Posted 04-05-2004 at 04:07:26
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One day maybe, when time and money permit, we may come up with a better way of rounding up weanling pigs, but for now, we simply have to work with what we've got, and it's usually a nightmare event.
When you've got thirty some odd piglets roaming around a three acre pasture, it seems like an insurmountable task to get them all gathered up into a thirty by forty pen, and usually it is, but yesterday we tried something new at the insistence of Jake and his buddy Cory, who spent the night Saturday night, and happened to be here for the piglet round up.
"Let us do it." Jake insisted. "All we need is Red Dog, and maybe Elvis to help us corner them."
I just stared at him. Usually it takes five people and generally as many hours to separate all the piglets from their mothers, who by the time the babies reach six weeks, are more than willing to part with them.
"You, Cory, Elvis and Red Dog, huh?" I laughed. "Elvis, a ten year old hound who never chased a pig in his life, Red Dog, a big old dumb pup who can't walk across the yard without tripping over his own feet, and two boys who I'd be willing to bet didn't get fifteen minutes sleep last night."
He just stared back, and then...
"What have you got to lose?"
"Not a dang thing." I admitted "Go for it."
I turned around and went back in the house to my sink load of dishes. I figured they would be back in the house in less than an hour, admitting defeat, and demanding food. Instead, less than five minutes later, I heard a piglet squealing to beat the band and Cory walked past the kitchen window with a forty pound pig slung over his shoulders like a sack of potatoes.
"Whuuuut?" I mumbled, and dried my hands. This I had to see.
"Come on," I told Fred who was watching Gunsmoke on television, "let's go out and watch those boys catch the piglets."
Jake and Cory were leaning against the piglet pen panting and grinning.
"We got one." Jake said grinning.
"I see that. Now all you have is about thirty five more." I said, sliding onto the tailgate of the truck.
"We'll get 'em." The boys said in unison. Then without another word, dogs and boys took off across the pasture, and I sat and watched a scene unfold that I never would have dreamed possible.
Red Dog and Elvis worked together like they'd been wrangling pigs all their lives. Together they would isolate a piglet and run rings around it. Once they'd surrounded the next catchee, Jake and Cory tackled it, and packed it off to the piglet pen.
Before long, Red Dog's instincts kicked in and not only was he ringing piglets, he was tagging them by the ear and holding them for the boys. It was all they could do to keep up with him. Elvis was pretty well so useless, but he was having a glorious time pretending that he was involved in some helpful capacity.
Only one of the sows in the south pasture had piglets too young to wean. They are less than ten days old, so she gathered them up and took them under the pole barn while the round up went on.
One of the larger piglets figured out that the pole barn was a safe place to be, what with that sow guarding it, so he wriggled his way into the smaller litter trying to blend in. Never mind the fact that he was five times bigger than the others. He looked like an elephant trying to hide in a shoe box. Jake spotted him immediately and went after him with Red Dog on his heels.
The sow, not knowing exactly what they were after, reacted violently and charged Jake, all four hundred pounds of her, angry and hostile and prepared to hurt someone. It was at this point that we learned exactly what Red Dog is capable of.
He went wild, his teeth bared and his hackles standing on end, and threw himself full body at that sow, a hundred pounds versus four, the fur and the dust flying, the rage of the sow only equalled by that of Red Dog. He backed her down so fast she didn't know what hit her, and then he and Jake trotted off no worse for the wear.
"Did you see that?" I exclaimed.
"Sure did." Fred confirmed. "That's a dam good dog right there."
In less than an hour all the piglets were rounded up and Jake and Cory were slapping each other on the back. Sitting there watching the process, Fred and I laughed like we haven't had in years. Both boys and dogs were muddy and dusty from head to toe, the piglets were in the piglet pen scattered around like toppled dominoes, panting. The losers.
"You know," I said to Fred, "we ought to do this every round up. We could sell tickets and make a fortune!"
He just stared.
"I'm serious!" I insisted.
"I know...that's what scares me!" He said, laughing.
I'm already planning it. I wonder where I could get a good set of used quality bleachers. (grin)