Posts Tagged ‘pig ark’

Straw thieves!

Having bought some new straw on Sunday, I cleaned out the piglets’ ark, a necessary task every few days as they’re still being toilet trained. Although they tend to go to the loo outside, they do go inside as well, presumably at night – especially with all this rain bucketing it down!

So, having cleaned out the wet straw, I gave them about three-quarters of a bale, and left them to it, playing in the suddenly much bigger bed, eating the heads of barley, throwing it about and generally enjoying themselves (their fun was abruptly halted when Pinky and Curly saw what was going on and booted the piglets out so that they could play!).

I then took a second bale down to the sows and gilts, nearly slipping in the mud en route but thankfully managing to stay upright! I only intended to give them about half of the bale, topping it up again later in the week but, being pigs, they had other ideas. I put the bale in the ark, pulled the old straw to the front, which is where the rain comes in, cut the string, carefully removed half, and put the half I wanted to keep in the corner, and set about shaking the sections up. That done, I turned round …. and saw that Perky and Scrumpy had taken matter into their own trotters and had done the same to the other half! I thought they were enjoying the straw that I was shaking about the ark but no, they were making sure they got the whole bale, not half.

So they got the whole bale, though I did tell them that this means they won’t be getting a top up for at least a week.

I don’t think they cared…

Perky in the pig ark - 15 November 2009

Perky in the pig ark - 15 November 2009

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Bloomin rain!

Yet again, it’s raining. Which isn’t necessarily news, at least not for my British readers, as I suspect you’re all in the same position as me, having more or less lived in my waterproofs and wellies for the past two months. In fact, I haven’t needed to water the veggie garden since June!

In fact, it’s rained so much this “summer” that I’m used to it. But today, it’s just annoying. Until the Christmas season kicks off at work and we return to our 10pm closing time, I’m stuck working days. I managed to sneak out of work yesterday afternoon, which meant I was able to clean the chickens out and change their water etc, but today is my first day off since Tuesday and I won’t have another one until Friday. I checked the weather, and it looked ok for today. Cloudy but dry in the morning, rain this afternoon.

So, I left B to get a taxi to work instead of me dropping her off as I set off for the farm at a ridiculously early hour, so that I could get all my morning chores done and then move the pigs (Brini, Scrumpy, Fergie and Perky), their ark and their electric netting onto fresh ground before the rain sets in this afternoon.

But I hadn’t even finished feeding the pigs when it started drizzling … and by the time I’d finished, it had upgraded itself to rain. It’s been two hours, and it’s showing no signs of stopping.

So I either leave the pigs until Friday, and keep my fingers crossed that it doesn’t rain then as well, or I say to hell with it, and move them anyway.

Being in the rain isn’t the problem, though I’ll be hot and sweaty from moving the ark in my waterproofs, it’s keeping the bedding dry while I move the ark that’s the issue. Not to mention the fact that not only has B wasted money on a taxi she needn’t have got, I’ve also done myself out of a much needed lie in…

Bloody British summers, GRRRR!

How things change in a year!

Today is my blog’s first birthday and the 12 months since I sat with Jennie in her sitting room setting up the blog seem to have flown by. So much so, that it’s only by looking back at the photos from the past year that I’m reminded of how much has happened and changed in the last year.

As you’d expect (I hope!), for me, those changes are best illustrated by the impact that the pigs and I have had on the field.

This is how it looked when I drove down to south Wales one rainy day last August to build the pig arks before moving the herd down:

Jo (and Snipe!) hard at work building a pig ark - 22 August 2008

Jo (and Snipe!) hard at work building a pig ark - 22 August 2008

Now, that part of the field looks like this:

The field - 27 August 2009

The field - 27 August 2009

I know I haven’t completely eradicated the Himalayam Balsam or the bracken, but we’re getting there!

I just can’t get over the difference a year makes. Well, one year and an immeasurable amount of hard work… It feels good 🙂

A hot day for moving the pigs!

If I had known quite how hot it was going to be yesterday, I probably wouldn’t have moved Perky, Fergie, Brini and Scrumpy – and not just the pigs, but their ark as well!

Their old patch was looking bare and forlorn so moving them onto fresh ground seemed like a great plan, not just for their nutritional requirements, but also because they’re pretty smart and know that the grass really is greener on the other side of their fence!

They’re used to the routine of being moved and happily followed their feed bowls to the new patch, though Scrumpy did try it on and ate her breakfast faster than normal and tried to make a bid for freedom while I was still putting up the electric netting around them. She got her timing all wrong, though, and sped off just as I was walking past her! She kept going, but it was more of a point of principle than anything else, as she let me push her back to the others without any problems.

Fergie, on the other hand, was a little rotter and did her best to do a runner! I feed her on the wrong side of the fence as she eats so slowly that the others would steal her food and she’s hardly in a position to stand up for herself, being so small and, well, on the slow side. Once she’d finished, she waited until B’s attention was elsewhere and ran off, her little legs going nineteen to the dozen. Still busy with the electric netting, all I could hear was B calling her little pig all sorts of names, and then saw a little pink pig emerge from behind the trees, her very cross owner in hot pursuit. Luckily, not being the sharpest pig in the world, Fergie slowed down when she reached the long grass, not sure which way to go. B was able to take advantage of this hesitation and turned her towards me. Fergie picked up speed as she ran in my direction, but I’m used to her little games and as she ran along the wrong side of the electric net, I was able to put it down on the ground and get her to go over the top. Safely back where she should be, B and I left her to it. She kept going for a few seconds before realising that the fence was now on her left, not her right… I don’t know what she said, but some passing birds looked very shocked!

Not only do they have plenty of fresh grazing to keep them going for several weeks, they’ve also got brand new bedding, as I used all the hay I’ve made in the last week to replace their old straw. They were as thrilled with the new bed as they were with the new grass and despite the heat, ventured into the ark to make themselves at home. I’m glad they showed so much appreciation as not only was it hard work, cutting all that grass to make hay, shifting the ark was hell in that heat, especially as I needed to wear gloves to protect my hands.

Perky, Fergie, Scrumpy and Brini - 14 June 2009

Perky, Fergie, Scrumpy and Brini enjoy their new patch

Always worth it though.

Moving the pigs

Well, yesterday was gorgeous, wasn’t it? We had wonderfully hot sunshine that was complemented with a delightfully cool breeze, perfect weather for taking the dogs to the beach and enjoying an ice cream.

So instead, Jennie and I decided to move not one, but two pig arks, which means two lots of straw, four rubber mats (their floor), two sets of electric netting, two water bowls and six pigs!

I’ve blogged before how I move the arks so I won’t bore you with the details, except to say a big THANK YOU to Jennie for helping me move everything, especially as it seems she might be allergic to something at the farm! Oh dear, hope it’s not Fergie! (Seriously, I think it’s the dust in the straw.)

Scrumpy - 19 April 2009

Scrumpy tucks in to some tasty brambles

Fergie - 19 April 2009

Fergie says nom, nom, nom!

Brini and Perky - 19 April 2009

Brini approves of the new ground while Perky takes a break from it all, having emptied the water bowl to make a wallow!

Midge - 19 April 2009

Midge thinks she's on to something exciting. All she found was dirt, mud and earth...

Pinky and Curly - 19 April 2009

Pinky and Curly settle into their new enclosure at the end of the day, not knowing whether to eat the undergrowth or the bread!

Now all I’ve got to do is move Tia and Bailey onto some fresh ground…!

Round-up

It’s been a busy few days

  • Wormed the pigs this week. Used the injection Ivomectin, which does internal worms and external parasites. Stabbed myself as well several times, so I’m covered. Not easy to inject “under the skin” when your pigs don’t have very loose skin. Add that to the self-injecting and next time, I’m using granules.
  • Sliced my finger open yesterday on a tin as I picked it up to throw into the recycling box. Ouch.
  • B has gone away for the week to see relatives. Not sure who misses her more, me or her cat. Horatio’s consequently sulking big time and won’t talk to me. I’ll put a wash on soon, that’ll cheer him up.
  • After many months of eating properly, Midge has gone back to being a fussy eater and in the past three days, hasn’t eaten much more than a handful of biscuits. All I can do is wait for her to get hungry…
  • My hand is covered in scratches. I think one of the cats went for me while I was asleep last night!
  • Before worming the pigs, I measured them all to get an estimate of their weights. I’ve been feeding them too much. Oops!
  • It was sunny yesterday morning when I fed the pigs, so I didn’t put on my waterproof coat. Predictably, the heavens opened and I was forced to wait it out in Tia and Bailey’s ark. Tia was thrilled and settled down for lots of belly rubs and head scritches. Bailey was a bit surprised when he eventually had enough of the hailstones and made for shelter!
  • I want to get on with the vegetable garden but we keep getting frosts. Most annoying.

Happy pigs!

Waking up to a second day of sunshine, I took the bull by the horns (or should that be the boar by the tusks?) and moved Bailey and Tia onto a new patch of grass. In the end, I didn’t move them to where I wanted as the penny finally dropped that I’ve got another two pigs who will also need to be moved soon…

So Bailey and Tia have been moved to a area that I had wanted to save until the grass had grown through properly but needs must, etc.

Before you can move a pig ark your first job is to make sure that the pigs aren't in it!

Before you can move a pig ark your first job is to make sure that the pigs aren't in it!

Once the pigs have been evicted, it's time to start removing the good straw. Tarpaulin sausages are excellent removal devices!

Once the pigs have been evicted, it's time to start removing the good straw. Tarpaulin sausages are excellent removal devices!

The pigs were delighted to be able to sunbathe on solid ground for the first time in ages - not mud!

The pigs were delighted to be able to sunbathe on solid ground - not mud!

he peeped his eyes open to make sure I was going to take a photo of him!

Bailey is actualy awake: he peeped his eyes open to make sure I was going to take a photo of him!

Before I put the pig ark in place, I put the rubber mats on the new site but let them dry out first

Before I put the pig ark in place, I put the rubber mats on the new site but let them dry out first

Of course, the pigs are only to eager to, ahem, help...

Of course, the pigs are only to eager to, ahem, help...

Exhausted by watching me work, Snipe collapsed into the straw

Exhausted by watching me work, Snipe collapsed into the straw

And Midge demanded celebratory belly rubs!

And Midge demanded celebratory belly rubs!

The pigs, meanwhile, celebrated the move by putting dirt in their clean water. Within an hour, it looked like a muddy puddle

The pigs, meanwhile, celebrated the move by putting dirt in their clean water. Within an hour, it looked like a muddy puddle