Hello, everyone! This is the post that I promised to my friends and family on Facebook. Here, we enter the story of how the pigs are gone from our little homestead.
Do you ever have those projects that are doomed from the start? This may have been that endeavor for us, but all things went well considering all the inexperience and circumstances surrounding bringing pigs onto our property. Until it didn’t. My son lost interest in them when we let him know that riding them was not an option, so most of the care and upkeep of the pig project fell to Bret. This was okay, as it was still proving a great learning experience for us. Pigs have uniquely different personalities than other animals. While I did not enjoy them like I do chickens and rabbits and gardens, I can admit that their presence felt like it added a sense of legitimacy to our progress toward hardcore homesteading.
Like I said, all was going well. We fed them scraps, bag upon bag of feed, and gallons of water, refilled almost daily. We were newbies, but we did our best to care for them properly as well as we could. Then came time for the home visit. This was, after all, our son’s 4H project. The director that came out gave us a few tips and pointers, and that was when we learned for the first time (at the beginning of April) that the pigs were supposed to be having daily field trips. It made me sick, because if we would have known that my garden beds would already be prepped, tilled, fertilized, and ready for me to plant. For now, it is still GRASS. But then, that is another story.
From that day forward, until the week of his show and auction (at the end of April), every day that schedule and weather permitted, the pigs went on field trips every afternoon to our front yard. Odd place for pigs, I admit, but for now that is the only completed fence on the property. One pig – the one named Bacon – is so sweet and cooperative. He would obey my Buddy’s guidance, so that is the pig he worked with for the show. The other pig. The spawn of Satan pig. His name was Moolah, named supposedly for how much money our son planned to make selling him. Little did we know it would more accurately signify the costly venture we would have with Devil Pig! That pig was destined for the freezer, and by the time it was the week of the show we already felt rather good about saying goodbye to Moolah.
The show was scheduled for the last Saturday in April. The Wednesday before, Good Pig (Bacon) began acting sick. We were adequately panicked, as we had no idea how to help a sick pig. At that point, anxiety began to rise in our son’s heart. He saw the writing on the wall before the rest of us, and he was envisioning himself trying to guide Satan pig around the show in front of everyone from two counties. He was NOT happy. Bret found a vet to help us with the pig and gave him a shot daily, along with hand feeding and watering him. Friday night, Bret spent the evening putting together a makeshift animal hauler on his trailer. He had built their house to attach onto the trailer to take both pigs to the show, but with one pig staying at our home until it was better, he had to come up with a last-minute alternate plan. In all the drama of getting that together and some family stressors unrelated to the pigs, he did not check the weather or remember me telling him of the forecasted rain. So, against the 4H recommendation, we did not load Satan pig onto the trailer that night.
Saturday morning. Show Day. We awake, and the rain is coming down like the deluge of bad luck ominously predicting just how miserable our day would be. I woke up feeling rather sick that morning, but we were all pressing through. As I was (still in my robe) running out to the laundry room, Bret called me, needing my help immediately. I called to the kids to come help, put on my mud boots, and trudged my nauseous self out near the stench-filled pigpen to help him wrangle Satan. It quickly became a family affair. All of us in pajamas and mud boots, rain pouring relentlessly, and an evil suspicious pig watching carefully from his house inside the fence. Confident we could persevere, forward we marched with plans. At this point with the rain, it involved a lot of the girls holding cattle panels steady while the boys chased Satan to his final destination.
Have you ever tried to wrangle a three-hundred-pound pig, covered in mud and poop? How about a three-hundred-pound WET pig, covered in mud and poop, with an eager Blue Heeler helping spook him at every opportunity? If the neighbors were home and awake, I imagine they were having great fun watching. I know I would have been! All we managed to do that morning was get soaked, hear a lot of pig screaming, and witness Bret almost have a nervous breakdown. After a while, we let Satan pig win. It was a bad day. Our daughter said it best when relaying the story later to her grandparents, “That pig is NOT going to heaven, and if we don’t get rid of him soon, Dad isn’t either!”
As the next week progressed, BOTH pigs still on our property, we realized that sick pig was not actually sick. He had slipped and hurt a tendon or something, but he was finally up walking around, eating, and drinking on his own. Bret contacted the processor who was working with the 4H program in our area, and they agreed to take Satan pig, but we again were unsuccessful in getting him onto the trailer. The rest of his story was described best by my son, “That pig is now in hell where he belongs!” We shall forever no more acknowledge his existence in any way, and we will promptly ignore any friendly comments about that spawn of Satan, reveling in our newfound freedom from oppression.
By this week, good pig was doing well enough to walk on his own. Bret tried to give him away, but no one was interested enough to follow through with anything besides curiosity questions. Luckily, before he gave up the final time, Bret called the processor again, and he agreed to let us bring him. That, my friends, is the rest of the story.
The lessons to be learned here are many, and I am not sure I could enumerate them all. The biggest take-away I have from our few months with pigs is this: Pigs are smart, suspicious, and easily spooked. Also, watching other people chase their stubborn animals is way more fun than being the unfortunate one chasing said stubborn animals. Lastly, having a pig can harm one’s spiritual health.