Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Just a Spoonful of Sugar.....

One of the things Ellen and I did while waiting for the vet the other day was to deworm the piggies – a process in which one must get vile-tasting Ivomec (ivomectin) into twelve piggies without any of them getting missed, spitting it out, or getting double dosed.

We have it down to a fine art. Well, to be honest, I have to give Ellen all the credit for developing the perfect, foolproof method. All I really do is stand around and take pictures.

We developed this method by trial and error – having tried numerous ways of masking the Ivomec and administering it smoothly. There’s not much a pig will refuse to eat, but Ivomec is so vile that spitting it out was par for the course on our first attempt a year or more ago. It must be the Buckley’s of potbelly pig remedies.

So, as with Martin’s geld, we gather the tools of the trade:

1. twelve very heavily iced mini cupcakes, each in a paper wrapper
2. Ivomec
3. a hypodermic needle (it helps to have friends in the health care industry)
4. a can of livestock paint
5. a carton of fresh strawberries.
6. a cookie sheet

We put the dogs in the house to ensure their safety (a very high percentage of collie breeds have a fatal allergic reaction to ivomectin, and all four of mine are in the breeds-at-risk.)

Out at the picnic table, we put the cupcakes on the cookie sheet, and then injected the correct dosage into each cupcake. The paper wrapper keeps it from seeping out the bottom, as long as one works fairly efficiently and is careful not to pierce it with the needle.

Filling the cupcakes

Then we go over to the fence and call the piggies. They line up and through the wires Ellen starts popping cupcakes into piggies mouths as I direct traffic and name each recipient.

Pigs to the left......

...and pigs to the right

The process begins


Me too, please?

Waiting his turn

Meanwhile, I keep the others from swarming her or trying to steal the “treat” by stuffing strawberries into their mouths:

Strawberry chasers

There are, of course, always those that don’t understand the concept of “lining up” or that are just too sneaky for words – grabbing their treat at the start of the line, darting around back of the others and pushing into the middle of the line, then darting around again to finish up at the end of the line. These guys are just too smart for their own good!

Me! Me! Me!

I want more!

Pwease may I have some?

Maybe if I look super cute?????

And so we not only do it assembly-line fashion but also by name. We do the most easily identified piggies first: Scotch and Soda, the parents; Derby and Rickey, who each have a white blaze on their forehead; Whisper and RobRoy who each have white feet but no blaze; Toddy of the white tail; Tom the biggest pigster; Lizzie, the only female pigster. That leaves three all-black piggies of roughly the same size, Fizzy, Spritzer and Swizzle. For that, I go inside the pigyard with the can of livestock paint, planning to identify them with a splash of red as they get their treat.

Of course, the best laid plans………they know I am their Chief Food Servant and so they turn away from the fence and swarm me, looking for more treats. Sorry guys!

Ellen joins me in the yard and we quickly administer the last three cupcakes, accompanied by a dose of red paint on the behind, while being mobbed by the rest of the poor starving babies who have quickly forgotten that they have already had their share.

We go back out of their yard before they start climbing up our legs and knocking us to the muddy ground as hungry piggies are wont to do. We grab the rest of the strawberries, and feed them some more of this high-value treat just in case any have noticed the lingering taste of vile medicine - not that I think a single pig tasted the cupcake before swallowing the yummy super-sweet gooey iced but medicated treat. But deworming has to be repeated in 10-12 days, so we don’t want any negative memories attaching themselves to today’s experience.

(Check out the front trotters on this one!)

Strawberries soon erase any unpleasantness. I swear if you let those piggies loose on a hundred acre strawberry farm, they would have the whole place stripped bare in 30 minutes and still be looking for more.

Ellen dispenses the rest of the berries

Half an hour later they are all snoozing happily in the sun:

Anyone wanna shoot some hoops?

And that's how you deworm a dozen hungry pigs.


Janice Gillett said...

Fantastic!!! LOL Okay next time i will try cupcakes along with the flat of strawberries!! Seeing how professioanl Ellen is perhaps i can enlsit her for those duties in six monthes here!! We did all ours in jam sandwhiches last week as the marshmellow cookies were spit out by the first pig medicated here. And the other day spit out agian by pigs thinking they must still taste aweful LOL

Loved the pix!!!

Black Jack's Carol said...

What a range of talents you and Ellen have, Jean, from designing worm medicine cupcakes, to outwitting brilliant pigs, to thinking of pink socks when you need them. Great pictures too. A very entertaining read. Thank you to both of you!

Anonymous said...

Could those who have animals that all look alike number their behinds or back with livestock paint and write down the numbers as they get done? Of course piggy would stand absolutely still for this I'm sure.

What a hoot!

Big Sis & O'Bear

Jean said...

Big Sis, when they were much smaller, we tried to spray numbers on them so we could weigh each one and also start to identify them by name. Let's just say it didn't work out! LOL
However, just a little blob of paint on the rear end (or side, or ear, or barn wall - whereever it happens to land when sprayed at a moving target) is sufficient to tell us "this one has been medicated, that one hasn't.

mike said...

so hey Jean, I hate the taste of Buckleys, when I need it, can you hide it in a cupcake for me and then give me a strawberry too as a chaser...

I LOVED the way you and Ellen handled things, laughed at the story and the pictures and think you ladies are pretty smart!

Anonymous said...

Jean good for you and Ellen getting the job done.
I laughed my head off reading and visualizing the procedure.
Thanks for brighting my morning.


Anonymous said...

I chuckled all the way through reading this. You and Ellen are both nothing if not inventive! Thanks for sharing.

Thanks also for mentioning the herding dog sensitivity to Ivomectin - the more who know about that, the better!

Deb & Riley