A Country Life How to fight marauding pigs
Marion Mclauchlan came across a pig of a problem on her bush block, and found the answer a big buzz.
Sixteen years ago we took over guardianship of 11ha (27 acres) of Marlborough Sounds paradise. Our first exercise was to build a kitset sleep-out and a composting toilet. Sheep had already (safely) grazed on the area that was to become our house site and a reasonable ‘lawn’ established itself in the first year. A bit of rough mowing dealt to the multiple manuka seedlings that tried to take over.
We were so inspired by the house and garden effect of our little lawn in the middle of the bush, we mowed on down the slope and soon had a green trail leading over the stream and down to the gate.
The kids came with friends and camped in paradise in the first summer. A couple of feijoas were planted and a potato patch staked out for the next growing season. We visited frequently, putting in a water system and a wood fire to heat an outdoor bath. The fire was also useful for cooking the wild pork the local hunters shared with us. The relevance of that escaped us at the time.
We continued planting and soon there were flax, kowhai and cabbage trees to encourage the birds. The following summer came and went, potatoes grew and were eaten.
We felt pretty happy watching a big drove of pigs happily foraging in the hills opposite us. The relevance of that escaped us at the time.
Access to our paradise involved flying from Wellington, then a short sea voyage down the Sounds. Sometime in the second winter, on a Friday after work, we arrived at our gate in the dark. But instead of our pretty grass track, we found what appeared to be a ploughed paddock. Our neighbours were not the types to randomly plough other people’s land so we were stumped as to the cause. The ploughing continued up the hill and by the light of our headlamps we saw our lawn, furrowed to some depth.
It took a while to connect the dots. Hunters and chops. Pigs massing on the opposite hill. Pigs!
We set about repairing the damage, replacing the giant divots, raking, and sowing pasture seed. We took the opportunity to flatten out some of the lumps and carted
precious topsoil from wherever we could find it. It’s a long time ago now and I can’t remember how many times we repeated this effort. I do remember it was enough to make us somewhat desperate every time we got there to find yet more ploughing.
We tried various barriers. Sticks, rocks, netting, but the Captain Cookers’ big tusks made short work of them all.
We talked to everyone about our problem. We got lots of advice. My partner went to gun safety classes and got her gun license. A friend loaned us an old Winchester and we invested in a couple of pig traps. But we weren’t there enough to be any sort of deterrent, and the porkers continued to come out of the hills and cock a snout at us.
Then one day at work came some new advice. What we needed, they said, was an electric fence. Pigs are smart characters: once shocked, twice shy.
But how do you set up an electric fence when you have no electricity? We regrouped, repaired, and added 12-volt technology to our body of knowledge. A happy bonus was it was sufficient to power an outdoor kitchen, another hut and an old 4x4 vehicle.
After five years of ongoing repair and restoration, we set out to dazzle the Captain Cookers with our 12-volt solution. We staked out the perimeter with poles, tape, an energizer and a deep cycle 12-volt battery.
Initially the odd furrow could be seen around the outside. But before long the fence was earning its keep and the only sign of pork since then has been marinated, basted and roasted.
It’s at least 10 years since the last incursion. We now have a house on the site and a perfectly smooth green oasis in the middle of the bush.
Little pig, little pig, you can’t come in!