Categories
Uncategorized

Lord Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise

IMG_2819

This is not the blog post I had intended to write about pigs. I had hoped the rain would offer me a chance to crank out 500 words or so about my feelings about pigs: their intelligence, raising them, butchering them, hunting them, moral conflicts, and the like. Instead, this is a story about what Alex Hitt, at Peregrine Farm, calls Type 2 fun.

Some definitions are in order:

Type 1 fun: Fun at the time

Type 2 fun: fun or funny after the fact.

This, hopefully, will someday be felt as type 2 fun.

On a Thursday morning in March, I took the rainy day as an opportunity to take my truck into town for much needed repair…in fact, about $2,000 more in repairs than I had planned. The rain, the soon to be repair bill, and my textual companion, Straw Dogs, by John Gray, made for quite the depressing mood. As the rain came on stronger, though I was grateful that the din drowned out the Fox News discussion of the Republican race on one T.V. and “Hot Talk with Wendy” on the other. The rain continued strongly for an hour or so, pooling in the flowerbed outside of the repair shop window. Then, over the course of 30 minutes the gutters on Poplar Avenue began to overflow. I thought it might be a good idea to have Claire, who had taken the day off, run down at the next break in the weather and look in on the pigs who were recently moved outside of the main pasture and into the woods.

About 45 minutes after that initial call, my already queasy stomach transferred its nervous energy upwards to my lungs and heart as a full-blown panic attack. The lack of confirmation that “everything is okay” surely meant that it most certainly was not. Confirmation came that Marilyn, my new sow, was out of the fence and deeper into the woods. By the time I got home the water was up to the bottom of the electric fence (6 inches). Of course, anything (the other pigs) or anyone (Claire) was being shocked roughly every 4 seconds by standing in the nearby water. Claire, like a champ, had not noticed. The pigs, like the observant creatures they are, had noticed, and began making their way, one by one, out of the fence and into the woods.

If you read my post about the birth of Melian, our first dairy goat born on the farm, you will be expecting me to panic at this point, and I am man enough to confirm your suspicion. I will certainly admit to throwing a minor tantrum as well as a bucket and part of an electric fence that Marilyn had managed to rip apart in her escape. However, having experienced my share of panics over the last year, I had planned for contingencies on the drive home. Unfortunately, option A (see if my presence would be more enticing to the pigs) and B (coax Marilyn back with dog food: her favorite treat) failed. Option A, admittedly was a stupid one, while Claire had already attempted option B, resulting in the broken fence.

Thunder in the not-far-enough-distance meant it was time for what I considered the nuclear option, and with a deep breath I made a run for my truck. Throwing the still semi-broken vehicle into 4-wheel drive, I hydroplaned and fishtailed through about 10 inches of water, hooked up the 16-foot stock trailer, and forded the growing river that used to be our pasture. I quickly dismantled the portable fencing and, getting the whole system as tangled as possible, tried to make a shoot (which is how we move the pigs pasture to pasture) with the electric netting to the trailer. With the aid of more dog food we managed to coax the loose pigs out of the woods, while the others literally swam out behind. However, to a wet, grumpy, hungry pig, higher ground with fresh grass is apparently considerably more enticing than wet, mushy food in an old stock trailer. Thus, three pigs escaping became 15 loose pigs on fresh, damp, almost-ready-for-spring-grazing, pasture. As we stood in calf high water, the lightening started. Having already had a close encounter with lightening in 2015, I went into full survival mode and, with resignation, shouted, “That’s it, get in the truck” to Claire. Hardly speaking to one another, we fishtailed our way back to the road and the house.

As we pulled off and emptied out our wellies, I really thought the farm was done for. The pigs were gone for good. Our farm contains nearly 100 acres of woods with a good bit of relief. Aside from the topographical difficulties, these pigs had been on the farm less than a month, meaning they weren’t yet trained to the trailer (as evidenced above). Thus, they weren’t likely to fall for that trap. Worse than potentially losing all of that revenue; worse even than not being able to afford to buy new pigs, was the task that would come next if I couldn’t get them back. You see, I would be faced with the reality that I had directly contributed to the South’s wild pig problem. Unlike any other farm animal, domestic pigs can revert to their feral state within just a few weeks if they escape. Damage to agriculture and the environment by feral pigs is conservatively estimated at $1.5 billion dollars annually. I’ve seen it first hand on other farms. As we began to shut down the farm, I would have the terrible responsibility of trying to literally hunt these pigs down before they caused irreparable damage to the surrounding area and interbred with the growing feral population.

As is often the case, I became more rational after this rock bottom realization. And, over the course of 4.5 hours, Claire and I again braved the rain, watched, waited, and slowly, methodically corralled the pigs into a permanent fence that we normally reserve for introducing new goats to our herd.

With a few weeks distance from this experience, I don’t want to overstate its importance. That is, I don’t recount it to tell you how it transformed my personality and made me stronger. I wrote that post last year. That’s not what happened here. This experience was emotionally and physically draining. While I am proud of our ultimate resilience, I wanted to tell this story because this is, more and more, the reality of small farming. We’re not the first people to have this type of experience as new farmers. A veteran farmer recently told me a story of losing nearly her entire laying flock in a windstorm. Another farmer, looking at my photos from the event, summed it up to me brilliantly, “Welcome to my world.”

Pigs are going to get out. Animals will die at a time when you cannot afford financially or emotionally to replace them. Storms will happen. As climate change intensifies, they will get worse. Two years ago 7 inches of rain in 3 hours saw the levee on our pond breech and 5 acres of water spill into the woods. We had 18 inches of standing water on our farm this year. As I edited this post, we had dime sized hail and a torrential downpour for about half an hour, followed by yet another flood watch. This afternoon, I heard the phrase, “cannot rule out isolated tornadoes” as part of tonight’s forecast. We are hardening ourselves and making a plan for a more resilient farm business because it will get worse, not better.

I really do not fully understand why anyone does this work. I say that with a genuine sense of amazement. I’m not sure I have every met a farmer that does understand it. It seems almost a type of religious faith, or maybe more accurately a fanaticism that made me want to get up the next day and start assessing damage, untangling fences and doing health checks on our animals. All I can say is that I do it because I can’t imagine not doing it anymore. Sometimes you love it, sometimes you just hope that time + farm tragedy = type two fun.

195 replies on “Lord Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise”

I am writing to make you understand what a incredible encounter my wife’s daughter developed reading through your web page. She came to understand lots of issues, with the inclusion of what it’s like to have a marvelous coaching heart to let the rest with no trouble completely grasp various multifaceted topics. You actually exceeded my desires. Thanks for supplying such valuable, dependable, revealing and in addition unique tips on your topic to Ethel.

I precisely wished to appreciate you yet again. I do not know what I could possibly have achieved in the absence of the actual pointers provided by you relating to such a topic. It was before a real difficult difficulty in my position, nevertheless viewing a new specialized mode you handled the issue took me to leap for contentment. I will be thankful for your information as well as wish you know what a great job you were putting in educating most people thru your web page. More than likely you’ve never got to know all of us.

Thanks a lot for providing individuals with an exceptionally splendid possiblity to check tips from this site. It is always very pleasant plus stuffed with a good time for me and my office peers to search the blog at minimum thrice in a week to learn the latest guidance you will have. And lastly, I am also certainly contented concerning the cool things you serve. Some 2 tips in this posting are rather the most effective we’ve had.

I am writing to let you be aware of what a nice experience my friend’s child obtained browsing your web page. She even learned numerous issues, most notably how it is like to possess an incredible giving character to make a number of people effortlessly fully grasp selected hard to do topics. You truly surpassed our own expected results. Thanks for distributing such effective, dependable, educational and as well as cool tips on this topic to Ethel.

My husband and i ended up being comfortable Louis could deal with his researching through the precious recommendations he received out of the web page. It is now and again perplexing to just continually be making a gift of procedures which often the others might have been selling. So we fully grasp we have the blog owner to thank for this. All of the illustrations you’ve made, the simple blog navigation, the relationships you will assist to foster – it’s all overwhelming, and it is helping our son and our family feel that that content is interesting, which is certainly quite essential. Thank you for the whole thing!

A lot of thanks for all your efforts on this web site. Ellie really loves managing research and it is simple to grasp why. A number of us learn all regarding the dynamic ways you convey sensible ideas via your web site and as well as recommend contribution from other individuals about this area of interest so our own child has always been starting to learn a great deal. Take advantage of the remaining portion of the year. You have been carrying out a wonderful job.

I together with my guys have already been taking note of the best tips and tricks from your site and so all of a sudden developed a horrible suspicion I had not thanked the website owner for those strategies. Most of the ladies were as a consequence glad to read through them and have honestly been tapping into these things. Appreciation for simply being indeed considerate and for using this sort of extraordinary guides most people are really needing to be aware of. My personal sincere apologies for not saying thanks to you earlier.

I have to show appreciation to this writer for bailing me out of this particular situation. After scouting throughout the the web and seeing strategies which are not powerful, I was thinking my life was well over. Living without the answers to the issues you’ve sorted out through your main website is a crucial case, as well as those that might have badly affected my entire career if I hadn’t encountered the website. The ability and kindness in controlling almost everything was useful. I am not sure what I would have done if I had not come across such a step like this. It’s possible to at this moment look forward to my future. Thank you so much for your skilled and effective guide. I won’t think twice to refer the blog to any individual who desires guidelines about this subject matter.

My spouse and i ended up being now happy Chris managed to do his reports from your precious recommendations he got from your own site. It’s not at all simplistic to just choose to be freely giving instructions which most people might have been making money from. So we realize we need the website owner to be grateful to for this. The specific explanations you’ve made, the simple site menu, the relationships you will assist to foster – it is most overwhelming, and it’s letting our son in addition to our family reason why that content is interesting, which is certainly quite vital. Thanks for all the pieces!

ISM Phototake 3) Watney Ninth Phototake, Canada online pharmaceutics Phototake, Biophoto Siblings Adjunct Treatment, Inc, Under Rheumatoid Lupus LLC 4) Bennett Hundred Che = ‘community home with education on the premises’ Situations, Inc 5) Transient Atrial Activation LLC 6) Stockbyte 7) Bubonic Resection Grade LLC 8) Composure With and May Make headway as regards WebMD 9) Gallop WebbWebMD 10) Skedaddle Resorption It LLC 11) Katie Appeaser and May Bring forward for WebMD 12) Phototake 13) MedioimagesPhotodisc 14) Sequestrum 15) Dr. casino online games Tiwrwn kdcvfp

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.