Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Slow Tractor Work

Our slowest tractor is the pig tractor. Our three piglets, Blanche, Petunia and Maud, are sisters with surprisingly different looks. It helps to be able to tell the difference. We bought them when they were ten weeks old and they will live off scraps and pig nuts until about the end of March when they reach a good weight for a trip to the abattoir in Orbost.

I really like pigs. For the next few months - twice a day - I get to commune with my porcine friends. When I call out to them when I approach with a high-pitched "Piggy, Piggy, Piggy!" they squeal with delight and start to run up and down their enclosure. They throw their heads back with excitement and once I step over the fence they start to nibble at my trouser legs, boots and anything they can reach. I always regret it if I approach wearing crocs!
The food is poured into their trough and they snort and squeal and snuffle, then run back to me to see if they is anything else on offer, then back to ecstasy of devouring.
Pigs are very friendly, intelligent and curious animals. Their eyes are very expressive and seem almost human. I have to wait for several minutes while their water container fills up and I enjoy observing them. Their little tails straighten, twirl and wave while their soft noses are constantly checking out their surroundings.
We have sited them in a boggy corner of a paddock which is filled with tussock and cutty grass. The idea is that over time the pigs rooting and the added manure will improve the vegetation growing there. This is the third year we have fattened piglets and where we have placed their enclosure in the past is growing good grass, a few thistles and is greatly favoured by the goats.
The enclosure is made of 6m lengths of mesh, tie-wired to star pickets and lined with a single electric strand from a solar powered energizer. We used to only have four lengths and so we moved them every three weeks or so. This year we have eight so the space is three times as large.
Today was the first time we moved the enclosure in eight weeks. By moving the one end length in it frees enough lengths to set up a new section on the other end. The pigs stay put but once they have fresh soil to turn and grass to eat the heads go down and the tails wag.
This move should keep them happy 'as a pig in shit' for a few weeks. It's slow work to improve the pasture but I can't think of a more joyful way to do it.


No comments:

Post a Comment