I like slow, fat, waddling, friendly pigs--this pig is none of these things.
This pig moves quickly, way too quickly for any normal pig, and has never been friendly, not even to other pigs. She isn't even good at being fat--this pig has taken forever and a day to get fattened up because unlike every other pig ever to exist in history, she is a super picky and slow eater.
This pig came from a friend, we traded gilts--me in hopes of getting one I could keep around for future breeding. From the day she arrived as a piglet, this one was always just a bit "off" mentally. She didn't act like any of our other pigs and in all ways that were bad. As a consequence of her many problems, she was quickly sectioned from the "stay and breed group" to the "freezer camp" group. But, since she was a slow grower, she didn't leave when our fall pigs left for freezer camp and instead has been waiting her turn all winter. Her turn was (supposed to be) today.
Earlier in owning pigs, I used to dread loading--always convinced it would turn into a 3-ring circus with pigs everywhere but where they are supposed to be. I usually have to load by myself and we don't have a true loading chute, I run them down the 8-foot wide barn aisle with a makeshift squeeze at one end to get them in the trailer gate. But I have had pretty good luck with my setup--fairly easily loading anywhere from 2 to 16 pigs at time without any huge incidents. Until today.
This pig has always been hard to do anything with--she has the most extreme flight response of any pig I have worked with and when she can't run for it, she tends to just freeze and mentally shutdown. It has made even the most basic moves between pens a major pain in the butt. That said, I thought my usual tact of withholding a meal pre-loading would work as most often a hungry pig is a rather easy pig to load. I got my trailer situated, my squeeze setup and a grain bucket in hand and let her loose.
And she went in the exact opposite direction intended...hiding at the other end of the barn aisle behind some hay bales. She didn't notice or care that I had a bucket, she just ran like an idiot.
I went over and wedged her out of there and she went screaming (literally, though I had not touched her) to the other end of the barn. Yay, maybe she would run straight into the trailer!
She came to a skidding halt when she saw the trailer and ran screaming straight back at me. I hadn't yet grabbed my pig pushing gate so I tried just talking quietly to her and rattled the grain in the bucket--no good, she ran right past me and hid in the bales again.
Confounded, I grabbed my pig gate (just a big pallet with extra boards that I use to push them forward once they are in the squeeze area) and tried again. Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh--she ran back and forth down the length of the barn 4 times without getting anywhere near the squeeze chute area where I could block her in.
Plan B--use a Judas pig...ie Mama.
Mama Pig, our oldest sow, is the only animal on the farm that listens perfectly...she always comes when called, stops when I say whoa and can generally be counted on to do exactly what you need her to do. I decided to have her load in the trailer in hopes that if the red pig saw another pig inside and eating, she would follow.
Mama loaded like a pro and commenced with a second breakfast at the front of the trailer. I scooted the red pig from the bales (again) and simply stood at that end of the barn and tried to let curiosity and hunger do their work.
And it did...almost.
The red pig wanted comfort more than anything and the calm solidity of Mama drew her down the squeeze chute. It was then I made what was probably my fatal mistake. I was now running late for the locker appointment and in a hurry and so I decided since she was now somewhere I could block her with my big pig board, that I would just run up there and create the block.
Run I did and I even got the board set and my body braced behind it before she whirled around and saw the predicament she was in. Now most panicked pigs, faced with a human behind a 4x4 board wall and a open gate to a trailer full of grain and another friendly pig would take option B, getting in the trailer. Not this ^&%&%&* pig.
NO, she ran full tilt at me and proceeded to attempt to bulldoze me over. Though she weighs a good 300+ pounds right now, I was ready for her hit and took it with a staunchness that would do an NFL linesman proud. That made her back up a bit and reconsider. We both just stood there, heaving and eyeing each other with distaste.
I actually saw the moment where she decided to try me again. Her eyes flicked to the trailer then back to me and she crouched, spun towards me and I'll be damned if that pig didn't fly.
Well, rather she made a mighty leap, hit the pallet about 3/4 the way up, toppled me and the board and then scrambled over what was left of me and my wall...screaming all the while.
That was when I called it a day. I mean, how do you win against a flying pig?
Bruised, tired and angry, I knew I couldn't win this fight alone. I called the locker and rescheduled for a day where I could summon a larger army for this endeavor.
Give me the slow, fat, waddling pigs who will do anything for food, I need not ever see a "flying pig" again.