Ramble On

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pig Wranglin' - Part 3

With one pig moved using the “goat halter” method, we stopped to regroup.  This method didn’t meet up to expectations on several accounts – for one thing, the pig squealing had upset and exhausted all the on-lookers, and for another, David’s shoe was full of…how shall I put it…ordure du cochon -

All was suddenly as I feared, and we were going to have to move on to Plan C:
“Chase down and catch the pigs one by one, and then carry them the 200 yards or so...”

Queue Flatt and Scruggs-

We went back to the barnyard, where the pigs had gone back into the chicken coop and were resting from all the excitement.  David remembered that he had an old training crate for his dogs, so we thought about how we might coax the animals into it one by one and transport them that way.  So the first thought was to see if we couldn’t just open the door to the chicken coop and let one of them out into the crate.

We tried it – but the pigs didn’t cooperate.  They knew by now that we were after them and they just looked at the open door, seeing that we had set a trap for them.  Then they just milled around the coop, eventually settling down in the straw to wait for us to go away.

Our next big idea was to move them back to the goat stall, and see if we couldn’t corral them from there.  Same technique for moving them – that worked, and now we had the three pigs back where we wanted them.

I carefully positioned the crate in front of the gate, and we opened it just slightly, so that unless the pigs took a flying leap they’d have nowhere to go except for inside.  Then David went around behind the pigs to rustle them up.  One came over to check out the crate.

David swooped in and caught the pig’s two back trotters, lifting them off the ground, and proceeded to try and push the pig into the crate wheelbarrow-style.  Once the pigs head was safely inside, we knew that the body would follow…that’s just how pigs work.

The pig’s head was free and he was choosing every direction but in the crate.  He got his nose under the crate, around the crate, over the crate, and at one point, he had part of himself squeezed between the gate and the crate.  Finally, David decided to snatch him completely off the ground and kind of toss him in – and I snapped the little hatch door closed.

Next step was to move him in the crate, which had taken a beating from all of this and didn’t look like it would survive being carried over.  We decided it might be best to haul the thing - pig and all - over to the new pasture, using the tractor with the bucket attachment.  We loaded him in, and I climbed in beside the crate for the ride.

Taking stock of my situation, you’d never catch me at work riding one of the machines.  But this was different – we were moving the pigs – and sometimes, you just have to go with it.  I hope none of our safety monitors are reading this.

That pig had settled right down as soon as he was in the crate.  I think it even went to sleep for a few minutes during the short drive over to the new pasture, where we unloaded him and then reconnected the electricity to the fence.  He immediately joined his colleague happily grazing and rooting around the fresh ground.

It was time for us to reconsider our approach – this crate method had worked out for us, but the other pigs had learned that once a pig went in, he didn’t come back.  Pigs are smart, you know, and also, these last two were wary. 

We spent another half hour in the barnyard with those two pigs, trying to catch them and move them.  It was a failed effort though – eventually, our thoughts turned to having some cold hard cider.  You know, there is a new cidery in the Valley…

I caught up with David and his brother a few days later at an event.  They told me they had started fresh the next morning, and moved the last two pigs easily – they even got them both into the crate at the same time.  I was happy and proud I could help come up with such an innovative, easy way to wrangle the pigs. 

I went back for eggs the next weekend, driving up slowly to make sure that the Sourses weren’t home this time.  It was all quiet while I made my transaction in the cooler, and then I quietly drove away, unscathed, and not out of my depth this time.

Still, on the way out, I stopped to check out the pigs in the new pasture.  When I walked up to the fence, they came a-running, putting the past behind them, happy to be on the fresh ground doing their piggy things.  They’ve got a few months left now to enjoy themselves.

1 comment:

posumcop said...

Ramp with sides + pickup truck