Sunday, December 28, 2008

Winter wonder

After days and days of windy, chilly, soggy, rainy days, the sun came out this morning and I found a little miracle.

A little yellow butterfly lighting on the glass door of the sunroom enjoying the warmth and sunshine as she dried her wings!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Loading hogs

So, we wound our way back down Bud's amazing 3 mile driveway on Friday morning. It is one of the most beautiful remote farms I've ever visited. Remember the Saturday morning kids show "Land of the Lost"? well it sort of reminded me of that minus the dinosaurs and add some Watusi cattle, llamas, RW hogs and heritage turkeys, peacocks, guinneas and assorted dogs of all sizes.

Anyway, Brian got the trailer hooked up and backed up to the hog barn. Bud let Dancer, the sow out and then Sampson, the boar was let out. They lumbered up to the trailer and stopped.

Have you ever tried to make a 800+ pound hog do something he/she doesn't want to?

Well, you can't.

Sampson backed up to the trailer and sat down on the floor like a chair. Then he just looked around at us like ok, so now watcha gonna do?

Dancer was having nothing to do with the whole deal. After an hour of bribing with treats, coaxing and begging we brought in the heavy duty equipment. Bud's wife produced ropes and a come-along.

We attached the come-along to the trailer door and the rope to a gate and squeezed the hogs up toward the trailer. Much squeeling, growling and snorting followed. . . but not much movement.

Dancer kept getting in the way if Sampson made a move toward the trailer. Sampson decided he'd lay down just short of the trailer and wouldn't budge.

Bud called for a bucket. I'd forgotten about the old trick of putting the hogs head in a bucket and then backing them where you wanted them to go. I knew it worked on smaller hogs. I'd seen my grandpa use it when I was little. I wasn't so sure it would work on a giant sow.

In just a few minutes, Bud had Dancer's head in a bucket and Dancer backed into the trailer. She was so nice and quiet and calm there in her bucket that we tied a rope to the bail and fastened it to the side of the trailer to keep her out of the way. She sounded a little like Darth Vadar breathing into that bucket.

Now it was time to focus on Sampson. Coax, poke, bribe, prod - nothing. He did get up long enough to move out, turn around and lay down again facing the other way. Brian got down off the gate where he was perched and went up to the truck bed. He came back with a strap. The kind you use to secure loads on a truck. He hooked it to the door and to the side of the trailer and nudged it under Sampsons ample rear end. Crank, crank, crank... little by little Sampson's hams raised off the ground.

Sampson ignored this whole feat of engineering. Bud told my neice, Sarah to tap him on the snout with her stick - no movement just some angry grunting and snorting. Brian cranked a couple more times. Now there was just about 2 inches of clearance below Samson's hind end.

Samson just sat there and refused to budge. It had been more than 3 hours since we started "loading" the hogs. There we stood looking at each other and wondering what do next. I started thinking about what my grandpa, a hog farmer from way back, would have done. Hmmm- the bucket trick wouldn't work. His head was too big. Hmmm- then I saw it.
A stick laying on the ground.

Sampson's rump had just enough air space under it. Slowly I slid up behind him so he wouldn't notice me. (Not that he was noticing much of anything with his eyes closed.) Then quick as a snake I reached under that big old rump and poked him!

It was just a little poke not enough to hurt him, but it startled him. He jumped up into the trailer and we slammed the door. At the same time, Dancer riggled free of the bucket, grunted and lay down.

Sampson moved just far enough from the door to lay down in the straw next to her like nothing had happened. They both closed their eyes and didn't budge until we got back to Indiana!

Unloading was much easier. Open the door and out they walked. Snurfled around in the straw of their new house a little, lay down, and went back to sleep. Go figure!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Letters from Missouri

"Dear Mom,
The transmission went out on the truck about 60 miles from our destination. We've been going 30 mph on the interstate for 3 hours. We plan to limp the rig into the national forest. I think if we cover the truck and trailer with leaves and twigs, we'll be pretty well camouflaged from the authorities. I'm sure we can live comfortably until we can earn enough money to fix the truck. Sarah thinks she can start a fire by rubbing some sticks together. I'm thinking we'll be home about spring. Please feed the animals until we get there..."

"Stop it!" Brian laughed. "You'll make me drive off the road!" Sarah, my neice, couldn't stop giggling in the back seat.

Ok. So it's not a real letter home, but the transmission did go out in the truck on our way to get the pigs in Missouri and we really were going 20 mph down the interstatein the middle of the night. We did manage to limp her into a little mom and pop hotel for the night. In the morning, we limped her on down to Bud Nickol's farm and dropped the trailer. Bud helped us find a garage that had a computer to check out the truck... another 20 mph ride. So they hooked her up to the computer ... and told us they new what was wrong... and they couldn't fix it.

Another 20mph ride to the dealership. Along the way we passed an abandoned farm...

"Honey, look there's our new house! We can squat there until we can get the truck fixed!"

"Cut that out!" Brian laughed.

You know if you can't laugh at yourselves who can you laugh at?

At the dealership, they said, we can fix it, but it will take 4-5 days.

Time for plan C. We were supposed to be in Jacksonville TX the next day and I was supposed to be at work on Saturday. Enter the "Enterprise" rent a car. ( They really will pick you up!)
Safely ensconced in a rental car we were off to TX. The next morning we called the gentleman we were to interview and found to our dismay that he had been ill and would not be available....
On to plan D: We consulted our Red Wattle Hog raisers list and called the closest ones. So we didn't get our interview but we did manage to visit a couple of TX Red Wattle hog farmers. We met some real nice folks. That was a good thing. And on the way back up to Missouri, my niece managed to pick some mistletoe to take back to her boyfriend. Brian tossed her up into the tree and she climbed up the rest of the way. She managed to get down with only minor scrapes. Another good thing. Oh and on the way back north we got an unexpected phone call.... the garage had our truck done on Thursday.

WHOOPEE!! Who says god doesn't answer prayers.

So $2100 dollars poorer we pulled out of the dealership. The truck runs GREAT!
Now all we needed to do was pick up the "Great Hogs" and get our butts back to Indiana.
More about hogs loading coming up next. ;)