Fall days are the time of year when the cattle and the sheep come down from their summer grazing on the the national forests. We bring them all to the Home Ranch, and sort them through the corrals. The ewes bring with them their whole entourage–herders, horses, Border collies, livestock guardian dogs. For a couple of weeks, we manage a rotating menagerie of sheep, dogs and–pigs? We keep a few feeder pigs over the summer to provide winter pork, but in the meantime the pigs consider themselves free-range critters who are likely to show up about anyplace. The guard dogs are suspicious of the pigs, but the pigs don’t care. I am reminded of “Babe” and wonder if we couldn’t train them to herd livestock. They are utterly indifferent to the dogs, who are puzzled by the pigs.
Tag Archives: pigs
Each year, the Little Snake River Lions Club sponsors, with volunteer help, the annual rodeo and Fun Day. Fun Day features an amateur rodeo and lots of family events like ribbon roping, junior bull riding and mutton busting. A high point is the pig and chicken catching by community members of various age groups, from under 2 to adult women (hey guys, are you cowards?!)
This year, an added feature was rain–the first in many weeks. Nobody cared that they were muddy as they chased barrels and pigs. All were really happy to see the moisture.
The Constant Reader remembers that in July, the kids catch pigs at our local Little Snake River Fun Days. Each year, we end up with a different number of pigs to keep, depending on the success of the grandchildren and the cousins. This year we ended up with two young pigs. We brought them home and fed them table scraps and pig food. I always like taking the scraps, which means stuff that the dogs won’t eat (potato peals, banana peals, culled lettuce leaves, et al) out to the pigs. They are so happy and I feel satisfied. The ultimate goal, of course, is to transition these pigs into our freezer and make them part of our sustainance. We tell this to the children from the beginning, and want them to appreciate where their food comes from.
We are having a run of really cold weather. I was worried that the pigs, who have been in a barn with straw and extra feed, might nonetheless freeze to death before we could harvest them. We called our local meat processor, who said that Friday was his pig-killing day, and to have them there by 8 a.m.
I asked Timeteo and Christian to help load the pigs into the back of the pickup. We loaded the sow first. She was trussed up with ropes so we could get a grip,
and we hoisted her into the truck. The young boar was next. With ropes, tugging, lifting and a lot of squealing, we managed to load him too.
When I got to Snake River Processors, the pigs were shivering (it was 10 below) and the Weber crew came out to help. Since most pigs arrive in a trailer, they were a little stymied as to how to unload them. I explained that we had just hoisted them in and that I thought we could hoist them out. Clint gave the boar a shove and he tumbled out. He gave the young sow a push and she jumped. She leapt out of the pickup bed graceful as a gazelle, and landed on her feet.
“Wow,” said Clint, “I didn’t know that pigs could jump like that!”
Sadly, I do not have a photo of that moment, but I sure wish I did.
Thank you pigs.
Each year, the Lions Club sponsors the Little Snake River rodeo at the Russell Community Park, near Dixon. The kids’ events, including mutton busting, chicken chasing and pig catching are a highlight in our family. It is also the source of our pork, since we feed out the pigs that the grandkids and their cousins catch, and enjoy the locally grown meat in the winter months. We give the chickens to the neighbor, since our Border collies mistake them for lunch.