Four pigs jumped into the back of the stock trailer, Bruce and I shut the door and looked at each other. Bruce said, “That was way too easy, what did we do wrong?” In the past pigs have slithered under the trailer and run down the road rather than load. Some would push through the temporary loading panels and also run down the road. Other times they would not leave their paddock at all, probably afraid the electric gates were still up. Pigs don't always trust that an electric gate is open so they will not cross the line where the gate used to be.
Since our pigs have escaped so often from their pen in the past, we had no trouble getting them out the door. We put food outside their pen and in the trailer, opened the pen door and waited for the right pigs to come through. Waiting was the hard part but it paid off. Seven pigs made their way out, we let three of them back into their pen and closed the others in the trailer. There are also two lambs shut in the front compartment of the trailer and in the morning we are picking up two more lambs on our way to the processor where we are taking our four pigs and four lambs.
I have mixed feelings about taking these pigs who have been a challenge keeping fed and housed, and I have known since they were born. Some I bottle fed and all of them trust humans. Tomorrow I know their end will be quick and painless, and because they are trusting, they won't freak out when they are handled at the processor. Calm animals make for tender cuts and all of my animals are calm.
I don't know the lambs as well, but I do know the farmers who raised them. Those farmers cared for their animals just as we did for ours; with respect and compassion. One lamb was a show ram at the Hopkinton Fair the others are backyard sheep.
The pigs and lambs will make their final trip tomorrow and as a result we will enjoy tender and tasty lamb, pork, and, of course, bacon. On top of that, the bitter cold will be replaced with just “cold” tomorrow and a regular heat wave by the end of the week with temps up to 50 degrees. Sad as it is sometimes, maybe this farming thing is worth it.