Get pigs they said. It will be fun they said.
Do you know how fast a pig can run? Faster than me. Faster than Will. MUCH faster. Sustained 20-50 KILOMETERS AN HOUR, if we are being specific.
Yesterday we officially became “those people” in our little community. After having the piglets home for less than an hour we got a message from our neighbor asking if we had any pigs. HAD being the operative word. Having escaped their pen, they were already a kilometer from home. Worst pig farmers ever.
And so began a FOUR HOUR marathon through dense Nova Scotia bush in hot pursuit of our three little pigs. Many times we thought they were gone forever, a $375 investment thrown to the wolves. Our neighbors jumped in to help by scouting out the nearby ATV trails and getting the word out to drive slow in the area. Picturing Will and I tearing around our neighbors’ yards covered in ticks, sticks, cuts, and mud, now makes me both laugh and cringe- mostly cringe.
Until recently I didn’t even WANT pigs. I once had an unpleasant experience on an ambulance call at a commercial pig farm that still lingers with me. I won’t go into details but it’s the closest I’ve come to fainting in my uniform. So why the change of heart? We all know pigs can be stinky and make a mess of a landscape. But what if we used their natural tendency to root and rough up the land to our advantage? And that is our plan- to use the pigs to reclaim some of our field that has become overgrown and is currently unusable. Using electrical fencing we will rotate their “pasture”, and they will simultaneously clear and fertilize the land for us. The pigs get to live their best lives, and we turn our scragglebrush into bacon- and maybe more piglets. That is, if they don’t run away forever- or we don’t relist them on Kijiji first.
So here are a few things I learned about pigs in the last 24 hours. 1. They are FAST. 2. They are STRONG. 3. They are SMART. 4. They don’t like to be separated from their family. 5. They don’t come when called, or for snacks. 6. They are good at hiding. 7. They are slippery. 8. They don’t like to be chased. 9. They have unbelievable stamina. 10. Did I mention fast? 😬
So how did we catch them?
Well, at one point they were hiding amongst low growing juniper bushes which slowed them down- marginally. This was after about two hours of catching sight of them and losing them repeatedly. So I full on supermanned it into the thicket, like a bush woman who hasn’t eaten in months, and managed to score one. She was distressed when I crated her and her cries lured the others out- but they were too smart to go in the shed we had set up as a trap. So round and round the woods we went again. The second one Will caught made the unlucky (for it) decision to hide in a wood pile…a wood pile that narrowed to a point of no return. Now we were getting somewhere- thankfully, because the owls were saying it was going to be dark soon….and our neighbor who had been really patient up to that point was starting to sigh a lot.
We managed to use the crated pigs to draw the third and final pig back to our own property. And boy, do I wish that was the end of it. The other two pigs promptly fell into a deep sleep after their ordeal and their silence was no longer enticing. Back into the woods we went. Eventually we brought out the dogs to try to pick up it’s trail. It was actually the alpacas that alerted us to it’s whereabouts though- they refused to go in the barn for their dinner and kept staring at a particular patch of forest. Somehow (my concept of time and sequence of events is blurred) we cornered the pig between two of our outbuildings and I performed some pro-football moves I didn’t even know I possessed to catch her.
My phone says I ran 10 kilometers. And I do NOT run- let alone in rubberboots through the woods at dusk.
Apparently Will does his best and fastest pen building at ten o’clock at night in the dark. Their new pen is now the Fort Knox of pens- or so we hope because I just read that some pigs have been known to climb out of 5-6 foot tall fencing. (WT$!) As we often say on the Homestead- when we know better, we do better.
They are lucky they are cute. 🤦🏻♀️