Now that the pig is gone, it’s easy to look back and see what we did wrong with her. I came across this picture in my files not to long ago, and couldn’t help but laugh at some of the things I saw. I thought it might benefit some of you if I pointed out our mistakes.
1. Old bathtub used as a feed trough. This was one of those things that totally seemed like a good idea at the time. But let me tell you, it didn’t work at all. First off, it was too deep for the pig to reach her head down into and eat comfortably. Instead, she would climb into the tub to get her food, stepping all over everything and turning her meal into a muddy mess. And then (believe it or not), she would not eat the trampled slop. The tub became a plaything that she pushed around her pen, and was worthless as a trough.
2. Five gallon bucket for water. Totally not a good method of watering, but it was the best we could do without investing in an expensive waterer. It didn’t work because the pig enjoyed playing with the bucket, and although we tied it to the fence, she would break the rope and use the bucket as a toss toy. The bucket would eventually break. Her pen was constantly full of broken buckets. And trying to fish a bucket out of pig mud a foot deep using a broom handle every single day was such a hassle! I’d get splattered with stinky mud every time.
Plus, she was horrible about spilling the water just as soon as I’d filled it. She was convinced I was simply supplying her with the means for a larger mud hole. I’d fill the bucket. She’d tip it over and roll in the water. I’d scold her, lean over the fence to retrieve the bucket, and fill it again.
Yeah. Big, big pain. Don’t use a bucket to water a pig.
3. Thick, black plastic on roof of pig house to keep the water out. Again, it seemed like a brilliant idea at the time. Really, it was all we had to work with. Sheet metal, if we’d had any, would have been a better option, I think. But the purpose was to keep the rain from rotting the wood underneath. The problem? A mischievous pig. Once again, she thought it was for fun. It didn’t take her long to rip every bit of the plastic down and shred it all over her pen.
She must have been a very bored pig. Which leads me to #4 on the list…
4. Only one pig. I’d read that pigs were herd animals, but I didn’t really think that would matter.
I think she escaped so often, and got into so much trouble simply because she was lonely and bored. Experienced homesteaders recommend that you have more than one pig at a time, not only to keep each other company, but so that they will compete for food and fatten up quicker. I would definitely recommend that you have more than one pig, if you plan on getting any.
And last but not least…
5. Inadequate fencing. Pallets, and chain link with boards attached. How many ways did she escape her pen? Let’s see. She tore the boards off the fence and rooted under the chain link. She climbed up onto the chain link enough to bend it over and escaped that way. She broke the pallets and tore through them. And she was even able to get footing and climb over the pallets.
I don’t even know how many times we mended the fences.
But hey, other than that I think we had it covered!
Ah, the joys of learning the hard way.