The pigs’ latest move was especially exciting. We made a two-fence loop (two lengths of 100’+ electric net fence, connected for one extra long circle), which makes their space, just Huge. Good for us, they’ll last a little longer in there before we have to move them.They were extremely excited. Didn’t see them all day, they hardly touched their lunch apples, they were finding so much to eat underground. With the two fences, you can’t see the whole space at once. It loops into the brush and also into the pasture. They can get a good sprint worked up with that length. Can’t see where they are most of the time either, except they come out to say Hi. Hi.
Having a mud bath late afternoon at this time of year? It’s not that warm. They’re into it, though.And after a good restful mud flop, it’s time to go ruffle up one’s hay bed.And then get food stuck in your forehead hair. The Colonel got into the greenhouse today, laid down the law. I left the door ajar while I was cleaning coops, and then there was a kerfuffle inside, and then there was a bigger kerfuffle outside, as the Deputy seized the moment and tried to seize the Colonel’s hens while he was otherwise occupied.
Funny, I tried and tried to get the Colonel to go in the greenhouse a month ago and fertilize the GH hens, but he wasn’t having it then.
Back to coop training: Well, that looks exactly like yesterday. The Silkie chicks are all This is what we do, we huddle up in a pile on the floor, and the Chantis are cramming themselves in the broody box. I’m sure Mom loves that. She’s still got her mud dreads, I see.
The skycoop has been reinvented as a starter coop. Since a guinea got snatched off of it (owl), the guineas have abandoned it like it was the center of a sexting scandal. So I took the legs off and we put it in the emptying greenhouse, to stuff the chicks into. They need to start sleeping in a coop, to make them portable.
And to keep them safe. Sleeping on the ground isn’t good for chickens, and the greenhouse is not totally secure.
They’re kind of looking grown up. Still miniature though. After dark, I went chick snatching. The first eleven chicks took about three minutes to grab, one or two at a time, and pop into the coop, where they instantly went silent. Oh, dark and cozy. Oh, everyone’s in here.
Some were feisty, some were mild. This is the first time I’ve ever handled any of them.
The twelfth chick took about 20 minutes. After everyone else mysteriously vanished, he/she ran around distressed, chirping, unwilling to settle down. It took forever. Finally she figured out where everyone else was, tried to crawl under the coop, and I got her in. Taking wagers on how many go in the coop on their own tomorrow night.
I lifted the box off the broody hen, to check on her, and discovered:henS. What’s going on here?! They’re competing to sit on the eggs. This broody hen gets no peace. Interlopers, chicks piling in the box to sit on her…
The pigs have arranged the hay bale to their specifications, and I couldn’t have done better myself. They packed hay into the drafty edges and made two sausage slots, which they use in two ways:Day time nap formation – tail to tail L shape.And nighttime pigs in parallel.
Note the pet rock in the first picture. It’s been placed on top of the arranged hay. One of these pigs likes to keep toys in the pig house. A beet, and a turnip, has previously been the toy of choice. I’m not going to eat this turnip, but I’ll bring it into my house.
“Pigs plow a field with their face. If that doesn’t seem remarkable to you, try it sometime.” – Forrest Pritchard, Gaining Ground
It’s really laborious to move the pigs right now, at least a morning’s work. It’s really three jobs at once: moving the pigs, clearing alders, and cutting firewood. At least that’s what I tell myself.
I’m trying to win back some of the field, and using the pigs to do it. I’m moving them along the edge of the present field, which is a good 50´, maybe more, grown in from where the field used to spread.
I certainly wouldn’t be pegging away at it like I am unless I had these greedy little snouts pressuring me. They LIVE to root. They will wait to eat fruit, if there’s some fresh rooting to do. They’re in the ZONE rooting, focused, concentrating, pretty quiet. Trouble is, they turn over a patch so fast I feel like I’m constantly working for them, to give them new space.
To create a loop that the fence can be set up, that encloses some “trees” for pig shade, a swathe needs to be cut out for passage. Then after the pigs have been through and killed every sprout and twig, their shade needs to be cut down and cut up, and then the nicely tilled, though lumpy, ground seeded.
The alders stretch out long arms before they grow up, but still, they’re easier to deal with than the buckthorn, which tangles, and tangles, and tangles, so you can cut loads of it, and it’s all still standing up, because it’s so tangled together. Mix them together, the sideways swooping alder, and the straight, thick branched buckthorn- wow.
An amazing volume of material comes out of even a small space that didn’t seem so dense when it was all standing up.
The nightmare buckthorn at least burns nice; it’s a hardwood, dries fast, doesn’t need to be split.
I went out to feed the pigs lunch, and it was quiet.
They are usually oinking with impatience; they have loudly ticking and highly accurate food clocks. I walked over to shut off the fencer, and I didn’t see pigs anywhere.
I just moved them yesterday, the fence was sound, did they seriously make a jail break? F#$%!
I started walking again and Oink! I heard a little grunt.
I stared into their enclosure. Wait, is that? What? No way! There’s a pig in there?
No, there was two pigs in there. They had burrowed under a pile of branches, and were barely, barely discernible in the pile of brush. Totally concealed.
Any reason for this gilly-suit behaviour? Unknown.
When I started walking away, they came snorting out, shaking off the branches, scampering out oinking joyously. I suspect it was purely a game. I doubt it was comfortable. I’ve never seen pigs dig their way under a brush pile. I think I just got pig-pranked.
Let’s see if she can find us here. Bet she can’t! Hold still! She doesn’t see us! You’d better oink! No, you oink! She’s walking away, doesn’t see us, hahaha! Oink! She still can’t see us and I oinked, hahaha, she’s looking right at us! Haha, oh, we got you good!
Really. Must you stand in your water dish?
Always, I rinse out their muddy bowl, dump it out, pour in fresh water, and both of them come nosing. Oh how nice, I think I will have a drink! And they both stand in the pan with their front legs while they drink, immediately muddying it.
It´s a nice hot day, so the chickens decided to flake out in the path.These are the Famous Five, the house moochers. They just kind of tip over like beached boats, and stick out a wing.
Even Jean Jacket‘s in there.
Or they´ll find some shade where they can get it.
Even a Brahma is lounging.I wanted to not get these pigs stuck on a 3x/day feeding schedule so it was possible to leave for the day, so they get their piggy rations morning and night, but to tide them over, they also get a 5 gal bucket of apples every day, or whatever fruit/scraps/vegetables (It’s a good time of year to be a pig).
Usually, there are several apples left over come supper time. If there are no apples, then I know they had a big day, and they’re legitimately hungry for dinner.Today they got turnips and kale too, and happily, they loved the kale, eating it first. I wasn’t sure after the cucumbers. They stand on it to rip a piece off with their mouths, like they’ve done it before.
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.
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.
The pigs don’t know it, but their days are numbered. They’re busy living the good life.
They seem so big! All jowlly and robust. They never outgrew a good sprint, and they love the daily wallow – I pour a bucket of water over them every afternoon, and they’ll leave behind food at the sound of me pouring out some water – they run to me and flop down in the puddle.
The oinkers have ravaged this last fence placement, but they love it- they sleep at night under the shrubs – really they spend most of their time cashed out in the dirt under those shrubs. It wasn’t easy getting the fence to surround that big patch of buckthorn, either, but they are expressively appreciative of my effort.But what’s this in the background? Oh, just the resident chickens.
Resident is not an exaggeration.
Tribe Oreo decided ages ago to live with the pigs. The Oreos and their Silkie stepmom leave the coop in the morning, go directly to Pigland, jump through the electric fence (which is, in fact, energized), and spend the entire day in there, leaving at darkfall to go back to the coop. Every day. For weeks.
They share the pig house. Birds and pigs all sleep in there together when it gets hot or rains.
The Oreos are black as crows and weigh as much as their mom now. They are big on perching, and like to jump up in those tangled shrubs. One is a rooster, already standing up to the Silkie roos.
They spend the day roaming around the pig enclosure, perfectly satisfied to stay inside the fence.
We speculated. That the hen likes it in there because she is safe from the attention of the roosters. That they like the pig food, or benefit from the pigs’ rooting. I tried putting her in the coop with the Colonel, to see if she would stay with him and under his protection. Nope. Pigland by day and the Brahma coop at night. She knows what she wants.
In addition to the local young woodpecker, who continues to flop around the house with no fear and seems to never get more than five feet off the ground, I found this little guy on our path.
I surprised the whole family, I suppose, as there were three full size robins flapping around in the trees, panicking and screeching. The chick, size of a guinea chick, let me walk right up.
It doesn´t seem to have a lot of lift. It seemed a big achievement to make it up on the stick pile, and then it flap flap flap! Coasted down into the field. I wonder if this is the first day out of the nest.
There´s a woodpecker zooming backing and forth from in front of the beehive to over the poplars behind the pigs. She´s as regular as a transatlantic flight and obviously is tending a nest at one end of the flight path, or the other.
Meanwhile, back in the livestock zone:
It´s a pig´s life. The pigs are happy to lounge in the shade.
The Oreo mom insists on being inside the pig fence. She´s mastered jumping up and through, where the holes in the fence are bigger, while the babies flow right through.
She´s out there now, smack in the middle of pigland. She found a shady spot she likes.
I guess the pigs have proved that they won´t hurt her or her chicks. At least she´s not worried. They are 15´away sleeping off a big meal of milk in the pig house.
Now I can´t electrify the fence if she´s making a habit of this. Which is ok. The fence is off more often than on these days. The pigs and I have an agreement. If I meet all their needs, they are perfectly content to stay in the fence. Which means they are really in charge. They´re simple girls, though. They want shade, water – poured in the bowl and over their heads, variety, food before they get too hungry, and sometimes a scratch.
Funny how the birds make decisions. Or is it the chicks? Oreo mom has been all independent and furtive, always hiding in shrubs and drifting out into the pasture, towards the pigs where only the guineas roam, while Blondie mom has went her way the opposite direction and rejoined the Colonel´s main tribe. Hey, I had some chicks!
The first thing you´ll notice is how they´ve grown! The pigs got BIG, just like that. Just, one day, they couldn´t be called pig-lets anymore.
They still enjoy a good sprint, they´re just…big. Growing fast.
We´ve been shifting them along with their sheep/chicken fence.
It´s very gratifying to see them start rummaging joyously in whatever´s new and green. It won´t be green for long.
It was hot day, so I couldn´t cut them off from their latest wallow. I put a loop in the fence to contain their latest dig. We´ll just have to accept that they´re going to dig a crater at every stop.
This one is quite large. Quite deep. Almost square. The perfect size for one pig.
A little bit awkward to climb out of.
Until another pig comes along.
Can I get in there now?
Surprisingly, they both kind of fit.
This is just before they had a big fight, one with no winner, that looked like two water balloons trying to escape from a taco shell. There isn´t room to wrestle in the wallow.
On the other side of the fence, the chickens wasted no time moving in where the pigs had been, checking out the pig pallet.
Playing queen of the haystack.
And doing some wallowing of their own.
I forgot to keep an eye on the pigs´water, and they got thirsty.
So, they pushed their water dish across their lot to the fence where I throw their food. Hey! We need a refill! Not only that, but they put one of their dog bowls into the water dish. Fill this up while you’re at it, would you?
So intelligent! I don´t have to worry about them needing anything. They´ll let me know. They are plenty capable of communicating. I can always tell when they’re due for a meal by the sound, and the sensation of eyes watching me.
They dug a hole (really it was A.P. that dug the hole). An ambitious endeavour, and it successfully formed a wallow, all on her own. She dug down to reach water, and then widened it out. The pink pigs never took initiative like that. They were content to flip over their water bowl, but it would promptly absorb and disappear.
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.
Both are eating constantly, but quite sure the other bowl is better.
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!
They’re getting into rooting like old pros in the soft ground now.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ahead. Why 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.
Yes, now we’ve got them. This works. Two-strand electric fence for pigs? No way! Chicken/sheep mesh fence – yes.
We got our first snow that stayed. A sharp temp drop to -8.
Footprints frozen into the mud. Hammer to crack ice in all the buckets.
The snow pigs are not impressed.
They reaaalllly love cucumbers.
Because of their size and power now, I usually feed them and then, while they’re busy eating, wrestle with cleaning their water bowl. If I don’t, then I get a thorough going-over with muddy pig snouts and total, eager, pig participation in the process, which is quite unhelpful and unwelcome.
The other day I gave them some cucumbers for distraction and tackled the water. I heard some steady oinking approaching me from across the pig yard. Oh. Great, I thought. Rudy came oinking up to me. Instead of taking advantage of my crouching pose and doing his best to knock me over, he came up face to face with me, still chewing a bit of cuke. He looked me in the eyes, and holding them, oinked deliberately at me for a long few seconds. Then turning on his trotter, he pranced away again.
I was left a little dazed. I just got talked to by a pig.
He came over just to say what he said, and he was very happy, and I’m quite sure I got the gist of his communicado: I looove cucumbers! Thank you for the cucumbers! I just love cucumbers!
One of the pigs mudded himself up in an almost exact half mud, half clean split. Brown/pink.
The pigs are growing slowly but steadily. They are thick and strong enough now to be a little scary, and I don’t go in their pen anymore. If I do I get enthusiastically leaned on and greeted with a vigorous head rub, which I’m afraid any day now will knock me over.
They’re always into a good neck scratching or behind-the-ears rub, though.
(Big rumbling snore….squeak!)
The apples are coming! One of the big, old, stately ancient apple trees (when we come up with the perfect name for these wizened empresses of apple trees, it will become the name of our farm) by the old farmhouse is loaded with fruit, weighing the branches down to the ground. I picked up about 5 gallons of apples just off the ground, lobbing many of them directly into the pig compound. Oink, oink. Happy pigs.
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.
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.
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.
The pigs have started rooting! One little ditch was dug, and Petunia appeared with half her snout covered with dirt. Yay! They’re at work.
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.
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).
The 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.
But 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.
The 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!
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.
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.
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.
I left them to their own devices, checking on them every little while, and they did not move at all.
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.
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.
So I named the girl pig Petunia.