I’ve never had pigs before. They seem so strange, so interesting. Clean little peach coloured hooves, sparse white hairs. Constant snoring sounds, asleep or not. Their tails wag, whipping around in circles. Their little snouts can be softly supple and receptive, or as hard as wood, at the whim of the pig.
It’s important to mention that we got these pigs for rooting. I can’t touch pig meat without getting spectacularly ill, and HW’s not the biggest fan, so we aren’t in it for the meat. We’re in it for their labour. Hopefully, as we move them around with the electric tape they’ll root up the field for us and we can get some quality grasses seeded in. We shall see. So far, they aren’t much use. Too little.
I have never once fed them, yet every time I walk by, Rudy comes galloping toward me, ears flapping like Dumbo. Then he pulls up short at the electric tape and watches (wistfully?) as I walk by.
What does this pig want? I wondered. Turns out, he wants to be touched, so now every walk past the pigs has to factor in a pause to pet the pig. Petunia does not have the same interest in being touched. She snorts and jumps when you try to.
Who knew, pigs are shoe fetishists. They’re really into shoes. They both aggressively root at pant legs, and boy do they ever love to chew on shoes (our feet still in them), while making great pleasure sounds (why?).
They both got wicked sunburns right away, and I’m not sure how, because they spent all their time sleeping in the shade of the pig palace the first few days, either end to end, or buried completely in the straw, just nostrils showing.
Petunia did even more sleeping than Rudy, who pops up all friendly-like at any visits. She got covered with bug bites, too, so bad I thought she had a rash.
We’re trying to make them wallow but they don’t get it. HW dug a hole, and empties their old water in it, hoping they’ll roll around in it and get some nice mud SPF on themselves. But no. The closest they come to wallowing is walking through their water pan and looking surprised at it.
Their sunburns, especially on the ears, was heartbreaking-all scabby and cracked and bleeding. Horrible!
Therefore, we moved the pig palace closer into the tree line for more shade, and set out to slather the pigs in (wondrous, all-purpose) Bag Balm (ears), and aloe vera gel (body).
Critically, we forgot our ear protection, despite talking about it ahead of time. HW seized a pig and held it down, while I slathered as fast as I could. Rudy was first, screaming blue murder. Unhand me! The outrage! I demand of you to release me! How dare you!
Wow. Deafening! My ears were ringing, my head hurt – Petunia was scampering around squeaking and then the dog, obediently sitting nearby with a dismayed expression, started in sympathy howling! Either reflexively provoked to by the octave the pig was hitting, or else expressing his anxiety and distress. AowooOOOwOOOO!
We rushed through Petunia’s turn before my ears started bleeding, and leaving the pigs well greased and slathered, retreated with ringing ears. The dog was much more reluctant, wanting to lick the pigs post-daubing. HW: HEY! Stop licking that pig!
The dog would look at us with glazed wide eyes, still licking compulsively out of the side of his mouth like his tongue was doing the licking all on its own.
Leave that pig alone!
Can´t… stop…. like honey glazed ham…(still licking the pig).
Phew, what a sideshow. But their ears and skin recovered dramatically and quickly with the treatment. Bag Balm‘s pretty wonderful (shame about the petrolatum, but so effective).
The dog sleeps with the pigs now. It’s not entirely clear if he enjoys their company or finds them irritating, when they’re awake, but he seems to love sleeping with them. They nudge them and provoke him until he jumps up and barks sometimes; I know from experience being enthusiastically nudged in the sides with a wiggling snout that it is incredibly ticklish.
But when we deliver him to the pig palace at dark to look after the pigs for the night, he runs in, smells the two sleeping pigs, and then flops down in the straw, cuddled right up to them with a dog smile. And he stays there in the morning, long after he wakes up. He serenely watches me walk by to the garden from his station by the sleeping, gently snorting pigs.
The pigs, of course, sleep in. This is so strange to me. I thought all diurnal animals were attacking the day’s work at the crack of dawn. Pigs? 8 am, 9 am… perhaps a long nap shortly after waking? Don’t mind if I do!
Subsequent pig slathering has gone much more smoothly. I just sit on the ground and let them tackle my shoes. I rub stuff on their ears while they’re occupied.
They’re so adaptable. Even Gah! I’m being touched! Hates it! Petunia, after a couple swabs, visibly adjusts. Hey, that feels good and good for me. I may even stand still. Positive association to behaviour adjustment, in seconds. So reasonable!
They won’t stop hanging out in the sun though, so another sunburn, another application of aloe vera gel. I put aloe on a chicken, after all (day 4), I can aloe a pig. It will be nice when their hair grows in thickly enough to protect all that pink skin.