Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A lesson learned in pigs

I have so enjoyed raising Velma and Roxie.  I knew when we picked up those 2 cute little piglets that parting with them would be difficult.  I just didn't know how difficult it would be, and I mean physically.

We had planned to butcher at least one of the pigs ourselves, with the help of our friend TE.  Unfortunately, before we got a chance to butcher, TE had a heart attack and is scheduled for a triple bypass early tomorrow morning.  He'll be good as new for next year's butchering, of that I'm sure. 

Yesterday I was visiting TE and he told me I needed to take care of my hogs and he was going to arrange that.  He knew I was procrastinating.  I wasn't prepared to get the ball rolling so quickly.  After a few phone calls it was all taken care of - Velma was going to the butcher and Roxie to be bred TODAY!  I had no time to prepare myself, therefore I got no sleep last night because I needed to cram all my worrying into one night. 

TE and I picked up a small horse trailer late yesterday so we could be ready first thing this morning.  At 8AM we threw some hog feed in the trailer and with very little hesitation Velma walked in.  We latched the door and off we went.  James drove our pickup which was towing the trailer and TE and I followed.  It was just 16 miles over the mountain to the butcher.  All seemed to be going so well.  We drove less than 4 miles when our jaws dropped to the floorboard.  I think TE said something like, "Holy ----"  Velma was trying to jump out of the trailer and was very close to accomplishing just that.  The back door was just a half door, open at the top.  Velma was hanging over the door.  I could picture her running loose in the town of Glasgow and our name in the news.  I called James and told him to pull over immediately.   Both men jumped out of their vehicles and had to lean on the door to keep her in. 

I drove back home to get supplies to secure the door and keep her in while they stood guard.  I was given a long list - C clamps, 2X4s, a saw, screws, nails, plywood, ratchet tie downs, whatever it would taketo keep a 300 lb hog in a flimsy very old trailer.  I drove to a neighbors to see what he had that might help.  I returned with some of the things on the list, along with a couple wooden pallets.  I was glad to see Velma still in the trailer when I returned and both men still alive, maybe just a little more sweat on their brows.   I have no idea how long it took to screw this here, nail that there until we were sure it would hold her in.  It wasn't pretty but it did the job.  We drove 12 more miles and delivered her there safe and sound - all of us.  It was hard not to keep thinking about what would have happened if she got out.  We laughed some when we thought it was safe to laugh about it. 

We headed back home and loaded Roxie up just as easily.  This time we were more prepared to secure her in there better.  We only had 2 miles to drive but we weren't taking any chances.  All went very smoothly this time.  By now Roxie has probably met the father of her future babies.  Tonight the idea of raising more pigs seems like the last thing we should be doing but the ball is already in motion.

I wish I had a video of Velma hanging over the trailer door about to escape. When I said as much to TE he said, "no, this is something we want to forget".  I think it will be impossible to forget this.  We learned from it though.  Next time we'll build a heavy duty cage into our pick-up and also a ramp to lead the pigs into it.  No matter how tame they are, they're powerful animals.  I should mention, last night, as a back up plan, I loaded the pigs into the back of my station wagon one at a time.  I put plastic steps up to the back and, easy peasy, they climbed in.  Yes, I know I should have videoed this too.  Now I wonder if they would have destroyed our car had I closed them in there. 

So, it's done.  Our pig pen is empty for about a month when Roxie will return, hopefully pregnant. 
I will move her house and fence to greener pastures where she can prepare a new garden while this area will be growing sweet corn and other grains. 

Stay tuned for Pigs, Part 2, a comedy.


  1. Makes you wish you had a helmet cam on at all times just to catch the really funny stuff that happens!

  2. I can't imagine having them in your car! You are just too funny. I'm glad that the trip ultimately was successful.

  3. That sounds like something that would have happened to us. I don't think I have told you about all the things that we have lost off the back of the pick up or a trailer. Maybe another day. I don't have enough room to write them all. I know, I'm sure you were sad about Velma. It is never easy. I can't wait for Roxie to have piglets! I didn't know you were breeding her. How long does it take for pigs gestation? I am coming as soon as possible!!

  4. Oh, remember when I mentioned I could picture you putting them in your car? Guess I know you pretty well. :) I still can't believe you didn't get a video of it!