Friday, November 5, 2010

Taking the hogs to market

There is a lot of preparation that goes into taking hogs to market, for one thing how to get them into the trailer without much fuss. For those of you that have been reading my blog for a while you may remember our adventure with this last year. This time we didn't just have one to get in but several. I was not up for that battle again, nor was dh. So this time we started working out the plan and discussing it at night before bed. For months we discussed the logistics of each idea, pigs aren't like cows and will not walk a given path without a fuss. In fact, the minute they discover that you're moving them in a certain direction they make it their business to go in the opposite one, they are smart little guys.

One night, during one of my pregnancy induced insomnia, it hit me; why not back the trailer up to the back doors and just let them walk in? It sounded so simple and logical, it was crazy enough that it might just work. Now the thing about planning is that sometimes you need to be at a site to make the plan and sometimes being there limits the possibilities that you can see. In this case it was a bit of both. In the past we had tried several different ideas to get the pigs loaded, they all failed, but we were trying to plan on site and couldn't see any other way. This time we weren't there and the possibilities seemed much better.

Like all good plans, things will need to be tweaked once you begin to implement it. So the plan was to get the trailer backed up to the doors, then distract them with food and open the trailer door inside the barn, to make for easy closing. We would lure them in with more food. Well we got out there and finally got the trailer backed up to the doors but there was no way to swing open the door inside the barn as planned. Thankfully, we took the time to walk through the plan on site rather than flying by the seat of our pants (see we're learning). Dh decided that the best coarse would be to get the center gate off and let them walk through it, not a bad idea except that get the gate on and off is difficult because it is rusted and a bit warped. It wasn't perfect but it would have to work because this was the best plan we had.

Dh pounded on the gate to get the rust loose and finally pried the gate off. We opted not to move the t-post in front of the barn door. He opened one of the barn doors and it was clear that the t-post needed to move so he pulled on it (bending the post, gosh is he strong) giving them a clear path into the trailer. I stood in the opposite space keeping them from straying and AR was at the front throwing in the day produce. As I said, it seemed so crazy it just might work, and it did. They munched happily while dh and I worked on getting the center gate back in place, it took a little effort but it went in. :) They pushed on the door for a bit and then went back to eating.

This morning the little darlings went to market and will be in their new freezer homes in 2 weeks. Now begins our search once more to find new piglets, we hope to eventually have 2 litters go to market each year but for now we keep growing and learning. The farm will be awfully quiet now that the pigs are gone.

In other news: JM is doing very well and has gotten each of his siblings wrapped around his tiny little fingers. AR is a teenager now and was blessed to have 2 celebrations for his big day. HG is counting down to her birthday this weekend, she is getting to be such a little lady. If you remember please keep my mom in your prayers as she goes in for surgery next week. She is so far away . . . it is hard not to worry. :( We hope to see her soon. Well, that's all for now, check back soon for changes and updates :)

*Photo credit: Thanks to Sugar mountain farm for a great comprehensive pork cut chart. :)


Lori Dupre Jackson said...

Yay!!!!! Definitely praying for your mom!

Tracy said...

Great job! Glad it worked so well for you.

I know several people that just leave their trailer in the pig pen for a couple days (prior to loading) and put feed in there to get them used to going in for feed. Then all they have to do is shut the gate.

And I've heard of others who just put a five gallon bucket over the pigs head (so he can't see) and then lift the tail, and they just move straight forward into the loading chute.

Seems everyone has their tricks! I will need to remember all of these.