Changing Quarters

I always enjoy watching the interplay of one species with another.

So when Allan decided it was time for the piglets to start using an outside pen along with their inside one I wondered what the eventual outcome would be—because the pen they would have access to was the one the geese were in for the winter.

Up to this point, the only birds the piglets had seen were chickens, and I have seen them push chickens out of the way while eating at the feed trough.

The piglets were probably heavier than the geese, but they had also just been weaned and didn’t have a mother to hide behind when introduced to this new type of bird. So it was a toss-up as to how this would all settle out.

At first, the piglets made tentative forays into the pen… of course this would be goose territory, so the geese would probably have hissed at them, threatening to use their wings as clubs.

They may even have bitten a piglet or two. But really, the way pigs treat each other this shouldn’t have been any worse than the nip or bite they give each other while pushing and shoving at the feed trough.

As it turns out, the geese were dominant. They were actually preventing the piglets from approaching the feed trough at all. That’s when the geese were evicted from the outside pen.

Now they are living in the barnyard, but have the same freedom they normally would have in the summer. There are no fences to keep them in. And there really isn’t much fear of a fox or coyote getting them… even our dog, Schwartz, gives them a wide berth.

PHOTO: stock.xchng

He even gave up his sleeping area to them. The only thing I have seen the geese shy away from was Kali, one of our sows (and a visiting bear a few years ago, but that’s another story).

Kali is getting near her time to give birth to piglets, so we needed to move her into the barn for the piglets’ protection. Not only does the barn provide protection from the elements, it also gives Kali a private place without dogs and other carnivores.

One of the biggest dangers to newborn piglets is being rolled on by their mother or even other larger pigs. And no mother will settle quietly when there is danger to her offspring. The barn seems to be our best solution, for a few weeks anyway.

As Kali and I walked from her outside pen to the barn, we met up with Schwartz. He looked as if he wasn’t sure if he were in any danger, but Kali just ignored him. When we reached the barn, the geese had been watching us from beside one corner.

When Kali went towards them instead of following me into the barn, the geese weren’t going to stick around to find out what she wanted. They turned tail and got out of there as quickly as they could.

Turns out Kali was more interested in the pails stacked beside the barn then she was in the geese.

After a cursory look at the rest of the barn, Kali went into her pen and started to settle in.

Spring is coming and so are her piglets, and I am looking forward to both.

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