September 1, 2014

The Mystery of the Tipping Bucket

Gruffy's water bucket

My Pygmy buck
Gruffy, 18" at the shoulder
I have two kinds of water buckets, big ones for the big goats, and smaller ones for the shorter goats. I check them all several times a day and clean out and fill as needed. I became puzzled when I kept finding Gruffy's small bucket knocked over. If he'd been with the other bucks that would explain it; they often knock things over in their sparring over who's the most macho he-goat. But Gruffy was by himself in the buck pasture. The other bucks were in the front. Gruffy's only company (besides hanging out with the other goats through the fence) was the chickens and the pigs.

One of our two American Guinea Hogs
Waldo, growing daily
Several times I refilled that bucket and each time I later found it knocked over again. It wasn't until I saw Waldo bumping it that I realized he was the one knocking it over. Was he having trouble getting his own drink? I kept a pan of water nearby for the pigs; maybe he was just clumsy? I decided I'd better secure Gruffy's bucket.  I found a hook, installed it in the buck barn at Pygmy goat height, and hung the bucket on it. Hopefully that would solve the problem.

I brought a clean bucket of water and Waldo came running over. He immediately started pushing on it. Suddenly, I realized what he was wanting. I hadn't refilled his piggy pool. I had cleaned it out during an autumn like cool spell earlier this month and forgotten to refill it. What was I thinking? It was hot again and of course the pigs wanted their water! So I filled the "pool". Waldo came, gave it a sniff, took a drink, and then proceeded to knock over the other bucket and flop down in his DIY mud. It wasn't water that he wanted, it was mud!

We hadn't had much luck at a proper pig wallow because the ground soaks the water up plus it evaporates too quickly. After a quick discussion with Dan, we came up with this ...

I took the piggy pool and somewhat sank it in the ground. I filled it
with dirt, added water, and there you have it - instant pig wallow. 

Both Waldo and Polly are perfectly happy with their new mud bath. And Gruffy's happier too.


  1. As hot as its been,you can't really blame the pig! I might even be tempted myself if it would keep the bugs off and cool me down!! LOL

  2. When we first got the alpacas Miranda also kept knocking over their 20lt water bucket.

    Turns out that alpacas cooling system (radiator) is their stomach, and, on hot days, if they can lie in very shallow water, or even on damp ground, it assists with their temperature control :)

  3. I like the Perma-Mud Bath. Very nice! It only took him a couple of days to explain it to you! I have snap bolts everywhere and rings attached to places where I can't just latch on. Sheep are notorious for knocking each other around and they just tump the water by accident or when they are competing for it. The goats are more dainty but tiny and sometimes need to rest on the rim while they drop their heads down.

    18"'s a shame Gruffy is so far away! I'm going to need a buck like that next year!

  4. Donna, not at all. They certainly do know how to go about looking for ways to meet their needs. :)

    Dani, I remember reading that about alpacas. When we visited an alpaca ranch in Florida, I remember they kept huge fans blowing in their loafing areas and talked about misting their bellies down several times a day.

    Barb, good idea about the snap bolts. I should add that to the hanging bucket!

    Sounds like a Pygmy buck is exactly what you need (Gruffy would be more than willing to help). Or a Nigerian Dwarf. :)

  5. Ah, yes, living with humans must be so frustrating for our animals! Waldo knew exactly what he wanted/needed. He just had a hard time communicating it to you, Mom! ;o)

  6. We have a phase that fits here"happy as a pig in sh#t"! I bet its great to watch them wallow.

  7. It's always interesting when you figure out the mystery of what the animals want. I fancy that I'm pretty good at determining what certain animals want, so it gets even more frustrating for the animal when I get it wrong.

    Lilly is getting more demanding in her old age, but usually it is the same thing, she wants attention or food.

  8. The first thing I thought of while reading about the mystery, was it had to be Waldo, lol. I didn't know about his pool being empty, but I suspected it was a 'pig' thing anyway, because they love the feel of damp earth on their snouts and skin.

    With your new mud hollow invention, may all your buckets remain upright from now on. :)

  9. LOL Glad you found a solution for your thirsty animals and a mud pool! Nancy

  10. Do you ever wonder what you'd find if you left a nanny cam on for awhile? I think it'd be a hoot! Glad that everyone is a happy camper!

  11. Good old Waldo. That's some pig!

    He has a lot of smarts. I have probably worked for people with less intelligence than he has. Not that that's saying much, when I think about some of the people I've worked for.

  12. Leigh,

    Waldo is one smart little pig. He knew exactly what he wanted, and continued knocking over Gruffy's bucket to get your attention.

  13. That is too funny! I'm glad you got it figured out! Our neighbor's pig has been escaping and coming for visits. I'm afraid I started a bad thing because I had an unused 15 gallon black rubber water dish. I filled it for her. Now I think she escapes just so she can come use it. She climbs right in.

  14. When I had some of my first pigs, I thought I'd be efficent and put a float on the stock tank that was their water (they could get it and out easily. I came home one day to a flooded pasture - they'd pulled/pushed the float off the tank, and made their own wallow. I took the float off, and went back to filling it by hand. They had made a low spot, so when filling the tank, I also filled their wallow. They were happy and I was only slightly put out!

  15. Ohhh where are the photos of the happy muddy pigs. I bet they are smiling every time they are in there.


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