Friday, August 8, 2014

Piglet Bribery & Possible Ringworm!

Few sights are as pleasing to the eye as a black piglet trotting over a green lawn. Not only is the contrast of the intense summer grasses and black-as-coal coat pleasing, but the way the light dapples through the King Maple in the front lawn. This pig is moving. Her feet are tiny stilettos, her head held high, and that sassy way of moving across the landscape that I will never, ever, master no matter how hard I try. Yes indeed, a piglet on the move on a summer day is a dandy thing to behold. And look! Right behind her is her three friends! Oh how nice to see the piglets romp and play in between the peony bushes, splash in the artisan well, and snort and honk their afternoon away.

Yup. It's a picture.

And they should all be inside their pen…

I used to worry about pigs escaping, and I try not to make a habit of it, but generally all they want is a romp about town. And by town I mean the barnyard. This made for their second escape attempt in a week, each time digging out a new escape hatch below the electric wiring. The first time I just yelled their dinner call "HHHEEEEeeeeeeyyyyy peeeeeggggs!" and they ran right back into their pen, waiting by their feed bowl. All I had to do was deliver the goods (and I made sure it was really good, corn soaked in goats milk with left over garden veggies and stale bread) and they were fine, having had quite enough of the adventurous life. They plopped in their bed of hay and called it a day.

But this time, they looked like the world was too big for a quick run home and when I yelled "PEGS!" they ran in the direction of their dinner, but only for a second. They quickly realized the chicken feeder, the eggs in the coop, and the gardens were just as (if not more) delicious than milk soaked corn and bread. So now I had four piglets to wrangle that did not want to be fed the usual menu. Time to resort to drastic measures.

I went into the house, into the fridge, and got out a half gallon of pure goats milk and placed it in a small bucket. I walked out to the pigs and right past them, like they were so many chickens, and didn't even say pegs once. I just whistled and walked by, and that caught their attention. The milk sloshed in the bucket and they knew it. Little rumps lined up behind me and I walked up to their pen, and before pouring it into their feeder pan I turned around and gave the bucket to the closest gilt.

She looked at me.
And then the bucket.
Then back to me…

She dove in head first sucking up milk like it was the last meal she'd ever eat! The other pigs squeaked and pumped their little legs to us and I was barely able to pour it into their bowl before two dove right after it! I will not share that I was half celebrating, and I was not paying attention to the placement of the electric wire and tripped face first into the pig pen. It was not pretty. While pigs are pretty clean animals, they always pick an area as the assigned "bathroom" and that is exactly where I fell. Not on the dry straw. Not on the firm dirt…. in the Watering Closet.

But I had two pigs! And I still had to get the other two in. That meant a muck-stained swamp woman was left to bribe the remaining escapees, grab a stray foot, and lift them into the pen. It got done, and it was "memorable" but I spent the rest of that incident reinforcing the fence, getting them fresh bedding, and filling up their feeder and waterer to the brim…. No reason to escape tonight with this kind of turnaround service.

I took a very long shower after that. Very long. And I used the soap made from the same milk that just saved the day. I swear, these goats have paid for themselves seven times over just in personal favors. And that was how that adventure ended. With a lavender soap bath, lots of scrubbing, and four pigs back in their quarters - I'm sure plotting their next escape. But I got to admit, they sure did look good out there on the lawn. I'd say that diva show was even worth the big dive.

Things are never boring around here!


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