Category Archives: Pigs

Furtive forest piglets

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!

Three little pigs

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.

Do we have to get up and run away?

Piglets and chicks.

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 carThat 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.

Hello in there, pigs.

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!

The telltale shell!

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’s got a suitor

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).

No way Mom! It’s morning. We don’t want to learn about going to bed!
Not listening!

New pig procedure

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 HW LEAPS into the pig yard.
Fence open, how it is during day.

(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.

Securing the gate.
Turning the fence back on. This is a very thorough step by step…

Then the pigs wait VERY impatiently for the food to be prepared, and served.  Whheeeee, Whheeeee!

One pig is inevitably briefly disgruntled.
She’s got hers!
There you go!

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.

It’s HUGE!

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.

Fall in the mud

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.

Coop training.

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…

Love what you’ve done with the place…

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. 

Pigs.

Everyone loves a good hay bale

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.

Oh, there, she’s off.

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:

Action shot

Longnecking- What’s it like up there?
Let’s all try it!

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!

The last blueberry, and the vibrant red the bushes turn.

Epic pig move

We moved the pigs a fair distance, from where they were recovering the field from the alder and buckthorn, to beside the greenhouse.  They must till up the ground where I’m about to move the greenhouse to.  It involved setting up the fence a couple of times in long corridors.  The pigs were cooperative.Now they’re back in the sun, and practically  on lawn, which they are making short work of.  It’s kind of strange to have them (back) in the middle of everything, smack between the chicken tribes.

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Something has been snatching guineas.  A couple of adults are missing, and now there’s only one chick:(But gosh, it’s cute. A pile of bumps in the food dish: The guineas are not exactly “mine”; they’re very much their own, unlike the other obedient farm animals.  They don’t mind eating the food, but they are cunning and very hard to trick or contain, even for their protection.  They’ve been sleeping in the trees, and I’m racking my brain for how I can get them into someplace safe.  I don’t even know what’s getting them.  Nor do I have “someplace safe” in mind.  I’ll get them all into the greenhouse for the winter, but it’s another week+ before that’s ready.  What to do?

I love the outrageous purple of scarlet runner beans.  It’s like the fake colouring of grape candy.  And they are preposterously large beans, too – the plant, the pods, and the beans.  Jack and the beanstalk beans.

Hot pig slops, yum!

These pigs are going to be spoiled (well, in a way-they’ll be sleeping outside), but they’re going to get hot meals.  Cooked potatoes kept warm on the woodstove all night with hard feed, or some hot water and milk over meal.

After all, who wants to dig into a cold bowl of cereal on a sub-zero morning?  Not me.

This is the best time to have a pig, there’s so much food.  Potatoes and squash and apples and greens, loads of waste veggies.  Between the pigs and the birds, nothing gets wasted.  The pigs get the chicken food fines, the chickens pre-graze the pig lunches:

The pig lunch buckets get lined up a few days ahead. I pick up a wheelbarrow load of apples at a time, and the garden greens day before usually, so the chickens get first crack at the buffet.  They don’t hold back.  Sometimes they’re in a mood and clean up on the kale, sometimes not.  They also choose a few apples and pull them out of the bucket to eat. 

And a little of that too…
Or leave them in the bucket
Note chicken behind the pumpkin