Tag Archives: electric fence

Mass escape

We’ve had a lot of rain in a week and a bit.  The ground is soft and muddy everywhere, and that makes the electric fence easy to knock over.

The pigs escaped after their supper yesterday, an hour before dark.  I thought I heard them snorting around in the woods by the house, and I assumed that they would be bedding down and we’d see them in the morning.  Boy was I wrong.

They had wandered nearly a kilometer away, and there was a grand nighttime pig drive, our neighbour herding them down the road towards us in a side by side, Hugh rattling a bucket of feed that they ignored, and me sprinting back and forth to keep them on the road.

They were so tired and cranky, all they wanted to do was lie down, so the hardest part was the final bit through the brushy orchard and field, where they were separating, circling back, and flopping down anywhere they could.  What a miserable rodeo.  Then we had another torrential downpour overnight.

This morning we moved their house onto dry land (they root, it rains, it becomes a mud hole, I move them) and moved their territory. After breakfast and a cursory exploration of this week’s ground to churn up (pleased oinking), they went in their house to make a nest (more pleased oinking), and passed out They’re going to sleep real well after that big adventure.  We are planning to take one of the three out tomorrow.What a night.  You can’t even.

Epic pig move

The pigs got another big move yesterday.  And they’re acting like they did all the work.  The space they have with the two strands of fence is vast (not literally, but it seems pretty vast, and it’s plenty big enough for them to get totally concealed).  I walk around looking for them and it’s like Wild Safari.  Can you see them?  Is that something moving over there?Well, there’s a spot where pigs have been.I’m not moving.  Maybe my eyelid. One lazy pig.Spot the pig?  The other two are in there.

Pig bribery

I’ve got some rowdy pigs.  Specifically, the female.  She’s a bit of a loner, happy to be apart from the boys some of the time, and she doesn’t respect the fence.  She knows how to get under it, rooting under a post (the bottom strand isn’t electrified), and then tossing it up, where it will flop down on her back and she can charge underneath, getting only a modest shock on her thick back.  I haven’t seen her do this all the way through, but I’ve seen her start into the process very deliberately .   I’ve had it.  I’m out of here (I thwarted her) This all started with a mass escape incident, and watching that happen, I knew they’d be ruined on the fence.  I am counting myself very lucky that it only ruined her on the fence.

Using an electric fence on pigs is a delicate agreement.  They agree they will act like they fear the fence, and you agree to believe it will keep them in, when both of you (I think) knows that if they really want, they can go through it.  If this pretence breaks down, then the pigs are “what fence?”, and you can never relax again.  But the electric fence enables them to have a completely different life than they would if you had to build “pig tight” to keep them in, so it’s a good deal for them.  They get a big sward to root and play and run in, and resemble real pigs.

But now, I have a problem pig, and every so often, she goes on walkabout.  She doesn’t go far.  She just goes and knocks over all the chicken waters and licks their trays clean (the chickens alert me to the invasion).  Then I have to pretend to be friendly Aren’t you clever, let’s get a treat (and she runs after me all pleased with herself), when I feel like beating her with a rope.  She’s pretty good about going back in.  See, the good boys who stayed inside the fence are getting a treat, don’t you wish you were in here now?

Hence, bribery.  I’ve taken to surprise feeds of a bucket of apples and garden scraps, to minimize monotonous downtime that could raise exploratory ideas.  Of course, religious punctuality with regular feed time is essential to prevent mutiny.I appear off-schedule (they are surprised, and come rocketing in!)They try to body block to keep choice to themselves. The apples go first, even sour green apples.  Crunch crunch.Four days so far, no escapes.

Two tone pigs

The pigs were lying in the mud on one side only, so they (two of them) are browned right down the middle like mimes. They look fully mudded, but they’re not. There’s the pink side!

Yesterday they liberated themselves.  I came home, no pigs, and did my usual march all over all the places they could get themselves in trouble with a pail in hand, but I couldn’t find any trace of them.  It was too late to rouse them.  I was sure they’d chosen a place to sleep, and when pigs are asleep, you can walk right past them. Which meant they hadn’t gotten into any trouble, and I expected them home for breakfast.

They were.  They returned right to the place where they’d breached the fence.  They were a pain to get back in. Why should we, when we can just upset the chicken food?  But once recaptured, they were so tuckered out from their big adventure they spent half the day napping in their house.

Later when I was moving their enclosure, I discovered they had been right on the other side of their fence, exactly where I was shifting them to.  They’d gone for a sneak pre-root.  It’s a nice spot.  I’ve been working them over to here.  Now they’re under two big apple trees.  Not a lot of apples, but they can just wait for them to drop.

Moving the pig fence is one of the most nightmarish jobs I do here.  It’s like untangling a big snarl of wool while dragging it through dense brush, with a time limit.  If the snarl of wool were 40 lbs and also snagged on absolutely everything, as did your hair, and it tripped you.  It takes two hours, weekly when the pigs are big, and it’s exhausting and frustrating.  And I’ve got it dialed.  I can even estimate routes that make the fence ends meet pretty accurately.  It’s been worse.  Much worse.  But the results are good;  I’m slowly reclaiming the field, although it’s a multistage project to get rid of the glossy leaf buckthorn.

It’s not exactly a thankless job.  I get this:

Happiest pigs everThe pigs are expressive and clearly joyful.  They have enough room that I can’t even see them from one side to the other.

Pigs first move

(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!

 

 

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!

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.

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.