September 14, 2015

Pigs Don't Need Mud & Other Sounds-Goodisms

This post started out as a duck update. We've been observing our Muscovies as they adjust to their new home and those initial observations are always a lot of fun. For example, they do fly, but unlike the guinea fowl who noisily wandered all over the neighborhood, the ducks simply make a trip several times a day to the top of the chicken coop or the goat shed.

Early morning trip to the top of the chicken coop.

Also, they sure do love their wading pool.

Unfortunately, the wading pool began to leak, so we had to find an alternative

I was told this breed doesn't need swimming water and that was the selling point for me, because we don't have a pond. Dan loves to accommodate our critters, however, so he set about to give them some splashing water, at least. We have learned that they love it.

The temporary alternative to the wading pool. 

Along those lines, I've also read that pigs don't need a mud wallow, that scientifically it isn't necessary. I can tell you with great certainty that the pigs disagree. And if we don't keep a mud hole ready at all times, they will make their own on hot days by knocking over all the water buckets. I would say that mud for pigs and water for ducks is akin to electricity for humans. Yes, we can survive without it, but it sure does make life pleasanter for the living, and we're the happier for it.

I tried to get a photo of Waldo in his mudhole, but he
decided to get out just as I ran up with the camera.

All of this has got me thinking lately, about how often I choose to do a thing or take a certain path simply because it sounds good, or even because it sounds right, yet without actually thinking the thing through. Dare I mention the skunk in the live animal trap as an example? Recently, I heard on the radio that folks will readily accept information that agrees with their preconceived notions, but reject anything that contradicts them. I can see that in myself, even though I pride myself on being analytic in my approach to things and a researcher by nature. I don't think this is the norm, however, as most folks simply rely on the so-called experts to do all that for them. I can't help but think of how easy it is to influence people because of that tendency; just make it sound like something they want to hear. It also explains why it's useless to talk with some folks about such things as politics. The spin has already been spun.


On my own behalf, I have to say that I did do my homework before agreeing to take the ducks. My research confirmed what I had been told about Muscovies, so we went ahead with the trade. But you know what? Expertise is not necessarily the same as experience, not by modern standards, anyway. And if we'd never offered those ducks a bit of water, we wouldn't have known that they love it so much. I sure am glad Dan didn't listen to the experts.

46 comments:

DFW said...

I have to agree that sometimes the things that I think I want don't work out. For me, it usually involves something that I want to be more simple & easier to manage. Take my garden beds at the country as an example. I really really wanted that cardboard to work to keep weeds at bay. But I have found that the birds just poop weed seeds on top of the mulch & those weed roots adhere to the cardboard like it's liquid gold, sigh.

Delia West said...

I think listening to your gut instinct about things often is the best thing to do also. And growing up in the country the pigs local to me were always happiest rolling around in mud :-) your animals look so happy and content :-) dee

Mama Pea said...

Those ducks sure are purdy! How could a duck be a duck and not be happier having access to at least some water? Quack.

Leigh said...

I had the same hopes for cardboard! But I think it does work a bit better than other things I've tried. It just isn't the perfect solution for weeds. On the other hand, there is no perfect solution for weeds!

Leigh said...

I have to agree with listening to your gut. That's something I've learned to rely on over the years. If I have a strong sense about something, I've learned to go with it. It isn't fool-proof, but it's right more than it is wrong.

Leigh said...

What I wonder is, how folks can say ducks don't need water and pigs don't need mud!

PioneerPreppy said...

I think the pig thing was an actual propaganda myth that worked since it benefited both sides of a conflict. Pigs used to be kept everywhere when I was a kid around here and everyone who didn't keep pigs complained about the smell and the eye sore mud pastures, while the big commercial pig farmers were wanting to move to huge concrete paddocks to keep em in rather than pastures. Each side used the myth to get what they wanted. The pig pastures disappeared and the commercial growers got the permits they needed without the animal rights activists screaming like they do with confined chickens.

I will say travel along rural roads here in Missouri improved at least aromatically after that myth was spread around. They may be technically correct but you are right pigs will make their own mud if you don't give em some.

Leigh said...

That's propaganda at it's finest, isn't it? Along those lines I have to say that by letting our pigs free range and not over populating any given area, we have zero to very little smell. That enables us to keep the mudholes small and where we want them too. There's a lot to be said for keeping things small and manageable.

Renee Nefe said...

sounds the same about stuff and parenting. We're currently being bombarded with propaganda that having our house wired to be a "Smart home" will make our lives more convenient and safer...yet look further on the news and see how many computers were hacked into and ID's stolen. I have to wonder if schools have been encouraged to stop teaching critical thinking so that we can be more easily influenced?

An At Home Daughter said...

We keep a kiddie pool in our orchard where the ducks and chickens live and rarely do the Muscovies use it. They just take a quick bath and go on their way, because if they stay in the water for very long their feathers start turning into sponges, unlike our regular laying ducks which will hang out in the water pan that has a float valve all day.
We clipped the wings on all our Muscovies the day they were dropped off, so they couldn't fly away. So no roosting here. Our chickens that roost always end up dead, so its wing clipping all around.
Kimberly

tpals said...

Those are such pretty ducks. I'm glad you gave them water to play in.

(Darn it! I was hoping cardboard would solve my weed issues under the hedge.)

Tewshooz said...

Pigs get sunburn and wallow in mud to protect them and help keep them cool. Kinda like an elephant,

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

Hi Leigh, That was an interesting read for me. The ducks are so pretty. I may be one of those that don't think things through and research but I do agree I don't think I would enjoy life as much without electricity. Nancy

Ed said...

I certainly agree with your thoughts on people believing in things they want to believe in. Having taken a couple course in statistics, I try to look for the other side in every one sided debate but I'm sure I'm guilty as the next on occasion.

We raised pigs for a living for a time. They can be raised without water but they are most definitely happier with a large mud waller.

We used to keep a kiddie pool out front for the dogs to cool off on hot days. It was funny sometimes to see the looks of people seeing us grown boys out front and their eyes going from us to the pool thinking we were just a little too old for it. If I had a dollar for every time I had to explain it was for our dogs... well I could probably fund a new one.

Leigh said...

So far I've only heard negative things from consumers about that "smart" technology. For a control freak on the smart technology side, what an invitation to a power trip!

I think critical thinking is lumped in with math in schools. "Here's how to do A and here's how to do B. Now all by yourself, put them together to figure out C." I don't know if the resulting dumbing down is deliberate or not, but politicians, the media, and advertisers sure do take advantage of it!

Leigh said...

Taking a bath a couple times a day about sums up how our Muscovies use water, so in the end, we really didn't need a pond to keep them happy, just a pool! We didn't clip their wings though, and so far only one has flown out of the chicken yard. She got herself back, though, which I was glad of. They all troop into the chicken coop at night and sleep on the floor in the straw.

Leigh said...

Don't get me wrong, cardboard definitely helps! At least it slows down the growth for the season. It just has to be replenished when it biodegrades. :)

Leigh said...

Now, that makes sense to me, so why would folks say they don't need a mud wallow? Unless they're kept under cover all the time. Dan also read that they don't sweat, so the water helps them regulate body temperature. Again, another logical reason.

Leigh said...

Nancy, we're all finite and none of us can thing everything through! But it is nice to keep our critters happy.

Lynda D said...

My vast experience with pigs is that they need the mud to wallow in through summer to cool them down. They dont sweat so have no in built cooling system like we do. The mud protects their fair skin from burning. In my dark past i worked for pig breeder and in the trucks and sheds we had misting systems to regulate their temperature. In cooler months they will choose to be clean. I love pigs!!!

Bottle Tree Farm said...

Your muscovies are doing exactly what mine did. Fly and play in the water. This is what we set up for our ducks. They used to love to get in a float around and splash. http://theweekendhomesteader.blogspot.com/2013/11/theyre-just-ducky.html

Chris said...

I wanted to mention when you first got the ducks, while they may not require a large body of permanent water, Muscovies, do appreciate some water. I've not owned them myself, but knew a local who did and they kept a paddling pool just for them.

Somewhat like your pigs, if you hadn't supplied the paddling pool, the ducks would have attempted to fowl the water supply of the chickens, or wherever they could find an open water supply. That's what the local I knew told me. So getting the paddling pool, was an intervention to worse problems I think.

I didn't want to say anything about it at the time though, because I haven't personally kept them and having no experience, I was relying on a single testimony, which could've been wrong. While I'm sharing advice from third parties though - they did recommend not housing the chickens with the ducks permanently. Simply because it made the accommodations for the chickens, a lot more unpleasant.

In their experience, ducks were a lot more messy and could fowl a clean abode quicker, than twice as many chickens could. The only reason they kept their Muscovy with the chickens, is because its companion had died and it was cruel to keep it alone.

It is completely true that Muscovies are more forgiving than any other duck. They are more tame, have less need of water, and can fit into a domestic environment with other livestock, more readily. But at the end of the day, they're still ducks and they're always going to be happier (and healthier) doing what ducks were designed to do.

Just as pigs were made for mud! :)

An astute steward, will notice this and make accommodations. I'm glad you came to your own conclusions about what makes your ducks happiest, in this regard. Honouring another critters creation, is honouring our own. :)

Leigh said...

I'm guessing there are a lot of things animals can live without, but as a steward, I just like seeing them happy. :)

That's too funny about your dogs and the kiddie pool. There are actually a lot of uses for those things!

Leigh said...

Lynda, thank you for that! The misting idea is actually pretty good, although a mud hole is a little easier for our situation. I do notice that our pigs use the wallows less in cool weather, but in summer they demand them!

Leigh said...

Candace, thank you! Brilliant system you worked out, I can't wait to show it to Dan. We've been discussing a better set-up for the ducks, including location, duck house, and water. Your's looks very adaptable for us too.

Farmer Barb said...

I'm sorry for getting to you so late, I was on the tractor. I have got a bustle of bugs around here, maybe I need some muscovies, too!

Leigh said...

The experience of others is good, but I agree that personal experience is so much better. One tidbit that was passed on to me was that chickens kept with ducks won't lay. The chickens stopped laying for awhile, but have resumed laying as before. Even so, we are working on a separate area for the ducks. They do need their own space away from the chicken drama.

As stewards, I believe it is our job to serve creation and strive for balance. I believe that's how humans are meant to fit in. :)

the Goodwife said...

There are lots of things that aren't "scientifically necessary" for survival but my whole reason for raising my animals myself is so that I can ensure their happiness. There is a reason for the saying "happier than a pig in mud"! Mud also helps tremendously in keeping pigs cool, and while ducks don't have to have water to swim in, they are much happier. We as humans can live in an 8x8 cinder block room and survive, but I should think we are all a little happier with trees and sunshine! :)

Leigh said...

Tractors need attention too. :) From what I'm reading and experiencing, Muscovies are a really great duck for a homestead. Ours are just getting used to us and our routine, but we're really enjoying them. And they are supposed to be 5-star at eating bugs (will have to report on that one later, after they've had a chance to make a difference in the bug population. )

Leigh said...

I confess to being sick and tired of the religion of "science". I so much prefer common sense and practical experience!

Farmer Liz said...

Yes, I just realised that is how I research things too, I think its an unconscious filter so you don't have to process ALL the information. I don't know which is worse, biased research or none at all! Both ways you have to learn on the job... And I know that from experience!

Leigh said...

Liz, very good point about information. And for as convenient as the internet has made information, there is more nonsense out there than ever before. Having to sift through it for answers is a job of work!

Chris said...

So true, about our role being to serve creation. Many indigenous cultures lived for generations like that too.

Heavens Door Acres said...

Your comment.... Expertise is not necessarily the same as Experience....truer words have never been spoken. As a farm animal rescue/sanctuary...we rescued a pot belly pig 5 years ago. At that time her age was "guessed" to be about 10 years old. In looking at the "experts" information on PB pigs, we found that the " normal lifespan of a PB pig is 9 to 10 years" Well, our little Tulip has exceeded that....if they guessed her age correctly, she is now 15 years old. Although she doesn't roam around as much as she did once we got her healthy, she is healthy and seems to be happy...eating and napping the days away. I tend to lean more towards the experienced than the experts.

Leigh said...

I think that is an important lost truth. Now, we serve technology. The result of this is all the environmental problems we now recognize and want to correct. The illusion is that the cause of our problems can also fix them. From what I've observed, it only makes them worse.

Leigh said...

Good example. Sadly, that trend toward replacing practical knowledge and common sense with a piece of paper (college degree) has gone on for so long that our culture has truly been dumbed down in a very real way. I realize most folks wouldn't understand that, however. It takes making nature a part of one's day-to-day existence that really brings that truth home.

Izzy said...

My pigs are happiest with their mud holes. It's how they cool down on hot summer days and also how they keep bugs off of them by caking on the mud. Did you know pigs can actually get sunburned? I don't know where I heard or read that, but after noticing you can see their skin through their coarse hair, I would tend to agree.

Love your blog!

Quinn said...

Whenever someone tells me an animal doesn't need something, I tell them humans don't need windows.

Sandy said...

Leigh

Our ducks (5) loved water. We placed a kiddie pool in the ground, added a few small boulders so they could get out easily, and filled the pool with clean water daily. The ducks loved that pool, and yelled when you didn't move fast enough to put fresh water in.
I say the animal will educate his/her owner on their needs.

Leigh said...

Izzy, thank you! My pigs are black so it never occurred to me about sunburn. But they do have mud, and shade, so that makes us all happy.

Leigh said...

LOL, I like that! It's funny but it brings it into perspective, which we need quite often.

Leigh said...

That's funny! And it's true about critters educating their humans. Right now I have a doe who is trying to train me to give them their evening feed ration at 2 pm. Regular feeding time is 4:30 or 5! And she hollers the entire time. I'm guessing that even if she got her way she'd still expect to be fed again at the regular time. :)

Su Ba said...

My pigs have always enjoyed a wallow. Conversely, they enjoy a dry spot, especially for their bed. So they muck about in their wallow off and on during the day, but always spend plenty of time in the dry pasture area too. Like yours, my wallow doesn't normally cause a stench. The only odor I've had from my pigs is when they spread their wet food ("mom's famous slop & glop") about and leave it on the dirt. But since I've been encouraging my hens to clean up after the pigs' sloppy dining habits, I haven't had any odor problems at all. Apparently it's the spoiled food that causes the smell, especially if the soil is wet or muddy.

At the moment I only have two Muscovy ducks, but I can say that they do indeed like water. Not as fervent about it as other ducks, but they appreciate and use a "pond". Like you, I was told that muscovies were tree ducks, not water ducks. I guess mine never read their owner's manual because I've never seen them go up into a tree not even once and they use my big koi pond several times a day. They usually float about in the pond at least once a day. Whenever I offer them food I always provide a pan of water. They will eat a few billfuls of food then "rinse" their bills in the water. Repeat, until all the food they wish to eat is consumed.

M.K. said...

This post is SO true, and you're a wise woman to realize this. I know it's true of me -- I believe readily the things I'm set already to believe. I consider myself an "expert" if I've read about it. Experience is the true teacher. How many of us have real, long-term experience in something? Usually we only know one or two subjects that well. Thanks for the reminder, and I'm glad your animals are happy :)

Leigh said...

Slop & glop, I like that. :)

It's funny because I never would have considered ducks if I hadn't been offered muscovies. But they seem like a really good choice for any homestead.

Leigh said...

I have to agree and I find I'm much more likely to take the advice of someone who is actually doing the thing I'm researching. I try to be careful to qualify things I blog about in terms of research or experience. It's interesting to discover how often the research doesn't match my reality!