Yet another misadventure.....A pig's tale

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Or how the pigs are slowly turning my hair grey one escape at a time....

Alas this tale starts as any other pig tale ~ cute,big; pink bodies bounding through the grass, their ears flopping against their large, pink, always-smiling, always-happy faces.  The mother pig followed by her 4 speckled offspring free-ranging in their electric fenced paddock ~ blissful & carefree. It was all so nice & happy ~ at least it was once we finally got the electric fencing rigged up & whenever the piglets decided to oblige us by pretending not to find any tiny hole to squeeze through or under resulting in yet another stampede as myself  & the children attempted to again round up the cute little escapees.  As I was saying, happy....

One day it was decided that we must wean these piglets.  They were taking too much from their mother & we watched her slowly begin to loose condition.  We have since found out that the normal age for weaning is one month ~ these happy little wanderers were going on 4 months at that point.   So we took the plunge & separated them.  Preferring to leave the babies ( who were not so small any more & seemed to stay within the confines of their electric fenced terrain quite well) in their 15 acres & removing the parents to a smaller abode for the single week that weaning takes.

All was going well until day 5 when one baby decided he couldn't be without his mother another day. Somehow he braved the electrified cable & scooted under the fence ( we know he did this because we saw him do it back the other way ~ squeal & all).  To his Mummy he did go & happily he went back to his milkies & all the comfort his Mummy could give him ( we choose to call this one EJ after a certain sister of mine who didn't want to give up her Mummy either.....).   Although we kept taking him back to the other paddock, he kept finding his way back to his Mother much to our annoyance.

So we had one naughty little piglet & two parents in one smaller paddock & 3 happy, good little piglets in the other.  These good piglets were very good & happily continued to grow and that's really the end of the story for them ( so far), but as for the naughty baby & parents.... they decided that a Christmas holiday was in order.  

One evening while the unsuspecting farming family were out celebrating at a Christmas party, the pig family put their plans into action.  Noiselessly they slipped under their fence.  (This must have been quite a feat as Boris & Delores have grown to be good-sized hogs & the fences are low enough to keep sheep in). After a brief sojourn around the house dam, they lazily made their way across the 50 acre paddock that holds our older, breeding ewes & slid under the fence out into the big, wide world!!
It is hard to detect the exact timing of this as the farming family had to leave for church early & knowing the animals were all fed & watered didn't bother to check that morning as to the exact location of each specific animal.  Had they have done this, the whole adventure would have been averted, but then there just would be no story to tell....

Upon returning home, the farm family realised that their annoying animals had disappeared.  An intensive search was held with all paddocks being checked for these large, pink animals.  The neighbouring lanes were scoured & the highway we front onto was checked & rechecked & rechecked again.  A very nervous family regrouped in the Sunnyside homestead that evening ~ no one had any idea what had happened to the pigs.  The next day we sat on tenterhooks ~ each phone call wondering if it would bring news of our missing pig family, each honk on the road wondering if it was in regards to an animal traversing too near the bitumen and each knock wondering if it was irate neighbours reporting some kind of mischief happening upon their place.  

Days turned into weeks & we gave up upon our pig family.  We had 14 people here for Christmas & we just couldn't continue to worry about them.  We were all sad remembering how cute Boris & Delores were when they first arrived at Sunnyside with their big floppy ears & curly pink tails. We came to the conclusion that someone had either come & taken them for a quick Christmas dinner or a neighbour had assumed they were wild & shot them.

It was on the Friday after Christmas we were quite surprised by a knock on our front door.  It was one of our friends who had just picked up a young pig to spit roast & while at the nearby pork farm had enquired about our missing pigs.  To our astonishment  he announced that not only were they alive, but they were being well cared for by the farmers there.  We quickly grabbed our boots & took off down the road all the while wondering  how they ended up so many kilometres away and how on earth where we going to get them back home over all that distance??

Upon arrival we found them  'quarantined' in the cattle yards.  This farm is organic, so they have to keep new stock separated for a certain amount of time.  The farmers seemed very happy to find out where the visiting pig family belonged.  They had been wondering and had gone out of their way to search ~ contacting all the authorities.  (Unfortunately I'd been too busy to call the ranger, but they will be the first call in the future).  

They told us they had seen the pigs frolicking along our neighbouring lane.  They could tell they were in a good condition & well cared for so they enquired at all the nearby farms (we were at church).  When they had no success they decided to walk them to their own home.  I was amazed.  I've tried walking these particular pigs to another paddock & found it a difficult task.  To walk them over 5 kms along the side of a highway is an amazing  feat of incredible patience!!!  Since then the pig family had been living in the lap of luxury ~ well cared for & enjoying every minute, tasting new treats & enjoying being loved upon.  

They seemed not too bothered by our arrival, although Delores did put her nose up for a scratch.  
We were treated to a tour of their farm set up & I have to say I was so impressed!  Everything is well organised & the pigs are really loved and cared for.  They do indeed raise happy, free-range pigs & I almost wanted to leave ours there as they would be in great hands.  We  were so happy to glean wonderful advice about proper pig care (& when to butcher as well :)  The farmer was even nice enough to return our wandering animals back to Sunnyside for us (thankfully ~ we don't want any more animals in the back of the van ;).

Since this escapade we have changed how we do things.  Finally the piglets are all weaned & Delores is even showing signs of another pregnancy ( I report this with both trepidation & delight).  The piglets are now in an electrified area that keeps them in & Delores & Boris are in a neighbouring enclosure.  They are still free-range & we can move the electric areas as weather & paddock conditions permit, but they are no longer able to go as far as previously permitted.
I would love to say that is the end of the pig headaches, but unfortunately we have found they have an unusual dietary preference that is not boding well for our chicken flock....

Until next time...
Have a wonderful day friends!

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