with the wind blowing and the temperature almost at zero as I write, it doesn't seem like a typical Yukon winter at all.
But I am thankful that it is warm - not because I find the cold too hard to bear, but because Sienna has to acclimatize herself to the winter again. And that is easier to do at zero than at -30.
Sienna just spent two months in the barn with her piglets. They now are eating solid foods and she has tried to break out of her pen more than once. So it was time to wean them.
We were planning to move Sienna out to be in the same pen as the boar and our other sow, Kali, but the pen they were in had a house that wouldn't hold three adult-sized pigs.
We needed to move all three into a pen that had a house that would accommodate them all.
In the past, moving pigs was often a battle of wills and strength. Trying to force a pig into a spot we wanted them to go was often all they needed to decide they didn't want to go there.
Or we would end up chasing them around the field because they went exploring a little too far. The field isn't fenced so there is nothing that would keep them from wandering off into the wild, or onto the highway. Neither scenario is desirable.
When we moved Sienna into the barn we used some feed as a lure and worked at night, thinking that she wouldn't go where she couldn't see. But she got detoured anyway.
With the need to move three pigs we anticipated organized chaos at best. Allan decided to plow a path for the pigs to follow from one outdoor pen to the other, as well as one from the barn door to the outdoor pen that would hold them all.
Pigs tend to follow an already established path when dealing with snow, unless they want to explore.
It is too much of a change from the temperature in the barn for Sienna to sleep outside alone. By moving her first, we risked her getting sick from the cold, especially if we weren't able to move all three in one day.
So we decided to move the two outside pigs first. If all went well, Sienna would be moved next. If we had too many problems we would try to move her another day.
Thankfully, Kali will come when I call her and also follows quite well. With the added incentive of a feed bucket, both Kali and the boar calmly walked into their new pen.
Both Al and I looked at each other, puzzled at how easy it was. So we decided to give Sienna a try.
Again we led her with a pail of feed, but this time not only did she follow, when she saw the open gate we were headed for, she ran ahead of me into the pen. Again, too easy.
It took us longer to open the frozen gates in preparation of moving the pigs than it did to actually move them.
Not that I am complaining. It's a nice way to start the new year.
Joan Norberg and her husband, Allan, run Grizzly Valley Farms on the Mayo Road. They have successfully endured the Yukon’s short seasons and less-than-ideal soil conditions. Send her your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.