Around the farm, we love all of our animals but the pigs have probably made their way to the top of our favorites list. Our first pig was Sir Francis Bacon, he was so smart and good tempered that we couldn’t help but love him. Several pigs of come and gone (and filled the freezer with the best ham, bacon, and pork chops you ever had!), but we love them all.
Effie The Pig is our current porcine in residence. She does a wonderful job of converting all our kitchen scraps and leftovers into lovely ham and bacon. She is the first pig to be used as the resident tiller. Since we moved to the new farm, I (actually the kids and my wonderful husband, Tony) move her pen once she has cleared the current pen of all vegetation. In each of these areas I will plant vegetable crops and take advantage of all the good fertilizer she has left behind. The pig waterer I made for her is working great and I love it!
This area is the first spot where her pen was, as you can see there isn’t anything left. The pig pen has not been in this spot in over a week, with plenty of rain, we should be seeing some green if there was anything left to sprout.
This is the second spot that Effie has called home. We just moved her pen before this picture was taken. As you can tell, we have had lots of rain lately- not that Effie the Pig minds the mud!
Her new pen- this is what the other pen spots looked like before she got busy. It takes her only 48 hours to take all the green stuff down but I leave her in there another couple of days so that she will eat all the roots a well. I get tickled every time I look at the window and see her buried almost up to her back. No roots stand a chance when she is tilling. For that matter, no moles stand a chance either. I have personally witnessed her eating two. I looked over after planting some tomatoes and saw her flip her head up and gulp it down. Nature is a tough place to live. Maybe I will call her Effie the Eliminator…
If you have ever had a pig on your place, then you know how much they love to wallow in mud. Pigs love it so much they will dump their drinking water over to enjoy the fun of wallowing. The problem is that then they have no water to drink, except the muddy stuff. The muddy water seems to suit the pigs fine, but as a person who wants to provide the best for the animals in my care, it didn’t suit me.
The challenge is that pigs are so strong that they can flip a trough weighing hundreds of pounds like it was a marshmallow. The choices you are left with is securing a concrete water trough that is about as heavy as the Titanic or going with an automatic system. The concrete waterer is not an option- 1. because my husband refuses to move anything that heavy without a tractor and we don’t have a tractor & 2. I like to move the pigs around to till new ground for me and we don’t have a tractor. So, that left us with an automatic type of waterer.
There are several ways of using automatic waterers, but again because I want to be able to move the pens around, I decided on a PVC type waterer. I have seen these many times at livestock shows made out of green PVC and being about 2 1/2 feet tall and about 4 inches in diameter. The pigs bite the water valve and water flows out. When the pig stops biting on the valve the water stops. This means that a pig’s pen can be kept dry if needed. The waters are wired into the corner of the pen eliminating the pig from being able to flip it over. I do not have any intention of denying our pig the joy of wallowing in mud, so I will fill the hole dug by said pig with water just for fun.
In the following pictures, you will notice that my pipe is not green but white. Also, I chose the heaviest grade of pipe available, 8 inches in diameter and 5 feet in length. This is because I do not want to fill this everyday and I thought the heavy grade pipe would have a longer life as pigs can be very rough. The water valves were purchased at our feed store and the other supplies came from the local hardware store. I purchased a 10 ft piece of pipe and had the store cut it into 2 pieces along with 2 caps to fit. All total I spent about $55.00 and will have two waterers when done.
To construct a water:
About 6 inches from the bottom of the pipe (the lid is about 4 inches deep) drill a hole using a drill bit with a saw blade attached to it. This bit cuts a circle, a hole in the pipe. The hole should be just a bit bigger than the nipple valve. The valve has threads on it so that you can insert it into the hole and screw it in. The bit I used was the same size as the valve because the next size up in the bit department was bigger than the valve. So, I used the drill and bit to wallow out the hole some by just drilling around the edge until it was large enough. Being that I have small hands and not enough strength to manhandle much more than a small goat- I gripped the valve with a pair of vice grips so that I had enough leverage to screw in the valve. This is the hardest part- which was not that hard.
After the valve is in, the pipe needs to be cleaned to prepare them for the plumbers cement and putty. If the cap and pipe are not cemented together the water will leak out. Also, the valve needs plumber’s putty to keep it from leaking. First, I cleaned the pipe and cap with orange oil and vinegar to get all the dirt off. The orange oil was followed by alcohol so that the surface would be super clean and dry faster. When you are trying to glue anything, dirt and moisture are not your friend.
For the valve: scope out about a quarter’s worth of putty and roll it into a snake (think play-dough and preschool).
Wrap the snake around the valve where it meets the pipe. Then, press the putty down pressing out all air bubbles and smoothing the edges. There were no directions on my tub I just had to guess at it. Also, I thought I would have to wait until it hardened then I read on the tub that it never hardens. So, I wasn’t really sure if this would work, but it did.
I did the same thing on the inside of the pipe- just to be certain. This is what the other end of the water valve looks like. As you can see, there are threads and a screen to keep debris out of the water valve.
Whereas the plumbers putty was labeled as completely harmless, the cement was plastered with warnings. One of the warnings was not to breath the fumes. I find it sad that that warning had to be printed. The fumes are awful and it was obvious that I should not stand too close. The lid has a little ball on it for spreading. Generously spread the cement on the pipe all the way around.
Do the same on the lid. Then put the lid on the pipe, you may need to use a hammer to tap the lid down.
I left my to dry for several hours. After drying, I put water in the pipe and it did not leak! Now, the pig has a new waterer. I will be using this in the new pen, pictures to follow when that is done.
An ingredient recap- PVC pip of selected length and weight, cap for pipe, plumber’s putty and plumber’s cement, water drinking valve, alcohol and orange oil cleaner.
Tools- drill, drill bit with saw blade, hammer, and vice grips