And it was Pig Moving day again! We didn’t know it yet, but it turned out fortuitous that we moved our pigs on that day, since the next few days were filled with inches and inches of snow! But in any case, here is the story…
Our Permaculture Plan for the property included fencing in our southwest corner as a permanent paddock for our pigs and the cows we will eventually have (hopefully this year). This area consists of about 2 acres of older spruce and a lot of dead tree matter. The idea was that in the winter, this forested area would provide some protection from the elements for our animals. We also know that to overwinter animals in our climate, which has about 6 months of winter, you need a permanent paddock close to zone 0, the home, in order to minimize efforts to feed and water your animals , as well as moving bedding around. So this spot fit those requirements. It was also allowed us to continue our paddock construction in the northwest corner, about 6 or so acres of steeper sloped land, filled with wild apple trees and raspberry.
In any case, we had to get our main paddock done asap. We purchased a larger amount of cattle panels to enclose about an acre or so, which was what we could afford. It took two harrowing trips to transport the panels back from the store, with 7 feet of panel in the truck bed and 9 feet hanging off the back of the truck onto a snowmobile trailer. The panels didn’t move, but the trailer did, so that created some interested effects on driving. We took it slow and drove the backroads. Next time, we will rent a larger trailer…
We took a day to clear the fence path. Two sides of the paddock had some fencing, albeit at odd angles and in different states of usefulness. We had to buck a large tree that had fallen on the fence, which took most of one morning, and finally with some blood sweat and tears we got it all cleared out. Then came the very difficult task of hauling 16 foot long, 4 foot high panels through a tangled brushy woods. That was another 2 days or so of effort. Finally, we were able to pound in a T-post so we decided to get the whole thing enclosed.
The next day it was time to just get those pigs moved. They had been housed comfortably in the hoophouse, and now we were charged with the task of making a chute of hog panels from the hoophouse to the new paddock and not letting them get free at any point. That wasn’t too difficult but it turns out that they weren’t all that interested in leaving the hoophouse!
We manhandled them up the slight slope out of the hoophouse, sinking into the super sloppy swamp which they had created in the hoophouse, losing boots and our sanity. We shuffled them into the hog panel shoot and farther into the paddock and finally, after about an hour or so of chaos, had them where we wanted them! Breathing a sigh of relief, we watched as they all took off into the forest, galloping and rooting like madmen.
They were happy and we were happy. They spent the rest of the day rooting up the forest and making glad pig noises as we tightened up the fence and rigged up a temporary shelter. They were so excited they were not very interested in eating the soaked grains for the day. Finally they collapsed in a pig pile and fell asleep.
And then it snowed all night…
To learn more on how to raise pigs like we do on LTD Farm, check out Andrew’s article in the new May edition of Acres Magazine , Practical Permaculture Pigs! http://www.acresusa.com/magazine