This summer has been the season of revolting farm animals. It is like they have sensed my need for them to stay in their designated pastures, pens, and paddocks and done the exact opposite -somehow knowing how hard it would be for a 9 month pregnant lady and toddler to wrangle them. Between rebellious pigs, mischievous sheep, and curious calves I am happy to leave the summer season behind us.
The decision to do a pig project this year was fairly easy. Pork is delicious, we were able to lease new woodland/pasture perfect for foraging pigs, and my hubby agreed to help with the heavy lifting as my pregnant belly grew to new extremes. As our tried and true method to contain pigs we were confident when we released the hogs into a hotwire paddock. What we did not foresee was the pigs lack of respect for hotwire which became apparent when they were GONE during a morning pig check. Pigs are clever creatures and I had assumed that they would come back home when they were hungry later that day, barring any predator involvement. I was wrong. Very wrong.
To my embarrassment I had to claim my pigs from the Sheriff’s Department. Our neighbors are extremely helpful and without knowing for sure who the rascal pigs belonged to, put them up in style while a day passed until I knew how to find/claim them. I considered myself lucky, grateful to my neighbors, and mortified that my ‘free to forage’ piggies had caused such a stir. After making some slight adjustments to the hotwire we again left the pigs in their paddock to eat, forage, explore and live the good life. Big mistake.
Just a day or two later I get another call from a neighbor letting us know the pigs were out again. Luckily Hubby Dearest was home and was able to swiftly meet the neighbor and walk the pigs back into the paddock with ease. Before I could pack up the kiddo and meet up with them (as it all happened within minutes), I got yet another call from the Sheriff’s Department. Thus, to my utmost horror and embarrassment I was admonished by a very understanding Deputy about containing the pigs. I was grateful that the Deputy came out, talked to us, and saw our set up. I take pride in treating our animals with respect and it was important to me for them to see that it wasn’t a lack of water, food, shelter, treats, or area to roam that our pigs were escaping. A simple case of rebellious swine. But, after having my bacon saved by neighbors not once but twice and now knowing the Deputy Sheriff personally we decided it was time to seriously revamp our hotwire plan. Needless to say, the electric shock that the fencing now contains is far superior and is keeping the hogs in swimmingly.
If our pigs were rebellious our sheep (however cute and fuzzy) were openly mischievous. Though they didn’t escape the pasture, they harassed the laying hens, were too friendly with my two year old, and smashed one of my pastured meat chicken tractors to smithereens. I would manage to patch up the tractor to only have them break it to pieces again. So, I waddled around attempting to wrangle my meat birds in the 98 degree coastal heatwave, sweating-panting-struggling to bend over, while trying to keep the sheep from accidentally trampling my chickens.
Our farm adventure continued into this afternoon, while I was lulled into a false sense of “winding down” for the season on a sunny Saturday. I relaxed with my toddler in the recliner as she snuggled close to my 38.5 week pregnant belly asking if the baby was coming as she fell asleep – and our calf Norman walked by the window.
I stared in disbelief, fearing the herd was grazing in our yard as I tried to call dear Hubby Dearest for back up. Thank my stars the Hubby was tinkering in the garage and came running around back with me. Luckily for us it was only the calf Norman frolicking and luckily Norman loves people. He loves treats and pets and was completely unconcerned until….a chicken walked in his general direction. Slightly spooked after the chicken’s close proximity we calmed him down with more treats, ushered him back into the main pasture with the rest of the herd and said goodbye to our relaxing by the river plans as we committed ourselves to finding and fixing whatever weakness our fence has. Hubby patched the fence to only have Norman show incredible agility and jump the fence. Norman, time to put on some lbs and stop horsing around.
As fun as our busy summer has been, I am ready for it to be over. I am ready for foggy days, slower paced chores, welcoming our sweet baby boy into the world, and enjoying a tasty homegrown roast on a rainy day. We thank our neighbors for their support, help and understanding as they saved our bacon and watched our young family struggle through the adventures of farming.
(After a long afternoon we visited Toby the neighbor horse – Q’s one true love)