Friday, November 21, 2008

Pig stories

So I picked up some more pigs yesterday from an old-time farmer in Lugoff. Most of his sows and the boar are in a largish pen made of pallets, wire, old lumber, and anything else he could get his hands on. The younger pigs can come and go as they please from the pen. They just hangout on the property, apparently knowing that if they want their regular food they better hang around.

However, he lets a sow out of the pen just before farrowing so she can make her own nest in the woods. We saw one with week-old piglets following her around.

Maybe this is the way it should be.

I picked up 3 gilts (they are each Chester White/Yorkshire crosses-except one which has a spot somewhere in the pedigree), hoping one will show good growth and temperament to be a sow for me one day.

These gilts are pretty little, ranging from 30-45 lbs. We put them in an empty pen formed of cow panels. It was pretty apparent that at least the littlest one could squeeze through the hole, so the boys strung some chicken wire around the pen to dissuade escapees. Alas, it was not enough. 15 minutes later as we all about to go in, we heard the cry from Number 2 daughter, "A pig is out!"

Mrs. Curley and girls hung back to secure the area while the boys took after the smallest pig who hightailed it into the woods.

We (myself and Numbers 1, 2, 3, & 4 sons) surrounded her once early on, but she escaped before we could get a plan in action. Number one son handed me a net on a pole, which I caught on numerous vines and branches as we followed through the forest.

We followed as closely as we could, trying to keep her generally surrounded. Finally she came out into the neighbors yard and then through it into his soy bean field beyond. Here we surrounded her and started to close in. I made a swoop with the net, but she was too quick and we were on the run again. Back over the creek, into the woods heading for home. (My neighbor tried to help by shouting we should direct her to his fenced area-but little pig must have heard, she quickly turned back towards the woods. We must have been a sight!)

Near our property, she suddenly turned West, and we continued to follow (leaving a worn out Number 4 son at home). After a bit I decided to turn back and get the truck.

I caught up with pig and the boys at Ford's pond. Pig was in the (dirt) road. I told number 2 and 3 son to circle around behind her. Number 1 son would cut off Ford's pond and when in position we would close. But pig wanted none of it. She took off down the road before Number 2 & 3 were in position. I followed in the truck. Suddenly she stopped and turned around. She slowly approached, then disappeared. As I strained from side to side to catch a view of her, I happened to look in the rear view mirror---there she went, right under the truck and back towards home. I turned the truck around (15 point turn it took, practically) and caught up with her again at Ford's Pond.

Number 1 son took up the chase through the woods.

Number 2 & 3 had no idea where we were at this point. I circled around with the truck trying to find Number 1, with no luck. I finally drove back and found Number 2 & 3 and returned to the homestead; we, having no idea where Number 1 son and pig was now.

At this point we all thought she was gone for good.

But, soon, as we discussed the situation with Mrs. Curley, we heard Number 1 son shouting out, "She right in front of me, heading your way."

We (myself and 1, 2, & 3) gathered our forces again and surrounded her. She got out of the circle, but we quickly contained her again. This time Number 4 son and Mrs. Curley came to reinforce our effort.

We closed in slowly and then Number 2 son dove and made a grab-YES! he got the hind leg.

Boy oh boy! Almost 2 hours and almost 3 miles of ground covered through forest, and she was returned to the pen.

Much perseverance in this effort. Without Number 1's tenacity (he said he lost her once for a minute, but heard her and picked up the trail again) and Number 2's quickness we would have lost her.

Number 1 son said he was going to give up but overheard me mutter, "I really wanted that pig.", so he kept on.

I am proud of each and every one.

We recounted the whole tale with some exaggeration (Number 2 son claims he never saw me run so fast) over dinner (after securing the pen of course.)

I am sure we will regale ourselves with another telling again soon.

St. Anthony the Great must be looking over us. I think when I write my book on raising pigs, or the small homestead or whatever it is, I will include a chapter on the proper technique to catch escaped swine if one is so unfortunate to lose one. We got it right in the last effort, but blew our chances at least twice in the process due to bad technique and inadequate force.

Oremus pro invicem!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You had me grinning from ear to ear. I remembered chasing cows when I was younger on the old farm and how when we would get one that just ran through /broke any fence.

My brother would threaten to get the rifle and stop the Steer for once and all, but we never did shoot one. That would have been letting the steer / cow win. That was the last thing that we could stand.

It was misery back then. usually the offending animal would get out in a sleet storm or some such pelting freezing, fence breaking phenomenon, but looking back it was just growing up on a farm in the south. I miss it dearly. Thanks for your memories shared.

Jim Dorchak