We Have a Bacon Emergency
By Erin C
My husband and I were just getting going for the day, him finishing up his breakfast, and I going in for my second (or third) cup of coffee. As I walked into the kitchen, I could hear the ducks loudly losing their minds, which, for our ducks is not unusual. They loudly panic over just about everything, including butterflies, hawks, crickets too near the food, the deaf and elderly neighbor dog that wants to eat their poop, and each other. So I didn’t necessarily think anything was wrong when I heard the duck alarm going off. It’s when the chickens joined them that we knew something is actually going on. As I reached for the coffee pot, the chickens also started to freak out, so I looked out the kitchen window into the backyard and that’s when I saw her: the big, red pig trying to squeeze into a chicken door 10 sizes too small for her.
“Babe, we have a pig emergency,” I told my husband as I tried to grab my outside slip on shoes. I got to the back door and saw the other pig headed in to also try to find a way into the chicken coop. In the pigs’ defense, they really do love eggs, it is their favorite treat. And they had discovered the source, so who wouldn’t want to try to get in there? I put a pocket full of duck eggs in my apron and headed out, hoping I could lure these two escapees back into their pen with just a couple of eggs and some luck. But they were not interested; why deal with a middle man when you can go straight to the source? The white pig came over the find out what treats I had for her, and to also get her ears scratched. She had found a huge mud puddle and proceeded to shake off like a dog and rub the remainder of the mud on my jeans.
When luring them didn’t work and pushing them didn’t work, my husband tried something as a last-ditch effort; we found a nylon rope and put a loop around the white pig’s shoulders and then a loop behind her rump. While my husband half pushed, half cursed the white pig back into the pen, the red pig got the idea that amazing things were happening without her, so she hauled bacon across the backyard into the pen. All in all, with everything around our property, this was a lucky catch on our part. On two sides, our property is bordered by soybean fields. This discovery on the part of the pigs would have spelled doom for us. The house sits pretty close to the road, too, so if something had happened that they wandered out into the road and one of the neighbors hit them, I have a feeling that offering them pork chops and ham wouldn’t ease neighbor relations.
Since this incident, the pigs have escaped two or three more times, the last of which turned into a huge ordeal. I ended up hitting my head and my husband took a tool to the face. We were bleeding, covered in mud, and mostly unable to lift our arms above our heads. But as exhausted as we were that particular day, we had to finally put into place fencing updates to keep the girls from escaping again. We use hog panels and simply went around the whole yard, reinforcing the fencing at each panel with a t-post in the middle of the panel. When we first got the pigs we were well aware that pigs exist for two purposes: eat and escape. But we were hoping that since we use a rotational fencing system, they would be on enough new ground every couple of weeks that they wouldn’t feel like they needed to escape. We almost made it to butcher day without any escapes.
We moved the fence again recently to give the hogs some new ground and they are very appreciative. We have also been taking them pears from the trees that are right by their yard. And they still get eggs, because that is their favorite thing. It won’t be long now until we are butchering and packaging these two hogs. My husband has been studying how to make perfect bacon and we are trying to figure out the freezer situation. Honestly, when the day comes that I can’t walk out the back door and immediately get barked at by the pigs wondering where their treats and ear scratches are, I will be a little sad. Bacon tastes good, and we eat a lot of pork chops, but I will miss these two, and their antics. Even though they are new escape artists.
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