Posts Tagged ‘bailey’

It’s a good thing I like sausages!

I got Bailey back yesterday: approximately 50kg of sausages (pork and apple, pork and leek and plain gluten-free), 10kg of minced pork and 4 leg joints!

I had originally intended to get just sausages and mince, as older boars, especially those who have been used as working boars, have a very strong flavour which can be unpleasant in a roast, but perfect for sausages and burgers. However, J, who lives at the farm where I keep the pigs, talked me into keeping a leg or two as he reckons you can slow roast them for the perfect flavour. I thought that was nicely volunteered, as did his partner, C. As it turns out, I have run out of freezer space, so the leg joints are now residing in their freezer anyway… Fate, I think!

I have, naturally, sampled the sausages and think they’re delicious. Very delicious. Too delicious. If I start oinking, it’s not because of swine flu!

Thanks, Bailey. You were a good old boy and I promise you won’t go to waste.

Bailey - 4 June 2009

Bailey - 4 June 2009

(Actually, this post reminds me that I never wrote a review of my first taste of Kune Kune meat, when I sent Harold and Scratchy off in March. Must do that!)

All change!

Yesterday turned out to be a mammoth pig moving day, which just goes to show how much I have changed. Gone are the days when I couldn’t move one ark by myself … yesterday, I moved two!

Pinky, Curly and the piglets had run out of grass. It might have looked as though they still had grass, since the enclosure had a green floor, but I know that all the good stuff had gone because they did this:

Pinky, Curly and the piglets - 4 October 2009

Pinky, Curly and the piglets - 4 October 2009

However, there was one small hitch. The part of the field where I wanted to move them to was slap bang next door to where Tia, Brini, Perky, Scrumpy and Fergie were getting down and dirty in the mud (ie clearing the undergrowth) which meant that in order to move The Family, I needed to move the Quintuplets first! Why? There’s not an electric fence in the world that would keep a boar away from five females if they were so close! And considering that Scrumpy is Curly’s mother…

Thankfully, it didn’t take long for them to establish a hierarchy after I put them together for the first time on Thursday, once I’d got back from taking Bailey. Amazingly, Tia is the new matriarch! That’s quite something for a pig who, 18 months ago, I bought only because I felt sorry for her. It just goes to show that a leader lurks in all wallflowers… Anyway, the remarkably swift establishment of said hierarchy means that they are sharing one ark at night instead of using both, which actually made the move possible, since there was no way I was three pig arks in one day!

So, with much grumbling under my breath (the five pigs had at least another week’s grazing were they were, possibly more), I transported all their bedding to the new site, dragged their ark across the field, went back for the rubber mats that make up their floor, rolled up, moved and erected three 50m rolls of electric netting, then moved the five, who knew where they were going and only waited for me because I had some pears in a bucket!

Tia, Brini, Scrumpy, Fergie and Perky - 4 October 2009

Tia, Brini, Scrumpy, Fergie and Perky - 4 October 2009

After dragging myself back to the house for a most tasty lunch of boiled eggs on toast (thanks, girls!), I set about moving the piglets.

In theory, this move wasn’t as physically demanding, since the distance was (a) shorter and (b) on a slight downhill slope but mentally, it was exhausting. Have you ever tried to explain to six squealing and hyperactive piglets that they have moved house?!

Once everything was moved, I finally managed to catch all six and plopped them in the ark, persuading Pinky to go in to feed them to help them relax. This tactic vaguely worked, in that instead of rushing around the enclosure, panicking, they instead ran around after her as she rushed around sampling all the different grasses!

Eventually, once the sun had gone down, I saw the piglets take themselves off to bed in the ark’s new location, rather than the old location, which is where they had, naturally, been trying to get to all afternoon, blocked by the electric fence, which I switched on.

All in all, it was quite a day!

Here’s another piglet photo (sorry, can’t resist!)

Piglets! 4 October 2009

Piglets! 4 October 2009

I can’t believe how much they have grown in the past two weeks!

Getting ready to say goodbye to Bailey

It’s an early start this morning as I’m taking Bailey to the abattoir in a few hours. After my last blog post on the subject, they rang me and said I could have a slot on their first “pig day” since reopening.

Today is the day.

I’m dreading it.

But I can’t afford to keep an infertile boar. Well, I can feed him but I simply don’t have the space.

But he has had a good life, especially (I like to think) in the time he has been with me.

Bailey - 30 September 2009

Bailey enjoys his Last Supper

I confess, I was somewhat soppy last night and gave him a Last Supper to make any pig happy: his usual pig nuts with some of his favourite treats added it for his pleasure. And pleasure it was! I took what was meant to be a short video of him noming down, but it ended up being over ten minutes as that pig took his time, savouring each and every mouthful! Poor Tia wasn’t at all happy, especially as Bailey chased her away several times!

Then, after the sun had gone down, I sat in the field with him, giving him one last belly rub, making peace with the fact that I’m sending this big hearted pig to his death, and that in a few days, I’ll be tucking into Bailey sausages…

This is the side of the so-called “Good Life” that isn’t pretty. It’s harsh and unfair and exposes the grim reality behind the sanitised meat counters in supermarkets where a pig is nothing more than selected cuts and sausages, where consumers can pretend that their pack of bacon fell from the sky, ready sealed for freshness.

The difference between Bailey and every other older, now infertile boar in the world, is that Bailey is loved and will be missed.

Does that make it easier or harder to turn him into sausages?

I’ll tell you in a few days…

Fun in the sun!

Yesterday was one of those days that flew by, the kind that you wish you could preserve, re-visit, or hold in time forever.

Ok, so it wasn’t the best start, as the runt of Pinky’s litter died in the night, but I knew that was coming and given how weak he was, despite my best efforts to bottle feed him, his death was more of a relief than anything else as it meant an end to his suffering.

It’s funny, all three gilts (girls) are strong and healthy, but the three remaining boars are much weaker and I’m quite concerned about two of them, so I’ll be bottle feeding them, not to replace Pinky’s milk but to top it up. So far, they are resisting my efforts, which I think is a good sign, but I’ll persevere, just in case!

The day started cloudy, which was fitting, but the sun broke through the clouds and burned hot in the sky for the rest of the day. Jennie and her clan came over for the afternoon, and we played with the piglets, had a picnic in the orchard, walked the dogs down to the river, visited all the pigs, played with the piglets again … Good times!

Perky, Fergie, Scrumpy and Brini - 27 September 2009

Fergie, Scrumpy and Brini relax in the morning sun ... Perky (on the left) keeps eating!

Bailey - 27 September 2009

Bailey also enjoyed the sunshine and spent most of the day lying on the cool earth with the hot sun on his back

Pinky - 27 September 2009

It was too hot for Pinky so she settled down in the wallow to cool off

While the adult pigs were chilling out, the piglets had some playtime:

And then, worn out, some snooze time:

Pinky's piglets - 27 September 2009

Pinky's piglets sound asleep ... at last!

Having spent the day being charmed and entertained by the piglets and their antics, I hastily finished my chores and just managed to get everything done by the time the sun went down:

Sunset over the field - 27 September 2009

Sunset over the field - 27 September 2009

And then over to Jennie’s for a bowl of her husband’s delicious chicken curry.

Yup, despite the bad start, yesterday was a good day.

Mind your manners!

Classy, guys, classy:

Bailey and Tia enjoy an apple - 21 September 2009

Bailey and Tia enjoy an apple - 21 September 2009

Let sleeping pigs lie

Bailey - 6 September 2009

Bailey - 6 September 2009

Tia - 6 September 2009

Tia - 6 September 2009

Bless!

What a day!

As days go, yesterday was one of those…

It started well enough, a bit chilly, but not enough to make me want to put a jumper on. Why would you, when the sun was shining bright in the sky for the first time in, well, ages?!

View of the field - 5 September 2009

View of the field - 5 September 2009

I started feeding the pigs, but only made it as far as Perky, Fergie, Scrumpy and Brini when I discovered that Brini was lame. Her appetite wasn’t diminished: in fact, I spotted her limping when she had finished her food and was making her way over to steal Perky’s!

Using the offer of a belly rub as bribery, I persuaded her to lie down and examined her off fore leg (front right), suspecting a thorn. The thick mud obscured things somewhat, so I tentatively cleaned it off, all the while keeping up the belly rubs with my other hand, wishing (not for the first time) that I had an extra set of hands. However, it came as a shock to discover the true cause of her lameness. Not a thorn, but a deep cut where she (or one of the others) had obviously trod on her foot in the night.

At this point, Brini decided that enough was enough and scrambled to her feet, snorting in disgust at my probing. Watching her limp off through the mud, I realised what my first course of action must be: get them off that patch, onto somewhere drier. Cleaning it would be a waste of time if she had no means of keeping it clean afterwards…

Unfortunately, the only mud-free (ish) patch of land was Tia and Bailey’s enclosure, to the east of the field, where they were helpfully grazing down the long grass before winter. What’s more, there was a large area to the west of their enclosure, which could be incorporated into the pen by adjusting the electric netting. This would be perfect for Brini, as the long grass was still wet with the morning dew, which would do a great job of cleaning the cut out naturally, making my job that much easier.

It took of a bit of skilful manoeuvring, but I eventually swapped the two groups over, despite Fergie’s insistence on leading the way, despite not actually knowing the way…

The four pigs were thrilled with their unexpected move:

Perky, Fergie, Scrumpy and Brini - 5 September 2009

Perky, Fergie, Scrumpy and Brini - 5 September 2009

Tia and Bailey were not as happy. In fact, they were downright miserable and Tia spent the rest of the day giving me *that* look. The look that says she’s going to cause trouble. And judging from her previous behaviour, I believe her… I just wish I had somewhere for them to go! Even though the pair had the largest run with the best grass, leaving the four pigs a much smaller ratio of space and grass per pig, the “unfairness” of this was overwhelmingly compensated by removing Tia’s urge to roam whenever she had less than perfect grazing…

Oh well, the electric fence is on, the battery has been recently charged, and they’ll just have to put up with the mud for another week. *Gulp*!

Moving the six pigs and adjusting two hundred metres of electric netting took me over two hours so it was late in the morning by the time I had the opportunity to re-examine Brini’s foot. As I’d hoped, the long wet grass did a wonderful job of cleaning the cut and it was virtually mud free, and that meant I was able to see that there was no blood and that the cut was the porcine equivalent of cutting the skin around your nail. Painful, but not as bad as cutting anywhere else on the finger.

Even better, the heat and swelling had both gone down considerably (so much so that I had to double check I had the right foot) and watching her walk, it was evident that the she was feeling much better, as she wasn’t limping nearly as much as she had been.

I (finally) headed back to the feed shed, checked the chickens, who were most indignant at being ignored for so long, popped to the loo (note to self: always, always go before feeding the pigs!), grabbed my wonderful Purple Spray, and walked back to the pigs, intending to settle Brini down and spray her foot to (hopefully) kill off any infection that may be lurking.

As plans go, that one sucked. Scrumpy wanted belly rubs, Fergie wanted belly rubs, Perky wanted belly rubs … Brini told me to go to hell. And continued to do so for the rest of the day. I know because I went back every hour or so and the pattern was the same. Every other pig was thrilled with the idea of belly rubs in the afternoon sun. Not Brini. In fact, she was so determined that she never did get her belly rub and I never did get to inspect and spray her foot!

Having said that, not only did she make a break for Perky’s food again that evening, but she actually ran after me when she got a whiff of the contents of the their veggie bucket and realised that bananas were on the menu.

I’m hoping that yesterday’s recovery continues and that her foot heals itself without any further problems – or infection. I’ll obviously try again today, hoping that it’s not a case of bolting the stable door after the fact, and will keep all fingers crossed for a speedy and trouble-free recovery.

And the rest of the day? Well, having lost the whole morning, in the afternoon I culled and plucked the three bantam cockerels, checked Brini, cleaned out the chicken houses, moved the Pekins and Silkies out of the horrible old wooden ark and back into the Eglu, which had been acting as a temporary broiler ark for the boys, collected the eggs (four today, bringing the total for 2009 to an astonishing 1003!), checked Brini, cut the grass around the chickens’ electric netting, had a very late lunch, checked Brini, walked the dogs, dug up a row of potatoes, checked Brini, cut up the pigs’ fruit and veg, fed the chickens, fed the pigs, checking Brini one last time as a I did so, then headed for home, knowing that I still had the three chickens to draw and one to cook, putting the other two in the freezer.

The Trio - 16 August 2009

The Trio - 16 August 2009

I hate drawing (aka gutting) chickens, and never seem to do a neat job. Still, practice makes perfect, and I’ve now done the grand total of five cockerels and therefore know one thing to be true: big chickens are much easier than small ones…

I decided to try poached chicken, intending to make a chicken and vegetable broth. B’s away at her parents, so although I know the broth was missing something, I don’t know what that something was (B’s a skilled cook, I just cook…). It was still tasty though, and there’s plenty in the freezer, not to mention some extra stock!

I eventually fell into bed with a well-deserved bowl of chicken broth at about ten o’clock.

Phew!

Dusk falls over the field - 5 September 2009

Dusk falls over the field - 5 September 2009