It all started when our male pig “Sour” made a jailbreak…
That’s him heading down the driveway. A day earlier the cord connecting the electric fence to the power source got a tear in it and was shorting out. Sour had apparently discovered this and hopped the fence to explore the rest of the farm. Husband, who has been in charge of the pig project all this time, was out of town on business. I realized it was going to be up to me to fix this, and nobody else. It was my first “farm emergency” and there I was, a city girl, left with nobody to rely on but herself. It reminded me of the many pickles Jenna has found herself in over at Cold Antler Farm. I thought to myself “What would Jenna do?”. Well, she would reach down into her barnheart and find the courage to Just Do It. So, while I was not happy about having to take care of this with about an hour of daylight left, I felt this was also a baptism of sorts, a test of my country can-do spirit. I was determined to prove myself farm-worthy!
Getting Sour back in the paddock was easy. He was just slowly wandering around and as soon as I appeared with a bucket of pig pellets he followed me back to the paddock like a puppy and hopped back over the fence to get in and eat (god forbid that Sweet, the female, should get the food to herself!). And I knew how to fix the wire: I’d spliced many a cable as a teenager when trying to fix up old stereo equipment. ‘Course, in this case I was out in the middle of an overgrown field at dusk with bugs biting me and a pig just waiting to finish his second dinner before making another jailbreak. Turns out the wide electric tape around the paddock had broken too, and other than rewiring the whole fence my only option was to tape it together as best I could and hope it would hold until morning, when Husband would be back and we could rewire the paddock. I managed to fix it all and get Sour to stay within his paddock – I think it helped that it was getting dark and the pigs wanted to bed down for the night, which they always do together. I was pretty darned proud of myself, but I also knew that the paddock was failing.
The next morning when Husband went to feed the pigs Sour hopped the fence and ripped the tape apart again (for some reason Sweet, the female, has never opted to leave the paddock; just like a Male to be the troublemaker!). While he wandered around Husband re-wired the paddock and ended up having to make it much smaller. However, by this time Sour had apparently decided that getting shocked was worth the fun of exploring. For the next few hours he repeatedly got out, even though you could hear him grunting as he got zapped, until finally Husband wrapped the wire a few more times around the perimeter, making it high enough that Sour decided it wasn’t worth the effort.
The paddock was a slap-dash job to start with, the biggest problem being that our power source is up near the house and the paddock is a couple hundred feet away. We didn’t have time to properly send power down there, so we ran a speaker wire over the ground to the paddock. Summer’s growth caused huge amounts of plant matter to grow up around it, insects and animals are fiddling with it, and it gets run over from time to time. We realized that, at this point, it’s not worth the time and effort to redo the paddock because Sweet and Sour have reached pretty darn close to market weight. It’s more pork than our family will be able to eat in a year (we don’t eat much meat to begin with) and they’ve become a bit of a headache, so we made the appointment and this Sunday they’ll be going off to be killed and butchered.
Part of me feels a bit sad, because I’m a city girl and Death has always been A Thing To Feel Sad About. It just feels appropriate to me to be sad because these animals are going to die soon. On the other hand, I have absolutely ZERO desire to keep them as pets. I don’t find them all that affectionate or cute, they try to knock me over when I feed them, and they eat a LOT of food. Plus, I like to eat pork and how great would it be to have a whole freezer full of the stuff? Yup, I’m totally cool with what’s going to happen. But I’ll admit there’s a small part of me that’s sad. However, they’ve had a pretty darn wonderful life…and besides, we are planning a camping trip in early September and with the pigs gone we won’t have to hire a farm sitter while we’re away!