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