Tag Archives: new pigs

Apparently, we’re pig farmers now

We got piglets again.  They look just like the last ones.

Spots and A.P. are now pork and delivered to customers.  We went out on a limb a little bit getting these piglets before having customers arranged to buy the meat, but we had the chance to get Black Berkshires again, which went so well the last time, and we just like having pigs.

These little girls have 1/4 Tamworth in them, but you wouldn’t know.  Enormous ears, black with white patches, one bigger and bolder than the other. It’s Spots and A.P. all over again, except for the great escape on arrival.  We did better with that.

They were jammed in a dog crate together – too small for them but better than separating them.  They seemed pretty relaxed in the crate, but they had a fair drive to get here.  I think transport day must be the worst day of their lives.  Hot, cramped, apprehensive, and unfamiliar.

Instead of carrying them across our land to Pigland, HW wheeled the crate over in the wheelbarrow, and set it down inside the electric fence.

I opened the door, and they froze, deciding they were very shy. 

One pig is possibly twice the size of the other, although they are the same litter.  They have lovely eyes, like dog eyes.

They stuck just their noses out into the grass, sniffing around a bit without leaving the crate.  This may be their first contact with the outdoors.

We left them to come out on their own time, and I came back to check on them in half an hour.  They were in the exact same place.  Snouts outside resting in the grass, settled down and fast asleep.  We need a nap after that last experience.  No new experiences yet, thank you very much!By dusk they had come out and were hiding in their woods, but came out for a late snack.

Pigs

The piglets are settling in, and getting a little friendlier.

They are kind of like dogs in some ways.  They stretch out their back legs behind them when they first get up, wag their tails, enjoy a good sprint, even do some barking, which sounds like whooping cough.

These pigs are so dynamic, I can’t believe the difference from the 2014 pink pigs.  They are not lazy or laidback.  They express themselves with a good back and forth sprint the length of their fence, whenever we come out with their food, or a treat.  They´re deep into rooting already, and don´t sleep in.  They´re up with the chickens.

Plowing with your NOSE. I can´t get over it.
So cute!

AP  (“my pig”) is pushy (the one with a blaze).  AP is bolder.    Spots, or Spotty, has more white on her face – her blaze is patchy.  She also has white lower eyelashes on her right eye.

They have a big splashy go at the dog bowl.

They have a big wrestle over it, but it seems to come out equal, so we haven´t introduced a second bowl yet.

Joinup!  First contact, helped by the prospect of some milk:)

Gotcha, pigs!

I recommend sheep/chicken mesh electric fence for pigs.

The night was stormy, a mini-blizzard.  In the dead dark and strong wind, we went outside and wrestled the fence into place and plugged it in, then extracted the so-very-successful two-strand, in a big snarl, naturally.  The pigs were willfully asleep.  There was shouting, yet they refused to wake up.  It was cold outside, they weren’t budging from the hay nest for nothing.

We caught them!  The mesh fence works.  In the morning, the pigs bolted away from the sight of us, ran into the fence at top speed ….and then sproing! bounced back.  They tried it again and again, but eventually concluded that A: they don’t fit through it, past the nose, and B: the fence bites back.

I wouldn’t put it past them to figure out that only the horizontal strands are hot and selectively chew their way to jailbreak, but until then, our piglets are under control.

They are SO different than the last pigs.  Besides being bigger when we got them, these pigs are feisty, and wild, with opinions.  The pink pigs were totally into cuddling, crazy for touch, until they got too big for that to be safe for me (perhaps because of being weaned earlier?).  We won’t be petting these guys anytime soon.

Most pertinently, the two-strand fence that failed so spectacularly this time  worked with the last pigs.  They screamed blue murder when they got shocked.  These pigs don’t peep at it.  We did have problems, but, the user-problem variety.  We got lax about keeping it hot- it’s easy to find excuses to not carry batteries around – serenely thinking they’ve learned what the fence does, we don’t need to keep it hot all the time. 

Pfft! The troublemaker noticed once, maybe by accident, that the fence wasn’t always hot.  After that seed was planted, sometimes it’s off!, he felt it was a reasonable risk to test the fence, and did, every single day.  The moment it wasn’t hot, grounded out by their rooting or a dead battery, he was out. Then, he would target the energizer, chewing and ripping the leads off and sometimes hiding them in the pig house.  This practice definitely delayed the restoration of power.

A very educational mistake on our part.  Won’t happen again (I’ve got a solar maintainer on the battery now – way cheaper than the admittedly awesome solar energizers).

This is the usual view of them.

Then they look back, balefully.

Is it gonna be the garbage can again?

They wait until we leave, to eat. I’m conditioning them to the sound of approaching food, but so far we mean flee!.

They’re super cute, with their upright ears,  long straight tails and white socks. Hopefully, they will come around and become friendly.  Eventually.

In fact, recovering the escapee(s) only took three days, better than I hoped for after my initial googling.

Round two, Piglets in the lead

Sure enough, the piglets went to bed in the pig house.  Excellent. 

We closed up the fence in the night.  We’ve so got these pigs now.

In the morning, HW went to feed them.  They both bolted, straight through the fence like it wasn’t there.

You’d think, maybe there’s something wrong with the fence.  They don´t even squeak when they go through it.  HW, having had the same thought, is checking the fence the hard way, every day, and it’s on.  He’s getting a good lift,  even with big boots (I will not check the fence that way).

On my way home from work, I met my pigs coming out the road.  This is disconcerting, to meet one’s livestock strolling up the road you’re driving down.  Oh hey!

They looked small from the driver’s seat, vulnerable, like a couple of toddlers confidently taking a walk together.

I chased them all the way home, although they kept pulling over to the shoulder for all the world to let me by, and they weren’t afraid of the truck.  They kept stopping on the side of the road, looking back at me.  Go aheadWhy aren’t you passing?  They were afraid of ME, though, when I stepped out of the truck and charged them.  Zoom!

That did it.  they’re expanding their territory now.  The pigs can’t be marching up the road visiting the neighbours.  That’s just embarrassing.  (This is all embarrassing, it’s just kind of funny too, and if it helps someone else-).

I extracted the stored chicken fence, schlepped it over and starting setting it up around pigland, knowing the piglets would be moseying over from the driveway, hungry after their big run home.  I was about half done when they showed up, and seeing me, hid themselves.  I finished anyways, rushing, leaving a big funnel open.  If they go to bed at night again, then we close the fence in the night, muhahaha!

I lurked.  I waited.  I furtively encouraged the pigs from the woods to pigland vicinity.  I watched from afar.  The pigs approached the sizable gap in the fence, did some sniffing, had a discussion, reached consensus, turned, and purposefully marched off into the woods.

Oh GOOD GOD!  I set off at a run, down our trail, and got in front of them.  It was a near thing.  They were headed somewhere, deliberately.  Now it was dusk, and I walked back and forth in front of them, and after they turned, kicked around making noise until they wandered back in the vicinity of pigland again.  This time, with dark falling in the woods, they were content to root around under the bird feeder, winding down.  I waited, for ages, until I saw them hesitantly take steps into the confines of the fence, and I retired.  NOW we’ve got them.

Spoiler:

Yes, now we’ve got them.  This works.  Two-strand electric fence for pigs?  No way!  Chicken/sheep mesh fence – yes.

 

 

 

Man vs Piglets, day 1

In the morning, we did two things.  I went out and tracked the missing piglet, and HW moved the “good piglet” from the greenhouse to her own bed.

Right at dawn, he went to the greenhouse, looking for the piglet.  We knew she’d be cozy, that she’d take liberties with the chicken hay fort and make herself comfortable.  She’d taken apart some bales and made a huge haystack, and then buried herself in it.  He had to dig for her.  Then he grabbed her by two legs, a front and a back (picture that) , and carried her outside, from the greenhouse to piglandia.  I saw him coming down the trail hanging a starfished pig, head limp.  She made a couple of slightly irritated grunts, like “Don’t bogart the covers”, but that was it.  Her eyes didn’t open.

She slept right through it!  HW slung her into her bed in the pig palace, mounded the hay up over top of her, and she didn’t twitch.  She stayed there, soundly asleep, until past noon.  I had to reach into the hay before I left for work to be sure she was really in there.  Dead to the world at noon.

I set out in the morning to track the missing pig, which was very informative.  She had practically followed us back, and stayed out of sight in the treeline, but used our trails and come right up to where she (a foot tall pig), could see the greenhouse.  She’d popped in and out of the trees looking at the greenhouse from different directions, walked up and down our driveway, out and back on the road a fair ways, had a look at the quad trail, meandered through the orchard, and then gone back out where she’d originally jogged, into the woods.  In other words, she knew exactly where we lived, and where her sister pig was, by the time we went to bed.

Pigs don’t mind using trails and roads one bit, and walk in straight lines on them, but off-trail, they move in long S-curves.  Also, they retrace their own steps, walking almost in their own footsteps.  Hoofsteps?  The little bit of snow on the ground was nice, kept all the information.

I put out sprinklings of feed just a bit closer in than her nearest look-sees, knowing she would probably follow her own tracks back in in the morning, which, judging by Sleeping Beauty, might be quite late in the day.

HW got home before me.    At work, I got a text:  Zero pigs.

Okay, now they’re officially both at large.  Awesome.

Later I found out the details, that he had walked up and found Adventure Pig standing outside the electric fence, Good Pig standing inside the electric fence, and on his approach, both of them took off, Good Pig whizzing through the two-strand like it wasn’t there.

When I got home, both pigs were eating from one of my bait piles right next to the greenhouse (we considered using the greenhouse to trap them), and spent the evening scuttling around in the treeline, watching me watch them.  At least they’re together, and happy.

We raised up the strands of the fence and turned it off, hoping that Sleeping Beauty would give the pigpen rave reviews on Travelocity and both pigs would choose to retire in there together come nightfall.  Then we would sneak up in the night to restore the fence, trapping them behind the electric tape (again), bahaha!

Because that’s been working so well thus far.

Actually, my week-long plan to get the pig back is ahead of schedule.  Except for the zero pigs development.

 

The unexpected piglets

We were planning to get a pair of pigs again this year.  We have the customers lined up, and we felt “up to it” again.  In theory, pigs aren’t a lot of work, but in reality, they escape and rampage or wreck things at very bad times and can be exhausting.

We were not planning to get pigs in March, with snow still on the ground, but they came available.  Black Berkshires, raised organic, and born outside on January 31.  We’ve had some COLD temperatures since the end of January, so these must be hardy pigs.

So with two days notice, we reactivated the dormant pig palace, set up the electric fence, made a cozy pig bed, and bought feed.

Then we went to pick up our pigs.

The farmer was all business, ready with the plastic garbage can he used for piglet transfer.  He grabbed up one pig at a time out of the litter (we asked for females, because they’re “less trouble”), dropped it screaming into the can, and shut the lid.  He and H.W. carried the can the short way to the truck, and dumped the can, piglets sliding out, quite confused.  we had a tarp and some canvas down in the back of the SUV.

The ride home was long.  The farmer had said we might get a piglet up in the front seat with us, seeing as we didn’t have a pet carrier, but we didn’t get a visit, thankfully.

There were occasional sounds from the back, little grunts, with a question mark on the end.  Also occasional smells.

It was an hour’s drive home, on Nova Scotia’s winding roads, and still twenty minutes away, the piglets started to get carsick.  Little retching noises started, between the grunts.

Home.  Two miserable little pigs in the back of the trunk.  Is it over?

I grabbed one and set out for pigland.  HW followed behind me.  I carried mine in my arms, which exhausted both of us.  HW put his over his shoulders, which got him kicked in the face.  My pig periodically screamed, kicked and struggled, then rested up for the next bout.  By the time we got there, her eyes were closed like she was ready to fall asleep.  I set her down inside the fence and she stood still and calm.

Then HW came up with his piglet, now hanging over his back, apparently pretty comfortable (the pig).

Hamming it up

HW set her down inside the fence, and we both looked up to see Piglet 1 blithely trotting through the two-strand electric fence (yes, hot) like it wasn’t there.

I sprinted away, trying to circle out in front of the pig, to send her back towards our land, where she’s obviously going to want to rejoin the other pig, right?  This rapidly turned into trying to gain on the pig (“running” a ways to one side of her, through dense brush), and then, trying to keep the pig in sight.  A $100 bill, scampering off straight into hundreds of acres of Crown land and woodlot.  Pigs are FAST, and she wasn’t even running, she was out at a steady, relaxed trot.  I´m not even sure she was running from me, or the memory of the garbage can.

I lost her.  HW came up behind me eventually, saying that pig’s gone, give it up.  He had thrown his pig into the greenhouse, which has doors to shut.  The birds were in an outraged uproar.

Oh, and now it was almost dark.

We went home.  Piglet 2 was a dark shadow shape in the greenhouse, scuttling from one end to the other.  The birds, any that hadn’t already gone in their coops before the intruder came in, were treed on the roofs of the coops, furious!  Most of the layers were crowded on the guinea house, the highest point in the room.

Completely beaten, we retired, debating the feasibility of calling and buying another pig.  “Hey, we lost one, can we have another?”   Maybe not.

We can’t have just one pig, it will be unhappy.  It can’t live in the greenhouse, and if we put it in the electric fence, it will just run out too, looking for the other pig.  The lost pig is going to be sad, and lost, and cold!

Well, pigs are smarter than that.

I consulted Google.  Other pig bloggers were encouraging.  Advice item #1: Don´t chase them.  No point at all, they will run farther if you chase them and you won’t catch them.  Encouraging item #2: Piglets are champs at surviving in the wild.  They will almost never be gotten by predators.  Too smart and fast, and they are, in their wild form, a top species.  They also rapidly revert to wildness, once escaped.

What to do?  Feed them in the woods.  Move the food closer to home every day.  They like food, so they can be baited back with food, until you’ve baited them right into their pen and shut the door behind them.  Maybe a week or two.

That allowed me to sleep, although I was still worried for the lost lonely pig (spoiler: I needn’t have worried).

Oh, and the best possible way to contain pigs?  Two-strand electric fence.

 

Little piggy rototillers

The pigs are growing.  The dog enjoys their company less, now that they boss him around more.  He doesn’t like being aggressively explored with their hard noses, but he and Rudy will still have themselves a good chase.

Happily, they have not had any more sunburn issues, and we have not had to do any more pig skin care.

2015-08-03 15.43.54

Petunia is the rooter.  Our neighbour says Yeah, the females are really the ones that do all the work.  The males are just lazy and greedy and wait around for you to bring them food.

I see.  The similarities between our species run deeper than I thought.

At any rate, Petunia is a dedicated rooter, who is methodically expanding her plowed field.  It’s getting kind of impressive.

After.
After.
Before.
Before.

Rudy just follows her around, re-inspecting the ground she’s turned.
He’s so friendly, though!  He comes running with his Dumbo ears, smiling and expressing great pleasure to see you, even if you don’t have a bucket.  Nudge nudge with the nose, paw paw with the hoof.

If you do have a bucket, they start jumping around in circles, totally overcome, and making themselves a tripping hazard.  Interest in shoes has not abated.  Rudy loves to be rubbed all over.  He stands still with his head down and eyes closed and grunts with pleasure.  So does Petunia, but she’s more complicated.  First she jumps and screams, Don’t touch me!, then she comes back for more.  Come ‘ere, go away.

Still no wallowing, although they enjoy the game where we pour their old water over top of them before refilling.

Pigs are so fun.  So happy and pleasant, like uber-friendly dogs, wagging their short whip-like tails in circles.  Still so strange-looking to me, especially with their long noses dipped in dirt up to their eyes, but so expressive in the face.

Pigs! Arrival

The Pig Palace prepared for pair of piglets.
The Pig Palace prepared for pair of piglets.

We have pigs!  Our lovely neighbour dropped off our pair of piglets on his way home with a trailer load of his own and other neighbours’ pigs.

His exact words as he handed me a piglet were “Here’s the tame one”.  He carried the other.  My piglet immediately commenced thrashing and screaming bloody murder and fighting for its little pig life to not be carried.  Put me down!  I insist! I set it down for a moment to get a better grip – instant silence.  

2015-06-27 12.44.19
Piglet procession.

Wow, what an introduction.  Pigs are loud!  “Earsplitting” takes on a whole new literal meaning.  That pig screamed til my ears rang.  Naturally that made the pig he was carrying scream too, and they chorused all the way to the pig yard.

Pigs are also very very strong.  These are 35# pigs, and holding one feels like holding a 35# block of solid sausage shaped muscle.  His pig rested amenably in his arms and mine kicked and thrashed and threw back its head with all its strength, so that I was afraid of losing a couple teeth on its skull, and I had an awkward grip of it, around the belly and a fistful of back legs.

Hooo, what a relief to drop them inside the electric fence.

Clearly pleased to be unheld, and in the tall cool foliage, they just stayed, exactly where we dropped them.

2015-06-27 13.03.58
My pig, tuckered out from the struggle, went straight to sleep for a long nap.

I left them to their own devices, checking on them every little while, and they did not move at all.

2015-06-27 13.04.22
The other pig stood up shortly and took an interest in chewing on a stick.

I should have picked them up and deposited them in the shade of their pig palace, which is what HW did right away when he came home an hour later.

They had already had a ride in an open trailer, and it was a blazing hot day.  A couple days later they had bad sunburns.  The extra hour outside probably put them over the edge.

2015-06-27 16.17.34
Pigs around their Palace.

2015-06-27 16.18.51They were both painted up, numbered 5 and 7, in blue ink, a lot of which transferred to my shirt during the transfer of the pig.

HW promptly pointed out that we already have a Seven, so we won’t be calling them 5 and 7, and named the boy pig Rudy.

Sorry about blurry pic.  Gotta move fast exposing the eggs!  No- it's a user problem, hopefully will have better pictures on other phone, later.

So I named the girl pig Petunia.

2015-06-27 16.20.29OMG, they’re so cute!