We’ve all heard the expression ‘the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence’… well it is, so we did something about it.
Our piggies have performed their primary task of ploughing and fertilising our vegetable bed and done so admirably. Where once there was virgin pasture now not a single blade of green grass can be found… in fact the pigs can barely walk in there without sinking to their hocks in mud. We have a tonne of horse manure and a load of old hay to incorporate into the the raised beds and we’d like to get it all in before the sun bakes it to a hardpan once our all too short spring stops and el scorchio summer begins. Last frost date here is in about two weeks time, although it has been known to snow in July this is a rare occurence and one that will not trouble me one bit. What does trouble me is our complete inability to order seeds for this year and hence our total lack of seedy action. I think we’ll be biting the bullet and buying plugs for anything that we can’t direct sow in the next week. Next year, we’ll be more prepared. I should get that translated into latin and put on our family crest…
So back to them piggies, and my latest little project…
There’s an oft told story involving a trio of piggie builders and a hungry ole wolf who comes a calling. I think it’s called three little substandard builders or something and there’s a whole lotta metaphorical jazz going on there somewhere. Anyhoo, on a modern day twist to the old favourite the stick and straw piggies decided to build together, combining their affordable and sustainable materials and co-habitating in a pad together. Bricky pig went for all mod cons then found he couldn’t pay the mortgage when the recession hit, so the big bad wolf repo’d his ass and cooked that bacon buttie up for breakfast. And yes, this is the version I tell my kids before they go to sleep at night.
Charlie, the pup and I took a stroll down the woods this morning to cut some withies to act as stakes for the bales. Note the concentration on my three-year old sons face as he cuts the branches from the stake that we just liberated from the cruel and debilitating grasp of it’s mother tree.
I then laid a board – standard exterior plywood that fell of the barn shortly before the barn itself fell down. Sticking to our guru John Seymours advice that pig housing should be sturdy and free we haven’t spent a penny nor a cent on this thing – apart from the hay bales which were too mouldy to use as feed everything is strictly scrap.
I laid the bales out to make sure we had enough then set about staking them down. This was harder than I imagined but I found the easiest way was to drive the stakes into the ground, make a hole with another stick through the bale roughly where I wanted the spike to go then force the bale down over the stake. I decided the bales at the ends would need two stakes whereas the ones in the middle would only get the one.
Voila, straw bale building ala Uncle Kev (apologies to the real Uncle Kev – although he is an actual builder we picked up this little skill from extensive More 4 viewing in the noughties).
Next I pulled some wood from one of my many decrepit and mostly flattened barns for the roof but you could just use two pallets nailed together with some 2×4. Onto this I nailed some plastic for waterproofing… a tarp would have been better but we were bereft of that particular variety of woven plastic fabric at the time. I then took some corrugated tin, gratis again courtesy of a barn or two, and nailed it to both the underside of the roofing ensemble and the top, leaving plenty to overhang above that I could bash down around the edges inan effort to prevent it taking flight foe the second time in it’s life.
I spread half a bale out for bedding and will probably add some carpet for a door when I come across some that’s going spare.
Then came the hard bit – transitioning the pigs from their old ghetto to their new uptown sow pad. I learned several things here – some pigs are cleverer than others; certain pigs won’t cross the point where the electric fence was even if it’s turned off and coiled up twenty feet away; in order to be used for their intended purpose pigboards need to be light; even with it half full of grain you’re not going to wedge a bucket onto a pigs head, and even if you did yo’d have no chance of calmly guiding here back to where you want her to be; but mostly I learned that if a pig doesn’t want to be moved there’s no way on earth you’re going to move her.
Eventualy – EVENTUALLY – I managed to string the electric fence up behind the stubborn old sow then watched as she confusedly turned in circles before getting dizzy and stumbling into the fresh new paddock that the other pig had been in for an hour or so.
And that’s the story – they checked out their new home, they found the trough and the water bowl, they’ve rooted around in the grass finding all the bits of corn I scattered in my efforts to tempt them into greener and more pleasant lands… and it’s midnight and they still haven’t figured out where their friggin bed is.