My own phone camera didn't give me a decent picture, but Judy Knapp got a better one. It gives a good idea of how intense and beautiful it was.
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Going through the mechanics of making coffee and breakfast, I came aware that everything outside was awash in a dusky rosey hue. Looking up through the trees, the sky appeared to be on fire. My first thought was, "Oh no, forest fire." But the rest of my senses said no. Wow, it was just the sunrise.
Monday, October 29, 2018
"H" asked me if I have a month-by-month list of the jobs that need to be done on my homestead farm.
I have no written list of tasks. I've often seen published lists of "what to do in ________" (fill in the month or season). I guess that's what "H" is looking for. Truthfully, I've never even thought of writing down a list. Perhaps I'm not all that forgetful yet, thank heaven! Now that I'm older, I have indeed become a list maker for some things. I find myself writing down a list of things to do, buy, harvest, etc. But often I walk away and forget to look at the list until the next day. So much for making a list! Egads, there's times when I even forget where I placed the list. Oh-oh, looks like I am indeed becoming forgetful.
But to help "H" out, here's some of my list for October, if I were to have such a list. Keep in mind that since I garden year around, these special jobs are things I don't need to do the rest of the year. There's still plenty of year around tasks such as making compost, sowing seeds, harvesting, mowing, fence maintenance, etc.
...harvest & process pineapples
...prepare garden space for pineapple starts and plant them
...harvest & process guavas
...harvest & process lilikoi
...harvest & process coffee
...harvest & process avocados
...shear of any old wool from the sheep so that they can head into winter with good coats
...start making Christmas season presents ......sea salt, jackfruit candy, dried pineapple
There's lots of other things that are done every month, but they are not October-only tasks. Things like tilling, mowing, planting, harvesting, fence repair, compost making, deworming livestock, etc.
October is also a good time of year to evaluate the chicken flock. The egg laying hens are in one pen, while the mostly non-layers are in another. So if any of the previous egg layers look like they're pau laying, I'll graft them into the non-layer flock. Plus I'll take a closer look at the young growing chickens that are running around (I tend to let the youngsters be unpenned since they stick around the adult flock. By "around" I mean within a 300 foot radius.) The roosters will go into a "finishing pen" and the pullets will join the laying flock.
Now for November. I really don't know what the special November jobs will be. That's right, I never took notes. But I can see these things coming up....
...harvest the last of the pineapples
...check on the progress of the citrus trees, especially the oranges
...harvest the guavas in my area, since those located at lower elevation are now pau
...harvest & process more of my coffee
...plant gourd seeds (this is also a good October job but this year was too wet to do it)
...finish the Christmas packages and start thinking about getting them mailed
Saturday, October 27, 2018
"M" asked me who's method I used to train Noodles. "D" gave me advice on how to train him. "H" wrote in to warn me how not to train him.
Thank you everyone, your thoughts were gracefully listened to. But you see, I subscribe to a common sense approach to dog training. Basically, I try very hard to see the world and situation from the dog's point of view, then think like a dog. Quite long ago, in 1969 in fact, I got my first puppy and asked my mentor how to train her. He replied, learn to speak their language. Get into her head. Learn what it means to be a dog. See the world through her eyes. Watch how her brain works. Then try to learn how to communicate with her. Jeez, that wasn't the answer I was looking for. I wanted a cookbook set of infallible instructions. Take one puppy, stir in one cup of dog food daily, season with treats, bake for 6 months. Out of the oven comes one prefect dog. Ha! It didn't work that way.
(Above: Carmen, my mother's dog. This dog was ultra smart and observant. Mom never had to do much to train her. Carmen believed in being a cooperative pack member. )
I knew nothing about dog training in 1969. Luckily I got involved with dog showing right away and was willing to listen to the experienced dog people of the day. I attended various dog training classes, read all the books, tried show obedience, tried sled dog working, and showed my puppy. But all my mentors repeated, think like my particular breed of dog. Learn how to talk fluent "dog". Luckily my first pup was a dominant but good natured Siberain Husky who wasn't above considering me to be the stupid one in the family, the difficult one to train. Boy, I learned a lot from that dog! She was quite the trainer.
Years later I learned lots more from the various dogs I owned, or should I more correctly say, shared my life with. Each and every one of them was a different individual. To have used the exact same approach on each dog would have been a mistake. (Initially I tried that, and I was frustrated because it wasn't working or going smoothly. I was unhappy. The dog was unhappy.) To use just one person's trading regimen would have been like pounding the square pegs into the round holes. Not my idea of cooperative, successful training.
So "M", I'm not a believer is following just one training method. I don't do the inflexible militaristic approach, nor the positive reinforcement only approach. I don't yell, don't use the "no" command (there's a better way to get the negative across), don't get mad, don't demand instant mindless obedience. I don't have long training sessions (those 1 hour training classes were really for training the owners not the dogs). I listen to the dog and work to communicate. It's not a case of demanding submission and obedience. It's a case of getting the dog to be a cooperative pack member, so that they know what to do, when & how, and what not to do. It's the dog learning the pack's rules and habits.
I have some notions I still retain from my original mentors. I initially rejected their opinions, but gradually came to accept their wisdom.
...learn the dog's talents and abilities and train to enhance them. In plainer words, don't expect my Siberian Husky to be a sheep herding dog. Best to train it to be a good sled dog. Ever wonder why most of the top agility dogs are Border Collies? That sport fits their talents.
...not all dogs are trainable, at least not in the way many owners hope. I could never train my Siberian not to runaway, not to kill livestock, or train her to bark an alert. A Curly Coated Reyriever we had never could comprehend being a watchdog. He simply wasn't trainable in that fashion. But he made a fine show dog and hunting companion. One of my current dogs, Crusty, isn't trainable for obedience "tricks", but he's a fine farm dog even if he refuses to submit to those smart obedience sits, downs, and recalls.
...never tolerate a biting dog. This is one that most people refuse to accept. Initially I refused too, making excuses for the dog. But I've known and worked with hundreds of dogs in my life and I've come to totally believe in this. The only acceptable biting dogs are those who are trained for a job that demands it -- military, police, protection, man killers (example, anti-poaching dogs), take-down style hunting dogs. Family dogs should never bite, or at least never get away with it. It's against pack rules to bite a higher ranking member.
I could talk about dog trading for days. In fact, at the dogs shows we did indeed talk about training over and over, show after show after show....for years. So this blog really isn't a suitable platform to describing dog training methods. I couldn't do the topic justice.
Thursday, October 25, 2018
Walking up the driveway after checking on the pigs (they turned out to be ok), I looked up toward the house. Wow, it looked so inviting and cozy! It was getting dark outside with a bit of light still in the sky, and the house glowed golden. It looked like just the place I wanted to be, to have a quiet dinner, then snuggle up with a good book.
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
"M" wanted an update on Noodles.
Mr Noodles is maturing out to be a good dog. Oh, he's still young enough to get into trouble, but all in all he is coming along just fine. He's one of the easiest pups I've ever raised. What's really nice is that he has such a positive outlook on life. He seems to be always happy. But he's no dummy. He quite smart, observant, and a good watchdog. But also gentle, loving, and laid back for his age.
I'm still having fun with him, spraying him different colors. Two weeks ago he was a Bengal tiger.
This past Sunday he was a Dalmatian. Two black ears and spots all over.
Don't know yet what he'll be next time. We shall see.
"M" also asked if I trim his coat. Yes, I do. His whiskers, ears, topknot are natural. I shave his cheeks and lower jaw fairly close, for cleanliness. And also under his tail and his belly, again for cleanliness. I scissor about an inch off the hair on his tail just to make him look more balanced. Every two weeks I run a clippers over his body, bringing his hair down to 3/4 of an inch in length. Then I scissor his legs to blend in. Sounds complicated but it only takes 15 minutes from start to finish. Noodles is a very cooperative customer.
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Here's something that new gate owners often get wrong........gates open downhill. I've seen lots of new people, hubby included, that tried to open a gate to the uphill side. That doesn't work. The gate gets stuck on the ground. The only way it can swing freely is to the downhill side.
Here's a typical gate.......
This particular gate is homemade. Bent tubular piping with 1/4" bars welded to it. All galvanized metal. Gate posts are reinforced cement pillars. Simple clamp style hinges.
Simple chain & hook, and welded "latch".
Monday, October 22, 2018
Today I added 18 more baby white pineapples to the gardens. I'm hoping that next year I'll be drowning in pineapples. That would be grand.
Found spots for a dozen more pipinolas. If you live here, you probably think I'm crazy growing all these pipinola. But they are an easy crop for feeding to the pigs and chickens.......and wwoofers. Low work crops are right up my alley!
Speaking of pipinolas, I harvested an oddity today. You know, if you grow enough veggies you're bound to find some oddball ones. Well. This is the first oddball pipinola that I've come upon. It's a double, a Siamese twin so to speak. The pair in the foreground are joined. I put one behind them to show you what they normally look like.
Sunday, October 21, 2018
The island has been experiencing quite a bit of rain and thunderstorms lately. So it's no surprise that some of the moisture blew up to the summit of Mauna Kea.
Just a dusting, but it's our first snow cover of the season. Does thus mean that winter is here? Let's hope so. We'd surely enjoy some cooler nights.
Yes, I know that it sounds strange to most people, but it does indeed snow here in Hawaii. It's pretty neat to be able to say that you played in the snow in the morning, had lunch at the beach, and went snorkeling in the afternoon.....all on the same day.
Saturday, October 20, 2018
Since the blog has been quiet for a couple of days, I'm now getting emails and text messages to check if I'm alive and well. Thanks you. The answer is, yes.
Daily homesteading farm life isn't all exciting, nor interesting. The past few days have been typicall......
6 am, rise & shine, but (sigh) the mornings have been mostly dreary. No sun, everything drab looking. And everything soaking wet from the previous night's rain. Normally I'm awake before 6 am, but it has been just too blah to want to get up and going.
First things first.....stagger out to turn in the generator. Once again, the day doesn't look promising for sun to charge the batteries. The solar battery bank is getting old and needs some help (sounds like me!), so on sunless days we tup them up in the morning and if needed, again in the evening. Next on the addenda, feed the critters. Cats. Dogs. Pigs. Chickens. Sheep & donkey. In that order. If I go out of order, there's a rebellion. I think I control these animals, but in reality they've made me their obedient slave. <<<<<<echoes of Feed Me Seymour wafts through the air>>>>>>
Before I can move on to making coffee and breakfast there's one more task. Take the rain gauge and temperature readings. I've kept a daily record since 2004 and its come in handy. The past couple years I've been posting it on a website called CoCoRaHS. If you're curious to search me out, I'm station hi-hi-12.
Finally, it's people breakfast and time to check emails. I'll scan the news headlines but seldom ever read the articles first thing in the morning. It's too upsetting, so why ruin my day? The headlines alone piss me off enough, thank you.
From now on each day varies, but the past few have been working in the rain or between showers. Rain makes things go slower and unpleasantly. I deal with walking the fenceline in the rain (if I use the atv, then I have to spend an hour hosing it down and drying it off afterwards). Gathering livestock food....in the rain. Happily the feed cooker is under a roof, rain protected. Next, checking the clean laundry which has been hanging in the rain for days. Today I moved each piece to a line I temporarily strung up inside the Costco shed that I normally use as a workshop. Looks like a giant spider web in there now.
I've also been dealing with escaping pigs. Daily. The rain has softened the ground so much that the young pigs have been successfully rooting along the fence. Thus they've created holes where they can shimmy under. I made a quick bandaid fix by tying pallets along the outside of the fence.
This has prevented them from lifting the bottom of the fence and crawling out. Just a bandaid repair until I can get in there to make a proper solution. Right now the pen perimeter is so muddy that I don't want to deal with it. Well, I did deal with it somewhat. The two worse offending pigs went into the freezer. Now I just have the two nicer pigs, the two who come when called and willingly re-enter their pen like polite little piggies.
Another mundane task......replace a flat tire......to the sound of thunder. Great, what next? Don't know how it happened, but as I approached my driveway one of the tires on the truck went flat. Totally flat. Found out it had gotten a slice in the sidewall. Heaven knows what I drove over, because I never located the offending piece of metal. Whatever it was made a two inch slice. Totally ruined the tire. As dismayed as I was over the loss of the tire, I had a worse problem. I had a disabled vehicle blocking my driveway. So I had to do something about it. Of course, I was home alone. Sheesh. Yes, I know the mechanics of how to change a tire, but it wasn't something I wanted to do. But 1 1/2 hours later I had the spare properly mounted on the truck, truck parked back up by the house where it belonged, and the portable generator & tools all put away. When all was done, it was quite the rush to know that I had done it all by myself! Wahoo!
By the way, those dang tires are heavy. And the stupid little jack takes forever to jack the truck up to the proper height. The jack was the most time consuming part of the whole job. And although I survived this task, I don't wish to do it again anytime soon.
The only thing that felt like an accomplishment was that I spread 50 lbs of oat seed back in parts of the pastures. All this rain should get it to germinate with no problem. Plus I spread another 25 lbs of annual rye seed in bare patches around the farm. I'm not looking to harvest these crops for seed. The intent is to increase the grass for the livestock. My pastures still aren't great. Actually, they're barely passable. I've been gradually clearing out ferns and scrub, opening up more space for grazing. The oat and rye should help.
Friday, October 12, 2018
The yacon is suddenly looking lush and grand. Perhaps the constant rain has affected it, or perhaps the shortening days has something to do with it. But the plants have grown taller, so tall that they are falling over and now cascade down the sides of the pallet boxes. The homemade soil/compost in the boxes don't give such tall heavy plants a good footing to stand upright.
Even with the lack of solid footing and their tipping over, the plants are pushing blooms and starting to produce tubers.
The tubers are still too young to harvest. By Thanksgiving Day I should be able to gently harvest some, with the bulk being ready by Christmas. That is, as long as the plants don't die back prematurely. In past dry periods I've had plants dieback early.
Above, the typical leaves of the yacon. They look very much like sunflowers.......of course because they are in the sunflower family.
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Rock wall updateIt seems that I'm always accumulating rocks because of one project or another. This past couple months Adam has been moving the loose rock out of the new dairy goat pasture. This makes it much, much easier for us to keep the pasture in good condition. I like to weedwack the non-palatable plants down after the goat have browsed the pasture and moved on to the new pen. Thus the good plants can grow back without being shaded out by the bad. Now without all those rocks interfering with the weedwacking, the pastures will be easier to tend.
Another recent source of rock has been the pig pasture. The young pigs are now rooting more aggressively, churning up rocks. So I've been moving wheelbarrowfuls of rock just to keep the pasture walkable. While the pigs can navigate the rocks just fine, I practically break my neck trying to get to the feed troughs.
What to do with rocks? Rock walls, of course!
I've been moving the rocks up to the driveway, creating low walls.
It's all dry stack. No cement. The larger, nicer looking rocks are on the outside, while the uglier rocks are used for the back wall. And the small rocks fill in the middle. The white rope is just to make a straight line to follow so the wall does wiggle-waggle it's way along the driveway.
The top two photos shows the wall extending up to the top of the drive, fairly close to the house. The photo above shows the next section going down the driveway.
Above, here's the next section heading down and around the bend.
Above, the lower section that meets the fork in the driveway, and the wall that was built earlier.
Above shows that just piling rocks isn't the whole job. In order to have room to work, the back side of the wall area needs to be cleared of weeds, saplings, and brush. So that's a job unto itself. Around here, things grow rather densely.
A few more feet and this run of rock wall will be complete. Then we can start to tackle the other side of the driveway. I figure there will be plenty of rock to build that one too. It will just take time to gather up the rocks. Opening up more garden spots or upgrading more pasture area should reveal plenty of rock. This whole farm is built atop lava, so I'm not going to run out of rocks anytime soon.
Wednesday, October 10, 2018
Many of the common wild guava trees are dropping fruit. In fact, they've been going off for a couple of weeks now. The sweeter guavas that I'm intentionally growing are just starting to produce on the homestead. I have one with a white interior, and another that's pink, both nice flavored. These are the ones we save for ourselves. The wild ones don't taste too nice and are sour. They go to feed the livestock.
Some years are better for guavas than others. This year is one of those abundant years. I have 3 tree patches that I visit on my way home from town, plus I have 2 friends that save me the guavas that fall near by their homes. This gives me plenty of fruits for the livestock to enjoy. Right now I'm getting between 6 and 10 gallons of fruits a day. That's a lot, but the animals eagerly consume them all.
The sheep, goats, and donkey will eat them fresh right out of the bucket. The pigs prefer them mashed or broken up, mixed with cooked cracked corn (oats or barley is acceptable too) or dog kibble, and a few blenderized papayas or pineapple skins mixed in. The chickens eat them mashed and mixed in with their regular slop. I've had other people tell me that their animals won't touch them. I suppose mine have been so accustomed to Mom's Famous Slop & Glop that they are willing to eat all sorts of weird stuff mixed in it. Good thing because those guavas help extend their food supply.
Tuesday, October 9, 2018
Our town has a small county cemetery. It's not heavily used since most people around here prefer going with cremation. But it does see some use. So most of the cemetery grounds is a swath of lawn. With its green stretch of well mown lawn, it's a nice place to go play ball with your dog, since dogs are not allowed in country parks. Yes, this is technically a county park too, but nobody cares if you play with your dog in the cemetery.
Monday, October 8, 2018
It's yet again been wet recently. How does that affect this homestead?
... The grass has become too wet to effectively run the lawnmower to collect grass clippings. Thus no more mulching and no clippings to feed to the sheep and chickens. Oh, they won't go hungry, but they do prefer the fresh mown grass. The rain has caused the grass in the pastures to grow, and there's always the fallback to haycubes if necessary for the sheep. The chickens have plenty of other things to eat.
... The pig pasture is getting sloppy muddy where their feeding station is, making it treacherously slippy for me to go feed them. Not much I can do about it besides shoveling cinder into the area. My plan is to move the feeding trough to a grassy area and sow oats into the muddy parts. And hope for less rain.
... Mold is showing up inside the garden sheds. I plan to spray a bleach or maybe Lysol solution on the walls to kill the mold.
... Mold wants to grow on my dormant seed potatoes. I've rinsed the tubers in a 10% bleach solution and laid them out to dry in the house. That should hold them for a couple of weeks.
... Powdery mildew is starting up on the pumpkin vines. It's a lost cause.
... Mushrooms are starting to pop up here and there. That's good. I welcome the mushrooms,
... All my water catchment areas are full. That's good, but it's also frustrating to see the excess water overflowing and running into the ground. During the next drought I'm going to be wishing I had that water.
... The sheep have had to have chemical fly repellant applied to their fleece so that they don't come down with flystrike.
... My concrete walkways around the house are growing moss. Looks pretty, but it's slippery to walk on. Tomorrow I plan to use a stiff broom to remove the worst of the moss.
... Everything metal is rusting. This acidic rain does nasty things to metal, especially tools and fencing. So we go through a lot of sandpaper and os-pho.
I choose this piece of property to purchase because it stayed green even during droughts. And I've never minded the wet-dry cycle of previous years. But for the past several years we seem to be stuck in a wet period. I wonder if we'll ever see drought again.
Last year I considered using tunnels in the main garden area, specifically to keep excess rain off the veggies. I though "naw, they're not needed because it will be drying on soon". So here I sit one year later with soggy gardens, not able to grow many of the veggies I want. So I figure the best way to cause a drought will be to build those tunnels. I think that will be my next major outdoor project.
Sunday, October 7, 2018
So far, we've harvested 3 bunches of red bananas. I don't know which variety we have but we like them as a fresh eating banana. At first I had a hard time figuring out what was the best time to eat them. Initially our taste testing was disappointing because we were trying them when they weren't ripe enough. When too firm, they are bland. Now I've got it down pat. I wait until they get yellow skins beneath that reddish coloring and develop dark spots on the peel. The banana itself feels soft.
Saturday, October 6, 2018
One of the big lawnmowers, the Cub Cadet owned by a friend of mine, stopped in its tracks. The engine was running fine, but it just wouldn't go. Dead. I was quite surprised to learn that my friend managed to push it back to the house. Egads, she'd 76 years old! And not even a farm girl. I'm impressed.
I was asked to take a look-see to determine what needed to be done. Removing the mower deck and propping up the tractor in order to look under, it didn't take long to see the partially shredded drive belt.
It was exactly the problem that my friend thought it would be.
Above, most of the old belt was still in place on the pulleys, but back by the rear transmission, shreds were hanging down. Ok, go buy a replacement belt and get to work.
I've never replaced the drive belt on a lawn tractor before, so I first read the owner's manual. It was clear as mud. The place where we bought the belt gave us a diagram of how the belt should run. That didn't help either since there were no instructions on how to do it. So what to do? Google it! Thank heavens for YouTube. After watching several YouTube videos, I was ready to tackle the job. It didn't look all that difficult. HA!!! Little did I know!
Not knowing what I was doing, I first reached under and used my impact wrench to remove the clutch guard and clutch, thus freeing the belt from the engine. But I soon realized that unlike some of the YouTube videos, I needed more working space. So I pushed the tractor up onto the ramps. Settling on my back, I proceeded to follow the various steps. That's when I discovered that the belt had shredded into multiple fine strands and braided themselves around the transmission shaft, out of sight and out of reach except by finger tips. ....... Back to google.
Not finding clear instructions on how to expose the transmission shaft and get everything back together again correctly, I decided not to go that route. So I ended up laying on my back for for close to 3 hours with my arms over head, gradually teasing piece by piece of that dastardly belt out of the rats nest it had made down inside a hole around the shaft. Eeeerrrggg. I think I deserve an "A" for patience and persistence.
3 1/2 hours from the start, my arms were pau. They trembled and I couldn't hold them over my head anymore, time to call it a day.
Day #2, arms sore but now functioning, I quickly finished the job. Old belt removed, new belt installed, all the pieces back together.
The last step was to reinstall the mower deck. Sounds simple, no? Well that didn't go easy either. I followed the owner manual instructions, and I couldn't do it. Again, back to a Google search. Found someone complaining about the exact problem I was having, and lo and behold, the instructions were wrong! Instead of using a ratchet handle and pushing to the right, things only worked if pushed to the left. How about that. Once I learned that, the deck got into place fairly quickly.
My friend took it for a short test drive and it seemed to work ok. Success, for now.
Tuesday, October 2, 2018
Recently I've been planting a lot of pineapple. Most of it will be used for trading, but since we both love pineapple, we also eat a lot of it. If I had to buy it in a supermarket, pineapple would be a rare treat, but on this farm, I grow dozens and dozens for our own consumption. "E" wondered how we could eat all that pineapple, considering how acidic it was. Well "E", we don't eat it raw. Well.....let's say that we seldom it eat it raw. By far we prefer it cooked. Even when I chop it up in yogurt, sales, and smoothies, I use cooked pineapple slices.
Our number one favorite way to prepare pineapple is to pan fry it in a little tad of butter.
Sometimes we will fry it in the same pan with porkchops, thus picking up some garlic and pepper flavoring from the pork. Other times it's just butter, or perhaps bacon grease. I could pan fry it without the butter, but at my age I'm not about to deny myself this bit of pleasure.
I initially tried grilling it. Yes, it's good that way too. But I seldom grill anymore. The old propane griller burned out several years ago and I never got around to replacing it. So I pan fry. It's quicker and just as yummy.
By the way "E", pan fried pineapple isn't acidic. It's sweet and mild. It won't burn the lips or make the mouth sore.
What meals do I serve pineapple with? Any and all. We have had it with yogurt or eggs for breakfast, on sandwiches for lunch, along side porkchops or chicken breasts, or as dessert.
Monday, October 1, 2018
Young pigs are inquisitive. And they like to explore and travel. Add to that mix the instincts and urges of a feral pig, and I end up with piglets that are difficult to confine. My current piglets are mostly feral, with a bit of domestic tossed in somewhere in the background. So they are active and frequently find ways to escape their roomy pen.
...though the fence. When they were tiny, some figured out how to jump through the openings in the fence. The lower foot of fencing wires were too closely spaced for them to push through, but further up the wires were spaced further apart, enough for a small pig to get through. So for the first couple of weeks, I was able to identify which were the clever piglets of the group. But it didn't take long for them to grow too big to make it out.
...under the fence. These piglets like to root up the ground, and along the fenceline is their favorite place. It didn't take the smart ones long to figure out how to pull up the bottom wires, permanently bending them enough to be able to shimmy under. So I had to strategically place large rocks and logs to keep them from escaping this way. I've considered running a couple strands of barbed wire along the bottom of the fence, but I haven't gotten to it yet. They're not escaping frequently enough to motivate me to do that job, not yet.
...between the fence and rock wall. I have a t-post fairly close to where the fence meets the rock wall, but there's a couple inches of space.....a gap. Again it was the smartest one who discovered the gap and worked it. When the pigs finally grew larger and heavier, they were able to pull the t-post away from the rock wall enough to squeeze through. So I had to brace the t-post to prevent them from pulling it aside.
.,.via the gate. Gates are often the weak point of an enclosure. Mine proved to be weak. The gate was fine as long as the piglets were small. Now that they have put on weight, they now have enough heft to challenge the gate. Twice now they've managed to break the hinges, and once they popped the latch. Now I've replaced those with heavier hinges and clasp.
Since most of my pigs are escapers, I take four steps that I believe are super important and help me control my pigs.
...don't jet them run out of food and get hungry. A hungry pig will go looking for food.
...make friends with your piglet. I like my pigs to come to me for rubbing. I brush their backs. I offer them treats. I encourage them to follow me around their enclosure.
...train them to come. Every time I feed them I call them. Before long they will come running anytime they hear peeeg, peeeg, peeeg. So when they get loose, I can call and they will come running out of the woods.
...find out their favorite to-die-for food. With every pig I've raised thus far it has been dry dog food kibbles. So once a week I offer them a bucket of dry dog food out of a white bucket. Now anytime they see the white bucket and hear the kibble rattling, they come running. They get rewarded with their favorite treat.
...train the farm dog to herd. You can't use a hyper excited or running dog around loose pigs. So I trained Crusty to follow loose pigs at a bit of a distance. He walks behind, keeping a quiet presence. But the pigs are very aware that he is there. Although they are use to him hanging around and even playing with him, they some how are aware that he is herding them rather than his usual play. Having Crusty there encourages them not to back track while I am leading them back to their pen.