Now there’s a word… one that should be used only to be kept alive. It’s quite a ﬁtting verb for a hog farm actually. Because it so perfectly describes the nature of some hogs at certain points along the way… like loading and unloading for instance.
Getting hogs in and out of stock trailers is a routine enterprise on the farm. Gotta get ‘em in to move them to new pens/areas. Gotta get ‘em in to take them to a new home. Gotta get ‘em in to ‘take them to town’… a phrase I borrow from Kelly Klober; thanks again. ‘Taking a hog to town’ is a kinder way to say taking them to their demise at the processing facility. Which in turn is a kinder way to say they’re going in for the kill.
‘Gettin’ ‘em in’ is substituted by ‘trailerin em up’ on Wilderness Farms. “Let’s trailer ‘em up”; the crusty old hog boss barks. Getting’ ‘em out is the obvious conclusion of a trip in the trailer and can be as much fun as gettin’ em in. Since hogs can have a stubborn streak, not wanting to do anything that you want them to do because it interferes with what they want to do; trailerin’ ‘em up and getting ‘em out can be a challenge indeed. All due to their pure unabashed CUSSEDNESS.
Gilts are the champions of cussedness. If it didn’t take a gilt to make a sow I just wouldn’t have them. Every time I partake in a battle of the wills with a gilt I hear John Lennon in the background with that Liverpool accent… “gurls…”.
Just yesterday I loaded 23 pigs, 150 pounders, by myself. I’m so proud! It’s all about preparation and prediction. I prepared with 2 pallets held together by two 2×4’s on each side outside of their 4 foot gate… attached to both the fence and the stock trailer. I had a hog panel ready on the inside of the pen to hopefully encircle them between the panel and gate; pounded in a tee post on the outer bend of the panel… to be wired in to keep the pigs from pushing up the panel and thus freeing themselves. They will absolutely do that. Then I had a line of feed and water from the foot of the trailer to the back. The runway was about the size of a hog board, so once in the runway I could drive them into the trailer if need be.
I predicted that there would be a good number at the gate that would go in at the outset after the feed and water. This in fact is what happened. I knew there would be some hesitant stragglers. This was the case. So I got the ﬁrst group into the trailer, into the ﬁrst compartment and closed the center gate to contain them. Then after some gentle coaxing I was luckily able to get the stragglers in two additional groups, one at a time, with each group based upon their level of you guessed it: CUSSEDNESS.
‘Gentle’ is a key word. If you lose your temper, become full of cussedness yourself, their own cussed nature will take over and you may never get them in, or out. It took me a bit too long to learn about this fact, and with much restraint… I now restrain myself albeit my extensive training by my father working on cars… just spectacular and quite creative profanity.
I hope your day is full of whatever the opposite of cussedness is. I think if you pay lots of attention to your animals… scratch their bellies and ears as much as you can… their level of cussedness will be diminished. I have no scientiﬁc basis to make this statement… but I think it’s true.
Early Summer (at last!)