For the last many months, our three formerly little pigs have been living in semi-feral conditions in well over an acre of mixed woodland (largely oak, pine and juniper), North and North-East of the workshop. Accessible only by foot, hoof and trotter.
Last week’s question was: How do we get them into a trailer for the next stage of their journey?
The answer, inevitably: Dismantle Ark One and re-mantle in the field next to the veggie bed; create an enclosure, thereby letting the pigs turn the ground that will be ploughed and sown for next winter’s animal feed; wire up a path from the woods to the new enclosure; and move the pigs.
As long as you have a Secret Weapon.
Past pig manoeuvres have involved me rattling a food bucket and bellowing at animals who pig-headedly refuse to cross the invisible line where the electric fence was just moments ago; followed by Her Outdoors wafting the same bucket in the general direction of the porkers, who trot obediently after her, grunting with approval.
Perhaps it would be the same this time.
Last Thursday, we moved Ark One and marked out the enclosure in the morning. Then, after our long chat with our new butcher friend, we wired up the path and let the porkers make their move.
Two of them trotted happily after Her Outdoors all the way down the (very long) path. I was discussing the absence of the electric fence with pig three, when a cry from the field made me turn the current off, so the first pigs could enter the field enclosure.
That done, the Pig Whisperer came back up the path to help me.
After a little effort (and with school pick-up time approaching fast), we got the pig onto the path and I made my Second Mistake of the Day: I followed it.
Not ten metres (yards) down the track, no doubt disturbed by me, the pig touched the electric tape with his back leg. Backing over it, he revealed my First Mistake of the Day: I hadn’t turned the fence back on.
It all went quickly downhill from here.
Or more accurately, across the hill and into the woods.
I ran after him, waving and then throwing my stick. Which had the effect of making the animal run faster towards our unfenced boundary – and freedom. A loser in many senses of the word, I almost immediately gave up the chase. I thought, ‘At least we have two pigs.’
Her Outdoors walked past me without a word. Minutes later she returned, somehow, the pig trotting along in front of her. My bacon was saved.
Only to escape in another direction.
Following an impossible-to-refuse request to do some running, I became Alex the Hunter. Pig in view, snuffling when possible (him, not me) I circled wide to force the animal towards the neighbour’s fence (the fence I said couldn’t be run through this kind of woodland – remember?). He went up to the fence. Then turned and ran toward his old enclosure. Then along it and back towards the outstretched arms (and stick) of Her Outdoors.
Finally, he went towards the other pigs.
Eventually, he was next to the field enclosure.
Then inside it.
This was them just four days later - look what they've done to my grass.
We’re still looking for an animal trailer.