Where There’s a Pig, There’s a Way
It was Saturday and, as promised, I was to be left alone as Farm Overlord for most of the day. Antonio arrived early in the morning and had already let out the birds by the time I sleepily walked out of the trailer.
The clouds were looking grey and volatile. Not surprisingly, the weather report announced that it would be raining for much of the afternoon.
Antonio decided to take the sheep out early, before the downpour came. Relieved of sheep walking duty, I finished raking the pigs’ old burrowing grounds.
Oink and Oink could be seen nearby, fervently digging around the dirt in their new outdoor spot.
In case they decided to call anarchy and run astray at any point, we had bordered their burrowing area with electric fencing. However, the pigs appeared undistracted from their hunt, snouts poking away in the soil.
I had read that in their natural forest environment, wild pigs spend much of their time rummaging around the dirt just as the Oinks were doing now.
Giving domesticated pigs the chance to display their innate behaviours apparently results in healthy and happy pigs. (Sadly, the opposite can lead to pigs biting each other — ouch!).
Soon, the raindrops began to hit. I quickly tidied up and headed to the outdoor kitchen to make lunch. Before taking off, Antonio popped in to give me instructions for the rest of the day.
Since he wouldn’t be back until after dark, I had a number of things to take care of.
The birds should be fed as per usual. Since the pigs were currently in the fenced area outside, the best strategy would be to lay out most of their food in the pigpen trough, then lure them into the pen just before evening using the rest of the food box.
If there was no incentive, lord only knows where they’d run off to.
The sheep needed more hay, as well as their daily corn and oats. Perhaps I should save this latter task for the end of my to-do list, Antonio surmised.
That way, if the sheep trampled me over to get at their favourite meal, it wouldn’t be too long before he returned to find me comatose in the barn.
Check that everyone had their water for the night, and detach the hose from the well in preparation for the overnight freezing.
Lastly, close the doors to the bird house once the ducks and chickens were all in for the night!
I had no idea what surprises I would encounter today, but as I had learned the other day walking the sheep, there was no other choice than to get it done – animals willing or not.
No Risk Too Great
It was late afternoon when the rain finally let up from its relentless downpour. I decided to get going with my list of tasks before 3 ‘o clock hit. That way, if anything went wrong I’d have some wiggle room before it got dark.
I figured I’d start with the easiest item that could be done now: preparing the pigpen trough with food. I’d save the rest of the pigs’ dinner box until closer to 4, when I would use it guide them back inside for the night.
I grabbed the cardboard box I had filled earlier with kitchen scraps from The Red Rooster, the restaurant owned by Antonio’s parents.
The Oinks were going to get a delicious meal of rice, potatoes and salad. Truth be told, I was totally drooling over their dinner.
I walked towards the pigpen, carrying the box of food. Looking out, I could see Oink and Oink still inside their burrowing area.
I approached the pigpen door and was just about to open the latch when, suddenly, I felt a hard nudge against my leg.
I looked down and gasped. Right beside me was one of the Oinks! And the other Oink was coming up fast behind him!
“What the –?!” I exclaimed.
I was beside myself. The smell of food had been enough for the Oinks to barge through an electric-charged fence (unscathed, I might add).
No risk was too great for these hungry pigs!
Oink an Oink were on a mission. The food box was the target and I was collateral damage. The pigs stayed glued to my side, feverishly trying to get at their meal.
As I tried to back away, the two jostled me like a synchronized tag team and I lost my footing. Falling backwards onto my butt, the food was now within reach!
There was zero hesitation. The pigs took their chance.
“Nooooo!” I yelled, wrestling off the pigs.
I managed to get back onto my feet. One Oink casually jogged off, while the other tried to tear at the bottom of the cardboard box. She had gotten a taste of the good life and wasn’t about to give it up.
I walked back to the fenced area. I needed them to get back inside and distracted so I could continue with the original feeding plan.
As they nudged me from side to side, I threw in some of the food over the fence.
Now the pigs didn’t seem interested at all in dealing with an electric charge to get at the otherwise unguarded food.
I walked over to turn the charging device off – with pigs hot on my heels – so they could get in undeterred and eat.
But they still didn’t want to go on the other side of the fence to get at all the food lying on the ground. They much preferred the cardboard box that I was holding well out of reach.
Finally, I had enough. The pigs had gotten their chance to eat their entire meal, but they weren’t playing the game. So be it.
I walked over to the pigpen and threw in the cardboard box that now only had fraction of their dinner in it.
Oink and Oink ran inside and I closed the gate behind them as they happily munched away.
Exhausted, I retreated to the outdoor kitchen to regroup. My fight with the pigs had left me feeling more mentally than physically defeated, although the entire sides of my pants and jacket were smudged with the muddy evidence of my bovine battering (I being the battered).
I was disappointed in myself for not getting the pigs fed their entire meal, and wasting so much time on my first task of the afternoon.
The air was chilly, almost biting, and I turned on the kettle to boil some water. In all honesty, at that very moment, farm life did not feel like the best life.
Sipping on my hot water, I gazed out at the ducks waddling around and Olive prancing about in the the snow. The late afternoon rays of the sun beamed through the wooden slats and gently warmed up my face.
I took a deep breath, and reminded myself that it was only my third day at the farm. Not only that, but Antonio had already trusted me enough to be left alone to run the shop.
To only dwell on the minor fiasco with the pigs, who still got fed and back into their pen, took away from what I had accomplished so far.
Feeling better after my pep talk, I walked out confidently to tackle the rest of my to-do list.
The pigs might be a crafty, stubborn duo, but where there was a determined farm girl, there was also always a way!
>> Read the next post in the #farmlifebestlife series: Cavaleiro Farm