Thursday, August 07, 2008

Moving Pigs

Well I never did make it into town yet this week, but boy things have been exciting around here!

We finished the new pig pen finally yesterday. Time to move the three pigs.

Mrs. Curley came out at noon and asked when we wanted lunch. I told her, "It'll only take us 15 minutes to move these pigs, let's do it and then have lunch".

2 and one-half hours later, we had moved two pigs and still there was more to come. Here's the story.

We had borrowed a trailer (the new pen is on the other side of the goat pen) and I had secured my pig cage to the trailer. Because of our pen system, the three little pigs have to go through (briefly) the larger pig pen (still holding the two large pigs) in order to get out to the holding area where the trailer was parked. With an extra hog panel held temporarily by two sons, we excluded the larger pigs from the doorway, allowing the three little pigs to exit into the holding area without too much trouble. The hog panel was then removed. Here's where the fun started.

Now the holding area is about 15' x 10'. We have a few sunflowers growing there, but otherwise, it is just grass. We thought we had blocked off all exits to the greater yard.

I had hoped with a few peanuts and a little watermelon, the three pigs would just march right up the ramp into the cage on the trailer. Foolish man! They wanted no part of it. (In hindsight, we should have had a the way blocked so the only path was into the trailer, but instead they had the run of the entire holding area. And run they did. Three of us chased them around the area with exasperation.

Finally, I got hold of the smallest one's back legs and stuffed him into the cage.

At almost the same time, the biggest of the three (just over 100 lbs) wormed his way under the trailer. It was too small of a space for him to get out into the yard, but neither could he easily get back into the holding area. He finally did, but with plenty of squealing and some pretty good scratches.

After some more time of chasing, I finally got hold of the back legs of the Duroc. This pig is at least 75 lbs. There was no way I could stuff him in the cage as I did the other.

First I gave one back leg to number 2 son and grabbed a front leg. His (the pig's) mouth was flailing about. I was sure I would get bit. But just then, one of the large pigs from the pen (coming to the gate with all the commotion, some how jiggled loose the latch (we usually have it double-latched, but somehow this was overlooked in the heat of the action) and wandered into the holding area.

I took over both back legs and smallest daughter came running with a watermelon. Number one son (who was holding the cage door shut so smallest pig wouldn't escape) tossed watermelon just inside the pig pen. Number 2 son managed to get large pig onto the watermelon and then pushed him in and secured the gate. Now back to Duroc.

Somehow-it is not clear to me now, we grabbed three legs and tossed him in the cage, secured it and took a breather.

We decided two was enough for now and shooed the biggest of the three into the large pig pen with the other large pigs (who are now over 250 lbs.)

The rest of this part of the operation was largely uneventful. We drove over to the new pen and with a little, but not overwhelming difficulty, unloaded the two into their new home.

At this point we were all ready for lunch-it now being after 2:00 PM. However, we noticed that the two large pigs, the male in particular, was not taking kindly to their new mate. He chased the younger one around the pen every time the younger one went after food or settled in their shelter.

So I decided that I would move the young one back into his original pen. Number 2 son worked the gate as I tried to shoo him in. Apparently however, the large pigs got the idea that I wasn't friendly to their new mate. They cornered him and attacked.

We saw the ferocity of pigs. They cornered him, jumped on top and attacked. I am not sure they could open their mouths wide enough to take huge chunks, but they were on top attacking and there were plenty of grunts and squealing. There was nothing I could do. They were on top of him and trying to bite-it was scary-don't know why I didn't hop the fence, but I tried to get them off him by kicking and pushing.

Finally Mrs. Curley threw a watermelon in the pen on top of one of the large pigs. It distracted one of the big pigs, and the little one managed to squirm away. Shortly thereafter I was able to shoo him into his original pen. He looked much the worse for the wear, with cuts and bruises and breathing hard. I thought he was going to have a heart attack. But he eventually started eating and moving around, so I hope he'll be okay. (The thought occurred to me to just take care of him this weekend. After all he is over 100 lbs and we are just about finished with the 1/3 of the pig we slaughtered a few weeks ago. The large ham and the sausage meat and the bacon is still untouched, but the rest has been consumed.)

What a day! Of course now I have pigs in three pens-granted I have pigs on grass-but I don't have a pen ready to grow back. And of course, I lost my sunflowers in all the commotion.

Talking to my neighbor last evening, he said they used to rope the front legs and drag the pigs when they needed to move them. Something to think about.

Oremus pro invicem!

Update: After all that, I guess I should have read this before we started!

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