Two weeks ago we loaded up our sow, Patty, and our steer, Sir Loin, to head to the butcher. (Patty’s brother, Sausage, and Sir Loin’s companion, Steak Diane, went to the butcher in the fall). We name all of our ‘food’ animals names that correspond to what they will be in our freezer, so we don’t get too attached in the mean time!
The loading process did not got as planned. First, let me explain what happened in the fall when we wanted to load up Sausage and Steak Diane. Sausage loaded himself into the extra-large crate with literally zero resistance, thanks to a little grain and a big appetite. We had set up a pen, chute, and system to load Diane, but when we opened the gate she jumped into the trailer so fast we almost didn’t get the back door shut in time. It was WAY TOO EASY, and we knew it.
Fast forward to this spring when we decided to load up Sir Loin and Patty. We knew it might not be as easy as the last time, so we got started early. Patty would have nothing to do with the crate, correctly assuming that going into it would literally be the death of her. Knowing that Patty has a healthy appetite, we decided to back the trailer up to her pen and use a ramp and some grain to entice her in. About an hour into the process, she was in with all but her back feet. Brian got a little over-eager, and tried to shove her the rest of the way in… what a mistake! She screamed, tried to back up, and he tried to tackle her. He was getting thrown around, so I tried to grab her front legs and pull. I ended up with a twisted wrist and Brian still couldn’t hold onto her, and she got loose, broke the ramp, and took off to the far corner of her pen.
We decided we had to figure out a different way to load her up, so we took a few minutes to regroup and put up a small pen made out of steel gates. Brian went and got the post pounder and we got to work… until he missed the post and knocked himself on the head with the pounder, nearly knocking himself out. After I made sure he was ok, I laughed…. how could I not? Another break to regroup!
Another half hour later, Patty was finally in the pen and walking up the ramp. We didn’t take any chances this time, and shoved her up the ramp with a gate. Success, she was in the trailer! But wait, the gate was in the way and we couldn’t close the trailer door. SLAM, right into my elbow. But, we were finally able to get it shut, me working with one arm trying to hold the gate in place enough to keep Patty from busting out, and Brian shoving frantically to get the door shut.
Next we head over to get Sir Loin. Sir Loin has never been a nice cow. The first day we brought him home, he charged us, then ran right through our fence, through the neighbor’s fence, and joined the neighbor’s herd. In this case, bad fences made good neighbors, since we struck up a friendship with the neighbors as a result. A few days earlier, the neighbor had caught Sir Loin in his holding pen, so we had loaded him up and brought him back to our place. We put up our lightweight round pen panels and put one of our dairy cows, Maggie Moo, in the pen with him so he would have a friend. He still hated us and charged the fence whenever he got a chance!
We set up a chute, took Maggie out, and backed the trailer up to the pen. We first tried shooing him into the trailer – no dice, and he kept turning on us and acting like he was going to charge us. So, we thought, maybe we can slowly decrease the size of the pen until he had nowhere else to go but into the trailer… BAD PLAN! He got mad, lifted the pen, and took off running.
Seven acres and a lot of profanity later, we were able to corner him with the tractor. I went to get Maggie, thinking he’d see her and come back. She had other plans, ripping the rope through my hands and giving me a nasty rope burn on my forearm. ARGH! I caught her, and Brian chased Sir Loin back down the hill with the tractor. We got him into our small pen, but the fence is electric wire. We were soooo worried he would run right through!
Fast forward another hour, and we finally got him into a small pen on the end, only big enough for him and Maggie to fit into. We lured Maggie into the trailer and Sir Loin started to get in too. We quickly pulled Maggie out and slammed the door… SUCCESS!
We got to the butcher shop and the receptionist just laughed. She said, “Well, at least you made it! Over half our clients have to call and cancel ’cause they can’t catch their animals!”
Glad to know we are not alone in this struggle. 😛
We got them back from the butcher yesterday… here’s a picture of one of the packages of pork belly:
I have to say, I will not be sad to eat those two menaces!
For future reference, we will be raising our own beef steers from babies on our farm, and we won’t even do that until we have some heavy duty handling pens and chutes set up. This fiasco showed us just how we were NOT ready for beef cows! As for the pigs, we’re setting up the trailer in their pasture, and will feed them in there every day for a few months. On butcher day, we’ll feed them, slam the door, and drive away. No more pig wrestling, sheesh.