A farmer’s job is never done, some might find this tiring, but personally it fills me with purpose. On our farm the beginning and ending of the typical ‘farm-day’is signaled by the opening and closing of the chicken coop doors. When we wake up in the morning the first thing we do is head out and open the coop so the chickens can forage for food. After dark, this time of year usually around 9 (or when we remember, so far we haven’t completely forgotten) we go out and close the doors for the night. This ebb and flow of farm life typically guides our daily routine. Once the chickens are in you know you are good until morning, but evidently not tonight…
This afternoon we created a new paddock for the pigs out in the back field. Our plan was to let them forage in the field during the cool time of day (early morning and late evening) and then guide them back to their shady woodland during the hot time of day. The woodland is where they have been living for the past 2 months, we have added new sections over that time, but their tarp shelter, wallow and feeding area has remained consistent. We use an electric poly-net fence with a solar charger. The pigs mind the fence well and we haven’t had any issues with them getting out, unlike our other pigs that got out several times with our previous setup.
The pigs come easily when called and follow us especially closely if we are holding the feed bucket, so this afternoon Piggy and Pancake happily strutted to their new ‘foodie field’ with no problems. However, the piglets we not as cooperative. Two of them came with their parents but the other three stayed behind in the woodland. Shaun and I had to catch and carry them to their new spot which was painless for us, but the piglets hate being picked up. Their squeals literally give new meaning to the saying ‘screaming bloody murder!’ The only thing that subdues them is covering their eyes, but you can’t do that until you have a good grip on them. Anyways, once they saw mom and dad all was well and they were a big happy family again checking out the new digs and playing in the little pond we included for them to use as their temporary wallow.
We checked on everyone when we closed up the chickens and Piggy and Pancake were still foraging in the field, but the babies had jumped ship and were back in the woodland. We knew this was a possibility because the fence doesn’t keep the piglets in, but we had expected them to stay with their mother since they still nurse whenever they want. We decided to leave the parents in the field as planned (non-electric fence) and turn on the electric fence around the woodland to offer the piglets some protection from predators without their parents. We figured the piglets would either sleep in their tarp shelter and be fine with the fence on, or if they got hungry we thought they would go back through the fence to mom and dad (their paddock probably isn’t more than 200 ft away). As an added protection measure we left Charlie (our dog) outside on the back deck (close proximity to the piglets) to keep an eye on things. We had been keeping her inside the last 2 months because she went into heat for the first time and we have been paranoid about her getting knocked up, prior to that we used to let her be out on the porch all night. She seemed up to the job after being coop-ed up for so long.
So we closed up the chickens and all was well right? Nope. It seemed well for a while, until 12:30ish when Charlie started barking like crazy. Luckily, we were still up and went to go check things out. We turned on the flood lights to see what the fuss was about and Charlie is going nuts because Mama Piggy is out and getting into the feed buckets! Awesome guess that one didn’t work out like we thought…
Shaun went and got the woodland fence open, while I coaxed Mama Piggy back home to the babies, I assumed she was on her way to find them and got distracted by the delicious grain fermenting outside the basement door. Once reunited the babies were overjoyed and immediately wanted to nurse, Mama gladly droped to her side in relief. I felt guilty, her boobs were probably killing her! I had assumed they weren’t nursing much anymore because the piglets help themselves to plenty of feed and drink water now that they are 7 weeks, but it seems they were still snacking more than I realized!
We checked on Papa Pancake and he was fine in the field by himself, fence still intact we decided to leave him overnight and re-evalute things in the morning.
Good job Charlie! We gave her a few rounds of midnight frisbee to tell her we approve of her diligence. Lesson learned, keep Mama with the babies or get a better fence.
So now it’s 1:37am and I was about to post this and Charlie started barking again….guess what? Papa’s out…I wake up Shaun…we run to grab shoes…Charlie is barking as Papa starts to come up the front steps onto the porch…I can’t find the flashlight…still can’t find it…we just had the flashlight out…did the flashlight grow legs WTF…so we ungracefully got Papa back with Mama and the babies, no flashlight. Lesson learned…just give up…oh there’s the flashlight, soon as we get back to the house!
Pigs-2 : Farmers-0
Epic fail, even the chickens are laughing.