Life in the Slow Lane: Back from vacation

Vacation–real vacation, not just a hiatus from the computer–was GREAT!

I can hardly believe how much fun I had. There wasn’t much “doing” but there was plenty of high-class wine and five star food—the highlight of my trip was sharing meals with relatives I adore. I’m so proud of my nieces. Melissa has just graduated with her MBA and Danielle is on her way to becoming a Sommelier, thus the wonderful wines. The girls and I went for a walk on the night the Cubs managed to snare their space in the Series, passing many a blue-clad fan along the way. We came across a gem of a restaurant–de Quay. It specializes in Dutch and Indonesian food. Sounds like a strange pairing, but it’s not as weird as you might imagine. Indonesia was a Dutch colony and the Dutch are really fond of Indonesian food. It permeates their culture and the evening was spectacular.

At any rate, after all that fun coming home was a little hard to do, mostly because I knew returning meant confronting a couple of out-of-control piggies. You know how you plan and fret, getting ready to go on a trip and then, just before you leave, something goes wrong?

Yeah, well that’s what happened this time too. Two days before I left, Boinker noticed that the charger for the electric tape that keeps the girls where they’re supposed to be wasn’t working. Or rather, was working part time. On, off, on, off.

How did I figure out what Boinker had noticed? Simple. She kept appearing outside the tape. At first I put this up to the fact that she was squeezing out of the nesting boxes at the back of their little house, which used to be a turkey coop. Every morning as I approached their house I’d hear “wham, wham, wham”–Boinker working on opening the hinged roof of the nesting box. Once she opened the roof, she could brace little piggie hooves on the upper edge of the box and launch herself over the tape. No harm, no foul, as it were. Not so Oinker.

She’s bigger and heavier than Boinker, which means she wasn’t able to contort her bulk to fit through the nesting box opening.

That evening I asked Derek to nail boards across the middle of the nesting boxes. Foolish me for thinking this might prevent more escapes.

The next morning who do you think trotted across the pastures to greet me at dawn? You got it. Boinker. That sent me dashing back to the barn to check the charger. Sure enough, the GFI had once again tripped. Muttering curses, I reset the outlet.

Here’s a tidbit for you: Check to see where your hands are before you do such a thing. I screamed like a banshee. It was definitely back on.

That evening I went down to feed my critters only to discover that I now had TWO pigs out of the poke. No longer muttering my curses, I ran back to the barn and once more reset the GFI (being careful about where I put my hands this time). In the meantime, Oinker had returned under the tape and was now awaiting dinner in her usual spot. Not so Boinker.

There’s no helper like a hungry piggy. She herded turkeys, climbed on bales of straw to watch me work and tried to poke her head through the chain link panel keeping her out of the turkey coop.

By then, I was frustrated and worried. How could I leave my renter Derek and my friend Su to watch pigs who were a lot more free-ranging than I intended? But there really wasn’t much I could do but scold Boinker roundly. I told her that if she wanted to eat, she’d have to get herself back over the tape. As I told her this, I placed the newly filled the pig troughs right where I usually put them, on the INSIDE of the tape, a tape that was once again pulsing with electricity.

Boinker watched helplessly as Oinker grunted happily and began to eat.

You see, although Boinker is the smaller gilt, she’s dominant. This means she gets to choose which trough she eats from and Oinker has to take the reject.

Huffing in horror, Boinker began to pace back and forth on the wrong side of the newly recharged tape. Then all at once she stopped and her jaw squared. Her eyes narrowed. (That’s hard to discern on a pig since their eyes are so small, but I swear it happened.)

With no further ado, she climbed over the tape. Oh yeah, it was charged. As pink pig flesh met sparking white tape, Boinker released a stream of staccato squeals. It sounded exactly like “Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow!” The moment she was off the tape, she gave a quick shake as if to say, “That wasn’t so bad,” then dove into her dinner.

Uh-oh. What had I done? Charger on or off, those girls had just lost all respect for the tape. The only choice I now had was to replace that outlet and decide if I replaced the tape with hog panels or electrical wire.

Just as I expected, the next morning both piggies came through the tape as I went to tell them goodbye. I felt terrible about leaving those two hooligans on the loose, but it was too late for a quick fix or regrets.

All I could do was tell my animal sitters that I was sorry and drive away.

Derek sent a quick note that first day saying that all was well.

Reassured, I didn’t check in with Su. She sent a text mIdday Day Two:

“They both want scratches on their heads and want to eat my shoes! What do I do!??” This was accompanied with a video that, when I figure out how to get it off my phone, I will share. It shows the girls pressing relentless forward as Su films and backs up.

My reply: “Dance faster. Or feed and distract.” I heard nothing back, so a half hour later I followed up with “So, are things ok?”

Su replied with, “Yes, things are fine. I will have to look over my notes to see if the notes flow from page to page as the pigs grabbed them when they fell out of my pocket while they were running after me.

They were so excited to see me and kept going after my shoes so I was running away trying to ditch them behind the barn. My notes must have fallen out along the way.”

There just wasn’t much more to do after that but laugh, so that’s what I did.

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