Tag Archives: piglets

Chicks in the greenhouse

There´s a tribe of chicks in the greenhouse.  One mom has 5 Chanticleer chicks, and the other has seven Silkies.

The Chanticleers

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

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.

Holy eyebrows, Batpig!

Picky picky piglets

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.

Pigs spit out the pits just like we do

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.

Standing in the food bowl asserts dominance and ownership of the food bowl. No one is fooled.

Ok. I guess it’s time to move the pig house. I did four days ago, but ok…

Apparently, we’re pig farmers now

We got piglets again.  They look just like the last ones.

Spots and A.P. are now pork and delivered to customers.  We went out on a limb a little bit getting these piglets before having customers arranged to buy the meat, but we had the chance to get Black Berkshires again, which went so well the last time, and we just like having pigs.

These little girls have 1/4 Tamworth in them, but you wouldn’t know.  Enormous ears, black with white patches, one bigger and bolder than the other. It’s Spots and A.P. all over again, except for the great escape on arrival.  We did better with that.

They were jammed in a dog crate together – too small for them but better than separating them.  They seemed pretty relaxed in the crate, but they had a fair drive to get here.  I think transport day must be the worst day of their lives.  Hot, cramped, apprehensive, and unfamiliar.

Instead of carrying them across our land to Pigland, HW wheeled the crate over in the wheelbarrow, and set it down inside the electric fence.

I opened the door, and they froze, deciding they were very shy. 

One pig is possibly twice the size of the other, although they are the same litter.  They have lovely eyes, like dog eyes.

They stuck just their noses out into the grass, sniffing around a bit without leaving the crate.  This may be their first contact with the outdoors.

We left them to come out on their own time, and I came back to check on them in half an hour.  They were in the exact same place.  Snouts outside resting in the grass, settled down and fast asleep.  We need a nap after that last experience.  No new experiences yet, thank you very much!By dusk they had come out and were hiding in their woods, but came out for a late snack.

Growing piglets and oinker games

The oinkers are growing!  They still have long legs, and act like dogs in ways. They stretch first thing out of bed, they jump around when they’re excited, and they love to run.

Seeing how much they love to run makes me sad about all the pigs that are confined in quarters barely large enough for them to turn around, where their only function is to eat and grow fat.  Clearly lethargy is not their natural state.

They love a good sprint.  They celebrate the coming of food by an exuberant oinking lap around their enclosure, usually with a figure eight through and around their house.  They’re very athletic pigs.

HW loves the pigs (he doesn’t seem to have any conflict with adoring them and having to kill them later).  He’s disappointed when he comes home from work and I’ve already fed them (so I tend to wait).  Either way, he visits them while he’s still in his work clothes, and then he comes in saying something like “Those oinkers are funny!  I was sitting in their house with them and…”

You were what?

He’s been actively trying to tame them.  We can do anything to them while they’re eating;  Spots tolerates HW petting her at other times, but A.P. won’t stand for it.  He also snorts at them, although I’ve told him he’s probably saying something insulting in their language.  They love it though, they immediately get louder and oink back when HW comes down the trail, snorting.  He’s kind of good at it.

Yesterday his story was:  “I was out there chasing those oinkers around… ” (You were what?!) “They love it!  They know that it´s play, because as soon as I stop, they run up to me.  But they LOVE to run.  Then when I left I looked back and one pig was flopped out on the ground, legs out – no, not in their house, just in the mud – then she got up, walked in a circle, and flopped down again – she was all tuckered out!”

So HW plays games with the pigs too.  I haven’t even witnessed him sitting in their house or playing chase, let alone when I had a camera.  But I can hope.

The introduction of two bowls (recycling the dog bowls):

 

It worked perfectly, exactly like I expected.

Oh, you’ve got something good over there?  I wants it.

One pig gets jealous and pushes the other off her bowl.

Displaced pig coolly walks around to the vacant bowl.

Repeat.

Repeat.  Repeat.

Both are eating constantly, but quite sure the other bowl is better.

Piglets First Wallow

I dumped the pigs’ muddy water out into a handy trench they´d dug right by their house.  I am so grateful that they have not yet learned how joyous it is to dump their water out themselves, at which point we have to take measures to prevent them from doing it.  So far they´ve been very restrained and let us do it for them. 

Each pig took a jubilant flop into the mud, one side, the other, and then Hey it´s my turn, the other pig.

They didn´t linger.  They came up evenly coated with mud, glistening except for one dry strip down the middle of the back, indistinguishable from the other.  No socks, no blazes. Just mud.

Mud pigs look exactly alike

By the time I got my camera, they had moved on to other activities, like scratching on  a cutoff tree.

Ummm, the ear. Yes!
Oh yeah, the neck. Oh yeah.  Other pig leaves….

 

Oh and the other ear, uh huh, yeah.
And for a good undercarriage scratch, you can drag your belly across the stick

Pigs

The piglets are settling in, and getting a little friendlier.

They are kind of like dogs in some ways.  They stretch out their back legs behind them when they first get up, wag their tails, enjoy a good sprint, even do some barking, which sounds like whooping cough.

These pigs are so dynamic, I can’t believe the difference from the 2014 pink pigs.  They are not lazy or laidback.  They express themselves with a good back and forth sprint the length of their fence, whenever we come out with their food, or a treat.  They´re deep into rooting already, and don´t sleep in.  They´re up with the chickens.

Plowing with your NOSE. I can´t get over it.
So cute!

AP  (“my pig”) is pushy (the one with a blaze).  AP is bolder.    Spots, or Spotty, has more white on her face – her blaze is patchy.  She also has white lower eyelashes on her right eye.

They have a big splashy go at the dog bowl.

They have a big wrestle over it, but it seems to come out equal, so we haven´t introduced a second bowl yet.

Joinup!  First contact, helped by the prospect of some milk:)

First springy day.

I was in shorts all day today.  The snow earlier this week is all gone in the clear areas, and it was warm!  These are the loveliest days of spring. The (very few) days before all the bugs come out.  It would have been the first barefoot day of the year, but I cannot go barefoot here.  Thorns everywhere – berry brambles and hawthorn, and I’ve had a hawthorn in my foot before.  Alas, here I live in boots. The mud season is here. This year the robins are back long before the spring peepers.  The peepers will announce the bugs.

My bees obviously made it through the winter well, having a good fly today in the blessing of the sun.  It seems like all of them are facing the hive – the backwards flight, calibrating on the hive location.

The pigs are captive and content, so things are a whole lot less exciting around here lately- thankfully!

Tail wag – munching grass

They’re getting into rooting like old pros in the soft ground now.

This is Adventure Pig (A.P.), the great escape ringleader

And warming up to me.  They come snorting up the camera, and then scamper away.

The hens were having a good day in the mud world today.  I saw them slurping up worms like spaghetti.  The chickens don’t know it, but these are their last days sleeping in the greenhouse.  As soon as the rain is done, their coops are out!  I´m sure they can’t wait; there´s a week of sun coming, and they´ll be released outside at first light (as opposed to the past frosty interim days, where I keep them locked up until mid-morning when it warms up.  .  Summer chicken life – FREEdom!

Inside the chicken dome it was spa in the sun time.  They make divots all over to bathe in, today’s location (odd) was by the figs and feed sacks (oh well).

Knocked one over

I lone that I got this picture proof of how well they get along.  As a generality, they tend towards their own birds, but as individuals, the layers and bantams can get in the bath together.  I´m so grateful they’re successfully integrated, because I won’t have to surround the Silkies this year to protect them from the other chickens.  They can be free ranging too.  It will be interesting to see how much space they actually use now the flock is so much bigger.  Silkies barely “range” at all.

The pigs are coming around

They’ve mastered the art of “looking hungry”, learned that we are the food, and have made a new routine of excited oinking and running around when we come with the scoop.  They even approach!  I throw the food – (OMG, run away!) they sprint around, and then saunter back to eat. They no longer try to run through the fence, but pull up an inch away.

I was taking pictures through the fence and they came so close (Is that a snack?) I thought they’d touch it.  Cute!

They bury themselves in the hay in their palace, sometimes ears showing, sometimes a black back, sometimes nothing.

Is there even a pig in there?

Then when we come down the trail, they burst up out of bed, look out, and emerge with straw all over their face.  Or just the ears pop up, a sentry.  Early-warning  snack detector.

Got snacks?

Once I couldn’t see them at all from outside the fence, and sure they were gone, I started looking for a breach in the fence.  Then Boufff!  the hay exploded and two pig heads popped up.  I went in to fix up their bed (Run away!), but one pig couldn’t resist coming back to see what I was doing in their house.  Messing up their bed, obviously. We had it perfect!

They’ve started to tear apart the intact bales that form their windblock/bed.  It was a matter of time.  We go in and pile the hay back in bed that they’ve pushed out, they rearrange it again.  Long as they’re cozy.  It’s still cold at night.

Round two, Piglets in the lead

Sure enough, the piglets went to bed in the pig house.  Excellent. 

We closed up the fence in the night.  We’ve so got these pigs now.

In the morning, HW went to feed them.  They both bolted, straight through the fence like it wasn’t there.

You’d think, maybe there’s something wrong with the fence.  They don´t even squeak when they go through it.  HW, having had the same thought, is checking the fence the hard way, every day, and it’s on.  He’s getting a good lift,  even with big boots (I will not check the fence that way).

On my way home from work, I met my pigs coming out the road.  This is disconcerting, to meet one’s livestock strolling up the road you’re driving down.  Oh hey!

They looked small from the driver’s seat, vulnerable, like a couple of toddlers confidently taking a walk together.

I chased them all the way home, although they kept pulling over to the shoulder for all the world to let me by, and they weren’t afraid of the truck.  They kept stopping on the side of the road, looking back at me.  Go aheadWhy aren’t you passing?  They were afraid of ME, though, when I stepped out of the truck and charged them.  Zoom!

That did it.  they’re expanding their territory now.  The pigs can’t be marching up the road visiting the neighbours.  That’s just embarrassing.  (This is all embarrassing, it’s just kind of funny too, and if it helps someone else-).

I extracted the stored chicken fence, schlepped it over and starting setting it up around pigland, knowing the piglets would be moseying over from the driveway, hungry after their big run home.  I was about half done when they showed up, and seeing me, hid themselves.  I finished anyways, rushing, leaving a big funnel open.  If they go to bed at night again, then we close the fence in the night, muhahaha!

I lurked.  I waited.  I furtively encouraged the pigs from the woods to pigland vicinity.  I watched from afar.  The pigs approached the sizable gap in the fence, did some sniffing, had a discussion, reached consensus, turned, and purposefully marched off into the woods.

Oh GOOD GOD!  I set off at a run, down our trail, and got in front of them.  It was a near thing.  They were headed somewhere, deliberately.  Now it was dusk, and I walked back and forth in front of them, and after they turned, kicked around making noise until they wandered back in the vicinity of pigland again.  This time, with dark falling in the woods, they were content to root around under the bird feeder, winding down.  I waited, for ages, until I saw them hesitantly take steps into the confines of the fence, and I retired.  NOW we’ve got them.

Spoiler:

Yes, now we’ve got them.  This works.  Two-strand electric fence for pigs?  No way!  Chicken/sheep mesh fence – yes.