We have some neighbors who are out of town for a week, so I'm taking care of their animals. I forgot to ask about posting photos of the critters, so I'll wait until I have permission. Anyway, we're taking care of one sweet dog, three ducks, a pygmy goat, five rabbits and four pigs.
This was only the second morning feeding everyone, and I had to call for backup. I was on my way to the pig pen with the feed when one of the pigs rather gleefully climbed/hopped over the fence and came running at me, full tilt. I don't have much experience with pigs. OK, since this was day two, I had one day experience with pigs, so that's probably why I felt rather uncomfortable with a 220 pound pig running straight for me. Ok, I admit. I was terrified.
He knocked against one of the containers of feed and some of it fell out on the ground, at which point he started eating. I ran to the pig pen and poured the rest of the feed into the pen, hoping the pig would just hop back over once the food on the ground was gone. See, the pigs are in a makeshift sort of pen (maybe that's why the pig got over the fence?), and there is no gate to let him back in.
The pig did try to jump back over, but it was a failed attempt. I tried to encourage him to try some more by putting additional food in the pig pen, but no luck. After that, every time I'd try to take food to some other critter, I was chased. I did the sensible thing and ran into the rabbit shed and stayed there. After a while, he began rooting up the ground behind the pig pen. When he got himself on the west side of the pen, I made a run for it - home.
The family left me with phone numbers. One was for Cheyenne, a girl up the road who is in 4-H with the kids in this family, so I called her and told her what was going on. She said she'd be down in a few minutes, so did my best to be brave, grabbed the broom (oh yeah, I was defending myself from a 200+ pound hungry pig with...a broom) and went back over. I hid in the rabbit shed until Cheyenne arrived.
She pulled up in her car, hopped out, and walked over to where I was waiting (cowering). She was dressed in PJ's and flip flops. My heart sank. But...you know what? This was not Cheyenne's second day ever around pigs. She got the can, put a little feed in it, and lured the pig back down by the pen. When he would get obnoxious with her, she would tell him to stop it, and he would stop it! It was amazing.
We found a place on the back side of the enclosure where there wasn't much wire holding the hog panel (that's a kind of fencing) to the post. So, while Cheyenne kept the pig distracted, I got the wire off and opened the fence. For a split second it looked like we would have four loose pigs, but Cheyenne told them to knock it off and they did! She tossed the feed from the can into the pigpen, the pig went in, and I wired the fence shut again.
I love Cheyenne.
I love her Grandpa too. He came down to help in case we needed him. He's been raising pigs for a while, and he knows stuff. He was super nice, and I felt reassured that I can do this for a week. Sure, maybe the laughed all the way home about what a wimp I am, but they were really nice to me, and pretty understanding too.
This afternoon, I poured in a bonus can of feed in the pen to distract the pigs and got to work. I found some extra hog panels and some other fencing that I wired to the existing setup. Now the fence is about five feet tall. I don't think they can get out. I sure hope not. Of course, no one can get in, either, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Plus, I really don't want to have to call Cheyenne and her Grandpa again. That would just be embarrassing.
I have often talked about wanting to raise a pig or two at Ten Things Farm. I am less certain about that now. Chickens are nice...and small...and not quite so scary.