Monday, December 15, 2008

Much Easier Than I Expected

We took the pig to the slaughterhouse today. I wanted to build both a ramp and a wooden crate to go in the back of the pickup truck, but I only had time to build the ramp. We figured that the pig would probably fit in our largest dog crate. Paul took the day off from work, because we figured it might be difficult to convince the pig to walk up the ramp and get in a dog crate, and we had to be at the slaughterhouse by 5pm at the absolute latest.

This November and December have been really cold so far, and the ground has been frozen for much of it. Today, however, it was 50 degrees and raining. The entire pig pen was deep, sticky, sucking mud, and my feet weighed about 30 pounds each within moments of stepping in. First, I got the pig used to the dog crate. She was very annoyed because she hadn't been fed yet today, so I sprinkled some grain at the back of the crate and opened the door. I couldn't have kept her out of that crate! Of course she ate up all the grain within a few minutes, and wanted more, but she'd have to wait until the truck was ready for her. Paul had gone to the feed store to pick up some fresh straw, so while I waited for him I enclosed her in a small space with the electric fence.

Paul returned and backed his truck up to the pen gate. We set up the ramp, put a nice layer of straw at the bottom of the crate, and extended the electric fence to keep her from escaping out next to the truck and gate. The crate was positioned at the top of the ramp with a bowl full of grain at the back of it, and then we were ready to let her at it.

The pig didn't even think twice before hauling herself up the ramp and into the crate. It took a bit of prodding to get her big pig butt far enough into the crate to be able to close the door, but she wasn't interested in going anywhere. We couldn't believe how easy it had been. I had expected to need to coax the pig up the ramp with more grain, since she'd never seen one before, but she knew that the dog crate was full of good things and there was no way she was going to miss out on them.

Paul did have a lot of trouble getting out of the farm with all that slippery mud and an extra 200 or so pounds in the back, but he managed. However, the driveway is now thoroughly torn up and there are a couple of big holes going up the slope from where he got stuck temporarily, so all of that will need to be dealt with before I'll be able to take my car down there again, even in warm, dry weather.

It was about a 45 minute drive to the slaughterhouse, but once the pig finished her meal, she decided that the straw made a nice bed and she slept the whole way there. Actually, she was so comfortable that she refused to leave the crate at the slaughterhouse. Even when dumped halfway out, she scrambled back in and braced her legs against the sides. We ended up lifting the crate entirely off of her before she finally decided to stand up and wander down the aisle.

Our meat will be ready on the 20th. I'm really looking forward to real, fresh bacon, hams, pork chops and sausage. And it will be really nice to have that pig off of our feed bill.


Tracy said...

Yay! An update!
Sounds like it would have been better if the ground would have still been frozen -- but then it would have been a much colder task. Glad you have that all taken care of, now you are ready for a winter of salt pork & potatoes like the old pioneers did on the prairie! :)

Mel, Foxtail Farm said...

I definitely would prefer cold to mud. As long as I have plenty of layers, I don't mind cold, but as soon as you start adding precipitation I would much rather look at it than go out in it.