Today was one of those extra special days. You see, it isn’t everyday you get to eat birthday cake. Since Russell is now 12 years old, we had to celebrate! After a breakfast of homemade waffles and real maple syrup, we jumped right into presents, cake and ice cream. Russell spent the majority of the day working on the various Lego sets he received. I wish I could say that the whole day was fun and games.
There is always work to be done, today was no different. Our small barn has been in desperate need of repairs and upgrades. The first project of the day was to replace some of the support beams on one whole side of the barn. If this didn’t seem like a big enough task, add in the dreary, wet weather. Not a speck of sunshine in sight all day.
We managed to get two of the four posts replaced. We figured it would be best to let those set and allow the concrete to firm up before we finish up the wall.
Since the day was still young we figured we should try to accomplish something else. We only have 10 days before we are into our farrowing season this Spring. We have 8 sows due between April 11th and May 31st. It only made sense to begin moving them out of the pasture and into the barn.
Most pigs don’t take to being physically forced to do anything or go anywhere. We have a great system for moving our pigs around the farm. We have worked with all our pigs since they were piglets. When we need to relocate a pig or put it on a trailer, we make a “tear drop”. When you take a single cattle panel and bend it so the ends meet it makes a portable cage. We then just lift it over the pig we want to move and gently walk her along.
Even with this great technique there are always things that don’t go as planned. The Spring weather is partly responsible for today’s frustration. Spoinky and the rest of the herd provided the rest.
So the weather has caused the winter pasture to be extremely muddy, in some areas it comes up over our tall boots. The depth isn’t even the worst of it. While we ran around the pasture attempting to weed Spoinky out from the other 8 pigs, we quickly discovered a problem. The pigs could run, but not us! The mud had waged a war against us, grabbing tight on our boots and holding us in place. Each step was a major achievement, especially if we kept our boots on. It was absolutely exhausting. At one point I leaned against the fence to catch my breath. As Marcus continued the quest to single out the one sow we were after I caught myself in a moment of laughter. Just witnessing his personal battle with the mud tickled my funny bone. Between his feet being randomly stuck and his body continuing with the momentum of the chase, he was reminiscent of the blow up sock men you see at a second hand car dealership. After that, all it took was a loss of balance that almost took him down into a bed of mud, I couldn’t help it! I was rewarded with a genuine look of disgust!
Just as you might have suspected, what goes around comes around. As I rejoined the chase I was quickly put in my place. As we cornered Spoinky I suddenly found my feet cemented in place. When 600 pounds of nervous pig is running at you, you get out of the way. Or not. My mind and body were in sprint mode, but my feet did nothing. Closer and closer she came until she had run me right over! Yeah, that’s right, flat out on my back in the thick, black pig mud. There I was covered in mud, a banged up knee and wounded ego as I hear Marcus chuckle while asking if I’m alright.
In the end we got the tear drop around Spoinky and she quietly walked to the barn. All that hard work paid off. But it did leave us with a strong opinion on working with livestock in the mud. It sucks in more ways than one!!