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.
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.
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.
Tools- drill, drill bit with saw blade, hammer, and vice grips
“All dressed up with no place to go…” Have you ever heard that saying? Well, that was me this morning. I was dressed with my hair done and even make-up on! It was about that time when I was ready to walk out the door that I realized my keys were not to be found. It seems that Tony took them to work with him in his bag. Needless to say, I was peeved. I was really looking forward to my Master Gardener meeting. Oh well, the best laid plans. What was crazy it that later in the day when Jonathan could not find a drill bit I began searching the junk drawer looking for a bit I found a key that looked like it should go to the car. Guess what? It did fit my car, but now it was 11:30 and the meeting was ending. You just gotta laugh!
So, I shifted gears and then went on about my day. It was a good day despite me not getting what I wanted. I finally got in touch with the gal at The Jersey Girl dairy, they have 3 bottle calves and we are picking them up on Monday! There are only a few things cuter than Jersey calves, I can’t wait. Bottle feeding is time consuming, but it is really fun. There will be lots of pictures coming, I am sure. In the past we have bought them at the sale, which is a challenge because of the stress on the calves, but overall it has gone well. We developed a routine that kept everyone healthy and happy. These little bull calves are already a month old so that will be really nice. The jersey steer, Porterhouse, made the best beef that I have ever had. We are looking forward to a full freezer- in about 18 months.
Even though we had beautiful weather today, I did not work in the greenhouse. Until the seedlings develop their first true leaves, I am waiting. Gardening will teach you two things- the sense of urgency and patience. But never fear, I was not without things to do! I have had a project waiting in the barn. A pig waterer has been on my list for a while. I bought the components awhile back so today seemed to be a good day to start it. I found the directions on line at this site. There will be a full post on this when I am done. Today I drilled a hole and put the spout in the pipe. There was a very small leak that will be fixed with epoxy and I need to glue the cap onto the end of the PVC pipe with some plumber’s cement. I couldn’t find any cement so I am hoping that Tony has some stashed. If not, I will hit the hardware store in the morning. Once finished, the water pipe will provide water for the pig without the pig being able to make a mess of her pen or her water. Because pigs are so strong you must go to extreme lengths to come up with a water trough that the pig can’t or won’t flip over to get water and mud to wallow in at will. I am looking forward to this water pipe, kids who show pigs use them frequently. I choose the thickest walled pipe available, I have seen the strength of hogs. With the large diameter and long length, we shouldn’t have to fill it up very often.
Etsy has been a job I have been working on and it has been slow going. It would make it easier if I had more experience at this sort of thing, but I don’t so it has been a learning process. One of the things that had me held up was shipping the products. After a trip to the post office this morning (before Savannah left in her car and before I found a key to mine) I felt so much more confident. Sunny, my sister, will be receiving a surprise in the mail (unless she reads my blog) and I will know how the packages fared. The shipping cost was not as much as I had expected, that was a good thing. Things are shaping up.
My great grandmother, Mamaw, always said that if the snowed stayed on the ground for 3 days it would come again. Well, she was right again. We had snow about 2 weeks ago that stayed for more than 3 days. You might say that it wore it’s welcome out! Last night we got about 8 inches. For some of you that may not be much, but in my part of Texas that is a lot of snow! The only livestock that has been troubled by the snow is the guineas. The sat in their tree and raised cane til about 11:00am. They finally quieted down, but they would not come down. Apparently the guineas seem to equate the white blanket with pain and certain death. A couple of the “smart” guineas went in the chicken house last night and have hung out in the warmth of the chickens for the day. Porterhouse, our steer, was only concerned that we were still bringing feed. The two show pigs, Skunk and Betsy Ross, regarded the white fluffy stuff as fun from heaven deposited for their enjoyment. They spent the day tilling a small patch in the pen- I can’t imagine what bugs they may have been finding in the cold. The snow is beautiful and I have enjoyed watching the birds eating from the feeders. With the white background, all the birds stand out. However, I am glad to see temps getting into the 40’s on Saturday.