After a wonderful Sunday outing to the Homestead Heritage Fair in Waco, Molly and I took a detour on our way home to pick up some more bacon bits. We arrived to find the breeder and his family rounding up and caging our 6 Red Wattle piglets in preparation for our arrival. This group looked a bit younger than I typically purchased, but the breeder assured me they were eating on their own and ready to go. Besides, the momma was raising a litter of 11 and she was getting pretty thin and he needed to reduce her burden. So we loaded up the 6 of them into a dog crate and headed back to the house.
During our trip to the fair in Waco, four of our older Blue Butt pigs had somehow escaped out of their pasture and were waiting for us at the gate (note to self - be sure to feed the pigs before you leave). Before unloading and releasing our new group of piglets, I had to coax the escapees back into their home pasture with some tasty treats. With that resolved we unloaded the dog crate onto a cart and wheeled them into our pig pen. I opened the cage to let them out while I made the rounds to ensure there were no areas where they could slip out. I saw I had a couple areas around the gate that needed reinforcement and went about blocking it up. When I looked up to see if the pigs had made it out of the crate, I noticed 3 of them scampering across the adjacent paddock. I had to make a quick decision - if I wanted to keep the 3 contained, I had to figure out how the other half escaped.
Then there were 3.
After closing a few other piglet-sized gaps in the fence, I began searching for the 3 escapees. I realized my neighbors dogs had found them as soon as I heard them squealing across the road. After jumping in the car and driving down the drive, across the road, and into his driveway, I discovered that the gate was locked. I was sure I would lose my pigs forever when I saw a silhouette of a pig passing over the horizon. I'm sure I'm not the first guy to lose a pig or two considering the feral hog population in our area, so I put it down to another one of my life's lessons.
As I returned to the pig pen to check on the three remaining pigs, I noticed the runt had returned home and was trying to rejoin the group. It didn't take me long to grab him and reunite him with his siblings. Making progress - back to 4.
Just then the neighbors' canine sirens started blaring again - their dogs had one of my piglets cornered. It seemed I still had a chance to regain my lost pigs if I could beat the dogs to the punch. I called my neighbor to get his gate code then took off in hot pursuit. The pack of dogs did not show much kindness to the runaway. When I arrived, she was severely injured and being tossed about. After wrapping her up, I put her in the car to see what could be done. Once I had cleaned out the wounds and reviewed the extent of the damage, it looked like she had little chance of surviving. Her wounds were just too extensive and deep. After giving her some antibiotics and placing her under a heat lamp, I said a prayer and went off to clean up.
The moment I stepped out of the shower, my son asked if I knew we had pigs running around in the yard. Really? Again? Armed with fresh flashlights, a fish net, and a squad of helpers, we resumed our search. It wasn’t an easy one, these piglets were ephemeral; you'd see them in the shadows in front of you and the next minute they'd be 50 yards away in the opposite direction. We stalked them across the property for about 20 minutes before I realized that there were 5 pigs in the group. The one I had assumed had disappeared over the horizon in my neighbor's pasture was, in fact, back to help free his compadres.
After a few failed attempts at corralling them, we managed to corner the five escapees against the pigpen's outside wall. Then we enclosed them in a makeshift fence and began to tighten the noose. As we moved closer, they began to feel the pressure - you could see the resignation on their faces. They knew the gig was up. And just like that, they all melted back into the pigpen, acting like the last 2 hours never happened. So how did they get back in there? After some intense interrogation it was obvious that they were not going to snitch on each other, so we put up another layer of fencing, offered another prayer, and called it a night.
Five little piggies in the pen.
It was such a relief to discover that five of the piglets were still in the pen the next morning. Unfortunately, the wounded piggy had succumbed to her injuries. She put up a good fight, but sometimes life is cruel. The unfortunate thing is that she had to suffer because of my foolishness. Pigs will be pigs, and farmers need to own that responsibility. I’ve tightened up security and made some reinforcements. This lesson has not been lost on me.
The Pflugerville Pfarmers Market has moved into it's Pfestive Market Season and will only be open twice a month for the rest of 2021. We will still be delivering preorders to the market location on days the market is closed and will continue to do so until the market reopens in 2022.
The Elgin Farmers Market is a year-round market that will remain open every Thursday. Pre-orders are encouraged.
The Taylor Farmers Market is a year-round market that will is open every Saturday. Pre-orders are encouraged. Live music most Saturday's from 11 -1.
The market will be closed December 25th and January 1st. It will reopen and remain open every week starting January 8th, 2022.