Pig Problems and Other Stuff

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We had the worst night of sleep in intergalactic history this week. The first time we woke up that night, there was something screaming bloody murder out front. We thought it might be a pig, so we leaped out of bed. I threw on shoes, snatched the flashlight and sprinted down the driveway following the shrieking sound. The sound stopped, and I turned back, illuminating the porch where Sean stood half-dressed, barefoot, and loading a shotgun. I turned the light on the pigs and they looked at me with expressions of porcine consternation. They were piled like sausages in their little shelter, wondering why I’d disturbed their slumber. I guess the screaming was a rabbit or something in the claws or jaws of some predator. We went back to bed.

The second time we woke up, there was a quiet murmuring coming from the kitchen, a quiet, British-accented murmuring. I sat up. There shouldn’t have been anyone in my house aside from the snoozing Sean beside me, and there certainly shouldn’t have been anyone British in the house at all. I shook Sean awake, alarmed, and he coolly rolled out of bed to silence the clock radio in the kitchen.

Nights here are usually not peaceful. There are always owls and coyotes in the woods, and often an armadillo or two will trundle by under the bedroom window in the night, making as much noise as a lawnmower or a small marching band as it rustles through the dry leaves. Sometimes the rain will drive sideways through the open windows over our bed and soak us awake, or the lightning will rattle the windows. What we don’t usually get are human disturbances like the BBC world news.

It rained a lot yesterday. Sean has threatened to go all Army Corps of Engineers on the hill behind the house to create some kind of drainage system that doesn’t require an ark.

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antediluvian back porch with Chunky the raccoon

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Postdiluvian back porch. My shoe floated away.

The raccoon that has been raiding our back porch has friends and/or family accompanying him to the buffet now. We’re going to have to start keeping all of our feed in the house, which blows. The varmints are cute, though, and it’s cool to see them out there, fearlessly growing ever fatter on our dime. Tonight, we heard squealing out front and went to check on the pigs, only to discover a raccoon brawl in a treetop beside the house.

IMG_1909We’ve outfitted the front porch for relaxation time. It’s not perfect, but watching the storm from the couch last night was pretty exquisite. I love the smell that soaks up from the ground when it rains and the rumble that starts underground with each thunderclap, and climbs to rattle the windows. We’re warm and dry on the porch, but only just.

we donated this homestead basket to a friend's silent auction

we donated this homestead basket to a friend’s silent auction

We’re facing some pretty serious challenges with our pigs right now. They seem to have no respect for the electric fence. We peeked outside about half an hour ago, and they were in the garden. They had dug up all of the corn that Sean planted this week, completely ignoring their new boundaries. They’re fearless when it comes to the fence, and we’ve got video of them hopping over it like fat little gazelles. It wasn’t an issue until Sean moved them this afternoon, but now it’s a front-burner concern. They’re loose right now, and we’re hoping they’ll independently decide to hop the fence back into their pasture. If they don’t, we’re kinda screwed. They’re too skittish to herd and not hungry enough to lure anywhere. I’m glad we don’t live near a major roadway or have any nearby neighbors with aggressive dogs, but I’m not thrilled at the idea of letting them have their way with our gardens.

pigs on the loose

pigs on the loose

pigs in the garden. Oh boy.

pigs in the garden. Oh boy.

Update: Night is the best time to deal with unruly swine. They just want to sleep and they don’t see especially well. We were able to rebuild the fence around them while they huddled together in a pigpile. After a long week of teaching, building an electric fence in the dark is an excruciating exercise in patience. The wires tangle up in the shadows, your flashlight dies, your partner mutters threats under her breath and you can’t quite make out whether they’re directed at you or at the errant hogs. You slip in the mud and pig shit and discover new crimes (they’ve dug up the onions!) every few minutes. It’s awful. I don’t recommend it. Electronet, here we come.

I am so ready for some pulled pork sandwiches.

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2 thoughts on “Pig Problems and Other Stuff

  1. if you have room ..maybe give them a lot more space..we had 1/4 acre fenced in yard for two very large pigs for 2 seasons…they were good at rooting out roots and had a play area…they got big (pig enough ) to ride ….rideum pig boy …when we called them to dinner they would scuffle along sort of running on very short legs and look at us with those adoring pigeyes ….snort snort….where’s the beef??? they were fed gourmet slops from great gargantuan garbage glops…leftovers from Darcy’s or Rollie’s

  2. They do have so much character, especially when they’re big. I loved our 300 pounder, Pinkie. He would leave these charming nose-prints on my legs whenever I’d go in to feed him. We have a good amount of space for these guys, and we intend to expand their pasture (space is something we have in spades), but we’re going to be seriously hampered if they won’t respect the electric wire. We were unprepared for this problem. I guess the pigs we had last year were a little dumber, or maybe we did something different with them that we haven’t identified. Right now the girls are all contentedly hanging out inside their fence, but I don’t feel I can trust them. We like being able to move them to nicer pastures, planting forage for them, and letting them till and fertilize future garden sites, so the electric fence is dandy, but we might have to come up with a more permanent fence if they continue to be so contrary. That would be expensive and labor-intensive, and the prospect is unappealing in the extreme.

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