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.
“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.
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.
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!
They’re getting into rooting like old pros in the soft ground now.
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).
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 growing. The dog enjoys their company less, now that they boss him around more. He doesn’t like being aggressively explored with their hard noses, but he and Rudy will still have themselves a good chase.
Happily, they have not had any more sunburn issues, and we have not had to do any more pig skin care.
Petunia is the rooter. Our neighbour says Yeah, the females are really the ones that do all the work. The males are just lazy and greedy and wait around for you to bring them food.
I see. The similarities between our species run deeper than I thought.
At any rate, Petunia is a dedicated rooter, who is methodically expanding her plowed field. It’s getting kind of impressive.
Rudy just follows her around, re-inspecting the ground she’s turned.
He’s so friendly, though! He comes running with his Dumbo ears, smiling and expressing great pleasure to see you, even if you don’t have a bucket. Nudge nudge with the nose, paw paw with the hoof.
If you do have a bucket, they start jumping around in circles, totally overcome, and making themselves a tripping hazard. Interest in shoes has not abated. Rudy loves to be rubbed all over. He stands still with his head down and eyes closed and grunts with pleasure. So does Petunia, but she’s more complicated. First she jumps and screams, Don’t touch me!, then she comes back for more. Come ‘ere, go away.
Still no wallowing, although they enjoy the game where we pour their old water over top of them before refilling.
Pigs are so fun. So happy and pleasant, like uber-friendly dogs, wagging their short whip-like tails in circles. Still so strange-looking to me, especially with their long noses dipped in dirt up to their eyes, but so expressive in the face.
The pigs have started rooting! One little ditch was dug, and Petunia appeared with half her snout covered with dirt. Yay! They’re at work.