Saturday, September 04, 2010

Tam has a post on chickens,

which are apparently the latest 'Be Kind To Gaia' thing("They give us eggs!" etc.) and what happens with uppie-enviroweenie types when the hens get old. I've known a few people who kept a few and considered the eggs a bonus: the big reason to have them was bugs. Any bugs. The chickens kept everything from grasshoppers to ticks down. Mice too, as chickens will eat ANYTHING.

In the comments Marja mentioned having had the 'piglets are cute' scared out of her as a kid by adult pigs, which reminded me of a time I was helping Dad at a farm where he was working part-time; he and the farmer both pointed out a big sow and very specifically told me to stay the hell away from her AND the fence anywhere near her, as she was a bad-tempered bitch(they put it more politely) and WOULD try to take a bite out of you. The farmer said he had to be careful around her, worst when she had a litter but she was nasty the rest of the time, too. A little later I got a look at her teeth, and staying away was not a problem.

Was about a year after that in Vo-Ag that the teacher gave us a lecture about pigs that included "Some are nasty, and they will get you if they can." Reinforced the lesson: just because something is domesticated doesn't mean it won't kill you.


Anonymous said...

Reminds me of a few of the disposal,of evidence passages from "Unintended Consequences", heh, heh

AM said...

My fathers side of the family has some land out in Cinebar Basin north of Yellowstone. There used to be ticks all over the basin until some nutjobs built a fenced compound and let guinea fowl loose.

Last I checked the compound was still there, but the tick population was WAY down.

Keith said...

We've (SWMBO has) two hens and a little rooster - they're really cute, but peck hell out of every plant in the garden, and are into the kitchen as soon as the door opens - to eat cat food.

Re: John Ross' novel,
The old man's book about the Lovatt Scouts had a story about them "liberating" a pig as they went up through Italy in WWii. A few days later they'd stalked and captured a small German scouting party, killing one in the process.

You would think that a bunch of highland ghillies would have known better, but the dead body was kept in the shed with the pig overnight...

After that, no one fancied eating pork, and the pig was traded for some crates of beer.

My brother kept a couple of pigs for a while. when he first got them there was a turkey which had survived Christmas (it had a sore leg) in the shed. It took to sleeping with the young pigs for a few nights, then, one morning, there was a small pile of white feathers...

Foxes and crows are good at clearing up small bits of meat too.

Arthur said...

We raised pigs for a long time and if you treat them nicely they'll treat you the same.

We bought our starter pigs from a farmer whose idea of 'animal husbandry' was a big stick. Any time he wanted to move the pigs around or even get their attention he beat the hell out of them. When we got them they were mean and I couldn't blame them.

It took a while but we got them calmed down. Hanging a old tire on a chain for them to take their aggressions out on was a big help. Heh, not beating them 24/7 helped too.

They are smart though. Whenever it rained at night they would throw dirt over the electric fence and bolt. I don't know how many times I chased them through the corn fields in the middle of the night in the pouring rain.

I swear I heard them whistling the theme from 'The Great Escape'.

markm said...

Folks used to raise razorback hogs free-range style. That is, brand them and turn them loose to dig their own sustenance out of the forest. Every so often, they'd go round them up, brand the pigs, and castrate most of the males. That could get fairly hairy; there's a description of it in Old Yeller.

When the white settlers arrived in North America, rattlesnakes were common everywhere. Now, they're pretty much restricted to the grasslands and deserts where free-range hogs never roamed. Hogs have thick skins and lots of fat underneath, so the fangs couldn't inject venom deep enough to hurt the hog - as far as they were concerned, rattlesnakes were tasty meat snacks that obligingly announced their presence and even jumped out of the bush. But hogs are forest critters, so even with that extra nutrition, they couldn't find enough feed on their own past Arkansas and East Texas.

Firehand said...

There's a LOT of wild pigs along the Red River, and in parts of eastern OK; serious pest for farmers in some areas, do a lot of crop damage. I've known people who always had a rifle in the car or truck specifically for chance shots at them while out checking fields.

Few years back a game warden down near Ardmore walked up on a sounder; boar managed to tear his leg up before he was able to kill it.