Sunday, May 23, 2010

Piglet Mania!

Chloe and I picked up three piglets in Ellsworth this afternoon. The ride was fine; nothing like the pig stench of last year when the so-called piglets we got were really pigs and not well suited to transport in the back of the Volvo. I knew these were real piglets, and like last year they came is sizes small, medium and large, the largest being no more than twenty pounds and the smallest no more than 12. I hadn't really thought about the implications of size. I should have. Last year after I hauled the pigs out of the back of the Volvo, they roamed around a bit and then slept for a couple days. These were pigs who'd lived a hard few months. When I dropped them into my pig oasis, they seemed to realize right off that they were in a good place. Today's piglets were another sort. They'd lived a pleasant life in a barn out back of Frank's house. They're mom and dad were there. So when I reached into the back of the Volvo and grabbed Medium and Small and dropped them inside the fence they immediately were looking for a way out. Large didn't wait and bolted right out the back and off into the woods. Catching Large wasn't easy, but we got her when she got cornered between the car and the fence. In the mean time, Chloe and Nadya were inside the enclosure trying to make friends with the other two piglets who wanted nothing to do with them. That's when we learned the real and tragic limitations of our fence; the holes in the fence were just a bit larger than the piglets. They didn't go under or over but through. I followed them through the woods trying to herd them back home, but it was no use. The terrain north of the pig pen toward Camp Stream is thickly wooded with dense underbrush. I did my best to track them, but at some point they got separated and I started to follow one of them. This one, the smallest, made its way back to our house and down our driveway to the neighbor's house. Imagine their surprise when a very small piglet, smaller than Ox (our cat), trotted through their yard. At least I was able to enlist their help. We got the small one, (I can't remember how; it's all a blur.) and then turned our attention to catching the third who could have been anywhere at this point. I thought he was gone, a feral pig loose on Sis Porter Rd. We had one thing going for us: These piglets did not like being separated. The large piglet was in the pig pen, and the last fugitive eventually made it's way back to the fence looking for a way to join his sister. After a ridiculous hour of frantic effort, we had all three. Against the odds, really. Piglets are fast. At one point, tired of dodging this way and that for a little animal who could clearly out maneuver me, I had one of them on a straightaway. Running as fast as I could I couldn't catch her. (Sure, I'll admit I've never been much of a sprinter, but I was running pretty fast.) We put all three of them in a small hastily made section of the chicken coop and barricaded the door with heavy digging implements. I gave them food and water and said good night....
The next day I knew I had to address the piglet problem. They were fine where they were for the morning so I went off with the girls for Chloe's soccer clinic and returned shortly before noon to make a piglet-proof enclosure. I strapped on my tool belt, grabbed my cordless drill and headed outside. Only to see the curly tailed rear ends of three piglets head south down our driveway!!?? I'm not going to write what came out of my mouth; this is a family blog. Fortunately, the neighbors were home and outside. Otherwise, they'd have been gone for good. We fanned out to divide and conquer. The smallest piglet was the first to peel off and get separated from his siblings. I followed him and got lucky when he got mired in grass so tall that I easily caught him. (Plucked him off the ground by his hind legs; that's the only way to carry a fugitive piglet.) Again, the details of catching the other two are blurry, but it wasn't nearly as strenuous as it was the day before. So, how did they escape? Up against the chicken coop door I had piled up a post hole digger, a soil tamper and a heavy digging bar. They had pushed their way out. These piglets have spunk! This time I fastened the door shut with screws. I had been thinking that I should make an enclosure within the pig pen. Something to hold them until they were big enough and relaxed enough about their new environment. But I decided to make them a stall inside the barn. It will be their place for the next few weeks. When we return from our trip to Cape Breton, maybe they'll be ready for the pig pen.
More than once over the last 24 hours I have thought: Is this worth it? I don't think so. They just drove up the price of bacon.

1 comment:

helenesheahan said...

Very, Very funny. Reading it, that is. Not too funny for the "pig catchers" however.
We had our own "Escape" stories in Scituate. Remember our cow Brownie? Our first 3 lambs saw the outside world as a better place on their first day. Lessons learned I hope.
Can't understand why you don't have more control of their size and sex however.
The kids will have stories to tell and that's worth something.