We’ve been meaning to give an update on the pigs as so much as happened with them and the longer we leave it, the more there is to tell! So sit back and relax while we bring you up to date…
As you know we purchased them in early September (you can read about that here). Our plan was to rotate them into a new paddock each week (which you can read about here). For about two months everything seemed to be working well.
Around the middle of November, we got a phone call from Kel’s Dad telling us that he could see our pigs had escaped (his property is in front of the property where our pigs are being kept). We drove over and enticed them back into their paddock however as soon as they were in they just walked straight through the electric fence to get back out again. Even though they were being zapped. Pigs are crazy.
Their original paddock has electric fencing as well as normal wire mesh fencing (this was to train them with electric fencing when we first got them, again you can read about that here) so we enticed them up there so that they couldn’t get out. However then we had a problem. Moving permanent fencing every week to give them fresh pasture is too much work, and putting permanent fencing in all over the property would be incredibly expensive (money which we don’t have) plus we don’t own the property so unless we want to remove it all one day that wasn’t really an option either. Our only option was to buy a more powerful energiser that zaps them harder. However we were using solar as it is not our property and our electricity. Solar energisers with enough power to do the job are a couple of thousand dollars. At this point we were seriously considering whether this was what we were meant to be doing.
After praying about it we got an idea. Say we asked the owner if we could use her power and where we plug in, we plug in a machine that monitors how much we use and just reimburse her? So we asked her and she was completely fine with it. Prayers answered and problem solved! Mains energisers are only a couple of hundred dollars.
One day a week or two after that, Kel went over to feed and check on the pigs as usual, however that day one of the male pigs was really lethargic and wouldn’t eat. Kel monitored him until the next morning, where he had gotten worse and his front legs were going lame. We rang the vet and she said that it was probably blood poisoning so either she could come out or we could bring him in. Her coming out is A LOT more expensive so we borrowed a horse trailer to take him to the vet. Trying to get a sick pig into a trailer who doesn’t want to go is not fun. Especially when he decides he’s going to give his distressed signal because he’s annoyed and so that the other three pigs can rescue him. Let’s just say I was shaking for many hours after that experience.
Anyway we managed to get to the vet in one piece. Unfortunately she was running late and he was starting to fade. Finally she came out to see him and as soon as she walked out with her assistant into the car park, the sky opened up and it started to pour with rain. There was thunder and lightning all around and with the trailer having no roof, it was not fun to be in a giant metal box. We were all getting completely soaked while she diagnosed him, and then to top it all off she gave him a big fat needle. The vet then prescribed antibiotics for him and told us that we needed to separate him from the other pigs while he recovered. Thankfully the bill wasn’t very much although my nerves were extremely frayed!
We drove back home and talked the situation over with Kel’s parents. They were going to Sydney the next day so it was very unfortunate timing. We decided that we could put him in their steel garden shed, as there is a window, ventilation and it was a good shelter for while he recovered. The next twenty-four hours were touch and go.
Two days after that on one of the occasions we drove over to check on him, would you know what we found? The steel on the side of the shed had been bent up and he’d escaped. Luckily he was only wandering around the front paddock of Kel’s parents property. Problem was the shed was no good anymore and to get him back to the property we needed a four wheel drive to tow the trailer (we hadn’t given it back yet) and we don’t have one, we had borrowed Kel’s parents’ originally and they were up in Sydney. Kel called the next door neighbour and he agreed to come over and tow the trailer for us. Kel enticed the pig into the trailer and off they went. As they were backing into the property next to the paddock, the sick pig obviously heard his mates and decided he’d had enough and climbed/jumped OVER the five foot ramp on the horse trailer and into the paddock. We think that he was probably feeling better. For the next few days he still had to be on antibiotics and Kel had a fun time trying to administer his daily needle. Pigs’ skin is very tough so you have to jam it in hard plus it has to get past their layer of fat and into the muscle – the needles were very thick and long for this very purpose!
Apart from that the pigs have been enjoying themselves immensely. They have been running around lots, making wallows, eating lots of apples from our apple tree and getting lots of scratches and belly rubs. It really makes your heart happy when you drive over and they see the car coming and run to the fence to say hello.
However the fact remains that for two of them, their purpose is for meat. We’ve had them for almost five months now and so that means that is time for those two to go. On Tuesday (tomorrow) the mobile butcher will be coming to do the deed. The two that remain will be our breeding pair, the female Berkshire and the male English Black. We will let you know how it goes.