With the dawn of the New Year, and so much to plan and organize, what's on my mind?
You see, 'the girls' are about 7 1/2 months old, just about the right time to start getting knocked up, er, bred. And Hef, well, poor Hef - males can breed earlier (6 months) and he's been rarin' to go. He literally foams at the mouth and stares at the girls as they frolic in all their 240 lb. glory in front of him. So close, yet so far, separated by a thin cable or two of solar-charged electric line. It's a wonder that keeps him from the 'triplets', especially when they are wet and sassy from a dip in their tub. Oh, the temptation...
While some breeders start procreation or insemination at 6 months or less, we wanted the girls to get to full maturity before having their first litter. So Hef has been jaunting about in his own private area, within feet of the girls, but with only a couple of jolly balls for company. And, no, those jolly balls are not his own. But they are blue.
Our plan is to have first Lola, the 'alpha' girl (and the largest) breed with Hef first, followed in 6 week intervals or so by Bubbles, and then Trixie. (will their ankles get swollen? Will they send us out in the middle of the night for apple pie?).
But - until then - we've been carefully keeping the girls apart, since we certainly didn't want to risk an early breeding. And, thus, we've had to develop the term "Code Bacon".
After our sick pig incident ("Bubbles is down, Bubbles is down!") we decided we needed to have easy and concise terms to communicate any pig emergencies. "Code Ham" became the term we'd use for a pig under the weather, and "Code Bacon" would be if the pigs got loose. It wasn't long before that term became used much more frequently than we'd expected.
The first incident came one afternoon in early December. Dave and I drove home together; whenever we crest the curve of our driveway, we look across the pastures towards the West Maui mountains to take in the bucolic scenery. But instead of being greeted with a peaceful grazing scene, we saw four pigs running at full tilt, in complete raucous joy, in huge circles across a couple of acres of pasture. "Code Bacon!" we both yelled, and promptly ran out to the pasture to split up any hanky panky that was going on.
The pigs weren't hard to round up - all they want is to play (or eat) so the possibility that you are coming by to either join in the fun or feed them is something to be welcomed. They trotted up to us and followed us to their respective fenced areas in the pasture. It turned out our solar charger had failed for some inexplicable reason. As soon as we replaced the charger and returned the pigs to their separate homes, they gathered at the fence lines to sniff out and test the perimeter. A brief squeak upon being hit by the charge reassured us that they were safely contained. And our theory was that they had only just gotten out, since they were in the midst of new exploration when we came upon them, and no, um, fluids seemed to have been exchanged.
Thereafter, there have been a couple of more Code Bacons - these pigs are smart, and the girls seem to have figured out that piling up a whole bunch of dirt on one side of the fence disrupts the charge and allows them to cross over. One evening, Dave had a funny feeling the girls were roaming the pasture in the dark - and, sure enough, come morning, they were out and exhausted. They slept until well into the afternoon, snoozing off their night out and about. While we can't continue letting anarchy rule, I have to say that the thought of them romping in the tall grass under the starry sky brings a smile to my face.