Sunday, November 3, 2013

A shake and a squeal...

I have a field where the nursing mothers range; they like the grass and the weather, and I'll find them out there during the day.   I go out at sunset and make sure that they're all in the barn for the evening.  I do that because the sow really doesn't experience temperature like we do. 
 This particular sow is named terrorist.  She's a very nice pig; gentle, good with piglets,a good mother, but got her name when she was a piglet because of her constant theft of gloves and tools.  She'd hide under a trailer or behind a bush, carefully watching for you to turn your back, and she'd dash out and take your hammer or glove or whatever it was that you were working with and run off with it.  For her it was a fun game of you-can't-catch-me.  For me it was terrorism.
 Sows have a large body and a good layer of fat on them; that means that they're basically like seals and can withstand quite a temperature range.  My sows consider anything above 65 degrees a heat wave and I'll find them bathing in the freezing mud to cool off.  Brr.  But pigs are a different matter; when they're small they have no fat to speak of, and they spend most of their time working hard to keep dry and as warm as they can be.  So when the sow decides to lay down in the grass for the evening, well, that's fine if it's in July.  But not november.   So I do my rounds and everyone goes into the barn for the night.  Dry straw and good roof for the benefit of the little ones. 
 But now and then a sow doesn't want to go into the barn; that's where the shake and squeal comes in.  The basic technique is to try a bribe; a pail of feed, shaken, provides a sound that is usually enough to motivate even a sow that has just fed- sows can always find some room for more food. 
The squeal comes in if the shake doesn't work.  Carefully and calmly you walk up to the sow; the pigs will usually arrange themselves on the opposite side from you.  Squatting, you reach right underneath her and grab a pig.  And then run like the dickens as it squeals, because you can pretty much bet momma is RIGHT BEHIND YOU.  If she gets too close you put the piglet down; if she is not following you hold the piglet in sight until it squeals; she'll get interested, and the chase is on. 

Shake and Squeal. 


ellie k said...

The baby pigs made me think if a funny story, I grew up on a farm but married a city boy, when we married we lived with my parents for a while. My dad had a sow trying to deliver pigs but needed help, my dad needed someone to help him as he was getting older so he called my husband to help. My husband had never been around animals of any kind not even a pet. He helped my dad and came in almost sick, he said he had never seen anything so messy in his 18years. He went on to help deliver many calves and learned many farm chores. After 48 years he is still a great husband. I still smile when when I think of what trooper he has been.

BigGAdawg said...

The squeal and run game sounds dangerous--if you fall she might take a chunk out of your leg or backside.