The other night, Ben and I saw the thunderstorms on the radar, so we hatched a plan. . . We farmers are always watching the weather and we knew a storm was brewing.
When we are anticipating thunderstorms, we usually turn off our electric fences right before bed night before.
On the night of the storm, we had to strategize. We have one particular group of pigs that are truly rapscallions! They’re very mischievous. We have never had so much trouble keeping pigs fenced! They literally EACH test the fence several times a day (that’s hundreds of times a day in total!).
So we went to bed with the windows open and waited until we first heard thunder. The storn was approaching fast. Ben dragged himself out of bed and went out in the middle of the night, protected by the insulation of the truck tires and his thick rubber boots. He waited for a lull and rushed out to shut off the electric fence charger.
This is by far my least favorite part of the job. I hate that we have to go out in storms like this, but lightning is always seeking ground, and the fence conducts electricity. Meaning, the ENTIRE fenceline is a target for a strike. The consequences could mean a very expensive charger blowing up (litterally), leaving us without electric fence for days. The current is passing through the fence, so you don’t want the pig and cow area fencing to be the easiest way for the lightning to seek ground.
Just a few hours later, at dawn, Ben got up again to go out and check on the pigs. . . (these days I usually stay back to be with Milo). And they were GONE. All 75 of them! We had some serious escape artists on our hands.
Ben called me and said, “I don’t know what to do. When I try to herd them, they all scatter!” I had Milo sick at home, and I was sick with his cold, too. Any parents of toddlers out there know getting out the door in a flash isn’t what it used to be. I had to give Milo breakfast, change him, and put on his sunscreen. I packed snacks for Ben and our apprentice Derek, and finally we were ready to get out the door. My time in the maritime industry has taught me to show up to a scene prepared to stay for the longhaul.
Thankfully, the pigs cooperated and all returned home to their shelter. Their big outing left them all tired, hungry and thirsty. All 75 of them got a snack and some refreshments and laid down for a nap casually, as if they hadn’t just reeked havoc.
Get this... at that very same time, in the neighboring field, one of our cows gave birth to a healthy calf! Thankfully, they did not need any help from us.
That morning, a URI field trip was scheduled to arrive just 10 minutes after the pigs were secured. They got to witness a newborn calf and a very tired herd of pigs. We thought for a momet that they would all be employed to help us wrangle them back in.
As if that wasn’t enough excitement for one morning, while the field trip was going on, a second healthy calf was born! We can’t make this stuff up!!
All I can say is, when it rains, it pours. . . and thunders and lightnings!