Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Pig Trap

Apt allegory for the sign of the times.

We tooled around his property, drinking beer and dumping corn and veggies here and there at strategic points, and then we came to another clearing with a strange metal object. Kevin put the truck in park and told me to hop out with him. There were three eight-foot pieces of crude steel tubular fencing that looked sort of like the metal barricades that get put up at parades for crowd control, but about five or six feet high, and forming half a hexagon They were obviously hand-made; they just didn’t have the finish of a commercial product. Kevin grabbed the last two buckets out of the back of the truck and told me to bring him two more beers.

In front of the steel tubing was a shallow concrete “bowl” that I believe was the top of a large birdbath, sunk into the dirt. Kevin filled it with loose corn and small ears of corn, then dumped in the contents of the second bucket. This bucket contained table scraps, potato peels, onion butts, bacon grease, and other household garbage, and it smelled pretty ripe. I asked Kevin what was up with the fencing, and he told me this was a pig trap. He then opened the two beers and dumped them in the bowl, saying that pigs love beer.

Kevin explained that pigs are highly intelligent animals, and can be quite dangerous. They are powerful beasts, very fast, and armed with fearsome tusks that can gore a man to death in short order. He said that commercial traps are available, but pigs are smart, and will often be wary of a new metal object suddenly appearing in their environment, and his home-made trap was much more effective. He told me that these three sections are left up year round, and over time, the pigs learn that this metal object poses no threat, and there is frequently delicious corn, slop, and beer to be had here. The scent of the slop and beer travels a long way across the property, and over time, the pigs are conditioned to not fear the strange metal object. Kevin showed me how they had formed a soft trail around one end of the fencing as they came in and out to the bowl.

When the time comes to harvest a pig, Kevin adds a section of the fencing, refills the bowl a few times, and the pigs ignore the new section of fencing. A week or two later, he adds another section, and keeps the bowl full. Finally, he puts the last section up right on the trail they created, and this section has the trap door in it. A screw eye is twisted into the end of a corn cob, and a cable is attached to it, and is connected to a pin that drops the door. As soon as a pig picks up the corn, the pin is pulled, the door is dropped, and the pig, and perhaps one or two or three others of his group, are trapped. In the morning, Kevin can simply walk up to the cage and dispatch the beasts with a handgun, without risk of personal injury or spending a lot of time stalking the animals in the woods with a high-power rifle.

Be sure to read the entire piece. He bounces around here and there in a few places but at the end he pulls it all together and you can see the entire picture.   

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