Monday, June 27, 2011

Animals on the Loose!

Saturday evening we attended a party at a fellow farmer's home a significant distance from our own. Their spacious, multi-acre property is where we will be relocating many of our animals. Some of the chickens are already there. We had a lovely time eating, drinking, and socializing. We got to know the many in-laws and relations and children of this family. We walked the paths and discussed where the pens would be set up for the pigs and where the chicken coop would be constructed so the chickens could start laying in the same place all the time. Then, as the evening cooled and the sun started to come down, there was a call from the neighbor back home: The two piglets that were on layover from their old home to their new had escaped from the dog crates.

It isn't completely clear how they got out. The bottom latch on the crate was a bit worn, so it is possible that they simply pushed it open and slipped out the door below the top latch. Additionally, the bottom of the crate has larger openings than the sides. With minimal digging, they could have lifted the crate and escaped through the bottom. The act of corralling them destroyed any evidence of how they might have escaped, however, so we may never know for sure.

The neighbor was able to get one of the piglets into the chicken run, and another was cornered. Before long, however, the one in the chicken run found a way out. We called our pig partner for assistance, and both pigs were in the other crate before we got home for the evening. This crate was reinforced with rat wire and has a fully functioning latch, so the piggies were secure. A quick, flashlight-guided survey of the realm showed no sign of damage. Aside from various items that had been moved around to try to contain the animals, everything looked completely normal, so we went to bed.

The Little Marauders... Contained Now

Sleepy Mr. Farmer awoke on Sunday morning to find that the chickens were out of the run! Apparently that piglet had left an opening in the run where it escaped. The chickens had been marauding in my garden for a few hours. The whole family was awakened to try to contain the little beasts. I made coffee. Mr. Farmer and Young Master Farmer rounded up chickens. Little Miss Farmer, in spite of her efforts to lure the chickens with worms, was not having success, so she worked on closing up the breech in the chicken fence. In just a few minutes the hens were secure, but the damage had been done.

The chicken's weeding of the garden looked kind of nice at first, then we saw the damage. The mint that I had so painstakingly rescued was completely gone.  I think the root has survived, but not a single leaf remains. All the baby butterfly-bush sprouts that I had transplanted from all over the yard and gardens were scattered to the winds. Several leaves were torn from the rhubarb. The brand new thyme was above ground, as was one cucumber plant. All of the full-grown dill was laying down on the ground.

Early morning gardening does get the blood flowing, I guess. So if there is a silver lining in all of this, that must be it. How often can I say that before 8 am on a Sunday morning I had located and replanted almost a dozen butterfly-bush sprouts, re-planted several herbs, and trimmed and re-mulched a rhubarb? Not many, that's for sure. I certainly earned my morning tea, and my title as Mrs. Farmer.


  1. Oh my -- sounds like you've got some wiggly pigglies! Great use of the word "marauding," by the way! LOL

    I personally love digging in the dirt, no matter what time of day it is. It's the one thing that actually quiets my mind... when I'm planting and moving soil, my brain just goes all peaceful. I guess it's my version of meditation, since I don't have the patience or discipline required to do the real thing!

    Good story!

  2. Wiggly is right! Now that we have torn down the pen, I can't wait to be rid of these two. Keeping them in dog crates is such a headache. I wish they would hurry up and get big enough to go to the Beta Site so I didn't have to lose sleep over them escaping (which happened a second time, btw).

    I really have grown to love the gardening as well. We aren't in a great place for it, but the work itself is really very rewarding.