Archive for November, 2015

November 5, 2015

It’s been entirey too long…Part 1- HOGS

It’s been one heck of a year (or more) since I’ve posted. Baby Zane graced us with his presence in early February but even before that things were busy!

We spent the summer and fall of 2014 fixing up a home we purchased right down the road and winter preparing for the birth of Zane and all that a new baby brings. It had been, after all, nine and a half years since we had had a new baby!

Since this update post could get very long (and I do intend to bring it current), I’ll update in sections.

Hogs: Since last August we’ve taken off quite a few load of hogs for processing, put up fencing for a new few acre pasture for the pastured pigs with 3 strand high tensile electric, 3 new piglet litters, and now the latest litter is in the garden rooting up what’s left of the plants and helping us put the garden to sleep. We learned a valuable lesson about hog moving and loading. We were told once that the fastest way to move a hog is slowly. Quite true! We do occasionally move our hogs from pasture to pasture, the easiest way to do that is with treats.They follow just like dogs, at least ours do.

A short story: A month or so ago things seemed normal until I got a call from my neighbor saying he thought we had some pigs out on the road.  I thought surely he was mistaken but sure enough, Grandma Sow had not only let herself out of her pasture to visit the boar on the feeder’s pasture, but she opened up their gate (which is an 8 foot hog panel welded on 4 sides to metal tubing (NOT LIGHT WEIGHT!). Two feeders and Grandma Sow decided then to take a walkabout out of the barnyard (Grandma Sow has now opened 3 gates), to the front yard and down the road to the neighbor’s! I ran outside shaking a feed buckets yelling “PIGS” at the top of my lungs and here all three of them and two neighbors came sauntering back like it was a stroll through the park! Sheesh! It’s never dull with pigs!

The easiest way, we learned, to load a hog is by habit and it doesn’t take too long for pigs to learn habits! I didn’t necessarily have a hard time loading the first time, it was more of an issue of them being wary of the trailer, naturally, and then not being able to easily separate out who I needed in the trailer and who I did not.

panel weldingThis past spring Jeremiah and one of his welding students welded up some panels for me with a clear idea in mind for it to help me/us not only load but sort too straight off the pasture. The new pen has a gate that can keep lots separate depending on who needs to be loaded. We can load from the pasture or the pen and with a swinging gate between them, I can sort without having to get in either. Loading is nothing more than backing the trailer up to the panel & moving one panel over enough to open the trailer. I can do this alone in a matter of a few minutes and that was the key, being able to do it alone if necessary. Sorting was really the hardest part before, trying to get a hog off the trailer and another on wasn’t impossible but time consuming. This way, everyone I need to go on to the trailer is sorted just before they are taken off but are given access to the trailer for feed for a few days prior to loading is super easy.

Which brings me to loading. A wary pig is not one who will move all that easily…or, at all! Getting them used to the trailer ahead of time relieves so much stress! The Sunday before they are to go, we/I back the trailer up, move the gate over and feed them or give them treats in the trailer. There’s no pushing on our part to load, we’re not waiting hours or chasing on loading day, it’s stress-free the way I like it. They b-line for the trailer instead of running every other way but in. Look, self loading pigs!

Some of the pastures will be put to rest for the winter. We have sows farrowing in January and February 2016 and will have hogs ready again in March/April time frame for processing. We do have a bit of work to do to one of the hog shelters. We had a microburst come through here on Labor Day that took one of them and flipped it upside down. The roof took a pretty hard beating and I am sure the Sow’s might appreciate it being leak-free!

Several years ago we had a huge diesel tank on a stand that was given to us. Jeremiah took the tank to the shop and made a smoker out of it but the stand sat here for years. I always thought it would make a great animal shelter. Jeremiah took a few odds and ends (the expanded metal from a ramp that used to be on one of our livestock trailers), metal siding from someone’s hail damaged shop, and the frame and made a really nice hunting stand/animal shelter. That may sound like an odd combination but it works and is stout! We try to make most of our hog shelters transportable as they are moved from place to place, one of them eventually quite possibly being in the back woods along the neighbor’s fence line where deer like to frequent.

Within another month the feeder pigs that are in the garden will have done their duty cleaning up which will take me to my next post, that garden. Stay tuned…