Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Piggies' Great Adventure

Tomorrow it will be one week since the pigs went on their Great Adventure to their new home at the Hearts on Noses Sanctuary. The morning had started early, with Ellen and I improvising a "chute" from the barn door to the place where the back of the trailer would be, fastening an old farm gate and 16 feet of x-pen onto the outside of the barn wall with hinges to allow the best fit possible. A few boards screwed onto posts and wall inside the barn,leading from stall to chute, and we were ready to go.

Karen and Robin, with son (Marshall, I think?) and dog Bryn (wouldn't ya know that I'd remember the dog's name and not the child's????????) pulled into the driveway and positioned the trailer.

Trailer getting into position

Bryn - a lovely senior pitti

Ellen and I had a huge can of marshmallows, strawberries, peanuts, dog biscuits, and licorice - all things piggies love. We had not fed them breakfast, so they would be plenty hungry, and motivated to follow me.

It went better than we could have ever imagined. Other than the occasional moment when one or more would run back at the sound of a strange voice or the sight of a strange person (oops - no, I don't mean that Karen and Robin were strange - just that the pigs didn't know them), they followed me right to the trailer - well, they followed the treats to the trailer.

The youngsters showed no fear. Mama Soda got on board once several of her babies were inside. Papa Scotch, however, was another matter. He hung out in the pig yard the longest, he moved the slowest, he took the most bribery. He turned his snoutie up at marshmallows and strawberries and even licorice, but the peanuts were just too much of a temptation and with a little gentle manoevering using boards and bodies, we got him safely in and the door to the trailer securely closed. No squealing, no panic, no fear - they were packed in like sardines and still snuffling the floor for the last of the treats. And then they were on their way.

Pulling out the driveway

I followed the truck and trailer to the Sanctuary, rolling down my windows at each stopsign but heard not a peep. Forty minutes later the door was opened, and twelve cute faces peered out at us:

Are we there yet?

(Thanks to Karen for this photo)

Mama Soda came out first, and proclaimed the new yard safe for the youngsters and so out they tumbled. Papa Scotch brought up the rear. There were waggy tails all around as they explored their new home.

I stayed in their yard with them for a while. It wasn't long before one of the residents came to greet them. Appropriately, it was Scout, coming ahead to check out the new team....


You're gonna like it here!

My name is Scout, and I'll be your guide today - just follow me!

And they checked out their neighbour, Roscoe the Farm Pig, who kindly kept his distance and behaved himself (for once!!! One day I will post the story I wrote in my pre-blog days about the day we built Roscoe a pen). neighbours....I hope they like me!

We added their familiar blankets and some of the straw from their old stall to the fresh straw in the two great houses Janice had prepared for them, and I sat inside coaxing them to join me.

Smells familiar

Foster Mama, dat you in there?

I'll be brave and check it out!

Soda and the youngsters checked out the houses, but Scotch kept his distance. Fortunately I had brought his teddy bear along - the one I bought him the night he shed tears after being seperated from Soda while she gave birth. Two years later, he still frequently cuddles his bear or drags it around when Soda is giving him the cold shoulder.

Teddy waits for Scotch

Curiously, the boy piggies started acting in a way I hadn't seen before - challenging each other with bristles raised and body slams. Perhaps it was just coincidence and reflected their maturity, or perhaps it was the stress, but most likely it was all my fault..... a Sugar High from too many sweets! Oops!

I'll show you who's boss!

We distracted them with fresh hay and they all chowed down.

Yum! Hay!


Janice gets to know them

This is O-Kay!

But moving is an exhausting experience (as I am personally finding out!) and it wasn't long before Soda found a spot in the sunshine and settled down for a nap.

You tired, Mama Soda?

A nice sunny corner under the tree

All tuckered out

A couple of days after the move, Janice reported that one of the youngsters had been crying. On Wednesday I visited them. Rob Roy, Whisper and Fizzy (who have always been my velcro-boys) came running up to me, and it broke my heart to see Rob Roy's tear-streaked face. I sat in the yard with them and chatted with them about the important job they have now as ambassadors and greeters. I watched as a tear or two slid down Whisper's cheeks too. But while I was talking and singing to them, Scotch came over and snuggled down right behind me, snoutie snuffling my back, oofing along to the sound of my voice. Soon my three "babies" followed Papa Scotch's example and relaxed, rolling over for belly rubs and a little snooze at my feet.

They are all settling in fine now, and they have had their first big adventure outside the pen into the acreage. Scotch has fallen in love with one of the horses, Dior, and has decided he will take his own sweet time returning to his pigyard when called, but the others have learned to come to Janice's call even when they have slipped away to the neighbour's yard. Good piggies - don't go far, and come back when called!

You can read all about their first week, and follow along with their adventures, at the relatively new Hearts on Noses blog - you'll find it here. (For those as computer illiterate as I am - put your curser over the word "here" and click - it will take you to the site. Then you can use the back arrow to return to this blog). Be sure to scroll down to catch the week's stories, and especially read the entry "We're freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!" which left me grinning from ear to ear. I do believe these little monkeys have already wormed their way into Janice's heart.

You're gonna have your hands full, Janice - some days you'll be wishing they all moved as slowly as Scotch! LOL


Janice Gillett said...

A lovely read Jean as i ahve read it three times this morning and adored all the pigtures. I lvoe it when they see me out it in the pasture and race toward me in a piggy swarm.
I am still doing this and that to there enclose and a new gate went in yesterday. The big wood pile got moved so they can see me and I can see them better from the big house.
I added lattice all down the street side of the paddock the day before to bring privacy to there yard and if anyone has a turtle pool or two we would appreicate them! Not so much for swimming as we have those but to give this herd an ample amount of drinking water.
This morning i was urged to get out there by 'singing " of the herd who not only expect but demand there breakfast be served on time. And once done they added with a chorus of "can we come out now?" ;o))

Jean said...

Oh, Janice I have a turtle pool and two wading pools to bring out to your place as soon as I haul them out of the back of the barn and hose them down. Will do that this week!
Yes, my piggies do like their breakfast served on time! Martin the alpaca, on the other hand, patiently waited in his pen until 9:00 this morning - not a peep out of him!
The dogs, on the other hand, are another story. Would someone PLEASE tell Belle that the crack of dawn is NOT the appropriate time to start her demanding little "feed me" bark?

Audrey said...

Oh, Jean. What a lovely blog post. So sad giving up your foster children, but they are in a wonderful place. I had no idea that pigs "cried". I am sitting here crying myself (of course, chemo helps me in that department - the hormonal roller coaster that it is). It's so nice that you went back and comforted the piggies. What a true mom you were (are) to them. I guess your move must be coming up soon. I haven't been following too much as I've been so down with my treatments, but hope to get caught up on reading your posts. I wish you well on your move. Too bad you're moving from the Valley, but your new place sounds devine, too!
~ Audrey ~

Black Jack's Carol said...

Oh Jean, like Audrey, I had no idea that pigs cried tears. That would break my heart too, but as many have said, you have done right (and much more than that) by all of your fosters. Quite the preparation you had to do, and as Janice said, a lovely read, with absolutely beautiful pictures. My goodness, I have learned a lot from your blog. I'll be looking forward to reading about your new adventures when you move. Are you beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel with all the final exam marking?

Jean said...

Carol, both cows and pigs cry real tears apparently - and I don't know how many other species. The first time I saw a pig cry was the night I had to seperate Soda and Scotch to prepare for the births. Scotch lay on his side in his stall and I watched as tears coursed down his cheeks.

As for the exams - YES!!! THEY ARE MARKED!!!! If the university hadn't made the dumb, dumb decision to upgrade the server this weekend, I would have been able to enter the final grades already. What academic institution requires instructors to enter the grades online and then shuts down the system two days after exams are completed?

Oh..yeah...the same institution that decided to move someone else into my private office last week while my students were still writing exams -no notice to me, all my personal belongings, term papers etc. still there. Fortunately someone noticed what was going on and phoned me so I could put a stop to it.

Did I mention yet that I am SOOOOO happy to be retiring???? LOL