Tuesday, 5 May 2009
Rollin', rollin', rollin'
As livestock movement goes, it was hardly in the Rawhide class. It was less "move 'em on, head 'em up" and more polite negotiation, a well-filled feed bucket and desperate attempts not to show how stressed the pig "farmer" was getting.
We had to load Sock, one of our gilts (young females), onto the trailer and get her down to Rapness pier in time for the evening ferry to Kirkwall. How hard could that be?
She and her sister Little Kim have spent the winter in a small building and paddock at the back of the house and were well settled - a bit too well settled as it turned out.
I dismantled the electric fence, filled the feed bucket, equipped Mrs Pig "Farmer" and stepson Pat with crowd control barriers and set about persuading Sock to leave the paddock. She was fine until she got to where the fence had been where she came to a halt.
I put a small amount of feed on the ground just the other side of the/her imaginary boundary which she sniffed at and retreated quickly.
Unlike sheep and cattle, pigs don't respond well to being shoved, rounded up with dogs or generally patronised, so attempts by Mrs P"F" and Pat to gently push her in the right direction proved counter-productive and, with time ticking away towards ferry departure, the pig "farmer" was in danger of losing his cool.
Shaking the bucket was a mistake too. A very hungry Molly and piglets had decided it was teatime and were giving it some. There was a whole lot of pushing at the rickety door (it's been on my list) and one large and several small snouts were clearly visible.
In an attempt to prevent an outbreak of piglets all over the place, I burst into the pigshed, threw a couple of scoops of feed into the pen to keep them occupied, then burst out again, returning with a piece of 4x2, a fence post and a drill.
Security measures in place, it was back to Sock who was still refusing to budge. Resisting the temptation to use - as the CIA might say - "enhanced" techniques in the form of a boot up the backside, I put the bucket in front of her face which she promptly stuck right inside.
I edged back. Sock edged forward. I edged back again, Sock edged across The Line. Several minutes later we were edging down the alley between pigshed and barn, then through the barn - sending Trevor the cat diving for cover - and finally out to the trailer.
Sock saw nothing of this, but the inside of a bucket, while I was left with a stoop in the style of Dr Frankenstein's creepy retainer.
Sock is now at her new home on Orkney Mainland, in a specially made hut, ready to "see" the boar in a few months.
Now all we have to do is move Little Kim to the bottom field. The bucket is ready.