Pigs: What’s the point?
Herding pigs is quite frustrating, especially when you are chasing them through the woods trying to herd them back to their pen. When we bought the swine, I was excited. They were cute little piglets that I could hold. Even though I enjoyed them when they were little, that didn't stop them from growing into big boring bulks. I was still required to feed them. I was paid, but going out in the morning before school, especially in the winter, is not what I consider entertaining or exciting any more.
My brother chose to own pigs. He arranged everything, and we acquired them from a man at our church. We received two female piglets, which of course, at the proper age, we would butcher. Now they are full grown, and when they become hungry, they try to escape from the pen to look for food and wander wherever they choose.
Now, our yard runs behind two of our neighbors on the right, and then passes behind maybe four or five. Seven acres are woods and the house stands on one fenced-in acre. Our pigs are kept in the woods. When they broke out for their farthest and longest trip, they had wandered into somebody's back yard. Our next door neighbor was working for this man that day. He drove to our house and informed mom and me. Trevor was away. Dad was away. My other brother was away. Thus, my mom and I set out for a long trip.
Once we arrived at the property of this couple, we saw that our neighbor had penned them in the back yard with a feeble fence. We also saw that there was a hole in our decrepit fence where they had entered from the path which wraps around the edge of our property. So we pushed, tugged, and poked those pigs through the hole and into our woods. They did not smell too great from playing in the mud holes. We thought we could steer them left down the path that led indirectly to their pen. They decided to go right on a round-about way to their pen. But just as they started that way, they suddenly cut across the middle area that was surrounded by the paths.
The woods are cut in half horizontally by a creek. I moaned as we followed them along the creek on the right side and walked all the way across and met the path on the other side. However, it had recently rained . . . . . and that part of the woods always floods. So the pigs though it would be nice to have a little slosh in the ditch. They grunted and snorted. Shuffled and sloshed. Sat down and played. With exasperated sighs and hopeless thoughts, mom and I poked them with our short bamboo sticks. Finally, they got up. “Oh! Mom, they're going the way we came! Stop them!” I cried. We didn't want to backtrack all the way back across the middle of the woods!
We tried to turn them around so that they could continue to follow the path we were on. They didn't want to. They veered left, and we drove them on the same path, but heading the opposite direction. They ran while mom and I flanked them on either side. Running them down that way, we arrived at spot where they had run into the middle. They tried doing that trick again, but mom and I veered them to the left of the stream this time. Shoving and poking them through brush and trees, we traveled diagonally across the first section. The overhanging tree branches and thorny vines scratched and grabbed us. When we found that we could steer the pigs by poking them in the shoulder blades, it made it a little easier. Shoving them in the rump also helped whenever they stopped. Mom had the one that was more or less the leader so that helped whenever mine stopped and hers didn't.
We came upon the path that ran across the middle of the first section. We brought them along to the end of the path and veered them left, over to the pen. We could almost hear their disappointed sighs as they recognized their imprisoning home. They grunted, realizing their crazy adventure was over. Dejectedly they walked into the pen, and we locked them inside. Mom and I sighed with relief. Finding where they had broken out, we blocked it up with some short logs.
Having herded two stubborn female pigs for a little more than an hour back and forth in our back woods taught me the tricks to keeping pigs moving . . . . . until they find water. If ever you need pigs back in their pen, poke them in the shoulder blades with something relatively sharp and pointy. Either that or you can look forward to ham for Christmas dinner!