Archive for April 14th, 2009

4 + 2 – 1 = CHAOS!

Driving to the farm on Easter Sunday, I slowed down as B and I passed the two pig arks by the fence. Pinky and Curly were out and about in their enclosure, enjoying the sunshine, but further down the field, there was no sign of Tia and Bailey. I laughed and explained that those two are the laziest pigs on the planet and that I could count the number of times they were awake before breakfast on one hand.

Once we’d parked, the first thing we did was peer through the fence to see if Fergie and Perky had plucked up the courage to sleep in the pig ark with the adults, or if they were still relegated to their temporary home, the pig trailer.

I saw Brini in her usual place at the entrance of the ark and saw a creamy coloured pig behind her, leading me to get excited in the belief that Perky had slept the night with her adult companions.

However, I was slightly confused when I opened the field gate. The water bucket was on its side, the dogs’ water bowl was turned over (and cracked, grrrrr), and the cardboard that I use to keep the worst of the mud by the “shed” at bay was ripped up and spread around. My brain was trying to make sense of all this when I saw that the electric fence for the 4 pigs was down in several places…

Uh oh!

Who was missing?

I popped my head in the trailer and was relieved to see Fergie and Perky, both fast asleep and unaware of my presence.

Um, hang on. Perky?

So who is the cream pig in the ark?



As I swore in surprise, Brini woke up, as did their companion… Tia!

There was no sign of Scrumpy so leaving the three grunting pigs in the ark, I ran back across the enclosure, hastily put the fence back up as B tried to stop Perky and Fergie leaving the trailer and then shot off down the field towards Tia and Bailey’s enclosure to see if I could find my missing pig there.

Nope, no sign of her.

My heart in my mouth, I ran towards Pinky and Curly’s enclosure. Remembering just in time that their electric fence was switched on, I headed to the far side of their pen, where I found an upset Scrumpy who couldn’t have been more pleased to see me if I’d turned up with a whole box of bananas just for her. She’d clearly been evicted from her pen by either Bailey or Tia (probably the former given my previous disastrous attempts to match make) and had tried to get in with the pair of weaners, whose current ark and enclosure is on the site where Scrumpy lived before moving in with Perky and Fergie. In other words, having been beaten up in the middle of the night, she tried to go “home” but couldn’t get in thanks to the electric fence. There’s a large holly bush by the enclosure and I could see a shallow scrape under the bush where shed slept the night. Why she didn’t just go in the trailer with Perky and Fergie, who were presumably left undisturbed the whole night, is beyond me!

Anyway, she was so distressed by the whole thing that she happily trotted behind me as I led her back across the field, even though I had nothing but gentle cajoling to entice her.

That’s when the fun started.

By the time I got back with Scrumpy, Perky and Fergie had pushed past B and had left the safety of the trailer (it only later occurred to us that we could have just put the ramp up!!). Brini was overjoyed to have her man back and strayed no more than two inches from his side. Bailey was thrilled at having doubled his harem but was not pleased to see Scrumpy and proceeded to chase her about. Her squeals set off the two weaners, who then got chased by Tia, who neither knew nor cared that the pair are her daughters.

Leaving B to keep the peace (well, stop Fergie being trampled, anyway) I chucked the pigs’ breakfasts together and we set about attempting to separate them into their proper groups.

Scrumpy kept offering to leave the enclosure and had to be shooed back in. Tia was tempted out but Bailey wasn’t so keen. When I finally managed to get him out, he was accompanied by Perky and Brini. In the confusion to get them back in, Tia managed to slip through as well. All six pigs were shrieking at the top of their lungs, which set Pinky and Curly off at their side of the field…

Finally, ear drums bleeding, we managed to get Tia and Bailey out and I rattled their bowls and set off back across the field. Thanks to all that noise, they’d worked up an appetite and followed me happily enough. While they were eating, I quickly put their fence back up and scooted back to B and the four pigs who had screamed themselves hoarse and had resorted to glaring at her instead.

We fed them and I stayed on Fergie duty while B fed the chickens and checked for any eggs. Once they’d finished, I went back across the field (again!) to feed Pinky and Curly, who really didn’t understand what the delay was all about and told me so in no uncertain terms. Loudly.

Animals fed and watered, I gathered up my gardening gloves, hedge loppers, the spare battery and the energiser and we made our way to Bailey and Tia’s enclosure, determined that the previous night’s wandering would not be repeated. We were a little late as we met Bailey en route!

I’m not sure how, but we turned him round and I managed to return him to Tia, using a combination of methods such as pushing him from behind and darting to either side of him to steer. We were both panting by the time we arrived, though he came off worse as he made a break for freedom… right into the deepest mud in the field! His grunts of indignation as he sank to his belly provided some much needed comic relief and we were able to enjoy the time it took to cut back the brambles and rearrange the electric fence in such a way that it could be safely switched on (which is why they were able to make their break for freedom in the first place. Oops.) to prevent any more escapades.

Bailey tried to get out once more as we were there, so once I’d finished, we made sure to connect the energiser in the same spot. As soon as it was switched on, he knew something was up and snorted suspiciously at the fence. He moved to a different spot and then inched his way forward, stopping to snort as though he was challenging the fence to come and have a go. Even though he obviously knew that something was going to happen, temptation eventually won through and he got zapped right on the tip of his nose.

He squealed like a, well, zapped pig, and rushed to the middle of the enclosure, snorting and protesting at the insult. Once he’d calmed down, he glared at B and I and thought about trying the fence elsewhere. This time, however, caution won through, and in the past few days, he is yet to venture closer than six inches to the fence. Tia, who was not the instigator of the breakouts, got zapped accidentally that evening, which is no bad thing.

As for the four pigs, Brini spent the day in a slump, depressed because I’d taken away her man. Again. She’s over it now, thankfully. Scrumpy, however, is still in shock over her rude eviction, and huffs and puffs to herself. She’s also spending a lot of time asleep, but as she’s fine and dandy when there’s food about, I’m not too worried.

How was your Easter Sunday?!