Pigs to the Butcher
Our pigs are now at the butcher, thankfully. There was a period of time this morning when I thought that we were going to end up adding to the growing number of feral pigs living in the Eastern US.
For the past four cycles of pigs, we have secured the trailer into their pen area about a week before their transport date. We then place their feed buckets inside the trailer. We secure the fencing to the trailer so that they can’t get out. Typically, after less than an hour on the first day, we are able to get them up into the trailer and eating just fine.
This year, due to a combination of factors, we didn’t do this. And so, this morning, we had to get the pigs into the trailer for the very first time and to the butcher all in one go. It was a pretty rough process due to a number of mistakes which I will highlight below, with tons of pictures.
Here I am greeting the girls and trying to figure out where to put the trailer. Unfortunately, due to numerous trees and rocks, our choices were limited. See the mud in the bottom right of the picture? By the end of the ordeal, my lower half was covered in it.
Next, I fed the pigs just enough to keep them interested in me so Mike could open their pen and back the trailer in. Do you notice how the chickens are more interested in the food than the pigs? Another problem. I didn’t feed the pigs dinner the night before, hoping that I could motivate them with food in the morning. It didn’t work quite that well.
Mike “securing” the fence to the trailer. Note how the fence is opening into the end of the trailer instead of out? Another problem. We ended up chasing pigs three separate times this morning before we finally made a fully secure jug. As in they were on the loose, running around the “back yard”.
I am trying to coax them in with food. I am not sure if you can tell, but due to the positioning of the trailer, the ramp was a few inches off the ground. While this is fine for a person, it is unacceptable for a pig. Also, due to the mud, the pigs were slipping all over the plywood we put on the ramp for “traction”.
In this moment, I was so overly confident. It was maybe half an hour in to things, and I thought I was going to get them both right up. Then one of them spooked and it was all over.
Do you see the look of disapproval that this pig is giving us? Like, “WTF are you crazy people trying to do???”
This picture was taken about an hour into the process. We made a “jug” with the pig fencing. However, we were rushing, and didn’t properly secure it. They escaped three different times. They are very strong and very fast and very big. During the third time they escaped I was having fantasies involving Mike’s .22. Thankfully, we were able to get them back in the jug each time with food and coaxing. After the third time, we decided not to try to rush getting them up the trailer, but instead focus on making the jug 100% secure with a ton of posts.
We pulled out the plywood and fixed the ramp so it was flat on the ground. We put a trail of food up the trailer leading to their food bucket. Our other pigs would have gotten right in at this point, but not these girls, they were too smart
Here they are teasing us. We thought they were going to go on again. What this picture cannot convey is all of the cursing and slipping and hustling we did just to get them to this point. Seriously, as I am typing this post I am sipping honey lemon tea as my throat is sore.
Once we got them to this point, we used a pallet and a 2×4 to ratchet them farther in. We don’t have any pictures of this, as we were all working. We had made a narrow jug with pig panel that was heavily secured so they couldn’t get under it. Then, Mike came behind them with a pallet and Jackson and I were on either side of the fence on the outside. Once they were past those two trees you see in the background, we slid in the 2×4 behind the pallet so they could not go backwards. Normally, they would have jumped right up the trailer to get to their food, but we had to ratchet the pallet, sliding one side of the beam up a few squares in the fencing each time. They did not like this and we were constantly worried they would power their way out. Finally, they saw their food bucket and ran up to eat. Then, we slid the pallet up and slid another 2×4 behind it to secure them on the trailer while we lifted the ramp. That was almost the worst, hardest part. The ramp got stuck on the fencing and Jackson and I had to lift and push it up each section. I will have tons of bruises from that.
Here they are on the trailer, somewhat calm and eating. We untied the panels from the sides and away we went!
Here we are at the butcher. Unloading was thankfully much easier than loading.
All the pigs were hanging out and resting in the outside run. Tomorrow, they will meet their fate.
Here is what the process should be like
And here we are at one of the local casinos after a buffet lunch and time spent in the kids “game room” (think old-school arcade, it is pretty fun). Next year, we will definitely prep the week in advance, this was way to stressful and intense for all involved.