Since the great pigscapade 2014 (part I, part II, & part III), the pigs & I have settled back into a friendly routine. I walk out in the morning - a little more nervous than I once was as to whether or not they'd still be there - and breath a small sigh of relief when I spot their growing spotted backs, nestled in whatever convenient spot they have created a nest in that evening. Always together, like three little sardines when they lay down at night.
To keep them from going walk-about once more, we got a little bit more aggressive with the fencing. Last year, the two piglets came a little older, and they were already fence-trained to the electric line. Or we were just luckier. Who knows. I thought about a half dozen ways either strengthen the current on our line (which has something to do with improving the grounding of the charger. I don't really pretend to understand how this actually works outside of some theoretical knowledge. But I'm pretty sure I could add another copper pole and really juice the little buggers up. On the other hand, I don't seem to be able to work on my electric fence without delivering several substantial shocks to myself along the way. Usually because I'm really too lazy to walk ALL THE WAY into the barn each time I want to switch it on/off for testing. So I end up just leaving it on. Because, how much shock can it really give me if I'm carefu-OHHOLYHELLTHATISGONNALEAVEAMARK.)
Besides, these pigs were still small. And I wanted something a little more foolproof. Or pig-proof. I wanted something that was going to keep out the bad things, and keep in the good, growing bacon, without me worrying too much about the next time they got spooked.
I thought about guard towers, spotlights and motion sensors, but I figured that might be taking it a little far.
I left the piglets in a small enclosure the first few days, and had the Critter help me set new fence posts. I cut standard 4"x4" pressure treated posts into 4' lengths, planning on burying 18". I dug holes; she hauled posts. She complained about this arrangement. I handed her the post hole diggers and went to get a Diet Coke, telling her that I'd set all the posts that she dug holes when I got back. She was hauling posts when I returned.
At our house, we believe in empowering our children with making their own choices. Also: we believe in less complaining.
Between each post, I ran a 2" x 8" as a bottom rail, and a 2" x 6" on the top. The bottom rail set flush against the ground, and the top rail set flush for a fence height of about 30". Those rails were just simply drilled into each post, on the inside of the posts, to make it easier to add the mesh fencing.
The Critter may not enjoy digging post holes, but she enjoys using power tools.
"Oh, daddy - can I screw?"
"Not til you're married."
"Nothing. Here's the drill. I'll fetch the fencing."
I had some coated fencing wire that I stapled all along the top and bottom rails, all the way around. It comes in convenient 30" wide rolls. All told, I used about 160' of the fencing, in a large U-shape that took advantage of the stone wall of my barn to form the 4th side.
The pigs have been content as can be - the fencing provides a convenient accessory for scratching their backs and sides - a common pig pastime. You can see Tocino mouthing the fence above - I really should an electric line along the inside to keep them from getting too close, and to train them to the electric fence. That'd allow me to further expand the pen at a reasonable cost as I did with last year's crop of bacon. I like giving them extra room to root and explore when I can - though this enclosure is plenty big at this point.
The final advantage of this set up - besides the low cost and relatively easy setup, plus ease of removal later on down the road - has been that the footer rail gives the Boy a nice step to scale the fence. Since the return of our little critters from their jaunt in the woods, he's been out a couple of times a day to scatter a handful of peanuts and count their backs. He's smiling when he runs back up to the house.
"They're all still there, Daddy!"
Good. But let's check again in a little bit.
Just to make sure.