Finally some rain! The pigs, who are usually muddy to the eyes, are today muddy to the ears. They look funny, with their eyes cleanish in the full muddy cones of their faces.By afternoon they had gleefully mudded the whole rest of their bodies until they had single cleanish strips only along their spines.One of the pigs has a predilection for bringing one or more of their rubber bowls into their house. Sometimes all three are in there, sometimes stacked. I’ve read that pigs use their bowls as toys if you leave them in their pen after dinner, but these are the first pigs to have played with their bowls. Here one pig has just dragged one bowl out from under the other pig, and dumped some of it. Every morning they play food bowl duck duck goose. They start all with their own bowl, then one inevitably goes to the next pig. You got something better in there? The first pig exits, and instead of going to the vacant bowl, goes to the next pig’s bowl. What are you eating? Same thing? I think I’ll try yours. That pig goes to the empty bowl and…they do it all over again, every few mouthfuls.
(David Attenborough voice)
After the new enclosure has been prepared for these lucky piglets, the fence is parted, allowing access to the abundant unspoiled greenery this species thrives upon.But how long will it take them to discover their new freedom?
Their attendant retrieves the food bowls they are familiar with and places them in plain view just beyond the fence opening, filling them with fresh food.The young pigs observe these proceedings with interest, but from a distance. They are agitated by the presence of the human, and grunt with suspicion.
As the human withdraws, curiosity and hunger overcome their trepidation, and one pig tentatively leads the way over the threshold! Its sibling, still visibly anxious, follows soon after. To the boldest pig goes the spoils!
Three little pigs. They are not tame at all. They are wild animals, free and independent. They observe from a distance.It’s quite nice to not be leaned on and snouted every time you go in their fence, but it will also be nice to play with them and scratch them, someday. They are curious. They approach, sniffing. But then one snorts and they all stampede off! Run away!
As usual, the new piglets are super shy. She threw me over her shoulder, and I won’t forget. I peed on him, hee hee.They snort and dash away to the farthest part of their yard when you even get close. This is kind of a nice stage, when you can stay clean going in to feed them. In a month or two they’ll be nosing my pant legs and jostling me at the trough.
They’ve been working, though. They were here for minutes before they had their faces in the dirt, and dug up an impressive swath of it in their first hour.They’re a tiny bit more reluctant to run away when they’re in their house, and man, do they love hay. They act like they’ve never seen dirt or hay (I’m sure they have), and they burrow right under it, sleep away the afternoons. They’re so pink. I don’t see any black Berkshire in there at all, except in the personality.
We got the pigs! Three little piglets. They are very pink, but they are supposed to be sired by a full black Berkshire. It seems they take after their mother.
We’ve finally sorted out our pig transport, after trying dog crates and the back of the car. That extra chickery I made came in, secured with a pallet, and covered with a piece of canvas (becoming as useful and ubiquitous around here as baling twine and wire), so the piglets don’t get a sunburn or heatstroke.
Our first piglets came in with sunburn and possibly heatstroke, but recovered. Although, after wrestling with them, sometimes you wish they had heatstroke.
We carried them from truck to pigland over the shoulder. “Easy”. HW gave me the small pig, and she was a crazy squealer, who screamed the whole trip, and absolutely pummeled my lower back stomping with her sharp little hooves. Wow. That hurt a lot.
HW had it worse though. He got peed on. Both of our pigs pooped en route, and then HW says “Oh no! Warm and wet – I think I’m getting peed on!” So I was better off with the stomping pig.
Then HW moved the third pig and immediately had them all run right through the fence, making us completely 0 for 4 on piglet retention. This time, the pigs were small enough to fit through the bottom squares of the electric fence, and they did. He got them back in though, and they fell to rooting like they were born to do it.
In the middle of the night, discussing the piglets pouring through the fence, I said “You know, the right thing to do is to take the other electric fence, with the smaller holes on the bottom, and wrap that around outside the fence already there, and do it tonight while they’re asleep. ” And he started getting out of bed! So we did that together at midnight, and the pigs are thoroughly trapped.
They weren’t asleep, but they were moving slow, watching us from the shadows. And they are SO happy! Face deep in the dirt, day one.
This morning, four new chicks!
All of them a bit damp, brown and black with black legs, and bright white egg teeth on their black beaks- SO cute. There are two from Cleopatra (copper maran Xs), and two from Cheeks or Puffcheeks (Ameracauna Xs). Proud mama!
The two “old” chicks have integrated into gen. pop. They integrated themselves, as they do.
Just before running out for pigs and doing a henyard check, I found one chick outside of the chickery. After fruitlessly chasing her around the box a few times, I tipped it up so she could slip back under a corner. She was looking. It almost worked. Then the other chick darted out, and then it was on. Those two started to run away from home together, mama flipped out, so I just let her out.
She was set upon by the roosters, and ran into the flock of hens, and the babies crouched in the grass (it only takes a couple of blades for them to disappear), but after the dust settled, they flew (flew like sparrows!) back to her, and that was that. Now they are part of the flock. They slept in the box last night, but this morning Mom was coaching them on how to use the coop ramp (although they were having none of it).
It didn’t take long for us to figure out a better way to use two lengths of electric poultry fence. Making a vast circle of space with both lengths is not it. That merely makes it approximately twice as hard to move them as it was with one length of fence.
The answer (blindingly obvious), is to set up the fences in two circles, like the digit 8, so that when it comes time to shift the pigs, close them into one loop of fence, pick up the other loop and peacefully relocate it. Then, or later, move the pigs into the newly placed loop and move the second section of fence. Drama free.
The added benefit is easily being able to separate the piglets for dinner time. Did someone say dinner? Oggg, oggg,ogggh!
(First there must be scratching)Now HW is closing the gate. Pick a side, Pancakes! They do pick a side, and sometimes switch; they know the drill. Shortstack is smarter. It’s raining, I’ll take the house side.
Then the pigs wait VERY impatiently for the food to be prepared, and served. Whheeeee, Whheeeee!
They’ve had they’re own bowls their whole sojourns here, and they used to get fed on opposite ends of the yard, but still, the first pig finished wolfing down their food goes to see if the other has any left, so thievery happens, and Shortstack has been at the losing end of that contest. This is far better.
Now Shortstack is even more pleased about dinner (hardly possible) because she gets to relax through her whole meal. I think she’s just a slower eater. Likes to savour.
The pigs’ latest move was especially exciting. We made a two-fence loop (two lengths of 100’+ electric net fence, connected for one extra long circle), which makes their space, just Huge. Good for us, they’ll last a little longer in there before we have to move them.They were extremely excited. Didn’t see them all day, they hardly touched their lunch apples, they were finding so much to eat underground. With the two fences, you can’t see the whole space at once. It loops into the brush and also into the pasture. They can get a good sprint worked up with that length. Can’t see where they are most of the time either, except they come out to say Hi. Hi.
Having a mud bath late afternoon at this time of year? It’s not that warm. They’re into it, though.And after a good restful mud flop, it’s time to go ruffle up one’s hay bed.And then get food stuck in your forehead hair. The Colonel got into the greenhouse today, laid down the law. I left the door ajar while I was cleaning coops, and then there was a kerfuffle inside, and then there was a bigger kerfuffle outside, as the Deputy seized the moment and tried to seize the Colonel’s hens while he was otherwise occupied.
Funny, I tried and tried to get the Colonel to go in the greenhouse a month ago and fertilize the GH hens, but he wasn’t having it then.
Back to coop training: Well, that looks exactly like yesterday. The Silkie chicks are all This is what we do, we huddle up in a pile on the floor, and the Chantis are cramming themselves in the broody box. I’m sure Mom loves that. She’s still got her mud dreads, I see.
The skycoop has been reinvented as a starter coop. Since a guinea got snatched off of it (owl), the guineas have abandoned it like it was the center of a sexting scandal. So I took the legs off and we put it in the emptying greenhouse, to stuff the chicks into. They need to start sleeping in a coop, to make them portable.
And to keep them safe. Sleeping on the ground isn’t good for chickens, and the greenhouse is not totally secure.
They’re kind of looking grown up. Still miniature though. After dark, I went chick snatching. The first eleven chicks took about three minutes to grab, one or two at a time, and pop into the coop, where they instantly went silent. Oh, dark and cozy. Oh, everyone’s in here.
Some were feisty, some were mild. This is the first time I’ve ever handled any of them.
The twelfth chick took about 20 minutes. After everyone else mysteriously vanished, he/she ran around distressed, chirping, unwilling to settle down. It took forever. Finally she figured out where everyone else was, tried to crawl under the coop, and I got her in. Taking wagers on how many go in the coop on their own tomorrow night.
I lifted the box off the broody hen, to check on her, and discovered:henS. What’s going on here?! They’re competing to sit on the eggs. This broody hen gets no peace. Interlopers, chicks piling in the box to sit on her…
The pigs have arranged the hay bale to their specifications, and I couldn’t have done better myself. They packed hay into the drafty edges and made two sausage slots, which they use in two ways:Day time nap formation – tail to tail L shape.And nighttime pigs in parallel.
Note the pet rock in the first picture. It’s been placed on top of the arranged hay. One of these pigs likes to keep toys in the pig house. A beet, and a turnip, has previously been the toy of choice. I’m not going to eat this turnip, but I’ll bring it into my house.
I brought a hay bale for the pigs, now the nights are getting colder. I’m confident that they’ll make their own bed out of it. They were quite excited with the novelty, and as usual What are you doing in our house?Pancakes getting high centered on the bale was especially funny.
On the way to Pigland…
I thought I’d get a quick pic of the barrow and bale, fall leaves everywhere, maybe it might turn out the way it actually looked, but there was a sudden ambush:
The chickens, as usual, are all up in your business, no matter what it is.
HW busted three of them in the house! Which I really wish I’d seen. The screen door was snapped ajar, and two chickens were (reportedly), inside rummaging in the pile of beans I have out on newspaper on the floor drying, the third was posted lookout in the bootka. Oh shit, there he is! Quick, grab all the beans you can!