September 10, 2008

Home Alone & Pigs In The Trailer

As of today everyone has departed the farm to return home. It’s quiet. Not deafening quiet, but good quiet. Normally takes me a day or two to adjust to being home alone after a family gathering. Not so much this time. Sister and great niece stayed an extra day to help me re-group and clean up the house. I appreciated their help greatly.

The past week was fun, eventful, plus a tad bit overwhelming. Between recovering from our houseguests, our big fat Irish family gathering, the Celtic Festival and the farm…I feel completely and totally exhausted.

So much was jam packed into the last week, especially the weekend. It’s all rather a blur right now.

As I mentioned early on, sister came down Tuesday for a Girls’ day out (Weds.). After the morning farm routine, we were able to spend most of the day in town shopping and pampering ourselves. The pampering part was with our hair stylist. We booked most of her afternoon (yeppers it took most of the afternoon for her to beautify us). We definitely kept her busy with my perm and sisters high/low lights; both of us had a trim and brow wax. Not sure we look better, but we definitely feel better. We also indulged ourselves that evening with pizza (carry out) while watching "chick flicks" in our jammies. It was an enjoyable relaxing beginning.

The better half rolled in early. Not expecting him home ‘til Thursday evening I about had a stroke when the dogs’ barking to the sound of someone trying to come in the front door woke me up at 3:30 a.m. Luckily I had forgotten to pick up the baseball bat when I groggily rushed into the living room to see what was going on or the SURPRISE would have been for him, across his head.

One bonus during this weekend - the pigs went to butcher. Yeah!
Wish you could have been here or I would have remembered to take the camera out for their loading. Normally we don’t have a bit of trouble out of the pigs. This year it was a free for all pig fight. Just crazy I tell you.
Our normal method of loading pigs is to back the livestock trailer up to the pigpen, create a so-called chute, so the pigs can be herded up and onto the trailer. The better half can normally persuade them to walk up and load with little difficulty while I am standing in the trailer with feed calling "Hereee piggiees".
A neighbor volunteered to come help, which was extremely nice since I was going to be preoccupied with preparing for the festival and family gathering. The neighbor was to stand in for me.
Shortly after they began their attempt at loading the pigs, I hear the guys bellowing my name. Seems they were having problems with the pigs not co-operating. The guys needed more help. It wasn’t going to be me. I called another neighbor (one we were raising a pig for) to come help. He showed up about 10 minutes later (7:30 a.m.) morning coffee in hand, looking as if my call was his reason for getting out of bed.

A short bit later I heard the pigs screaming so I went back out. It was a sorry sight. Visualize 3 grown men falling over each other trying to tackle pigs that didn’t want to be tackled. You would think 3 grown men weighing a combined total of roughly 600 pounds could load 5 350-pound pigs. Guess not.
The pigs were scared to death, trying to run over each other to get out. Trying to run over the guys to get out. Trying to run out through the sides of the cattle panel chute, out through the fence, out through anything, just wanting to go anywhere but in the trailer.

I finally told, well screamed STOP! They did. I ask what the problem was. The problem seemed to be that the trailer was a bit too high for the pigs to easily step up into. They were having to lift the front end of the pigs on to the trailer then shove the ham end of the pig up and in. The pigs were not having anything to do with being touched by sweating, cursing, angry men. My suggestion of putting food in the trailer so they would step up by themselves fell on deaf ears.
There was also another problem that I saw that they didn’t. Our pigs are not use to being rough housed, smacked, grabbed or yelled at. They were grabbing the pig’s ear to pull the pig up and into the trailer. Come on, think about this! If you hurt the critter it is going to scream, that in turn upsets all other pigs, they in turn scream and run. I tried to explain this, which also fell on deaf ears. Any hoo, I also suggested one man on each side of the front of the pig and lift up by front leg. In their opinion my idea wouldn’t work (which really should have). Nothing I said seemed to be appreciated or useful. They continued to struggle, push, shove, grunt, huff and puff (the men not the pigs) and managed to load 4 of 5 pigs. The last pig to load was the heaviest and largest.

I, if anything, know our animals. So while they (men and pig) were resting and getting a second wind to finish the task at hand, discussing what to do, how to do it and what to build to help the pig step up. I ran to the house, grabbed a box of Fruit Loops (cereal) and ran back out. I threw a handful of Loops in the floor of the trailer in front of the last pig snoot. You see our pigs like sweet things. Low and behold hefty, huge last pig standing, walked up and into the trailer to eat his morning Fruit Loops.

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