Hot Pigs

Summer has arrived in full force here and watering the pigs has become an issue. We’ve been using a large plastic bucket for water, but they usually knock it over. It’s a pain to refill it as you have to go into the pig paddock and fetch the bucket. The pigs think you are bringing food (that seems to be all they think about, really) and in their enthusiasm they knock into my legs and shove at me with their snouts, leaving smears of mud all over my legs. Fun.

Then I have to take the bucket back up to the driveway (where the end of the hose is), go turn on the one-and-only tap (which is right by the front door of the house and is too low to the ground to fit the bucket under), go back down the driveway and fill the bucket with the hose, then bring the bucket back to the pigs. They plunge their heads in there like they’d been desperately thirsty (which makes me feel guilty) and then, when they’ve quenched their thirst, they start rooting the edges of the bucket which eventually flips over. They then wallow in the mud – that part is actually quite fun to watch.

We knew that we would have to come up with a better solution for watering the pigs and the heat has made this a more pressing issue. Ideally we’d get something like this:

…although I’d prefer something that isn’t plastic. But we’re trying to be really frugal these days since summer vacations are looming. So we’ve been looking for a cheaper solution. The other day I was driving down the highway and passed the sign for a new thrift store I’ve been meaning to check out. I’d been feeling sorry for myself after reading Jenna’s post at No Name Farm about the thrift and salvage stores in her area. Here was a rare chance to browse the new store without kids in tow, so I swerved over to the exit and went on a treasure hunt. I came away with this for the pigs:

It cost me $15 and was in perfect condition. It even came with one of the sink strainer/stopper thingys. Now, in my experience those things often don’t make a watertight seal, so I headed over to Crappy Tire (a Canadian Institution!) and spent $5 on rubber sink plugs. I couldn’t wait to show it to the pigs and fill both side up with enough water to keep them well-hydrated and save me trips back and forth from the tap to the paddock all day.

They seemed to really like it, especially Sweet (the black one, female) who usually gets bullied out of the way until Sour (the brown one, male) has his fill:

…but I underestimated their curiosity and inherent destructiveness. Those snouts are not only damn strong but they are dexterous as well. When the pigs had had their fill of water they began to play in the sinks and within a minute had found the sink plugs, pulled them out, and tossed them around the paddock. Okay…on to Plan B.

I then decided to try the strainer that had come with the sink. I had one in my sink whose handle had come off. I figured this would not give the pigs anything to grasp with their teeth and so, on one side at least, they wouldn’t be able to pull it out. I was wrong. It lasted most of the day but by the evening feed I saw the sinks were empty and one strainer has gone missing. Sigh!

The next easiest solution is to use silicon caulking or some kind of epoxy to permanently install plugs in the drain. Or we could get some kind of cap to put on the underside of the drains. Either way it requires a trip to the hardware store and adds to the cost. Also, for cleaning purposes it would be nice to have a drain. Meanwhile, we’re back to lugging buckets of water back and forth throughout the day to make sure they stay hydrated.

I did score one other thing at the thrift store – this metal bucket with handle and lid. After two years of composting I’ll finally get to stop using up my mixing bowls and stealing pot lids to prevent the fruit flies from escaping. It cost me $2.99. I painted the word “compost” partly to decorate it (which didn’t really work since I’m not at all artistic) and partly so husband can distinguish between that and the bowl we put pig scraps in.

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