Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Sunday, September 10, 2017

Pig Problems

The Berg farm, in its heyday, was a truly ‘mixed’ operation, with pigs, horses, chickens, turkeys, geese and cattle.
From 10 to 30 sows (female pigs) generally had the run of the farm for most of the year, causing no problems unless they got into the garden.
Which then generated a whole chain of corresponding (and exciting) proceedings.
But that is another story.
One of these sows was a prolific red (Tamworth), hereinafter known unimaginatively as Old Red. Every year she produced a littler of healthy, vigorous piglets. Piglets that, due to their ultra-attentive mother, were seldom approached by beast. Or man.
Enough background . . .
Old Red’s newest litter was due. Eschewing the man-made comforts of warm pen and clean straw, she headed out in her best piggy fashion across the railroad tracks into a nearby pasture to hunt out a place to farrow (give birth).
All went well to this point.
Now one of the biggest problems vis-à-vis being out by yourself and away from the farm buildings is the fact that you are out by yourself and away from the farm buildings.
All sort of shenanigans can take place.
In this case, a wandering coyote smelled those newly-born, helpless babies.
You should  know that piglet is probably a coyote’s favourite meal and this coyote wasn’t about to pass up on something so . . . available.
Before you start to panic, remember that those piglets all had a mother.
A 300 pound, snorting, stomping, whirlwind of a mother.
Who instantly began her snorting, stomping and whirlwind-ing.
The Berg family was alerted to the fact that Old Red had disappeared and, assuming what had taken place had actually taken place, Uncle Bern and Uncle Roy were sent to bring Old Red and her babies home.
Having dealt with the cranky old sow before, they wisely took a team and hay rack to aid them.
When they arrived, the sow was on the fight and charging after the coyote, who kept out-maneuvering her and heading back toward her babies.
I probably don’t have to tell you that, by this point, the sow was somewhat irate—champing and foaming at the mouth—and not about to tolerate any interference by . . . anything.
Accomplishing their design was going to take some strategy.
When the sow charged off on another attempt to rid herself of her coyote invader, Uncle Bern scooped the 10 piglets into a burlap sack.
I don’t know if you know this, but pigs squeal. Even newborns.
A lot. 
The resultant noise brought Mama frothing back.
Did you ever have one of those days?
She immediately went after this new interloper.
Uncle Bern took off. As he was hot-footing it around the wagon, bagged piglets in hand, he turned his head and realized he was looking past a row of sharp teeth right down into the sow’s gullet.
Understandably, this sight added an incentive that spurred him into high gear.
Rounding the hay rack, he tossed the bag of squealing piglets into the back, but with the sow hot on his heels, he had no time to jump in himself, so continued high-stepping.
The two, man and sow, continued to circle the wagon until Old Red realized, by the aforementioned squealing, that her babies were no long in the hands of this human.
She turned her attention in the direction of the wagon and Uncle Bern used her momentary distraction to gain the wagon himself. Uncle Roy stirred up the team and they all headed toward home.
Men and babies safely inside the wagon.
Disapproving mother snorting and grunting along behind.
Using her piglets as a decoy, the two brothers managed to entice the still-irate Old Red into a warm, dry stall. One remarkably free of coyote menaces.
In moments, the sow was laid out in the stall, grunting happily as her ten piglets nursed contentedly.
Calming the two brothers took a tad longer . . .
But I just had an idea.
Being chased by an angry sow spurred Uncle Bern to new land speed records. What if we unleashed something similar during the Olympics or other foot races.
No steroids or other enhancements to help the athletes reach new heights.
Just sheer terror.
I think it’s worth a thought . . .

14 comments:

  1. What an exercise program your family has just created. And you could write the books associated with it. Score! I take it, though, that the coyote was smart enough to hightail it out of there while all this was happening?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, when the men showed up, he disappeared. Coyotes don't like humans much!
      Hmmm . . . I like your idea about the books!

      Delete
  2. You may have something there.....I wonder what they would name that kind of race?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Oh-My-Word-I'm-Going-To-Die Run? You're right. it's a little long . . .

      Delete
  3. Well, I know it would make ME run ... you do know how to tell a story, Diane!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. The terror olypmics could undoubtedly set new records. For speed and probably the high jump as well.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Well written and exciting to the end! I am so glad all are safe, humans and pig, piglets and even the coyote was not hurt. Can't blame his natural instincts can we?
    Just goes to show that all animals, even pigs have feelings! Cool story!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's so nice when a farm story ends with everyone safe and happy. Well, maybe not the coyote! Thanks, Joely!

      Delete
  6. So the winner gets a gold medal and the loser gets a set of teeth marks in the butt? I don't think it will catch on.

    ReplyDelete
  7. piglets and even the coyote was not hurt. Can't blame his natural instincts can we?


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    ReplyDelete

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