Whew...Glad that's over.
This weekend we had to take three hogs to the butcher. What was supposed to be done between the butcher's preferred window of 9:00 and noon ended up encompassing two days, 12 hours of pig wrangling and rebuilding of chutes and ramps, and two seperate butchers.
Our good friend Jeff was kind enough to lend a helping hand and was even kinder to contain his laughter at our attempts as pig wrangling.
There he is assessing my ramp and chute.
See, I built this chute about 75 feet long. It was made of some plywood, two old doors, my saw table, some actual tables, and some wooden pallets. The chute was supposed to funnel the hogs from their pen, through the barn, into my work area, and onto the waiting truck. We even constructed a nice ramp for them. The concept was that they would walk down the chute, eating along the way, and move quietly and serenely into the cage on the truck.
Learned pig fact 1: they don't prefer ramps.
The ramp ended up being too steep and the hogs never once even attempted to get onto the pitched ramp. Back to the pen.
Here Erica is trying her best to coax this one up the ramp.
Learned pig fact 2: It's hard to coax an unwilling pig.
So, we swapped trucks for one with a lower tailgate, and made a new, improved chute and ramp. This time, the pigs would have to use a ramp that only suggested an upward pitch. We also tightened up the final portion of the chute to keep them from spinning and darting and clogging up the works in general.
This pig on the move was shot by my daughter, Violet. Pigs are slow, right?
Learned pig fact 3: Pigs are not slow.
Here you can make out the old door and my saw table. It is, of course, the New England way to make everything available at any given time serve multiple purposes.
We finally got one hog into the truck and to the butcher. We were able to cut down on the chute time for the second pig and got her to the butcher the next morning. But we found out that this would be the last delivery that they would take. They were, for their part, very understanding that we were having a tough time getting the hogs into the truck. I forsee a trailer in our future...
We luckily were able to take the third pig to another butcher who was more than happy to accomodate us. I'm glad, too, as I did not want to have a pig chute in my work area all week.
Here is a final shot of one of the hogs successfully using the ramp! I am so lucky to have such a patient wife...she made a nice little trail of various foods for each pig.
Final learned pig fact: They can be quite picky when they want.
The first pig liked pasta. The second preferred cheese. The final pig went for pizza! We have the makings of a modern-day nursery rhyme.