She began her life here on the farm as a cute tiny piglet. Kellen picked her out to keep as breeding sow. He named her Ashes to go along with the theme of pig names we had going at the time. There was Charcoal and Flame also. All was fine and well until last spring when Ashes didn't farrow.
A full grown sow on a farm only has one purpose, to make piglets. She had been with the boar, but apparently had not been bred. We decided to give her another chance. In with the boar again, and she didn't even appear to be coming into heat. She didn't get bred, again. It was time for her to go.
Taking the feeder hogs or steers to be processed really never bothers me. We know from the time that they are born, that is what they are for. When it is time to get rid of our breeding stock, especially one that was born here, it makes me a little sad. We know the breeding stock. We've named them. We've talked to them.
As we tried to load Ashes the first time, I was feeling a little sad about it. That feeling didn't last long.
She knew us, and Lord knows that big 'ole sow knew what a feed bucket was. I never had any trouble moving her from one pasture to the next as long as I had a feed bucket. The first time we tried to load her from our back pasture. There are no chutes or gates there, but we figured she'd follow us. And follow she did, until I got to the ramp to the trailer. From that point, she was having none of it.
In frustration, we put her back in the pasture. She followed me just fine then.
About a week later, that big girl put her back legs through the shed floor. I still don't know how much she weighed, but if she was under 600lbs I'd be shocked. I found her one morning with two legs dangling through the floor.
We tried to give her footing to pull herself out, but she couldn't do it. She had her knees wedged between the floor boards. It took a whole morning, a car jack, the tearing off of the shed walls, and all the muscle power Tim and I had to get her out of the hole.
She was weak, and for awhile we were afraid she had broken a leg. It took a good week or so of tending her before she started to get up and around on her own.
Once she was getting around well we moved her to the pig barn where there are chutes and gates designed just for loading pigs. In the meantime, the freezers had gotten pretty full, and we weren't in a hurry to get her to the processor. Another month or so of feeding her, and it was time to try again.
Getting her down the chute was no problem. She went right up to the trailer gate, and would not go any farther. We pushed. We prodded. We smacked. She sat on Tim's feet. We ran out of time, and had to put her back in the pen.
We tried again about a week later. Pretty much the same story, only with quite a bit of anger and drama on the human side of things. And no, I still don't find it a funny story.
After the anger and tempers cooled, a new plan was formulated. That pig was going on the trailer. There was no sadness any longer. I was ready to shoot her myself, and have the mother of all hog roasts. Tim had a better plan.
We left her in the chute. Tim fortified the gates between the chute and the trailer. We put her food and her water in the trailer. She had no where else to go.
Now, I'd like to say that the next morning we found her in the trailer happily eating her grain. Nope. She hadn't touched it. Kellen showed her the grain, and she would follow him to the gate, but not go through. None of us ever saw her go onto the trailer.
After a couple of days of this, Tim walked out the door with a very determined look on his face. He took Kellen with him. I'm not exactly sure what happened over the hill there. I heard the electric fence was involved. All I know is about 20 minutes later, this is what I saw out my kitchen window.
And we all cheered!