Monday, 26 September 2011

Pigs have snouts....

Pigs have snouts, which they put to good use when digging up the ground. Their snouts are long, long enough to poke through fencing wire to nibble at morsels of tastiness the other side of the fence. Their snouts are also robustly strong. Should the need arise they will put their weight behind their snout and push hard for all they are worth, and their snouts let them do this, unlike our noses which wouldn't. This pushing on the fence  wire will make the wire itself billow, but not break providing it is strongly built. 

Their snouts are also long enough to prise things up. Like the roots of a delicious plant. Like the water bucket because it is fun to mess about with such objects when things are a little on the slow side. Like the bottom of the fence, the fence which they have previously ballooned. 

The wire itself is held in place by long strands of strengthening wire. So the snout goes under the lowest strand. This action would have been helped by previously excavating along the fencing line to expose this section of the fence. It is also a useful action to perform early morning, when the dew has fallen, when the earth is soft, soft enough to dig away at, when the owner of the snout is bored and hungry, or if there is a super duper big piggy the other side of the fence who needs to be romped with. 

Once the snout has leverage all that has to be done is patiently keep lifting up that long holding wire. This will not break it, but it will stretch it eventually. It is also useful to push the head at the other end of the snout into the fencing wire at the same time. This will eventually break the little ties holding the fencing wire onto the fencing lines, the result being a hole through which the snout can go, then the head, then the shoulders, and whoopppeeee the rest of the body. 

The two girl pigs where in a portion of the Sheep Paddock. It was a small portion, this being a temporary solution while they grew. 

April 2011

They grew faster than expected, and quickly became too big to be kept in the space all day. 

July 2011

So it was decided to let them out onto the Paddock grass for several hours of the day so they could stretch their legs. This they did with great enjoyment, romping up and down, squealing with delight. They got to eat  grass and sheep's poo, this poo being considered a delight by both pigs, dogs and chickens. 

They also got to dig holes. Many holes. Soon the green grass became populated with dark brown swathes of upturned earth which necessitated the task of raking over these damaged patches daily to try and reduce the damage. But at least the piggies got more space.

Well that was alright for a few weeks. The two of them would be quite happy being let out into the Paddock and then put back into their smaller space a few hours later. But then it wasn't. 

To act as a barrier, Hubs had built a temporary fence. It was a strong fence made up of thick planks of wood. (See photo above, fence on the left) The snouts had trouble lifting those planks despite the impressive holes made beneath the planks to promote leverage. But what those piggies could do was clamber over the top of the planks. This they did by hooking their front feet onto the top plank then sort of hauling themselves over the top. Another plank was added. The piggies grew some more. This enabled them to conquer the fence. Over they went. Frequently.

Most time this action was done when the sheep were absent. One morning those piggies clambered over the fence and did a mix-in with the sheep. The sheep are docile animals. They are not fussed with having pigs romping around in their midst. Time to move the piggies. 

This was done. In beside Max they had to go so we closed off the adjoining gate between the two paddocks.  It was easy shifting them. Just hold a bucket of food under those snouts and the snouts will follow that bucket wherever it cares to go. Max was delighted to have company, as could be heard by his long chortles of happiness. The girls were delighted. Something new for them. This could be heard by their long squeals of gleefulness as they romped around their new living quarters. To give them shelter, if they required it, we rigged up an old tarpaulin tied across a corner of the fencing, and put their original tin hut underneath it.

Then they started flirting, rubbing themselves suggestively along the poles of the fence dividing the two paddocks, vocally interacting with each other and with Max. But the poles were sturdy and withstood their attentions. Not so Max. Having been on his own for a few months after the death of Tess, the adult female pig, his delight at having company was manifested by a sort of smirk he had on his face and the benign look he had in his eyes. He was smitten. So he started leaning into the fence between him and the girls. But he did not use his snout. No. Those two girls used theirs such that within a few days of sneaky work, such that the damage to the fence went largely un-noticed mostly because the spot which was being worked on by themselves was the furthest point away from the point at which we stood to feed, water, and talk to them, well those two girls squiggled their way through the fence and proceeded to get familiar with Max. 

So....electric fencing? Did work once upon a time, but the voltage, we now think, had been reducing. Not a problem in regards to Max. He understood fencing which had white wire threaded along it. He new that that spelt out a problem should any part of him, particularly his snout, come into contact with it. Not so the girls. Small jolts were do-able for them. It was as if they became immune to anything the electric fence could give them. 

On observation, it was seen that the rear end of one of the girls looked as if it could receive attentions from a rampant male. This was confirmed by observation of Max's male accoutrements which were looking plump and full. Ah. Possibly the patter of tiny feet ahead then. Would be arriving in the middle of winter. Urgent preventative action needed to be taken, it not being possible, for a variety of reasons, to offer contraceptives. 

So the 'urgent action' was taken by the purchase of a super duper electric shocker. The fence was being continually mangled now as both the girls and Max went to and fro between the paddocks. Soon they would realise that they could go through the rest of the fencing. The girls are nice to be with close-in. They are not a problem. All they will do is strongly nuzzle the leg or have a mini chew at the shoes. They can be pushed away. They will also follow a bucket which makes them easy to move from place to place. Max, though, is a problem. To have him roaming out and about is not an option, mostly because of his tendency to want to chew, preferably at your foot, or your leg, or anything else he can get hold of. If he can't reach any of those parts he will use his snout to hook you over. Laying sprawled out on the ground whilst a big male pig stands over one is something one would not particularly welcome. 

The new electric box works a treat. All is quiet. All ardour seems to have wilted. No squeals, no snorts, just quietness while the girls think about this new turn of events. Max  looks fed-up. The girls look relaxed. He was, I think, getting on their nerves. It was his persistence which was stressing them, the need to procreate running strongly within him. It was not so evident with the girls at this time. It would therefore seem that the patter of tiny feet has been diverted for this year. 

Meanwhile, our builder has built the girls a new cabin to sleep in. We were going to build one ourselves but time gets chewed up by other activities and since the year was slipping by and the colder nights were on their way, the cabin needed to get built. 

They have a brand new cabin, built by our builder. Looks decidedly different to the one on the left, which is made of wood and built by Hubs. The new one is built in block brick. It does look a bit on the hefty side, but we will soften the look of it with plants. Also thought I would have at go at covering the bricks with lime mortar and stones. 

And here is the cabin from the front. And here are the two girls, quite near to the fence but only because they have just been fed and so still have food on the ground. This again will be their temporary paddock, its eventual use being a farrowing pen. The girls will be down in the woods or out in the field. Max can have this space when no piglets are here. 

Meanwhile, grumpy he remains.

Ah well, we do our best for him. He has a bigger space than at his previous owners, and he will be able to practice his procreating abilities in the new year. Hope he can hold on for the time being. Hope he doesn't become to irritable at not being able to get to those girls. 

Lessons learnt: 

- That pigs see fencing, which is minus a reasonably active electrical pulse going along side it, as not a problem. 
- that pigs are intelligent creatures and will think long and hard about things. 
- that they don't give up if they are on a particular task. 
- that they need a warm and dry bed to sleep in, otherwise they will squeal their dislike if having had to endure a wet and cold night. And they will squeal and squeal and squeal. 
- that they can be diverted away from naughtinesses by the throwing in of acorns, cut up apples, pieces of homemade bread, maize, anything really. This is best thrown in wide arcs so the morsels of food are widespread, and thrown in small handfuls, letting them eat what has been thrown before another handful is thrown in. The seeking of the morsels, then the eating of them, will divert the girls. It is also useful for exercising of the arms. A good arm swing to get the best flight for the food is really helpful for the batwings of the upper under arms. Good for the bust muscles as well. 
- that sometimes it is better to get someone else to do the farm jobs otherwise they won't get done. It might cost more in terms of money, but it will save on the stress involved with trying to do the job yourself. This also includes the work on the house. If we had tried to do it ourselves we would not have got as far as we have. 

Lessons to be learnt: 

- that it is wise to respond to certain situations immediately and not hope that they will go away. But not to give one's self a beating up if there was a delay in taking action. After all, one is only doing one's best. After all, one is only human. After all, one is not a robot. 


Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Love this post Vera but I had to laugh. Why is it the grass is always greener on the other side!! Poor Max but I am sure he will be a happy pig next year :-) Diane

Vera said...

Diane, I am glad you enjoyed the post. Max is still looking miserable, hope he cheers up soon. At the moment he is ignoring the girls altogether!

Horst in Edmonton said...

Great Post Vera, One is always learning new things on the farm, especially with the animals. Never a dull moment.

Vera said...

Horst, you are right...when there are animals around there is never a dull moment. Hope your hip is mending.

Ken Devine said...

Hi Vera
I love your lessons to be learned...I identify with them.
You life experience at Labartere is certainly full and varied.

Anonymous said...

Hi Vera. It's me Duta. I have trouble posting a comment on your blog.

Vera said...

Hi Duta....all three of your blog responses came just to say hi, and thankyou for stopping by!