Today was the day. It's been circled in red on our calendar for some time now. Today was the day the pigs were scheduled to go to the butcher.
Ever since the boys got the pigsheck, since before the boys got the pigsone of my biggest concerns was this particular aspect of the operation. I had no idea how it was going to work, loading four 200+ pound animals onto the trailer.
I had heard many, many horror stories. My personal favorite was the neophyte hog farmers that put the trailer in the pasture with the pigs a week before the butcher date, per conventional wisdom, to give the pigs plenty of time to familiarize themselves with the trailer. They put the pig feed onto the trailer, so the pigs happily hopped in and out all week long. Come butcher day, the pigs went in, the farmers closed the trailer doors, hooked up the truck, and went to pull the trailer down the road... only to discover that the trailer had four flats. In addition to learning how to go in and out of the trailer, the pigs had also spent the week destroying the trailer tires.
It's not too much of a stretch to say that I was dreading our own experience. Due to our set-up, we had no way to get the pigs used to the trailer ahead of time, even if we did have some way to ensure they wouldn't eat the tires.
A wise pig-farming friend advised us to load the pigs the night before, so the boys would be home to help. We had to wait until my LSH's office closed at 7 pm because we did not want an audience. With the light fading fast, the younger two filled the back of trailer with "bait" of freshly-shucked sweet corn, a watermelon, and tomatoes. Pig ambrosia.
Meanwhile, Primo backed the trailer into the pig catch pen, that I had insisted (very wisely, as it turned out) the boys build before the pigs arrived. I will admit here that it only took him two tries to back it in perfectly.
He secured the door to the loading gate... they put the pigs into the catch pen... and then the struggle was on. This is the point at which I had to put the camera down and assist with the trailer door. Despite the treats in the trailer, the pigs quickly decided they wanted nothing to do with getting inside. The boys brought in sheep panels to reduce the size of the catch pen, but the pigs still resisted mightily. I have to hand it to the boys, this was their project and they saw it through to the end. One by one, they got those pigs onto the trailer against the pigs' better judgment (very wisely, as it turned out).
I made the trip to the butcher by myself this morning. I was a little worried about getting the pigs off the trailer once I got down there (very wisely, as it turned out). It only took me five tries to get the trailer backed into the holding barna personal best but once the trailer doors were opened, the pigs were adamant that as much as they didn't want to get in, they wanted to get out even less. With as much power as I could muster, I helped push them off the trailer, and if you have ever tried to push a pig anywhere, you will know that this is no small amount of power.
Mission accomplished by 8 am. Insert sigh of relief here.
I had the rest of the day to reflect that I am one tough mother, and my boys aren't too shabby themselves. I am having a well-deserved glass of wine tonight to celebrate those facts!