Thursday, May 14, 2015

So You Think You Want To Be a Farmer?

Most especially for Teri in Alaska, but for all of you to enjoy!

Free-range pork anyone? This is how my afternoon went just 2 days ago:

I had my car loaded with wool projects for school projects and eggs to deliver in town. I was ready to head out but I thought I'd better check on the 12 new piglets before I left. I looked in the pen and counted 5. Seven were missing. An odd feeling hit my gut! Poof! Vanished into thin air, or the windbreak, which is where I soon found them. I managed to get all but 2 in and figured they'd stick around the others on the other side of the fence and wouldn't go far, so I zipped to town.

Once I was back home I ran in the house to quickly let the dogs out and build a small fire to take the chill off. I stepped outside for more firewood and heard a sound like I've never heard before. I looked up to see A LOT of little piggies near the back yard rooting through the chick feed in the windbreak. I discovered the source of the noise....the llama! I've never heard her make that noise before! She was clearly upset that those things were close to and sometimes IN her pasture. She was making a noise that sounded like a cross between a hog squealing and a mule braying!

So what to do? I had taken 4 small panels and made a little pen for the bum lamb. He comes running to anyone and I am afraid the mailman or UPS man will come and won't be able to get away! I grabbed the panels and made a pig trap. I set one corner on a plastic milk crate and attached 2 bungee cords to the crate. Then I poured goat milk in a rubber pan inside my trap. I caught chickens right away! Naturally the pigs were not interested in the milk! So off they went in their little herd, like a school of fish, following each other and sticking close together. I knew if I had patience, I could just wait and trap them, but the llama was in distress over them just being there and she kept sounding her alarm. Seriously though, how could I be too upset at something as cute as a school of piglets?

I had a I thought that maybe I could lure them into the barn and just leave them there until Chris and Kelly got home to help, so I opened the little door and closed the big one. Maybe they'd get curious? I hoped, for hope and ingenuity were all I had! Not long after that they headed for the barn! I was surprised, but then they walked right by my open door! UGH! There's a little fenced runway area between the barn and the chicken coop and they were all headed down the runway. I went to the other side to try and block them off. My strategy now was to block them off in the runway, but then they turned and all went into the chicken run! All but one! He was lost along the way and didn't know where the others were, so he was running back and forth along the windbreak squealing. The other pigs didn't care!

I quickly ran around and guarded the door. I just stood there. Guarding the door. I couldn't close the door because there was too much chicken poop piled up to close it properly. Chicken poop as a road block and the pitch fork was up against the barn by the open barn door! My arms were not long enough! So I have no phone to call for help and who would I call and what would I say? I have to MacGyver this out on my own. Sitting close to me were 3 black plastic feed troughs stacked on the ground. I quickly grabbed them and stood them upright in a row across the entrance while I ran for the pitch fork. I was then able to level the poop out and get the door closed. I propped the pitch fork up tight against the door and got wire and pliers from the barn to wire the door shut. Pigs are strong. Eleven pigs are stronger! Then I took a board and propped it up against the door and fence for added insurance and off I went to look for number twelve.

I hopped on the 4 wheeler and went out to the pig pen thinking he may have cried wee wee wee all the way home. He wasn't at the pig pen, but sitting near the garden fence next to 4 bigger pigs I have in there. They were strangers to him, but porcine all the same! He knew his kind! I managed to scoot him down and over and into his own pig pen, but he escaped as quickly as he had gone in! Then he headed straight for the barn again! So off I go on the 4 wheeler, back around the windbreak and into the yard. When I got off of the 4 wheeler, he had stopped at the chick feed again. I stood and watched him. He stood and watch me. Then he turned and ducked and went right into my pig trap! I sneaked over and grabbed the bungie cords and pulled the crate out! Down went the panels and I had him trapped, along with 5 chickens, but I got them out and then stood there wondering now what? I was afraid he was strong enough to lift the panels up with his snout and escape again. I looked over and saw our big dog crate! Ah hah! I grabbed the plastic lawn rake and cornered him, grabbed a hind leg and put him in the crate! All twelve pigs were secure. I just needed to wait for my helpers!
I did all of this with what I had at hand, except the goat's milk, which was fresh that morning....sigh! I had to run to the house for that! So even though I get down on myself for having "stuff" around, a lot of this stuff came in handy for my solo pig round-up!
I won't bore you with the rest of the story, but it took all 3 of us to get them back in the pen!