit in 6-8 months in the PNW. They’re an intensive plant that requires seeding as early as February, babying the seedlings with heat and light, then transplanting to the ground and covering with plastic to protect from cool nights (which stunt their growth), fertilizing with nitrogen, then trellising to keep the fruit off the ground and away from ground moisture (which curls the leaf and rots the fruit). The payoff is nice, once you get there, but the tomato is a high-maintenance fruit.
Interestingly, hogs grown for commercial markets are butchered at 6-8 months of age, about the same amount of time it takes to grow a tomato. They’re fed a specialized and controlled diet made up of the exactly right blend of protein and amino acids, and they eat 5-10 lbs of this pelleted formula per hog per day. These cornfed blimps grow so fast that they can easily exceed desirable market weight in just a few weeks. This is annual pork: high input and intensively managed.
On the other hand, perennials like apples and asparagus seem to just show up year after year like manna from heaven. Once established, perennials require less inputs of water or fertilizer than their annual counterparts. They still need pruning, occasional fertilizer, and a heavy mulch for winter, but compared to the rigmarole required to grow a tomato, its negligible.
American Guinea Hogs (and other slow-growing heritage breeds like mangalitsa and kune kune) are perennial pork. They can take three times as long to reach the standard 150 lb butcher weight. This type of animal makes very little sense (cents) on the speculative market of pork futures when the future is so far away!
However, on the homestead these slow-growing perennial pigs make sense in a number of ways. First and foremost, they are cute and amiable additions to the barnyard. Even Mama sow with piglets under teat is slow to upset when you pick up the runt to check his vitals. Papa Boar, tusks and all will lie on his side for belly rubs. Unlike humans, the teenagers are actually the most fun age–curious and no longer skittish towards you, the almighty bringer-of-treats.
While they require a small amount of high-protein grain (about a pound a day per pig), their diet is immensely varied when you let it be. They really will eat pretty much anything and many things considered undesirable to the land manager. Weeds like buttercup, blackberry, morning glory, and dandelion are delicacies. They will chomp willow and maple leaves wholeheartedly. They will eat piles upon piles of grass and hay, to the point where their bedding frequently disappears because…you guessed it…they’ve eaten it.
This diet makes them extremely versatile (not to mention incredibly delicious). They can thrive on pasture, or in the woods, or in a weedy paddock. And the smaller size makes them relatively easy to move when one area gets worn. Just give them protection from the sun and heat in summer and cold and wet in the winter. Not too different from an asparagus bed, really.