Tuesday, May 31, 2011

in memory of Dad

My Dad passed away last week. He'd been in failing health for some time and just kind of slipped away after Mom passed 4 years ago. This is the two of them on a New Year's Eve sometime in the 1970's.
Dad was not much of a gardener, and although my Mom tried her darnedest to turn him into one, it just wasn't his thing. Even so, I spent a couple of afternoons this week planting flowers while I thought of him. I don't know which would represent him best, so I planted a little of each of all the seeds I had.
As it turns out, a friend of ours in Vancouver passed away on the same day, at nearly the exact same time. His name was Randy Rask and he worked with Art at the City of Vancouver. He was a really nice guy. Full of life and laughter. So, I planted some seeds for him, too.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

a pig's tale

I know that I am behind with my posting and I really do want to do a catch-up. There's much to tell and pictures to show, but first I want to tell you a story.... a pig's tale.

A few days ago we got a call that our weaner pigs were ready for pickup. It's about 2 weeks early, which concerned me a little because, although I'm no expert, I'm pretty sure they shouldn't leave Mom until 6 weeks old. Off we went to Topley, which is about 100 km away. When I first saw the piglets, they did indeed look small and were still suckling, but the farmer assured us that they were also eating food. So, we selected the 4 we wanted (3 boys and a girl) and brought them home.
The last pigs we got weighed around 30 lbs, so we decided to weigh these guys. Don't be alarmed. I'm not hurting this little fellow.
He weighed in at 16.5 lbs, and the others ranged from 10.5 to 18.5 lbs. Way too small! This picture shows how tiny the runt is in comparison to his siblings. About the size of a rabbit. The brown one at the top is the little girl.
Here are a couple of videos of their first day with us. The girl always seems to lead her brothers.... and I love those curled ears.Because they are so small, we worried they could squeeze through the sty gate, so I blocked it in by weaving an empty feed bag through the bars. Everyone was snug-a-bug, so we went in for supper.

A couple of hours later, I could hear the dogs barking in the distance. That usually means they are chasing deer or crows or something. Art went out to call them and quickly came to get me. One of the piglets was out in the field and Xena and Cleo were circling it. They were barking, the pig was squeeling, but mostly it was just a lot of noise. No harm was being done. By the time Art got there, the pig was so happy to see him it ran into his arms. Good girls, Xena and Cleo for keeping it contained! In all of this, I'm not sure what Lucy was doing (we are boarding Sara and Kevin's dog right now). Oblivious to the excitement, anyways. As Art was returning the fellow to the pen, he noticed that another pig was missing.... the runt. OMG! It was clear that my "block" had not worked. I really should have known better. These are pigs after all. Clever little buggers. What I had NOT thought about was the cat door. That's how these two got outside. It's a wonder they weren't ALL out.

So, now the hunt was on for our missing little runt. Who knows how long he'd been out for and who knows where he could possibly be. There are a million places for him to hide. I searched the area of the barns, while Art ventured to the house and garden. We asked the dogs to help us and I thought Lucy's extra good sniffer (she's a Coon Hound) might come in handy. Soon, I heard Art calling that runty was near the greenhouse and was headed to pick him up. But, just then Lucy caught the scent and took chase. We tried to call her off, but she would not listen. They both raced across the open field, but you know.... that little tiny pig was like greased lightning. Who would have thought something so small could run so fast. Out-ran Lucy and managed to lose her once they hit the treeline. I finally got Lucy to break pursuit and come to me. I had to tie her up and gather the other dogs. Then Art and I went searching. For hours and hours we searched. Acres and acres we covered. Until darkness came and we had to stop. I cried my heart out and we were both resigned that he would not make it through the night. If the coyotes didn't get him he would die of exposure. I felt horrible beyond belief, but had to put that baby's fate in God's hands.

I had a terrible night's sleep and could hardly wait for first light to continue the search. Hoping upon hope, I got up around 5:00am and taking Xena with me, went out to the barn. I had set the cat door.... just in case he came back.... to swing in, but not out. When I got to the barn, the cat door was broken. What the? I went inside, but no sign of runty. Suddenly, a grunt... which scared the hell out of Xena. That little tiny exhausted, frightened piggie had come back to the pen. He was hiding behind a table and Xena's sniffing around must have startled him. I have no doubt whatsoever that a miracle had occurred. All the odds were against this guy. He is way too young and tiny to survive alone, especially out in the wild. And he had run so far from the barn, it must have been a marathon for him to get back, especially when it was all entirely unfamiliar territory to him. He'd only been here about 6 hours before all this happened. I know that pigs are highly intelligent and I've read that they do communicate with each other, so maybe he called out and his siblings helped guide him back.

Why the cat door was broken, I can't figure, but quite frankly, I don't care.