...sqeeeee! Grunt squee squeeeeee!
For the record, in case anyone out there is wondering,
these are NOT the sounds to which a farmer enjoys waking.
Roosters aren't so great either, but I'll take a nice, normal, healthily-crowing early morning rooster any day over...
Seven Escaped Pigs.
To start with, here's how the weather looked by the time I came in for a short break in the late morning:
That's better than the image on the weather radar this morning at around 6:30, when we were suiting up to go chase pigs. The 6:30 image had a lot more yellow, orange, and red in it. What you also can't see from this image was that our farm was right...in...the...middle of the storm (think of those ellipses as thousands of rain drops).
The incessant rain has seriously hampered our pig management this year. Enclosures that, in a normal summer, would serve the pigs for a few weeks are turned into muddy morasses in a matter of days. We try to keep them on fresh, clean ground with a lot of places to root, plenty of shade, and an array of twigs and green-growies to chew on and scratch against. Not only are they trampling the greenery too quickly, but the rapid onset of storms has been spooking them enough to bust through the four-strand electric fence.
So imagine a sudden downpour at dawn on a small Northland farm. Imagine the distant rumble of thunder, then the sudden hard patter of arriving rain. Then imagine...Grunt...grunt grunt....squeeee! Yep, that's how our morning began.
Here's a sampling of the clothing we went through during our pre-breakfast "running of the swine." (I should mention, by the way, that we have a total of eight pigs. While the rain poured and seven pigs gleefully jounced around, up the braes and down the glens, Pig Number Eight trundled back and forth inside the fenceline of the old enclosure, fruitlessly calling to all its escaped comrades. I was torn between praising its law-abiding nature and mocking it for its stupidity. In other words, I was not at my compassionate best as a farmer.)
Here are some of the pigs, exhausted after several circuits of the yard, the gardens, the cattle pasture, and the woods. Note that five pigs are sleeping peacefully INSIDE their new fence. Note that one pig is sleeping peacefully OUTSIDE the fence. Oh, well. You can only do so much on a farm after half the workforce departs for an off-farm job. I thought five pigs inside the fence was pretty good, with just myself and a mostly-untrained Border Collie on the job!
Here are two other pigs, NOT sleeping peacefully. They are, instead, pulling the tarp off of the firewood pile, unstacking the wood, rooting in the herb beds, and generally making themselves as much of a nuisance as possible. To put it as mildly as I can, these particular creatures are, umm, "not especially appreciated" right now. (The only reason I'm blogging is that I've given up.)
The renegades seem to be staying fairly close to their fenced-in friends, so my goal now is to just keep an eye on them from the house--with occasional stick-brandishing screaming raids if they get too close to the gardens again--until The Piper comes home. Seven days a week, she picks up a bucket or two of plate-scrapings from a local "breakfast served all day" restaurant. The pigs ought to come running for these syrup-soaked pancake bits, eggs, hash browns, orange slices and triangles of whole-wheat toast. (She'll dump it in the middle of the new enclosure and we'll work together to lift the fence and usher the renegades in.) Heck, I'D come running for that, too. In fact, after chasing pigs all over Creation for the last six or seven hours in the pouring rain, I would eat just about anything sluiced in a trough in front of me, as long as I don't have to cook it myself.