Now that we have a farm, and our lives are more attuned to natural cycles, I am beginning to understand the wisdom of celebrating Valentine's Day in February. With early vestiges of spring wafting in the wind and an abundance of cold, cuddly, starlit nights, romance is running rampant 'round here. Sadly, I am not talking about Matt and me. We're too busy getting projects done to have time. But our amorous animals are another story.
Back in December, we picked up two Berkshire piglets – a male and a female – for breeding. We are co-raising them with our wonderful neighbors, the Collins (Donnie, Anita, and their daughters Emma and Zoe). When we discovered that the pigs were too terrified of us to wire train them in our pig shelter, we put them in our goat house. The plan was for me to socialize them for a week or two to give the Collins a chance to build their pig shelter and run an electric fence. Then we would move the pigs to their official home and wire train them there.
Following a little building snafu and a run of bad weather, it's now almost two months later. And the pigs have become very comfortable in the goat barn. Actually, comfortable is an understatement…
Aja, the female pig, has been enjoying quite the romantic affair with our goat buck Popeye. The two have been exchanging belly rubs, sharing meals and drinks, and taking long walks in the pasture together. Popeye was also caught giving Aja a piggy-back ride. (I swear this is all true).
Meanwhile, Tesla (Aja's intended pig-partner) has displayed his dismay in fits of rage ranging from dumping the goats' water buckets to woefully and incessantly bemoaning Aja's lack of attention. Our three sweet October-born does-in-training, Georgette, Claudine (the little coquette pictured below), and Sofia, have tried cajoling Tesla out of his depression by nibbling on his ears and tail. But alas, the broken-hearted boar-to-be refuses to be consoled.
In a last ditch effort to stifle the ill-fated affair between Popeye and Aja, and re-kindle the romance between Aja and Tesla, we finally finished our long-awaited goat buck pen today. (A huge thanks to Donnie and Anita for "happening by" just in time to help us roll out 330 pounds of wire mesh fencing yesterday).
We moved all five of our goat boys in at once. There was tremendous whining from our three young wethers (who are also being weaned from milk in the move). If you know anyone who needs a wether, send them our way. These little guys are ready to be family pets for anyone who wants more adorable in their lives.
And Moose, Popeye's son and fellow buck, was the most insistent about staying with the does. Through sheer determination and extraordinary effort, I managed to wrangle him and coerce him to the new pen. I guess Matt's right after all, I really am more stubborn than a goat.
Popeye, much to our shock and surprise, went quietly. We're hoping the exciting new 'amenities' in his new home will convince Popeye that a little separation from the ladies is a good thing.
These amenities include:
1) A rain-collecting, gravity-fed, automatic water trough.
2) A built-in food pantry, a.k.a. metal drum with blocks at base and bar at top to keep goats from tipping it over.
3) A “second story” storage loft. Note the four straw bales just under the roof at the back of the goat shelter, this shelf is just high enough that the goats can't reach the straw, but I can still toss the bales up there without needing Matt's help. Also, the bales provide some extra insulation for cold winter nights.
Really though, we fully expect that our philandering, seed-sowing, face-peeing, paragon of goat masculinity will eventually put up more of a fight once he realizes his new bachelor pad comes with an electrified fence and a shortage of females (of both the goat and pig persuasion).
Sorry Popeye, but your days of indiscretion are over. Discreet, supervised dates are all you have to look forward to. Well that…and greener pastures.
Perhaps now that this project is done, Matt and I can finally take our long-awaited romantic trip to Asheville.
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