Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Pigz on the lam!

So there I was yesterday, busy. Doin' stuff. Happy. I thought it was a little unusual that I didn't see the pigz in the morning. I figured they would just hunkered down and they would eventually come up. What could possibly go wrong, right? I even made a saucy comment on 'the facebook' about not seeing the pigz. Hur hur hur...anybody seen my pigz? Hur hur hur......

Back in the salad days when the young pigz would not dream of traveling the countryside.

It turned out that the pigz were, in fact, on the lam. Running down the road. Off on a fine walkabout. Out there swashbuckling across the countryside having a big ol' pig time. They thought they were hilarious. I did not think they were hilarious. At all.

Normally I can see the pigz down out there pigging around. But on Sunday we had moved them down into the far far far hog lot down in the woods.  We spent a good portion of Sunday afternoon, in the rain, rebuilding the hog hut from a couple years ago. We filled it full of nice and dry fluffy straw. The weather was getting a big dicey so we figured moving them was our best move.

So yesterday morning I assumed the pigz were down there in their new lot. Me and the dog went down to check about mid-morning. Hum... how weird. They were not in the fluffy straw. Hum. Well. Maybe they found a better spot in the lot in Impenetrable Woods and I just couldn't see them. I called for them but most times the pigz don't come when I call. We have a mutual hatred. They didn't come up. It wasn't entirely unexpected.

Me and the dog went back up to the house. I made a huge pot of hard cooked eggs. I'd just call 'em and them pigz would come up like normal. They like eggs and would come for these. Easy peasy.

Just as the eggs finished cooking I found a message from the GoodNeighbor Mom saying that their son, "Jake," saw a couple of pigz running down the road and did I know where my pigz were?

We live on a very busy road. Not only was this a crisis because my pigz were on the lam, but livestock on the road is exceptionally dangerous. Not just for the stock, but hitting a 300lbs pig in your Hyundai is bad business. Someone could be killed. And not just the pigz. We've always kept up our fencing to keep all the stock off the road. If someone got hurt, or heaven forbid, killed then it would be on us.

A sort of white rage engulfed me. My pigz. On the road. Running.  I only had one thought..... You wanna run from me pigz? Fine. But you should know that I have a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long farming career. Skills that make me a nightmare for pigz like you...

I will look for you.
I will find you.
and I will kill you.

I grabbed my keys, my phone, and my dog. I only had my good barn jacket which is more like a sweatshirt but I didn't have time to get a winter coat or a hat. We jumped in the car and sped out of the drive, mud and gravel flying.

The first step to finding pigz? Start knocking on doors. Missing livestock is a great way to meet the neighbors. After a couple dead ends someone told me that no, she hadn't seen them but ol' Ralph had and he and Jessie were trying to get 'em.

Colloquially "get 'em" usually means shoot 'em dead. I couldn't really blame the neighbors - loose pigz were kind of fair game. Especially around here. I thanked her profusely and me and the dog raced off to Ralph's place.

Knowing that Ralph as pretty hard core I musically tootled my car horn when I pulled in the drive and hoped he wouldn't shoot me as a trespasser. He was standing there waiting for me.

"You seen my pigz, friend?" I asked.

"Yep. They are down there. " He wasn't really exacting about where "down there was" but "there" was a huge field, a pond, and a wooded ravine - all crisscrossed by fencing.  I apologized again and said I brought my best dog to flush them out.

"You can't have a dog here." He said pointing to his own hound. Fair enough. So I apologized again, asked if the pigz had caused any damage, and then asked if I could park there. He sent me on my way. I took the dog home, gathered supplies, and raced back.

As casually as I could I stood at the top of a huge hill and yelled, "Pig! Pig! Pig!" Nothing. I couldn't see them. For all I knew they were halfway to town by now. "Pig! Pig! Pig!"

Then I'll be damned. Here they came walking along the ravine. They looked in my direction. I called again. They moved a little faster. I swear not only did I see smiles on their little piggy faces but I audibly heard this song. They were overjoyed to see me. I shook the feed bucket filled with corn and eggs.  They hurried in my direction. I could not believe they were coming to me.

I tried to call my husband. At work. Over an hour away. In his work truck. He didn't answer. So I sent him an informative text.

The pigz were very very far away. They didn't know how to get to me and looked confused. I started across the field. I crawled thru barbed wire....a couple of times. I made my way down to them and soon the pigz and I were looking at each other across one last barbed wire fence. They smiled at me.

I have never hated any living creature as much as I hated those pigz. Ever.

"Come on, pigz!" I said as happily as I could force myself. I was holding up the fence so they could crawl under. I tossed out some eggs. It worked. Now I just had to get the pigz home. But we were far away and there were many fences and an extremely busy road to contend with.

My phone rang. I was my husband. "You need to come home," I said as calmly as possible. "Right. Now." There was no way he could drive home in his work truck but he assured me that he was on the way.

I looked at the pigz and formulated a plan. I started off towards home as best I could. They came along happily, eager for more eggs. I kept shaking the bucket and they skipped along behind me.

Then we got to the road. The dangerous, busy road. I had all bad options so elected not to try and walk 600 pounds of pork along a dangerous and busy road all the way to our house. I figured my best option was take them directly across the street and head to the GoodNeighbor's place. They had several pens and a lot of fencing. It had to work.

The merry pig parade and I stepped out onto the road. I could hear traffic coming from both directions and I was in between two very blind hills. There is no way a semi driving 50mph or a teenager in a beater Nissan going 75mph would see me until the last second and one or all of us would be dead. We had to do this. Now.

"Come on Pig! Pig! Pig!" I called luring them with more eggs tossed to the other side of the road.

And then it happened. A car appeared. One of those nice Lexus SUV's. I started waving my arms wildly and by the Grace of God she got stopped. And then she started laughing. Hysterically. I could hear her from inside of her luxury car. Laughing. At me. I couldn't blame her - I'd laugh too.

"I used to be somebody!" I yelled to her. She couldn't hear me. Due to laughter.

I hurried the pigz into the newly plowed field - we were safely across the busy road. I could see the GoodNeighbor's house now and I started screaming for Jake. Me and the pigz started walking down the drive. Me ambling along with two pigz in tow.

"This is the best day ever!" This Pig said to That Pig. I hated them even more. I hated them with the intensity of a thousand suns. I would have my vengeance. Soon. If I had thought to get the gun I would have shot those pigz right there and gutted them in my neighbor's driveway. I wouldn't even have felt bad.

Jake appeared and we started strategizing. He sprang to action and got the pigz herded up and led into a holding pen. You remember Jake. He's saved our bacon before. He is like the Pig Whisperer. I loved Jake when he was a little boy but now that he's grown he is one of the finest young men that I'll ever know. He works hard, is respectful, helpful, and is a good and decent person. And he helped me save the pigz. Again. I thanked him for helping me get the pigz penned up and he went on his way to work.

I waited for The Big Man.

Behind me in the other lot the GoodNeighbor's cows were giving me mean looks. You know that cows don't like me. At this point I don't particularly like them either.

I called my husband again. "Status?" I demanded. I could hear that he was driving fast. Real fast. He was still about 20 minutes out. I stood hating the pigz and wary of the cows behind me. I couldn't leave. If the pigz got out of the holding pen they would be lost again. As it was they were trying to make an escape.

"DON'T!" I said in a voice that makes its point across all ages and species. They stopped.

Finally I heard the unmistakable sound of my husband's truck. I started up the hill toward the drive.

Seeing me cold, wet, and bedraggled The Big Man whipped off his coat and wrapped me in it. I provided data points, possibly courses of action, and my long list of complaints about the day. There was no easy solution. We could shoot the pigz where they stood but the wind had changed and it would be too warm to hang them overnight. The most direct way home required taking down a lot of fence. We had no trailer to transport them home... and even if we did they pigz wouldn't get in it....

"Cut the fence." He said. It was a drastic step. I hurried off to do just so.

Before I knew it the pig parade jauntily made it's way across a couple of properties and thru the huge hole I cut in the fence. The pigz were mostly incarcerated in the Dog Moat. They were ruining it. I hated the pigz even more. They skipped and danced around inside the Dog Moat like it was the best thing ever.

"Keep it up, pigz. Soon I will eat your liver with green beans and a nice Chianti." They didn't hear me because they were too busy rooting up the Dog Moat. My hatred for them deepened.

We thanked the GoodNeighbors for all their help. We laughed about the situation. I told them how their son had performed admirably.

For the next several hours we alternated between chasing the pigz all over our property and weaving a web of electric fence inside our smallest hog lot. While we were working the pigz would not stay in the woven wire fence. Once they tasted with sweet taste of freedom all they wanted to do was roam around and see the world.

At one point I saw my husband chasing them down by the pond. He had a hammer in his hand. I have to tell you I would have been OK with just about any possible outcome of that situation.  He got them back inside the fence.

Finally we made all the connections, closed all the gaps, and we plugged in the fence.

Here is a fact you should know about electric fence. If you have a charger that is made for 100 miles and strong enough to hold in buffalo and you restrict it to a small area say.... several hundred yards.... that fence will concentrate all that power and intensify it.

I swear to you I can hear the fence crackling up here inside the house. It's probably burning any wayward blade of grass that happens to touch it. Last nite, when I plugged it in I felt, and saw, the surrounding counties dim just a little...and the entire barnyard collectively took a step back from the perimeter at the same time.

It was done. There would be no escape. The pigz were contained.

We sat there for a good long while last nite. Down by that electric prison, watching the pigz test the fence and we smiled every time one of them caught the charge. The dogs hooted in delight. My Bubby peed in the general direction of the pigz and my beautiful Kai licked her lips looking at those porkers.

Well past dark we heard the shrieking squeals of pigz hitting the mega-ton powered electric fence and their cries filled the night sky... I nodded contentedly.

"That'll do, pig, that'll just do."

Happy Tuesday everyone. Did your pigz get loose? Did you find them? Are they really wishing they had not taken off on a grand adventure? We'll finally get a cold night in a day or so. And then... then pigz, I will have my vengeance.


Onevikinggirl said...

Rather you than me, you did well. Bet you are looking forward to that winter weather now, huh? Hang 'em high and let them dry, isn't that what you do?

PJ said...

Doesen't sound like those pigs will be going on any more adventures. Hope you get some cold weather soon.

Moon-Shadows said...

Was there a secret message sent to pigs yesterday or what? Mine got out, thankfully nothing as dramatic as yours and the result of cloudy stormy days not recharging the solar fence thingy. And horomone fueled surges of bravery at stepping over the wire.

Ive read your blog for several years. Its specifically why 6months ago, i was finally ready to get pigs and choose american guinea hogs in hope of not hating them.

Let me tell your readers who are scratching there heads, as i was, on why you hate pigs.

Even if you make them pets, even if you choose a "docile" small breed, all that is going to do is keep them from venturing too far when they escape. They will escape, they will fight at 2am, they are nocturnal, it will sound like a band of demons hissing with the gates of hell flung open wide in your barnyard, they will tear up any place they blessed well want to. And be late for chow enough times, they will eat your prize laying hen just because. And thats just for starters.

Pig hatred is real...and justified.
Try it you'll see

Im raising up a hot cup o coffee that may or not be spiked, to all my sisters who know just why we hate pigz!!!

Unknown said...

Oh what a piggy adventure! Reminds me of chasing our first little steer up and down our road as he was heading for the highway. Problem with cattle is if they push through a fence its hard to get them back through a gate bcoz they didn't come that way. Just gets them confused. Also on the extra strong electric fence... our neighbor said he trains young cattle with a short electric fence near the water trough bcoz if they touch it with a wet nose its EVEN STRONGER! And once trained they never touch a fence again. Do pigs know when the fence is off? Our cows will not even step over a fence on the ground. It might bite them!!

IanH said...

Yep, I can relate! As a teenager I remover 3 escapees charging through the bush, one of them with me hanging on his back. My grand daughter wanted us to get pigs when we had the acreage. No thanks. I still hate them! Anyway, great story. If I had a cup of coffee, I probably would have snorted it!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Yes, yes that is exactly what we do, OVG... soon. very very soon.

Thanks, PJ, the pigz are still incarcerated and they are mad. #sorrynotsorrypigz ha!

MoonS, I totally laughed. Oh yes.. the hatred is real. And justified. Everyone starts out with great expectations and then..... it happens. Let the hatred flow... yes...

Those stupid pigz know when the fence is on or not ....and they still test it. Every.Stinkin'.Day.

I bet that was one wild ride, Ian! ha! and yep - best to just stay away.... soon, tho, all the hard work and hatred will pay off in pork chops!

Rita B Caldwell said...

Bless your heart!! I'm sorry but I laughed until I cried and I think they would have been on the barbecue spit shortly after getting them back home. Herding pigs is like herding cats, nearly impossible!!

Happy New Year!

Unknown said...

Wow that was quite a wild ride! Glad you got your pigs back in one piece and no car accidents!

Cathy said...

I am laughing so hard at your story, tears running down my face! I'm now having second thoughts about getting pigs in the future. Thanks!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

thanks Rita, i have to say - they are our most delicious pigs ever.

Nancy, it was touch and go there for a while. whew!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Thanks Cathy! um.. if you get pigz make sure you have EXTREMELY good fencing.

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