After what has felt like an endless week, the piglets are here.

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Work has been busy with an extra shift and extra hours, which really put a cramp in my pig preparation plans, but we made it work. And I mean we. W from Warlin Farms really handled the fencing and the bulk of the blackberry clearance for me, in addition to tilling my vegetable garden – a bonus. He also picked up the load of straw I purchased down the road, since I don’t have a truck. My older daughter and I had done some repair work on the stall door where the pigs will be living for a couple of weeks before they head out to pasture, and she also took care of preparing the bedding (straw).

There have been a few glitches getting ready for the little piggies.  The biggest turned out to be starter feed, which isn’t supplied by ANY of the feed stores in my area.  I ended up having to make a trip up-Island to Duncan to get 7 of the 19 bags they had left at the feed mill that supplies about half the feed dealers on the Island. I did that on Friday morning, managing the one hour trip each way (by ferry, fortunately – I could sip my coffee and admire the view while quietly stressing about too much to do instead of driving a twisty, steep highway full of aggressive drivers whilst simultaneously stressing about too much to do), the actual purchase and pick up, unloading the feed at home, and getting to work for noon, which I managed with seconds to spare.

Doing a last once over our preparations, when I got home from work after six that night, we realized our feed bowls were much too big for 5 week old piglets, and probably the water bucket as well.  Since I was supposed to pick up the piglets at 10 am in the morning, we decided to whip into the feed store on our way over there and buy a couple of smaller feed bowls – we’d use one for water.

I had to be at work at 10 this morning, which was also the time I had to pick up the pigs.  I have practically no vacation time left (I splurged it all on the NZ/Aus trip), and hubby and younger daughter were in Vancouver where she was competing in the provincial level of the Concours, so had arranged with my supervisor and my co-worker today that I would be arriving late to work this morning, making use of some time owing I had accrued.  Both were fine with this.  I really felt like I had things covered.

Then the farmer called at 730 am.  There had been a mudslide in Golden, closing the highway for a couple of hours, her husband and his friend were stuck the other side with the pigs, and would be later than planned, since there was no way they’d make the first ferry.  New pick up time was 1pm.  So much for my best laid plans.

I phoned my co-worker and we arranged that I’d start at 10, and use my lunch break with whatever extra time (in lieu) that I needed to get the pigs home and settled.  I went to the feed store on my way to work to get the smaller feed bowls and bucket, and headed to work.  And from there, the day flowed like it had been planned that way all along.

I dashed home at 1pm to change into jeans and a sweatshirt over my nice blouse, elder daughter joined me with the dog crate, and off we went.  There were a couple of other people there picking up pigs also, and we had to wait a little, but it was fun chatting and comparing notes.  Our two little gilts were loaded into the dog crate very quickly.  Back home, we backed up to the barn, unloaded the crate and carried it to the pig stall, prepped the water and feed bowls and then opened the door.

There was startled silence for a minute, and then a few cautious grunts.  It took a few more minutes before the smaller, feistier piglet ventured out.  Where one goes, the other will follow.  Within another minute or two, they’d found the food.  And then the water. They explored a little.  And ate.  And then peed in the food bowl.  Sigh.

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I think it’s called multi-tasking, standing in the food and the water simultaneously.   If only nutrients were absorbed through the feet!

I had to go back to work.  Farm layers off, good clothes back on, grabbed an apple and an energy bar and off I went.  Elder daughter and her friend kept an eye on the piglets all afternoon, and by the time I got home after 6pm, the piglets were quite calm and happy, no longer anxious and best of all, had established their “bathroom” corner – which was NOT the feed bowl.  When I checked on them a couple of minutes ago (1030pm), they were flaked out in the straw, not huddled, but close – snouts just touching.




12 thoughts on “Piglets

  1. df says:

    Well, that was a bit of an odyssey, but what a lovely end to the story of the piglets’ arrival. So sweet. I hope your daughter is doing well in Vancouver – you must be very proud!

    • Thank you, yes, very proud. She is happy with how she placed, and that’s what really matters to me. The piglets completely buried themselves in straw overnight, I almost stepped on them this morning, looking through the straw for them.

  2. PetKid says:

    Those piglets look extremely cute. That must have been a very hectic week. 🙂

    • It was probably harder on the piglets than on me – they had to leave the only place they’d ever known, and travel in a stock trailer with 85 other piglets all the way from Wainright Alberta to Vancouver Island – through the Rockies, snow, mudslide, rain and a ferry ride. Poor things were pretty stressed by the time they got here. Now that they’ve settled in here however, they’re getting up to hi jinks, just like puppies would.

      • PetKid says:

        That sounds like a hectic ride when you’re a little piglet packed in a trailer with other piglets! Thanks for telling me.

  3. Whew! What a week! Good to have helpers and glad it all worked out in the end.
    We visited the farm we got our Tamworth pork from and she had a bunch of the cutest little red pigs! We are totally smitten with them and the pork is fantastic.
    I noticed you only have the two, and they are gilts. Are you going to keep them on as sows?

    • It felt very breathless at the time, but it already feels like it took place long ago. The piglets have settled in quite nicely, and my routine already feels comfortable. I love Tamworths, that rich copper colour – they’re supposed to be a good pasturing breed. Yes, just the two gilts. I could have had barrows, but I had gilts last year through happenstance and it worked well, so I just went with what worked. So far, they seem pretty amicable (except around food). No, no plans for breeding in the near future. I toy with that idea, but not very seriously, as there would be a big learning curve with breeding and farrowing, and I am most definitely not set up to handle more than a couple of pigs at the moment. Though I’ll tell you, the difficulties I had finding weaner piglets makes it tempting to grow my own…

      • Aah. For some reason I thought you raised more pigs at a go. Breeding and farrowing is a huge responsibility – not one I would want to take on anytime soon!!
        Yes – Tamworths are excellent on pasture. That and their incredible flavor is why we are pretty sure they are the breed we want to raise.

  4. Pretty soon it will become routine. Then will come the thoughts of “How did we ever live without pigs?” Soon after you’ll be counting down the days to get rid of those monsters. Finally you will turn to your loved ones and say, “Gosh I miss the pigs. Let’s get some more.”

    Somewhere someone who loves you read that and rolled their eyes.

  5. Lol…that’s almost exactly how it went after last year’s batch. Actually, everyone in the family is on board with the pigs, even our vegetarian. Right now we get lots of teen visitors who hang adoringly over the stall door, but that will change to healthy caution when these little piggies are 200 lbs.

  6. Bill says:

    Yay! This makes me smile. So glad you’ve got your piglets installed. I’ll be picking up ours in a week or two. I’ve always kept them in a barn stall for a while, until they were tame, but this year I’m going to put them straight into the pasture. They’ll start out in a run-in shed. I’ve been trying to make the gates piglet-secure this week. Hopefully they won’t escape until they’ve learned to come when I call them. I’m really looking forward to having pigs here again. (and I agree with Head Farm Steward. Soon enough I’ll be looking forward to getting rid of them and soon after that I’ll be missing them. 🙂 )

  7. We’re all pig people here, apparently! I still have some outside work to do to make the first run piglet proof (these gals are pretty small), but I’ve got a couple days yet, I think. Your run in shed sounds interesting, so we’ll look forward to a post about that soon :). Yup, they’re loads of fun till they get to be market weight, and then somehow, the time seems right to say goodbye…

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