Tag Archives: run away

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.