Pork on the hoof

IMG_20150912_182153_823.jpgA couple of hours spent wrestling three little pigs up the hill and into the barn today in preparation for their trip to the processor tomorrow morning. Lunch and Dinner were mostly cooperative, easily coaxed with bowls of food to make the walk. But Breakfast, the biggest pig (and the most important meal of the day), suspected we were up to no good.

Three of us coaxed, cajoled and tried to maneuver him into our “walking crate,” a four-sided cattle panel “box” outfitted with a bowl of food. Breakfast bulldozed his way out of the box, leaving a “u” shape in the heavy gauge galvanized metal panel that sent one of our interns lunging for the truck bed.

Next  up: lassos. It looks so easy in old westerns. Just run up alongside the cow pig and sling that baby over his head. Except the pig ran for the mud pit and we all found ourselves losing boots in the muck. Apparently, the secret to lassoing pigs is to be fit enough that they tire out before you do. After a lot of wheezing and gasping, we managed to slip a harness around the pig. By now, he was as tired as we were and wasn’t budging. We eventually got him up the hill by tying the rope to the back of the truck and slowly inching along.

Later that day, a more seasoned farmer told me his secret for moving the pigs from the pasture. Two weeks before the processing date, he moves a livestock trailer into the pig pasture. At meal time, he throws food into the trailer and in they go. On processing day, it’s easy to close the door behind the pigs. Another lesson learned.

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