Posts Tagged ‘pig’

Six weeks!

I’m feeling rather sleepy and not really with it, so here’s a photo of the piglets from Sunday:

Pinky feeds her six-week old piglets - 1 November 2009

Pinky feeds her six-week old piglets - 1 November 2009

My, but they’ve grown in the six weeks since they were born!

Pinky's piglets - 20 September 2009

Pinky's piglets - 20 September 2009

And they’re naughty, too! And smart, but there’s a story to be told there… another time, when I’ve woken up!

The pigs continue to play happy families!

If I’m honest, I’ll admit that young Master Curly is a pain in the backside and I spend half my time wishing I’d sent him off before Bailey, instead of waiting for the freezer to empty so I can fit him in.

However, I spend the rest of my time marvelling at how gentle he is with his piglets:

Curly and his piglets - 23 October 2009

Curly and his piglets - 23 October 2009

Pinky is, of course, as doting as any sow:

Pinky and her piglets - 23 October 2009

Pinky and her piglets - 23 October 2009

If you look closely at the photo, you’ll see that she even dropped down in a large pile of pig poo to feed the piglets when they started telling her that they were hungry!

Good times 🙂

Corn flour rules OK!

One of the runts of Pinky’s litter of piglets, Rufus, has had a touch of the runs all week but I wasn’t too concerned until yesterday when “a touch” became something more, well, there was more of it!

Scour (as diarrhoea in animals is known) can be fatal to piglets so it should never be taken lightly or dismissed but there is, I believe, a time and a place to call the vet and I didn’t think this was it.

The reason I didn’t seek veterinary advice was quite simple. Although he was clearly having poo problems, his eyes were still bright, he hadn’t lost his appetite, he wasn’t spending all his time alone or asleep and he wasn’t dull, listless or insipid. Yes, he was understandably more hungry than usual, which meant he spent more time eating and less time playing than usual, but he was still himself, if you see what I mean.

So, I decided to give him one more day and instead, I used an old remedy that hasn’t yet let me down: corn flour (or corn starch as it’s also known).

You simply make a runny paste and use a syringe to get as much as possible down the piglet’s throat. In my case, I ended up wearing half of it, which was much more preferable to what I ended up wearing from the other end of him…!

I gave him a dose at lunch time and then another in the late afternoon, deciding that if he hadn’t dried up by morning, then that was that and we’d be going to the vet’s.

But I was all smiles this morning when I lifted his tail and saw that all was dry. I cleaned his bum before I left last night, not just for his comfort but also so I could easily tell if he’d scoured again. But he hadn’t! I last checked him an hour ago and all was well, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it stays that way. 🙂

Growing up fast!

Blimey, has it really just been one short month since Pinky farrowed?

Pinky and her piglets - 18 October 2009

Pinky and her piglets - 18 October 2009

The six surviving piglets are simply wonderful. They are extremely friendly, genuinely delighted with human company and are very curious about the world around them. They now tuck in to Pinky’s pig nuts when I feed her and are most enthusiastic about the bucket of fruit and veg that is miraculously delivered to their enclosure every evening!

The piglets - 11 October 2009

The piglets - 11 October 2009

When you’re four weeks old, everything is a game and it’s exhausting just to watch them tear around, chasing one another, play fighting, running here, there and everywhere, and then back again…

The piglets - 18 October 2009

The piglets - 18 October 2009

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!)

Sweet dreams, little piglet

I was sitting in the pig ark with Pinky’s piglets yesterday morning, watching as they wore themselves out playing and fell asleep in a big huddle. I couldn’t resist taking a quick video of this one as she had a wonderfully active dream!

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!

More piglet Ooohs and Aaahs!

Patch - 29 September 2009

Patch - 29 September 2009

That’s Patch. He’s the smallest of the litter and is currently being bottle-fed on top of what he gets from Pinky. And yes, the others do have names as well, but I’m still struggling to tell them all apart, let alone get them to stay still long enough for me to take a photo!

Piglets at the milk bar - 30 September 2009

Piglets at the milk bar - 30 September 2009

You know you want to steal one, really!

Curly, Pinky and their piglets - 1 October 2009

Curly, Pinky and their piglets - 1 October 2009

Amazingly, considering it was the first of October, it was so hot on Thursday that the pigs declared the Grand Re-Opening of Wallow Season and I spent much of the afternoon carrying buckets of water across the field to refill empty water bowls.

Pinky wouldn’t let Curly share her wallow … he had to wait til she’d finished!

Piglets on the move - 2 October 2009

Piglets on the move - 2 October 2009

I swear that this lot are far more adventurous than my previous litters … this morning they were all for heading off down the drive, and this afternoon their courage (thankfully!) failed them just as they were about to pop through the electric fence making up the sows’ enclosure! Little monsters… On Sunday, I’ll be switching their electric fence on in the hopes of encouraging them to stay put!

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.