It seems like forever since I have taken the time to sit down and write a blog post. Spring is a busy time even on a tiny farm like ours. And Mother’s Day weekend was no exception – it was memorable.
We decided to (finally) move our daughter’s 4H pigs out of the barn and into the pasture which is lush with spring grass. The poor little guys had never known any home but the spacious stall in the barn since their birth in February. It was definitely time! We backed the borrowed stock trailer up to the barn doors and coaxed the little rascals with a quart of vanilla yogurt – one of their favorite treats. In they went with no trouble. We proceeded to unload them in our training pasture. Let me pause here to explain what a training pasture is.
Our training area is a large double-fenced area where young piglets or new-to-us pigs learn what an electric fence is. We have three strands of electric fence around the area and field fence/sheep fence/woven wire fence (whatever you want to call it) on the outside of that. The reasoning behind a double fence is that when a piglet is shocked by the electric fence, they have an uncanny tendency to run forward and through the shocking wires, squealing as they run. The field fence prevents such a daring escape and makes them back up and learn that the wire means danger and do not cross. Lest you think we are sadistic executioners, I’ve been zapped several times and it really is no more painful than a bee sting – it just depends on where you happen to get zapped as to how effective it is. So, our little guys were securely enclosed in the training run, enjoying the fresh grass, dirt, and country air so we went to pick up a new-to-us tractor.
Three hours later we arrive home to find the six foot gate ripped off it’s hinges and our boar Henry and his bride Ruby lounging back in the hut within the training run. You see, Henry is a little possessive. He had the training run first, and therefore it did not matter that he had a huge U-shaped pasture, new hut with fresh hay, new water tank, and food. That was his hut, and he was going to stay there. Needless to say, Trigger and Bullet (the piglets) were on the lam. After much coaxing and gentle guidance, we were able to run them into the upper pasture – with electric fence only, no field fence. We watched them for a bit to make sure they didn’t give us the slip and we were satisfied that they just might be okay there.
But – and there is always a but – we had to castrate our youngest male piglets that morning. Did I mention that piglets squeal very, very loudly when you pick them up? Well, lets just say that Trigger and Bullet were not impressed with the squealing coming from the direction of our front pasture. You can imagine what happened next – the discovery was made that they made a prison break. Did I mention that it was raining all day Saturday? Did I mention that we live on top of a hill? Did I mention that we have acres of woods adjoining the pasture? Did I mention the little stinkers were free and enjoying being elusive? Hours. And I mean hours later, soaked to the skin and looking like drowned rats, we found them at the bottom of our ravine next to the bridge. It was like watching the Pied Piper – my in-laws on their 4-wheeler leading two naughty pigs out of the woods. After another round of coaxing and gentle pushing, they were back where they belonged.
To make a long story short, the following two days were spent on pins and needles. Constant vigilance to make sure they were staying where they belonged (and they didn’t). And Fort Knox was built. Yes, we purchased more field fence and made yet another pig proof training run. They have learned their boundaries and have settled nicely into their pasture. They are happily digging in the cool, damp earth making their cooling mud pits. The are nibbling on the long grasses and clover as they explore. They are happy little pigs – as is Henry. He remains King of the Pasture, fat and content in his throne room with his Queen beside him.
And did you also know that Fort Knox was built in a day?