farming, Uncategorized

The Pig Derby

Since I’m still sick, and nothing exciting is happening, I’ve got to write about the day that the pigs got out. Pigs are notorious escape artists, everyone knows that. They are clever and usually hunger driven. They can just about get out of any pen, anywhere, anytime.
I got back from helping Uncle clean stalls, it was ridiculously hot outside, and I decided to get Tug up out of the field and give him a nice cool rinse with the hose.

The horses were standing in the hall of the barn, head to tail, dozing and swishing flies. Tug’s flank was dark with sweat, he had ‘road map’ along his shoulder, which is just a horsey way to say his veins were showing, trying to cool the blood pumping up and down his legs. We walked up to the pump house just outside of the kitchen and he picked at the grass while I hosed him down.

I scrubbed his sides with a handful of grass and rinsed the dust and sweat away. He tossed his head when I sprayed his nose and ears, but it just a bluff. We both knew how much he was enjoying it. Right when I finished rinsing his other side, some movement on the hill caught my eye.

Tug and I both looked and I saw the unmistakable shape of piglet running past the chicken coop. My stomach flopped over. Good gosh, all the time and sweat and money that went into it, there he was running around as free as a bird. It was like watching a $100 bill blowing away into the wind.

I tied Tug, then thought better if it immediately untied him and led him to the main gate. I pulled the gate closed and dropped the rope – he could pick grass, he would be fine, as long as he didn’t get his rope tangled up too bad. I sped-walked up to the barn, then noticed the back gate on the high hill was opened. Which led to the woods, and the road. Knowing the day so far, Tug would end up out there while I was chasing pigs. I about died running up that hill. got that gate latched, then walked back down to survey the damage.

The latest version of of the ‘Piggy Palace’ included a wooden platform in the barn for the piglets to take shelter, and a rectangle yard leading from there alongside the wall of the chicken yard. Sadie got a 50′ roll of woven wire, which we stretched just outside two strands of electric wire. The three boys had somehow gotten out and were running laps around the barn.

I couldn’t see any obvious gap where they got out, but who knows. I herded the two girls into the barn and barred the opening with boards, then went after the three boys. They wouldn’t let me anywhere near them. They would split up, run around the field, then join back together, tails wagging. I needed backup – so I called Uncle Rick.

The conversation went something like “hey, are you busy, the pigs are out” and he sighed and said “I’ll be right there.” I already had sweat dripping down my face, so I backed off a bit and kept an eye on the piglets. After a few minutes, they settled down to graze again, completely oblivious.

When Uncle arrived, he grabbed a stick and an apple basket and tried to help me herd them to the hall of the barn, where I could corner one and grab it long enough to put back inside the fence. I couldn’t tell you how many times we chased them around the ban – it had to be at least 30. Lots of sweat, and a few choice words later, I realized we needed another plan.

I cut the strings holding the wire to the side of the barn and stretched it out. Uncle herded the piglets around the barn again, and they ran right past me. The black and white one decided to check out the plastic trough we had next to the barn, climbed in, and couldn’t get out. It would have been funny, if we weren’t so frustrated, watching his little legs run in place. By the time I got over to him, he had clamored out. That would have been an easy catch.

So around the barn we went again, piggy legs pumping, and I held the wire open. Uncle backed off a little once they came around the corner, and I think that’s what did it. I swung the wire around again and voila – the Piggy’s were back in the palace. We heaved a sigh of relief, wiping sweat from our eyes.

But it wasn’t three seconds later, that dang black and white piglet ran to the end of the wire and ducked underneath. I was dumbfounded. Here we go again. Uncle said “That pig belongs between a biscuit,” and I couldn’t agree more. He sure was a clever thing. I moved the boards to the barn and herded the two captured piglets in with their sisters. One went right for the pan of water and sat right down in it.

Uncle and I herded biscuit around the barn again, and he made a quick turn for the hall of the barn, leading to the gate where the rest of his brothers and sisters were relaxing. I saw my chance. I dropped the stick I was holding and went straight for him. Against the barn wall and the wire gate, we both knew he was trapped. I dove on my knees and tackled him against the ground.

Biscuit squealed, Uncle laughed, and I held on tight. I grabbed him by the back leg and yanked him up in the air. He was writhing like a fish on a hook. I swung him over the fence and dropped him in the pen with his siblings. Once I let go, he quit screaming, and brushed myself off. Uncle and I tightened the wire fence and discovered that the electric current had stopped because it had a bad connection to the grounding wire.

Uncle fixed it with some electrical tape and gave me a tester so I could check it daily. We laughed all the way back down the hill. I found Tug and put him back in the field, he promptly rolled in a patch of dirt, and I decided to call it a day. It was definitely more excitement than I had bargained for.

When Sadie got home, Uncle told her what happened. She thought we were making it up! Once we convinced her it was true, she said “Well, I guess I’m moving out.” Considering the pigs were her idea, I knew she felt bad we spent all that time chasing them. I said “If you do, you’re taking those pigs with you!”

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