Tag Archives: piglets

Chicks in the greenhouse

There´s a tribe of chicks in the greenhouse.  One mom has 5 Chanticleer chicks, and the other has seven Silkies.

The Chanticleers

They never shut up!  PeeppeeppeepPEEPpeeppeeppeepPEEPpeep. Wow.  I don´t know how the Moms handle it, unless lots of it is inter-chick chatting that they can tune out.

Otherwise, it´s Mom, Mom, Mom!  MOM, Hey Mom, Look at this Mom, Hey Mom can I eat this?  What about this?  What´s this Mom? Look what I found Mom, Look at me Mom, I flapped!  See how fast I can run? Watch this, Mom!  

All. Day. Long.

The Silkies

The Silkies are a week older than the Chantis, so they´re all the same size (so far).  The Silkies are already entering their scruffball transition from fluff to feathers.  There’s three white and four brown.

Most of these chicks I’ve never even touched.  They´re going to be the wildest bunch yet. They were born in a box with an open door, and Mom’s been totally in charge from day 1.  I don´t even see them every day.

But boy do I hear them.

They’re all so happy and safe in there, savaging the low-hanging tomatoes, rearranging my mulch, tasting stuff.  It’s a rooster-free zone.  One Silkie rooster is wont to stand looking in the screen door, fantasizing.

The pigs are rooting.  I give them a nice new grassy area that looks like a green pig paradise for about an hour.  They like to customize their environment, which means turning over every inch of sod. Very diligent workers.  And fast.

Holy eyebrows, Batpig!

Picky picky piglets

No pigs are alike.  These pigs have distinguished themselves by being extraordinary rooters -powerful and efficient, although they’re still just little (uhoh when they grow)- and being picky eaters.

They’ll eat apples.  They’ll eat peaches.  But a vegetable?

Eggplant.  No way.

Green pepper.  Mmm, nope.

Mustard greens.  Nope.

Cucumber.  They gummed it.  I broke it in half, the better to learn what was inside.  They tasted the inside, made expressive Ew faces, and nosed them out of the bowl.  Come on!  A cucumber?!   I get it, with the eggplant, ok, I don’t like them unless they’re grilled either, but a juicy green pepper?  A delicious cucumber?  My hens can’t eat all the cukes I have.

These pigs are here in prime harvest time to be plied with as much as they can eat in windfall apples and surplus veggies.  All vegetables pigs past have quite enjoyed, mind you. And these two turn out to be picky eaters?

I look at them.  You’re pigs.  How can you be picky?  That’s against your definition.  They look down their snouts.  We’ll have the peaches, s’il vous plait.

Pigs spit out the pits just like we do

I’m baking eggplant in the sun oven.  See if they’ll eat them cooked, even if I have to drizzle with olive oil.  If they approve, I’m cooking two every sunny day until the eggplant glut is over.

Standing in the food bowl asserts dominance and ownership of the food bowl. No one is fooled.

Ok. I guess it’s time to move the pig house. I did four days ago, but ok…

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.

Growing piglets and oinker games

The oinkers are growing!  They still have long legs, and act like dogs in ways. They stretch first thing out of bed, they jump around when they’re excited, and they love to run.

Seeing how much they love to run makes me sad about all the pigs that are confined in quarters barely large enough for them to turn around, where their only function is to eat and grow fat.  Clearly lethargy is not their natural state.

They love a good sprint.  They celebrate the coming of food by an exuberant oinking lap around their enclosure, usually with a figure eight through and around their house.  They’re very athletic pigs.

HW loves the pigs (he doesn’t seem to have any conflict with adoring them and having to kill them later).  He’s disappointed when he comes home from work and I’ve already fed them (so I tend to wait).  Either way, he visits them while he’s still in his work clothes, and then he comes in saying something like “Those oinkers are funny!  I was sitting in their house with them and…”

You were what?

He’s been actively trying to tame them.  We can do anything to them while they’re eating;  Spots tolerates HW petting her at other times, but A.P. won’t stand for it.  He also snorts at them, although I’ve told him he’s probably saying something insulting in their language.  They love it though, they immediately get louder and oink back when HW comes down the trail, snorting.  He’s kind of good at it.

Yesterday his story was:  “I was out there chasing those oinkers around… ” (You were what?!) “They love it!  They know that it´s play, because as soon as I stop, they run up to me.  But they LOVE to run.  Then when I left I looked back and one pig was flopped out on the ground, legs out – no, not in their house, just in the mud – then she got up, walked in a circle, and flopped down again – she was all tuckered out!”

So HW plays games with the pigs too.  I haven’t even witnessed him sitting in their house or playing chase, let alone when I had a camera.  But I can hope.

The introduction of two bowls (recycling the dog bowls):

 

It worked perfectly, exactly like I expected.

Oh, you’ve got something good over there?  I wants it.

One pig gets jealous and pushes the other off her bowl.

Displaced pig coolly walks around to the vacant bowl.

Repeat.

Repeat.  Repeat.

Both are eating constantly, but quite sure the other bowl is better.

Piglets First Wallow

I dumped the pigs’ muddy water out into a handy trench they´d dug right by their house.  I am so grateful that they have not yet learned how joyous it is to dump their water out themselves, at which point we have to take measures to prevent them from doing it.  So far they´ve been very restrained and let us do it for them. 

Each pig took a jubilant flop into the mud, one side, the other, and then Hey it´s my turn, the other pig.

They didn´t linger.  They came up evenly coated with mud, glistening except for one dry strip down the middle of the back, indistinguishable from the other.  No socks, no blazes. Just mud.

Mud pigs look exactly alike

By the time I got my camera, they had moved on to other activities, like scratching on  a cutoff tree.

Ummm, the ear. Yes!
Oh yeah, the neck. Oh yeah.  Other pig leaves….

 

Oh and the other ear, uh huh, yeah.
And for a good undercarriage scratch, you can drag your belly across the stick

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:)

First springy day.

I was in shorts all day today.  The snow earlier this week is all gone in the clear areas, and it was warm!  These are the loveliest days of spring. The (very few) days before all the bugs come out.  It would have been the first barefoot day of the year, but I cannot go barefoot here.  Thorns everywhere – berry brambles and hawthorn, and I’ve had a hawthorn in my foot before.  Alas, here I live in boots. The mud season is here. This year the robins are back long before the spring peepers.  The peepers will announce the bugs.

My bees obviously made it through the winter well, having a good fly today in the blessing of the sun.  It seems like all of them are facing the hive – the backwards flight, calibrating on the hive location.

The pigs are captive and content, so things are a whole lot less exciting around here lately- thankfully!

Tail wag – munching grass

They’re getting into rooting like old pros in the soft ground now.

This is Adventure Pig (A.P.), the great escape ringleader

And warming up to me.  They come snorting up the camera, and then scamper away.

The hens were having a good day in the mud world today.  I saw them slurping up worms like spaghetti.  The chickens don’t know it, but these are their last days sleeping in the greenhouse.  As soon as the rain is done, their coops are out!  I´m sure they can’t wait; there´s a week of sun coming, and they´ll be released outside at first light (as opposed to the past frosty interim days, where I keep them locked up until mid-morning when it warms up.  .  Summer chicken life – FREEdom!

Inside the chicken dome it was spa in the sun time.  They make divots all over to bathe in, today’s location (odd) was by the figs and feed sacks (oh well).

Knocked one over

I lone that I got this picture proof of how well they get along.  As a generality, they tend towards their own birds, but as individuals, the layers and bantams can get in the bath together.  I´m so grateful they’re successfully integrated, because I won’t have to surround the Silkies this year to protect them from the other chickens.  They can be free ranging too.  It will be interesting to see how much space they actually use now the flock is so much bigger.  Silkies barely “range” at all.

The pigs are coming around

They’ve mastered the art of “looking hungry”, learned that we are the food, and have made a new routine of excited oinking and running around when we come with the scoop.  They even approach!  I throw the food – (OMG, run away!) they sprint around, and then saunter back to eat. They no longer try to run through the fence, but pull up an inch away.

I was taking pictures through the fence and they came so close (Is that a snack?) I thought they’d touch it.  Cute!

They bury themselves in the hay in their palace, sometimes ears showing, sometimes a black back, sometimes nothing.

Is there even a pig in there?

Then when we come down the trail, they burst up out of bed, look out, and emerge with straw all over their face.  Or just the ears pop up, a sentry.  Early-warning  snack detector.

Got snacks?

Once I couldn’t see them at all from outside the fence, and sure they were gone, I started looking for a breach in the fence.  Then Boufff!  the hay exploded and two pig heads popped up.  I went in to fix up their bed (Run away!), but one pig couldn’t resist coming back to see what I was doing in their house.  Messing up their bed, obviously. We had it perfect!

They’ve started to tear apart the intact bales that form their windblock/bed.  It was a matter of time.  We go in and pile the hay back in bed that they’ve pushed out, they rearrange it again.  Long as they’re cozy.  It’s still cold at night.

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.

 

Relocating the pig palace

We are suddenly expecting piglets.  In March!  So, we had to rush around to get their home ready.

Since we don’t have a dog anymore, to pigsit for us and keep them safe from predators, we decided to install the pigs right next to us – about 100m from the house- even closer than the chickens.

That meant bringing the pig palace (est. 2014) all around the field from old location to new.  The two of us used to pick this thing up together by rope handles on the four corners, and walk it along, as we moved the pigs around the field with electric fence.  Doable, but moving the pigs wasn’t a chore we looked forward to.  Moving it several hundred meters slightly uphill, through light brush, wasn’t realistic.

So we took it in half.  Removed  the ridgecap and the collar ties, and the roof came in half, and then each half was a sled.  We skidded it along the snow by the two rope handles.

And reassembled it in situ at the new location.

It went very well, smoothly.  We installed a pallet, to keep the pigs off the ground, and three bales of old hay make a nice cozy box, with a pile of straw to burrow under.  We raided the hens’ hay fort, but the hens won’t be in the greenhouse much longer.

We set up the electric fence, two strands of tape.

All ready to receive the piglets.

Then we went to pick up the new oinkers.  And that´s where  “easy and smooth” ended.

Let the pig slathering begin.

I’ve never had pigs before.  They seem so strange, so interesting.  Clean little peach coloured hooves, sparse white hairs.  Constant snoring sounds, asleep or not.  Their tails wag, whipping around in circles.  Their little snouts can be softly supple and receptive, or as hard as wood, at the whim of the pig.

It’s important to mention that we got these pigs for rooting.  I can’t touch pig meat without getting spectacularly ill, and HW’s not the biggest fan, so we aren’t in it for the meat.  We’re in it for their labour.  Hopefully, as we move them around with the electric tape they’ll root up the field for us and we can get some quality grasses seeded in.  We shall see.  So far, they aren’t much use.  Too little.

I have never once fed them, yet every time I walk by, Rudy comes galloping toward me, ears flapping like Dumbo.  Then he pulls up short at the electric tape and watches (wistfully?) as I walk by.

What does this pig want?  I wondered.  Turns out, he wants to be touched, so now every walk past the pigs has to factor in a pause to pet the pig.  Petunia does not have the same interest in being touched.  She snorts and jumps when you try to.

2015-07-09 16.51.37
Petunia’s after the shoes.

Who knew, pigs are shoe fetishists.  They’re really into shoes.  They both aggressively root at pant legs, and boy do they ever love to chew on shoes (our feet still in them), while making great pleasure sounds (why?).

They both got wicked sunburns right away, and I’m not sure how, because they spent all their time sleeping in the shade of the pig palace the first few days, either end to end, or buried completely in the straw, just nostrils showing.

Petunia did even more sleeping than Rudy, who pops up all friendly-like at any visits.  She got covered with bug bites, too, so bad I thought she had a rash.

We’re trying to make them wallow but they don’t get it.  HW dug a hole, and empties their old water in it, hoping they’ll roll around in it and get some nice mud SPF on themselves.  But no.  The closest they come to wallowing is walking through their water pan and looking surprised at it.

Their sunburns, especially on the ears, was heartbreaking-all scabby and cracked and bleeding.  Horrible!

Therefore, we moved the pig palace closer into the tree line for more shade, and set out to slather the pigs in (wondrous, all-purpose) Bag Balm (ears), and aloe vera gel (body).

Critically, we forgot our ear protection, despite talking about it ahead of time.  HW seized a pig and held it down, while I slathered as fast as I could.  Rudy was first, screaming blue murder. Unhand me!  The outrage!  I demand of you to release me!  How dare you! 

Wow. Deafening! My ears were ringing, my head hurt – Petunia was scampering around squeaking and then the dog, obediently sitting nearby with a dismayed expression, started in sympathy howling!  Either reflexively provoked to by the octave the pig was hitting, or else expressing his anxiety and distress.  AowooOOOwOOOO!

We rushed through Petunia’s turn before my ears started bleeding, and leaving the pigs well greased and slathered, retreated with ringing ears.   The dog was much more reluctant, wanting to lick the pigs post-daubing.   HW: HEY!  Stop licking that pig!

The dog would look at us with glazed wide eyes, still licking compulsively out of the side of his mouth like his tongue was doing the licking all on its own.

Leave that pig alone!

Can´t… stop…. like honey glazed ham…(still licking the pig).

Phew, what a sideshow.  But their ears and skin recovered dramatically and quickly with the treatment.  Bag Balm‘s pretty wonderful (shame about the petrolatum, but so effective).

2015-07-04 16.04.352015-07-04 15.33.55The dog sleeps with the pigs now.  It’s not entirely clear if he enjoys their company or finds them irritating, when they’re awake, but he seems to love sleeping with them.  They nudge them and provoke him until he jumps up and barks sometimes; I know from experience being enthusiastically nudged in the sides with a wiggling snout that it is incredibly ticklish.

2015-06-29 18.35.10But when we deliver him to the pig palace at dark to look after the pigs for the night, he runs in, smells the two sleeping pigs, and then flops down in the straw, cuddled right up to them with a dog smile.  And he stays there in the morning, long after he wakes up.  He serenely watches me walk by to the garden from his station by the sleeping, gently snorting pigs.

2015-07-02 18.24.14The pigs, of course, sleep in.  This is so strange to me.  I thought all diurnal animals were attacking the day’s work at the crack of dawn.  Pigs?  8 am, 9 am… perhaps a long nap shortly after waking?  Don’t mind if I do!

2015-07-02 18.24.07

****

Subsequent pig slathering has gone much more smoothly.  I just sit on the ground and let them tackle my shoes. I rub stuff on their ears while they’re occupied.

They’re so adaptable.  Even Gah!  I’m being touched!  Hates it! Petunia, after a couple swabs, visibly adjusts.  Hey, that feels good and good for me.  I may even stand still.  Positive association to behaviour adjustment, in seconds.  So reasonable!

They won’t stop hanging out in the sun though, so another sunburn, another application of aloe vera gel.  I put aloe on a chicken, after all (day 4), I can aloe a pig.  It will be nice when their hair grows in thickly enough to protect all that pink skin.

2015-06-29 17.14.45

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.  

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!