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.
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.
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!
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.
“Pigs plow a field with their face. If that doesn’t seem remarkable to you, try it sometime.” – Forrest Pritchard, Gaining Ground
It’s really laborious to move the pigs right now, at least a morning’s work. It’s really three jobs at once: moving the pigs, clearing alders, and cutting firewood. At least that’s what I tell myself.
I’m trying to win back some of the field, and using the pigs to do it. I’m moving them along the edge of the present field, which is a good 50´, maybe more, grown in from where the field used to spread.
I certainly wouldn’t be pegging away at it like I am unless I had these greedy little snouts pressuring me. They LIVE to root. They will wait to eat fruit, if there’s some fresh rooting to do. They’re in the ZONE rooting, focused, concentrating, pretty quiet. Trouble is, they turn over a patch so fast I feel like I’m constantly working for them, to give them new space.
To create a loop that the fence can be set up, that encloses some “trees” for pig shade, a swathe needs to be cut out for passage. Then after the pigs have been through and killed every sprout and twig, their shade needs to be cut down and cut up, and then the nicely tilled, though lumpy, ground seeded.
The alders stretch out long arms before they grow up, but still, they’re easier to deal with than the buckthorn, which tangles, and tangles, and tangles, so you can cut loads of it, and it’s all still standing up, because it’s so tangled together. Mix them together, the sideways swooping alder, and the straight, thick branched buckthorn- wow.
An amazing volume of material comes out of even a small space that didn’t seem so dense when it was all standing up.
The nightmare buckthorn at least burns nice; it’s a hardwood, dries fast, doesn’t need to be split.
I went out to feed the pigs lunch, and it was quiet.
They are usually oinking with impatience; they have loudly ticking and highly accurate food clocks. I walked over to shut off the fencer, and I didn’t see pigs anywhere.
I just moved them yesterday, the fence was sound, did they seriously make a jail break? F#$%!
I started walking again and Oink! I heard a little grunt.
I stared into their enclosure. Wait, is that? What? No way! There’s a pig in there?
No, there was two pigs in there. They had burrowed under a pile of branches, and were barely, barely discernible in the pile of brush. Totally concealed.
Any reason for this gilly-suit behaviour? Unknown.
When I started walking away, they came snorting out, shaking off the branches, scampering out oinking joyously. I suspect it was purely a game. I doubt it was comfortable. I’ve never seen pigs dig their way under a brush pile. I think I just got pig-pranked.
Let’s see if she can find us here. Bet she can’t! Hold still! She doesn’t see us! You’d better oink! No, you oink! She’s walking away, doesn’t see us, hahaha! Oink! She still can’t see us and I oinked, hahaha, she’s looking right at us! Haha, oh, we got you good!
Always, I rinse out their muddy bowl, dump it out, pour in fresh water, and both of them come nosing. Oh how nice, I think I will have a drink! And they both stand in the pan with their front legs while they drink, immediately muddying it.
Even a Brahma is lounging.I wanted to not get these pigs stuck on a 3x/day feeding schedule so it was possible to leave for the day, so they get their piggy rations morning and night, but to tide them over, they also get a 5 gal bucket of apples every day, or whatever fruit/scraps/vegetables (It’s a good time of year to be a pig).
Usually, there are several apples left over come supper time. If there are no apples, then I know they had a big day, and they’re legitimately hungry for dinner.Today they got turnips and kale too, and happily, they loved the kale, eating it first. I wasn’t sure after the cucumbers. They stand on it to rip a piece off with their mouths, like they’ve done it before.
There´s a tribe of chicks in the greenhouse. One mom has 5 Chanticleer chicks, and the other has seven Silkies.
They never shut up! PeeppeeppeepPEEPpeeppeeppeepPEEPpeep. Wow. I don´t know how the Moms handle it, unless lots of it is inter-chick chatting that they can tune out.
Otherwise, it´s Mom, Mom, Mom! MOM, Hey Mom, Look at this Mom, Hey Mom can I eat this? What about this? What´s this Mom? Look what I found Mom, Look at me Mom, I flapped! See how fast I can run? Watch this, Mom!
All. Day. Long.
The Silkies are a week older than the Chantis, so they´re all the same size (so far). The Silkies are already entering their scruffball transition from fluff to feathers. There’s three white and four brown.
Most of these chicks I’ve never even touched. They´re going to be the wildest bunch yet. They were born in a box with an open door, and Mom’s been totally in charge from day 1. I don´t even see them every day.
But boy do I hear them.
They’re all so happy and safe in there, savaging the low-hanging tomatoes, rearranging my mulch, tasting stuff. It’s a rooster-free zone. One Silkie rooster is wont to stand looking in the screen door, fantasizing.
The pigs are rooting. I give them a nice new grassy area that looks like a green pig paradise for about an hour. They like to customize their environment, which means turning over every inch of sod. Very diligent workers. And fast.
No pigs are alike. These pigs have distinguished themselves by being extraordinary rooters -powerful and efficient, although they’re still just little (uhoh when they grow)- and being picky eaters.
They’ll eat apples. They’ll eat peaches. But a vegetable?
Eggplant. No way.
Green pepper. Mmm, nope.
Mustard greens. Nope.
Cucumber. They gummed it. I broke it in half, the better to learn what was inside. They tasted the inside, made expressive Ew faces, and nosed them out of the bowl. Come on! A cucumber?! I get it, with the eggplant, ok, I don’t like them unless they’re grilled either, but a juicy green pepper? A delicious cucumber? My hens can’t eat all the cukes I have.
These pigs are here in prime harvest time to be plied with as much as they can eat in windfall apples and surplus veggies. All vegetables pigs past have quite enjoyed, mind you. And these two turn out to be picky eaters?
I look at them. You’re pigs. How can you be picky? That’s against your definition. They look down their snouts. We’ll have the peaches, s’il vous plait.
I’m baking eggplant in the sun oven. See if they’ll eat them cooked, even if I have to drizzle with olive oil. If they approve, I’m cooking two every sunny day until the eggplant glut is over.