Archive for September 11th, 2008

First photos of Scrumpy’s piglets

As promised, here are the first photos of Scrumpy’s piglets, taken last night by Andy. Not long after these shots were taken, I put some hay down for them so they had a nice warm bed. They also had a visitor in the night… Their half-brother (same sire, not dam), Harold, had been Scrumpy’s companion but once she farrowed, I put him in with Bailey and Brini so he didn’t accidentally squash the piglets – or so Scrumpy didn’t beat the hell out of him for being there. So imagine my surprise this morning when B announced that she couldn’t put Scrumpy’s feed down as Harold was trying to eat it! At some point in the night he broke through two electric fences to get back to his beloved Scrumpy. B said that when she popped her head through the ark to get Scrumpy, the sow was asleep on one side of the piglets and Harold was curled up on the other side. So much for me worrying about them – they must have been as warm as toast with both pigs supplying their body heat! (New-born piglets can’t create their own body heat. Well, they can, but they use up all their energy doing so and consequently run the risk of getting ill.)

Anyway, enough pig-facts, here’s the cuteness. Get ready!

Scrumpy and her piglets - 10 September 2008

Scrumpy and her piglets - 10 September 2008

Scrumpy and her piglets - 10 September 2008

Scrumpy and her piglets - 10 September 2008

Of the five, two are cream, two are black and white and one is chocolate and cream. A quick inspection this morning makes us think that one of the cream piglets is a boy, as is the chocolate and cream, and that all the rest are girls. We think!

Introducing… our feline friends

I’ve always preferred dogs over cats but I couldn’t live without our three feline friends, even if they are currently driving us up the wall.

Over a year ago, B and I were adopted by Queenie at an animal sanctuary. We’d actually gone into see if they had any kittens but heard a yowling from one of the cattery sections. Peering in, we saw a big fat black cat who looked utterly miserable. No doubt desperate for some peace and quiet, the woman showing us around practically shoved us in with this unhappy cat. I scooped her up and she promptly stopped yowling and gave us a look that quite clearly informed us that she would be accompanying us home.

Queenie - 29 June 2008

Queenie - 29 June 2008

Queenie is a classic misanthropist. If she were a tom cat, then Bronte would have supplied the name. But Queenie suits her as she really is in charge of the household, though her regal style is more “Off with their heads” than anything more kindly. I don’t know what happened to her before she came into our lives, but her aggression and swift right hook seem to be born out of fear not an instinctive nastiness. That doesn’t change how she is but helps to control her outbursts. The classic rule for cats is that you let them come to you, but with Queenie, that really is what you have to do. Never make the first move. If she’s asleep on the sofa, you can gently stroke her on the back of the neck. If she stretches, carry on. If she tenses up, then get the hell away! It can be quite annoying, as she’ll call for you to go over and fuss her, but will run away as you approach! We’ve learnt that if you stop when she stops, then walk forward again, she’ll roll over onto her back and you can fuss her. Ah yes, the belly rubs. She loves them. In a certain spot. Drift away from that exact (and quite small) spot and she’ll let loose with claws and teeth. In her own way, she’s a loving and affectionate cat but she just needs space to be herself. Cross the boundaries and you pay. Leave her be, and you reap the rewards.

Queenie - 20 July 2007

Queenie - 20 July 2007

In total contrast are the two boys, Mac and Horatio. We got them as kittens last autumn and apart from a few moments such as when they chewed my phone charger or our current battle to get them to go to the toilet outside, they’ve been a joy to know. We got H first but Queenie was absolutely horrified at the scrap of black fur and it soon became clear that they would be living in a never ending cycle of his desperation to be near another cat (as far as he was concerned, when he first set eyes on Her Maj, it was love at first sight) and her desperation to be as far away from him as possible. And then we found out that some of his litter brothers were still looking for homes. A week later, Mac arrived.

The Boys - 27 November 2007

The Boys - 27 November 2007

Apart from a slight size difference, they look identical (H has a few white hairs on his chest, Mac has a few more. H used to have a white whisker and Mac had one long white hair above his eye. Mac’s eye hair fell out and then H’s white whisker fell out. But it’s ok, because Mac is currently growing a white whisker of his own…) but their characters are very different. H is a mamma’s boy. Mac’s a bit more boisterous, the hunter of the family.

Hmmm, B is going to cause me great pain for pointing out that her boy is a bit of a wuss, but the facts are the facts! He’s such a sweet little guy, the only cat in the world that doesn’t just like having his belly rubbed, he positively loves it. You can even blow raspberries on his belly!

Horatio - 18 October 2007

Horatio - 18 October 2007

Mac’s a bit more of a cat than that. Belly rubs are fine for about a second but then watch out. You also can’t bounce him up and down. But then again, while H likes our dogs, Mac loves them. Especially Snipe. They don’t just play together, they cuddle up, they greet one another, they tolerate the other’s respective size and strength that are used to push smaller animals to the ground or sharp claws that are used to sink into the other’s tail or flank or any available part of the body. And if a telling-off is required, you can count on the other to offer comfort. I always thought Midge and Horatio would have that special relationship as they loved one another as puppy and kitten but I think H decided he preferred people. To be honest, so does Midge!

Mac - 13 November 2007

Mac - 13 November 2007

I’m not so sure that the cats are really settling into their new life in Cardiff. This is the third time we’ve moved with Queenie and she’s spending a lot more time in the house that she ever has before. At mum’s, we hardly ever saw her, but I think the only thing she ever goes out for here is the toilet. Which brings us to the boys. We’re now paying for how easy it was to litter train them as kittens. They’ve decided they can’t go to the toilet outside, they have to be inside and if we take away their litter tray, they’ll go inside anyhow. Lovely. In fact, they won’t go out at all if they can help it and suffering from cabin fever. Big time. Mac’s latest way to keep himself occupied is to chase his tail. In the bath.

And so the war has begun! Queenie’s fine. If she wants to stay indoors and curl up on the sofa, then she can. She does go out, she just doesn’t stay out for long. The boys, however, are facing a new challenge. What to do when the windows are shut and you’re on the wrong side! Whenever someone’s in for a few hours, or will only be gone for a few hours, the cats are being evicted and the windows shut. This is how we got the boys to go outside when they were kittens and if that’s what it takes, that’s what we’ll do. Though it’s really hard when you an here them crying and see their little faces pressed up against the window! Ah well, harden thy heart and think about how nice life will be without a litter tray stinking the house out…

I’ll keep you posted on how it works out.