Archive for February, 2009

A peaceful day

The view from Mum's front gate - 28 February 2008

The view from Mum's front gate - 28 February 2008

Stella, my first Kune Kune pig - 28 February 2008

Stella, my first Kune Kune pig - 28 February 2008

The rear guard

My final hour on the farm yesterday afternoon before leaving for the day will not be ranking up there in my favourites list.

As I was carrying the weaners’ feed across their enclosure, they swarmed about my feet as usual. Before I knew it, I’d hit the deck, landing rather hard and regretting the lack of recent rain (note to the weather gods: this was temporary and I’m really quite happy with the status quo) as the soft landing I would have been guaranteed all winter was missing. I’m not sure how, but not only did I not spill a single nut, I also managed to keep their hungry snouts out of the bowl, even as they were climbing into my lap! It was a struggle, but I managed to right myself and despite the tingling feeling running all the way up my spine, carried on as though nothing had happened.

Later on, walking back from Tia and Bailey’s enclosure to get a fresh bucket of water for them, Snipe and Midge were racing about the field like idiots and Snipe in particular put on a turn of speed that would have put a greyhound to shame. I can verify this as she misjudged a fly-by and ran straight into the back of my legs. I went flying.

I then spilt some of the water down my wellies.

Then, just as I thought I’d lost all my dignity, I got my foot caught in Tia and Bailey’s electric netting and once again was given the opportunity to inspect the ground up close and personal.

I was laughing so hard that my attempts to disentangle myself went wrong and down I went again.

The dogs were convinced this was a new game and let me know quite how much they loved the idea by jumping all over me.

I’m just grateful that Tia and Bailey weren’t feeling quite so skittish!

Cheeky mutt!

When B and I moved out of Mum’s, we made the decision that the dogs would not be allowed on the furniture.

This is why:

Midge - 27 February 2008

Midge - 27 February 2008

Funny – but naughty!

When Ted met Victoria

Last year, having spent the winter indoors in the old (and very large) sheep shed, we let out two pigs out to enjoy the sunshine, fresh air and mud, glorious mud.

Albert was quite happy to dig his way through the paddock but on one sunny afternoon last year, Victoria decided she had larger horizons and carefully dismantled the barrier stopping them (ha!) from getting through the hedge, made her way through, scrambled over the old wall and ended up in the double fence separating the house field from the yard.

Ted, mum’s Welsh Mountain Pony stallion, was most intrigued by his visitor:

Ello, ello. What are you?

Ello, ello. What are you?

Hmm, you smell different!

Hmm, you smell different!

Just don’t ask how we managed to get Victoria back: it involved her balancing precariously on top of the rather wobbly remains of the wall and then climbing down a steep slope before jumping over a broken hurdle…

Stella the Kune Kune

Wow, it’s been a whole year since I bought my first Kune Kune pig: a massive beast we called Stella. I sold her last August, along with Brini’s litter sister, Brusco, to a friend of Mum’s who wanted some grazers to mow his 7 acres without needing the attention (and paperwork) of cattle, sheep or goats.

He fell for Stella the first time he saw her, which was a relief as when I say she was a beast, I meant it.

Most Kune Kunes are gentle, loving creatures.

Not Stella.

In the six months I owned her, she bit me more times than any other individual animal – or indeed, group of animals. In 30 years, I’ve been bitten by four different dogs and while the cats always have a good go, it’s more scratching with them. I’ve been kicked by three horses and bitten by just two and my hamster once bit me good and proper on the tip of my finger. The rabbit and guinea pig only ever managed to chew through my clothing but never my flesh. I’ve been stung by one bee, one hornet and several wasps. A monkey once tried to bite me. I narrowly avoided being bitten by an extremely venomous snake in Argentina when I was six.

But Stella took chucks out of me on a regular basis. She was grumpy, moody and a law unto herself.

I’m amazed I kept on going with the breed and bought Scrumpy and Tia!

I had originally wanted one or two weaners to keep as pets, and run them alongside a meat pig, so that we could get one for the freezer at a time instead of two together (47kg of sausages!!!) but the ones we saw near us were way out of my budget and while we were on the lookout for more adverts for Kune Kune piglets, we saw one for an adult Kune Kune.

The breeder we saw with the expensive piglets told us about using them for meat as well as pets, which is where we got the idea to breed Kune Kunes. So, seeing an advert for a reasonably priced adult sow that we could, in theory, start breeding from immediately, seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.

Ha!

Still, like I said, having bought Stella and discovered the downside of her personality, we saw an advert a couple of weeks later for more adult Kune Kunes for sale and rang up for some advise on handling our new pig.

The rest, as they say, is a story for another day.

Update: I originally published this on 27/2/09 but looking back in my records, I actually collected Stella on 25/2/08 not the 27th! So I’ve changed the date of publication, just to avoid any confusion next year!!!!

Is Bailey going to be a daddy?

The pigs have been in seventh heaven all week as I’m trying to work out if Tia and/or Scrumpy are in pig. Without a scan, the best way to work out if the bulging belly is blubber or babies is to have a good feel: and the pigs have obliged have plopping down on the ground as soon as their breakfast is finished and staying there long after my arm’s ready to drop off! And, of course, I can’t give Tia a belly rub without indulging Bailey, and Brini’s not going to stand by and let Scrumpy have all the attention, either!

I’m fairly certain that Tia is in pig, but I don’t know if it’s from when Bailey covered her three weeks ago, or from the earlier attempt (ie disaster) three weeks before that.

I don’t think she’s six weeks gone as she’s only just starting to show and you can start to feel the piglets move from about six weeks so my money is on three weeks. Of course, it could be three weeks before either of those, but that’s quite unlikely. My money is on three weeks.

Scrumpy, on the other hand, is a mystery. She’s certainly overweight but as I didn’t even consider the fact that she might be in pig until yesterday when I was fussing her. It’s that all of a sudden, the shape of her belly looks, well, pregnant, and it’s not soft and squishy like Brini’s or Bailey’s. Again, I could be wrong but she looks like she’s in pig. And the more I think about it, the more that makes sense. Bailey didn’t cover her three weeks ago: she refused to go anywhere near him. And I never actually saw her come into season. I just thought I put them together too soon or too late but since she refused to go back to Tia (and since Bailey and Tia were getting on so well!) I just let her get on with things and decided to wait until Tia was a couple of months in pig before thinking about it again.

So, if she is in pig, how far along is she? Bailey didn’t cover her three weeks ago, which puts the likely dates at six weeks ago or nine weeks ago. There was no evidence that Bailey covered her six weeks ago but that doesn’t mean he didn’t. And I can’t feel any movement, so that would be about right.

Having said that, I’m not very good at feeling animals before they’re born and failed miserably with both Tia and Scrumpy the last time they were in pig, so maybe I shouldn’t use that as a guide!!

Plus there’s the fact that, as far as I can tell, Scrumpy appears to be coming into season – though sows can have “phantom heats” throughout their pregnancy.

Apologies for the long ramble, I’m just trying to work this out in my head and I find that writing it down helps put everything into perspective.

Not that it’s helped this time around.

Both girls may or may not be in pig.

They may or may not pop at the same time.

The possible due dates are:

  • 17 April
  • 9 May
  • 29 May

Ah. We could have a slight problem.

I have three arks.

If both girls pop, they’ll need one each, reuniting Bailey and Brini in the third.

What the hell will I do with all the weaners?! They’re not due to go to the abattoir until the end of April at the earliest (Kune Kunes are slow growers and are usually ready at 8-10 months).

Hmm, there’s not a lot I can do about that one! If Tia and Scrumpy are both in pig then the weaners will have to go before they farrow and unless I can accurately work out when they are due, I’ll have to aim for mid-April.

No matter what happens, I’ll probably re-introduce Fergie to Tia and hope that mother and daughter get along as well as Scrumpy and Harold did when she farrowed!

Having said all that, this entire post could be for nothing: I could be horrendously wrong and just have four happy but rather plump pigs!

Where’s my sunshine gone?

At the start of the month (especially during the snow!), in addition to the usual clothing choices such as trousers and underwear, my outdoors wardrobe consisted of:

  • thermal t-shirt
  • fleece jumper
  • fleece jacket
  • waterproof winter jacket
  • woolly hat
  • scarf
  • 2 x gloves (one pair of fingerless under a normal pair)
  • 3 x socks

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been joyfully dumping most of the above, culminating in the swapping of the thermal t-shirt for a regular one earlier in the week.

And then yesterday, I got to abandon the jumper and for the first time ever for a February afternoon, wandered round in a t-shirt!

Look, here’s the proof:

The ruddy face shows how bloomin warm it was!

The ruddy face shows how bloomin warm it was!

Today, however, is gloomy and overcast and I’ve been forced to put the fleece jumper back on.

Bring back my sunshine!!!!