We were very happy to find two pregnant Tamworth sows, sisters Gertie Lynn and Flossie Mae, to add to our farm. Luckily, we had a pen already set up and thought all we needed to do was get some farrowing (birthing) huts set up and wait for babies. The pig pen is a good size, and as soon as the girls unloaded, they were busy rooting. We didn’t think to check the panels, and unfortunately they did. On day two, both girls were out. They had rooted by a weak point where the panel connected to a post and off they went. Mom and Dad’s small dogs scared Flossie and she went running. When she made it into a paddock with the cows, she really started RUNNING. Fred said he could not have caught her if his life depended on it. Meanwhile, Gertie followed me back to the pen and was feasting on boiled eggs.
We thought she was just in the next paddock over, but when we saw tracks outside the fence and in the cropland, we knew it was going to be a bit more difficult to get her back. We spent the rest of the daylight hours tracking her. In and out. Back and forth. Round and round. Fred stayed on her tracks until we finally tracked her to an island in the river. We emptied out bucket of food and headed back home with plans to return the next morning.
The next day, we found tracks and rooting on the island with no evidence she had crossed back over the river. Fred caught a brief glimpse of her, so for 2 days we dumped more food to keep her there while we figured out how we would either catch her or befriend her enough to get her to follow us back. Meanwhile, we were calling friends to arrange a rescue party. One had a tranquilizer gun, so we were planning on using that, and carrying her out on a sling Fred made, putting her on a make shift sled, and then dragging her to the trailer. Hopefully, all before she woke up. On the third day, with 4 friends, we went full-on missing person search line walking from one end of the island to the other…with no sign of her. Thinking she must have left the island, we moved the line to the woods back across the river. Still no sign of her. We went home exhausted and worried.
There was no risk of rain, and the ground had dried up enough from the rain 4 days before, we decided that the last effort would be for me to take Gertie down in the trailer and stay the night. I packed up warm clothes, grain, and a dozen boiled eggs. We parked along the woods across from the island. I teased Gertie a bit with some food to make her squeal and gave her a few smacks on the butt. She wasn’t happy about being in the trailer, but she settled down, only rocking the truck and making a few snorting sounds from time to time. At about 1 am, I heard what I thought was Gertie making a fuss, but the truck wasn’t moving, and it was coming from the front, not the back. I slowly opened the bag of eggs and as quietly as I could, opened the window and dropped them out one by one. Once Flossie started to eat them, I softly said her name. She didn’t run. The plan was to get her eating around the truck and come back the next night to get her. I pressed my luck. I slowly opened the door and listened for her reaction. Nothing. I slipped out of the cab and started to shake the bag of grain. By the time I reached the back of the trailer and opened the gate, Flossie was half way to me. All I could think was, “you have to be kidding me!” I grabbed Gertie’s pan and shook it with grain and Flossie stepped right into the trailer. I skirted past her and shut the gate.
I called Fred on the walkie-talkie and told him, “Come meet me at the farm, I have the pig!” Driving across the field of corn stubble in the fog, it felt like a dream. What are the chances of her only knowing me for 2 days, being on her own for 4 days, and her walking into the trailer like we are old pals that do this every day? I would have said very slim chances, but apparently boiled eggs and a sister must have put the odds in our favor.
I am so happy we did not have to tranquilizer her. For her sake and ours. And I am happy that she looks like she did not have any run-ins with other animals. Both girls are back in the pen with an electric wire reminding them to stay in.