Monday, January 31, 2011

Farm in a box

My round trip through the Missouri Ozarks to pick up hogs and heifers went smoothly- a great consolation to Scott after my dicey truck-stock trailer-ice-highway incident last winter in Iowa. 

I met Tyke, the hog breeder, in the little Missouri town of El Dorado Springs to transfer the stock from his trailer to mine.  I had visions of stout hogs running wild in the Pamida parking lot, but to my surprise, both boar and sow just stepped daintily from one trailer to the other and settled in for the ride.  The registered Guinea Hog boar, Buttercup, probably earned his name as a two-pound piglet, but at over 200 lbs now, he isn't worried about being teased.  The unnamed sow, I christened Trudy, after a former relation of my husband's. 

Heifers did not load so smoothly.  The farm didn't have adequate loading facilities, so we had to first select the two heifers I wanted and then run the rest of the herd out of the corral.  Then, the two lonely heifers had to be convinced to mount the trailer of their own accord.  After some graceless chasing, one heifer decided to try the trailer.  With little stress, I closed the door and secured her in the front compartment.  The second heifer was in a little panic when she tangeled in a mess of scrap wire that had been left in the corral.  With wire around her neck and legs, she managed to shake free, but by that time she was cut around her mouth and bleeding.  In her terror she started charging at everyone, especially Larry, who retaliated by swinging a board to smack her whenever she got close. 

The only way to treat the heifer was to let her settle herself and find the trailer on her own.  Larry had another idea.  He loaded up an air pistol with bee-bees and started shooting at her from outside the fence.  She didn't understand what he wanted her to do, but she sure knew that he was her enemy.  I was crouching behind the trailer door, in part to swing it shut if she happened to step in, but also to keep from being pinged with bee-bees, as the heifer was now between Larry and me.  When started to load the second clip, I called halt and took my one heifer home.  This wasn't the only sign of poor management that I saw there, but it is by far enough. 

My little yearling, half-belt heifer still calls for her mother some, but the herd has taken her as one of their own.  I think she will continue to gentle up with good management.  I've named her Catalina.

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