(I really hope this is the only Pig Barn Flood of 2014)
We had a big list of stuff to do today — clean out the hens’ nest boxes and add new bedding; clean out the rabbit cages and maybe put one of the does in to breed; make a cow-proof area outside the barn so we can put them out and more easily spread bedding without riling them all up; install a cat flap so our new barn cats can come out of their shelter-mandated acclimatization period. But when we got out of the house to start doing the regular chores, we found — surprise!! — that the north barn, which houses our five breeder Tamworths and our ten Landrace gilts (that’s young female pigs), all on a dirt floor in a three-sided structure, was totally full of water!
The Landraces (aka the pink pigs) were slogging around nearly up to their elbows in water, with barely any dry land in their pen. The Tams didn’t have it quite as badly, and their little crater-nest that they make to sleep in was still dry, but it was still pretty soggy and they were having a hard time getting to/from their water and food tubs.
So the day switched from some mundane scheduled tasks to CRISIS MANAGEMENT TIME YEAH!
The north barn is fronted by a concrete pad at least as wide as the barn itself, so we had an obvious second-best place to put the pigs. We spent a couple of hours getting fence panels into place and mounting electric fence so they don’t push on the panels, then we cut the electric fence inside their existing pens and opened up doorways for them to move out from the flooded area to the relatively dry concrete pads.
But pigs are both too smart and not smart enough for that. They learn very well about the electric fence — so well that once electric fence has been in a place, they are very reluctant to cross that line ever again, even once the fence has visibly been removed.
So, we had some time to work on setting up the feed and water tubs outside out of the puddles, and to figure out, with some friends’ help, how to get them housing in the new area, since the concrete pads have no roof. The Tamworths get to sleep in the stock trailer with plenty of hay for bedding (and a farrowing nook created for the sow whose teats are swelling, indicating that she’s getting close to giving birth!). The pink pigs get their previous shelter of an abandoned pickup truck canopy, hoisted up on a couple of bales of hay so they can all fit under it, since normally they would dig down to make room for everyone in a little nest.
After that photo was taken we put down another bale of loose hay underneath the canopy so they have some coziness to snuggle down into.
But as of the evening dog walk a couple of hours ago, all the Tams were out but only one of the pink pigs had figured out how to cross the former electric fence line and get out to the food and the shelter. I do hope they figured it out and aren’t sleeping in a puddle.
It’s not a great solution — would rather have them completely under cover, and also on the concrete there’s no way to gather their manure to reuse the nutrients and prevent runoff — but it’s what we could get together today, and it should last while we figure out how to improve drainage in the barn.