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Feeding time

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My thoughts in past few weeks have pretty much revolved around pig food or pig food bowls to be more precise. It is a strange thing to be preoccupied with I know but very important when you have three pigs. I must admit my worries and concerns were slightly misplaced when considering whether to take Duncan on. If you are new to Duncan – you might want to read over two previous posts – ‘Duncan’ and ‘The Ties that Bind’. I was anxious about how they would all relate, would enormous Duncan accidently squash Patch and Simon through the night when they were sleeping and so on. Food bowls never entered my mind.

I remarked to someone the other day that sometimes it is just as well we (or I anyway) enter into things blissfully ignorant, otherwise we would never take things on. When you are in the middle of something that isn’t working well, you just have to cope, use initiative, preserve and hang on. Good virtues that would never get a chance to be developed if I lived a more comfortable, normal life. (that’s what I’m telling myself anyway).

Duncan, Patch and Simon developed a very quick and strong friendship. They ‘hang out’ together, sleep together and happily dig holes together. In fact, Patch and Simon are rather in awe of their adopted big brother’s digging ability and love to share and lie in his holes. However , I keep getting the feeling that they’re up to something. They are usually standing around with their heads together and when they see me they look up and try to act normal. Do you remember Mr Tweetie, the farmer from ‘Chicken Run’? He kept coming in and saying to his wife “Those chickens are up to something”. Well that’s how I feel. Hopefully I’m just being paranoid or maybe going a bit mad LOL. They are just so human in their expressions.

Duncan and co

So back to the food bowls. The only problem I have had with Simon, Patch and Duncan is food time They have not been aggressive with each other, just a tad bit overenthusiastic! Duncan with his special meals, my two with their own meals, four food bowls, three buckets of feed, three hungry pigs, one person, a gate, mud. As you can imagine, the outcome is not pretty. The food has ended up all over the ground, all over the pigs, all over me, anywhere but in their mouths.

So I started thinking there had to be an easier way to do things. I pretty much gave up trying to separate them on about the third day. Managing to get in the gate and then sprint to the shed with Patch and Simon’s food and them in tow – hoping like hell that Duncan would be unable to maintain his short burst of speed, so I could lock the little ones in before he got there. Then content with a slightly huffy pig all the way back wasn’t much fun. I tried feeding Duncan at the gate and then trying to entice the two little ones to follow me but of course that didn’t work either as they made it quite clear that they wanted what he’s having. I finally conceded that they would have to sort out the pecking order for themselves and Patch and Simon may end up getting more food than they had before.

So I bought rubber buckets and tied them to the fence posts eliminating the need for me to even enter the paddock. I envisaged that I could simply tip the food over the fence into the three buckets and stand back, watching with a mixture of pride and satisfaction, knowing that the pigs were happy and so was I. However I soon learnt that you cannot tip three buckets of food into three buckets simultaneously and that as I tipped in the first bucket they would all shove their head, snouts and necks in the way with again most of the food ending up everywhere but where it should have. As I tipped in the second and third buckets of feed the same thing would happen as they seemed to think that some better was bound to be in the other buckets. And with so many heads, necks and snouts pushing and shoving my beautiful buckets lasted only four days!

Next I tried tyres! I was told that if you put their food bowls in the middle of a tyre, that is meant to stop them from tipping it over. However I soon found out that you need the food bowl to be exactly the same in the interior of the tyre otherwise they still toss it out when they have finished their meal. Also Patch and Simon are too small to reach over the edge of the tyre and the food bowl to eat comfortably, so they solved the problem by simply jumping in.

As you can imagine at one point I began to question whether I had reached the limits of my sanity and began to get really worried when the first thought that would enter my mind when I woke of a morning was “Oh no feeding the pigs”. And then, when I was just about to commit myself, an image came floating back to me from my childhood, a wonderful image from a wonderful book and movie. – Charlotte’s Web. A TROUGH, a PIG TROUGH, something immovable, something low but sturdy and something long that would allow three pigs to all eat comfortably together. Wow …the sun came out, the day brightened and I realised that my life could resume and I could focus on other things once again, like the animals, their wonderful personalities and how happy Duncan is.

Feeding time

Now I still haven’t actually acquired the pig trough but I have got something similar which will do for the time being and at least now I know what I’m looking for. I’m not sure why it took me so long to work out what was perfectly obvious, maybe I was too bogged down in the feelings, the emotions and the mud to see the bigger picture. It also reminded me of the importance of research and preparation when entering into a new situation. But luckily we have all pulled through. I have learnt a lot about pigs and they have learnt a lot about me and Marlee and anyone else watching has certainly had a good laugh!

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