Friday, March 22, 2013

Escaped Pigs, Sold Cows, and Snow???

If there's not a new blog post on here, then it usually means I was too busy to write anything that day. And life's been an interesting mix of busy, and "not busy" lately, if I may be so bold as to confuse you in such a manner. I haven't been "busy" in the usual way that I am... The weather's been awful these past few days, which has kept me inside most of the day, so I've been doing a lot of reading, researching, and plotting. Always with the plotting. ;)

The pigs, Mike and Sausage, are getting HUGE now that they're nearing their 6th month of age. But they're still not *quite* big enough for me to call the butcher. Just big enough to be annoying. -_- And they're getting bored. Who knew that pigs could get cabin fever??? A few days ago, they escaped and were found gleefully running around in the pasture. I was tickled to watch them come running like faithful dogs when I called them back, and with the help of a sister, we had them back in the pen in about 5 minutes. But, not wanting any more escape adventures, I took a gloomy, wet afternoon the next day and worked on switching panels out. Up until now, they had a 3' tall welded wire, hog panel that kept them in their bounds. Er, it was supposed to keep them in anyway. Turns out that pigs can jump roughly 4' from a standing position. Hoorah. Not. So the plan was to give them a 5' tall, welded wire CATTLE panel. I think that was the hardest job I've ever done, switching those panels out...

You see, I had to switch them out while the pigs were still in the pen. The door way is only 4 feet wide, the pen itself is 10 feet in length, and the panel is 16 feet long, and heavy! So which do you do first? Take the hog panel out and then put the cattle panel in? Or put the cattle panel in and then somehow get the hog panel out, over the 5' tall wall of menacing steel? And did I mention that it was raining during all of this? And the mud outside the pen was ankle deep because of all the torrential rain we had been getting? And did I mention that the hog panel had to be dug out because 1/3 of it was buried beneath deep-pack bedding? Or that I had 300 lbs. of snorting bacon making every attempt to get out again? Oh it was fun...

But I got it done. *look of grim satisfaction*

It took me pretty close to an hour, but I finagled that cattle panel in, dug the hog panel out, and then scuttled the whole length of that filthy welded wire up and over the top of the cattle panel. Make sense? Didn't think so... I barely knew what I was doing anyway. BUT, I managed to keep BOTH pigs in during all this hullabaloo! Twice, Sausage almost got out; pill that he is... Mike was as good as ever, content to sit and watch me make a fool of myself. By the time I was done, I looked like I had been in hand to hand combat with a mud monster. My jeans were utterly filthy, boots were caked with mud, hands were scratched up from the panel edges, I had mud liberally streaked on my hands and arms, my hair was dripping wet because I had forgotten to grab a hat and it was pouring outside, and I had mud flecks on my face... I wanted a picture of myself so bad. Hehe. It was great. 

Yesterday I went out to do afternoon barn chores, and upon looking in the pig pen I saw... No pigs!?!? The cattle panel was still in place, everything looked normal, there was just a lack of pork in the premises. This farm is gonna' make me go gray before my time, let me tell you... How on earth did those pigs get out!? And more importantly, WHERE on earth did they go!?

I looked out to the pasture, but saw no sign of them. So I hollered out their dinner call, which is the ever so original, "Pig, pig! Pig, pig!" Yeah, I know; I'm so creative with my calls. ;)

Shortly after my voice died off, two torpedo shaped forms came barreling up from the creek, running through the electric fence, which was on, and sprinting towards me as though the devil himself was on their tails. I was now facing two hungry hogs coming at me at high speed and I had no idea what to do! I had no food on me, no nothing! Sausage slammed on his brakes right before hitting me, and Mike swerved around me, unable to stop immediately because of the mud. Both boys grunted and squealed in anticipation for their food, and in desperation, I tried simply opening their pen up and seeing if by some random chance they would come in without being lured. 

Strangely enough, it worked. But once they were in, Sausage decided that if he couldn't eat grain RIGHT THEN, then he would find something else to wreak havoc on. His choices were me and the cattle panel. Great. I couldn't leave the inside of the pen because he was trying to root the panel up enough for him to get out again; but meanwhile, he was also doing his best to chew on me! Thank heavens for cell phones. I called my sister and sheepishly asked her to please bring some grain for the pigs... I was a little tied up at the moment. 

I spent yet another soggy afternoon reinforcing the pig pen still more. You could put a bear in there now without worrying about it escaping. Pigs have got to be the most mentally stimulating livestock out there. Let me tell you...

Aside from the pigs, I do have the news that Peaches finally sold! I was fearing that I would never find a buyer, seeing as the market is what it is right now (nobody's buying...). I'm really, really pleased with where she's going; she'll have a good home, and will begin her milking career when she calves in December. Yep, I have to get her bred before she leaves! So I'm currently aggravating working with an AI tech to see about getting that job done around April 9th, which is when Peaches' next heat cycle is. I'm sad to see my Peach Cow (her nickname) go, but with her sale I can now begin hunting for a replacement milk cow. It's time. I've found two girls that are in my budget. One more so than the other. Both are Jerseys, which I'm not hugely keen on, but it's what I can afford right now. One is a solid brown Jersey being sold for $400; she's only milking about 2 gallons a day right now though, which is one thing that's making me hesitant on her... Mattie was only giving two gallons when I got her, and I certainly had extra milk, but I wasn't trying to raise hogs at that time either. I don't know if I can get by for a few months with only 2 gallons a day. And the stress of the move may make her drop still more. But $400 is a right good price... Really can't argue with it. I'd have money left over to buy needed things for the farm; like fencing and alfalfa hay. The other cow is a lovely brown and white patched Jersey, who just freshened in December and is milking well. Her only downside is that she's $1,200; a good price for a cow like that, but slightly out of my budget if the sellers won't come down to what I can pay (which is about $900 to $1000). So we'll see who wins out... 

As I stated at the beginning of this post, the weather has been *dreadful* lately. We went from 65 degrees and blue skies, to 37 degrees, heavy rains, high winds, and of all things, we had a dusting of SNOW this morning!!! Will wonders never cease!? I wasn't amused at the sight of snow this morning, but was thankful that it melted off by 9:30am. Let's go back to the 65F weather now, please!

Not much else going on right at the moment... Still cleaning the cow barn out, no goat kids landing yet, and I'm spending my mornings on Craigslist, hunting for milk cows. In the end, it's all good. :)


Kris said...

Oh my goodness, that brings back c=some bad pig chasing memories. Ugh! I just got 2 pigs a week ago. I had them in the goat stall, then a few days ago put up 2 of the cow panels. I had thought about the 3' pig panels, but since I already had these, I just used them. And I'm glad I did now. When I had them before, the pigs didn't get out because they couldn't lift them up. I just really dread when they get bigger now.

I am doing your fermented grain. They like it. And I'm giving it to the chickens too. Haven't tried the goats yet, but will gradually. I am liking this so far. Someone mentioned putting some raw milk in. Have you tried that yet? I'm going to a fermenting class given by Sandor Katz next Sat. I am SO excited to finally meet him. Can hardly wait.

Prairie Kari said...

I just read an article on Grit that should scare Mike and Sausage into never escaping again. The article is about the wild/feral pig populations in the US and they say:

"In Oregon, a law was recently passed that requires landowners to shoot or trap all wild pigs on sight."

Post this article in their pen and tell them never to leave the yard if they absolutely have to escape even again - haha!

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