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.
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.
“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!
Really. Must you stand in your water dish?
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.