Monday, June 26, 2006
Houdini the Pig
Tina Leigh had posted on her blog Blessings In The South pictures of a cat and a turkey looking in the window at her. I commented on them and then said I would have to blog about the story of Houdini. This is a picture of Houdini. He EARNED that name. This was the first pig that we ever raised. My son raised him for the fair. We found a pig who was around 50 to 60 pounds. We were still making the pen when we brought the pig home on Saturday, so we put him in the front yard in a pen made of four 16' long stock panels. We went to bed that night and got up early on Sunday morning to do chores. Joshua, our son came in and asked if either of us had moved his pig. We both said no, and followed him outside. Our property was surrounded by some pretty high weeds. We could not see very far when looking for a little black pig. We brought Star, the dog out to help. We heard some snorting and noise and away we went. Well, we chased him all over, but never got really close or saw him. I walked out to the road with my son to come around from another angle. We were just in time to see him cross the road and go down the driveway of our neighbors. They lived way back in a pine woods. We hollered to Michael and started after the pig. He was rooting around in their woods fairly close to their house. Now remember, this is early Sunday morning and no one is up and around or even stirring yet. I told my son that I would distract him with the dog and he was to sneak up behind him. I told him when he got a hold of him to hold on NO MATTER WHAT!! So, the dog and I circled around in front of the pig and were talking to him and keeping him occupied. My son came up from behind, dove and grabbed a hip. From the moment his hand even touched the pig, it screamed. It did not oink, it did not squeal, it SCREAMED!! I am sure that the neighbors had to sit straight up in bed. It would only stop screaming long enough to take a breath to scream again. My son held it tight and firm. He was holding it agains his chest. Even a clean little piggy stinks. So both his nose and his ears were being assaulted. My husband by this time had made his way over. They two guys took turns carrying the stinky, screaming pig back home. We put him in a stall in the barn until we got his pen done. As soon as they let him go, he got quiet. We had read in Joel Salatin's book that a single strand of electric wire would keep a pig in. This must work for a pig trained from the time it was born or something. We were going to make sure that our pig did not get out, so we were putting up 3 lines of high tensile wire around his pen. We made so many mistakes that we later learned from. One of those mistakes was "where" we put the pig pen. It was up behind our other pasture This would have been fine, except for the fact that there was not space between the garden fence and the pasture fence (and the trees that were there) to back a truck or trailer up to the pen to load the animal for fair day. =) Pig loading was another memory building/character building day. Anyway, the pasture that Houdini's pen was behind held all of our other animals. We did not have much pasture at that house. So, we had a cow, a heifer, 3 goats and lots of chickens all in the pasture. The hen house was up in the corner of the pasture near where we made Houdini's pen. They got the last strand of wire up and came to get the pig, who once again screamed the entire time they touched him. As they carried him up, both cows, all 3 goats and most of the chickens were standing at the fence there beside us to watch. It made us think of those scenes in Babe where the animals are watching the farmer through the window. The dog was up there watching and even the cat came to see the event. They put him in the pen and he looked around. He went to the other side, touched the fence and squealed. Backed up went to the fence again and squealed again. Then he backed up, charged and went right through the fence. He was out again. After catching him, we tried one more time thinking maybe he had learned something. I know, we are to optimistic. He escaped again in the same way. We caught him again and put him back in the barn stall. We took down the high tensile wire, bought some pig fence and put it up around his pen. It was good and tight, and we had a nice gate. Once again, they picked up the pig who screamed and carried him up to the pen to put him in. We again had an audience that watched with rapt attention. He did pretty good in that pen, but then the next day realized he could lift the bottom a bit, dig a bit and out he went AGAIN. Michael was not home this time. Joshua and I caught him and put him back in the barn. We went and bought some tent stakes. We staked down the entire perimeter of his fence. This finally kept him in. Once he was a little bigger, my son would take him on walks. To win at the fair, you had to have a mean, lean, slim pig. He would let him out and the pig would take off at a run with the dog at his heels. A couple of times he scared the dog coming out of the shoot and the dog took off with the pig chasing. (Life is NEVER dull around our house). Eventually he would tire down some and my son would follow him with a wooden cane to steer him. Before the fair actually arrived, he would walk him a couple of miles down our road. People would laughingly comment to us that they saw Joshua out walking his pig. He did not win first prize, but I do believe he placed in his divsion.