The second morning I let Chelsey (7 years old) come with me to help do the pig chores. She did such a great job! I stayed close by incase anything happened, but there were no issues. The pigs came out shortly after she called them, and we both watched them eat from outside the kennel. In the afternoon I brought out food scraps and sat down inside their kennel while they ate.
They were doing so good. The female came to me and sampled my boot, so I gently moved my foot away and said “no”. She backed up, but continued to sniff in my direction. Once they finished their scraps, I tried to coax the boy to me, but he seems to be a lot more cautious than she is. If he has to walk by me, he pushes himself against whatever he can to keep the most distance between us. Eventually they started warming up to me.
There isn’t much room in the kennel (we weren’t planning on keeping them in there!). It is a 12’x12’ kennel, their shelter is 4’x9’ if you include the roof overhang, and we have it centered along the back wall. That leaves 4 foot on each side of the kennel, and 3 foot in front of it. I was a little worried that with it being such a small space they would be eating and sleeping in their pee and poop. It seems that they have designated one side of the kennel their bathroom, and the other side their sleeping/foraging area. That is pretty cool! Maybe pigs are as smart as everyone says they are!
I felt bad that the space was so small, and they were being so good so instead of waiting for Kevin to get home from work, I decided I’d let them out into the electric fence area myself. The electric fence is about a 60’x50’ area, then we have a 12’x12’ chainlink kennel inside that, and their 4’x9’ shelter inside that, to give you a visual.
When I walked out of their kennel, I left the door open, quickly hopped the electric fence and turned it on full speed. At first, all was well. They didn’t waste any time coming out of the kennel and seemed ecstatic when they found the grass and other goodies. But was that good enough for them? No. They wanted to see just how far they could go. What is this delicious looking white and black netting? It must be amazing!
The female had sniffed the fence. I cringed, and hoped she would learn quickly. She ran around and went to the other side of the fenced area. Hmmm, what is this netting, I never did get a good taste…
ZAP! SQUEAL SQUEAL!
And the panic began. She ran from one fence to another, looking absolutely terrified, never putting together what exactly was hurting her snout. The boy may have gotten shocked once or twice, but still ran around like he was getting killed because he is a follower, not a leader. Eventually, paralyzed with fear, they stopped inches away from a fence and stood there staring at me like I was the cause of this. Okay, so partially it is my fault, but it wasn’t me physically zapping their noses! I am now questioning that whole pig intelligence thing.
I called Kevin at work, slightly panicked myself. I’m not sure what I expected him to do, but I needed someone to tell me what to do. He wasn’t much help, and ended up having to let me go for a meeting. It was up to me, I had to figure out something. Should I just leave them and let them figure it out? Should I try to corral them back into the kennel? What if they plow through the fence and I have to chase them down the road?
Finally, I decided I needed to get them back into the kennel. I turned the fence to a slower speed, grabbed a plastic post to push the fence down so I wouldn’t get shocked and hopped over the fence. Armed with a long, dead sunflower stalk in one hand and my plastic post in the other, I was able to herd the boy into the kennel and shut the door. I repeated the process, getting the girl to go toward the kennel door, opened it, and used my sunflower stalk and post to herd her in as well. I slammed the door and locked it.
It’s okay to laugh at me, I’m laughing… now. It wasn’t funny at the time, but I kind of wish I had been taping it.
I left them to calm down and went inside to make dinner. That was not at all how I had expected things to go. That night, they were back in their shelter like good little piggies, and we shut them up before we went to bed.