Posts Tagged ‘scrumpy’

Looking back at (a sunny) July 2008

I seem to have lost my blogging mojo so I thought I’d post some photos from last year, back when the sun was something warm, comforting and familiar, not a distant memory like it has been this July!

Midge - 1 July 2008

Midge - 1 July 2008

Bailey and Queenie - 4 July 2008

Bailey and Queenie - 4 July 2008

Brini - 20 July 2008

Brini - 20 July 2008

Captain Flint and pals - 20 July 2008

Captain Flint and pals - 20 July 2008

Harold and family - 21 July 2008

Harold and family - 21 July 2008

Scrumpy, Tia, Stella and Brusco - 22 July 2008

Scrumpy, Tia, Stella and Brusco - 22 July 2008

Snipe, Midge and Teal - 29 July 2008

Snipe, Midge and Teal - 29 July 2008

The view from Mum's front gate - 29 July 2008

The view from Mum's front gate - 29 July 2008

Maybe August will see the sun return – and with it, my blogging inspiration!

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.

Bank holiday sunshine

Ok, so maybe the sun didn’t shine yesterday, but boy, was it hot on Sunday!

Brini and Scrumpy - 24 May 2009

Brini and Scrumpy enjoy their fresh grass. I moved the pair (and Fergie and Perky!) onto new ground on Sunday afternoon.

Pinky - 24 May 2009

Pinky made the most of her wallow

Potato patch - 25 May 2009

The potato patch is coming along well. Not sure when I should start earthing up though

Molly's eggs - 25 May 2009

Molly the Pekin bantam has started laying her eggs in the grass outside. Thing is, she's laying in the grass in the big chickens' run, not her own!

Enjoying the sunshine

Forgive the picture-heavy post. I don’t seem to have woken up yet. Uploading photos from yesterday seems like the most sensible route to take, if a degree of coherence is ……. nope, can’t finish the sentence. Need more coffee!

Snail - 23 May 2009

An early morning visitor

Scrumpy tries to get to Perky's food - 23 May 2009

Scrumpy tries to get to Perky's food but doesn't get very far!

Bailey - 23 May 2009

Bailey enjoys the fresh grass

Tia - 23 May 2009

Tia enjoys it even more

The chicks and Xander - 23 May 2009

The chicks and Xander have finally become friends

Oh, Bailey!

Things are not looking good for Bailey. He’s been with Tia since the beginning of February but although he has dutifully covered her every time she’s come on heat, something obviously isn’t working as she’s come back into heat right on schedule, every three weeks.

This is not good news for Bailey.

I know he’s getting on and accepted that this would probably be his last year, but it looks as though last year was his last year and this year is just expensive for me.

Bailey - 18 April 2009

Bailey - 18 April 2009

You see, the problem is that I’m currently feeding three sows and a boar with no return. And the longer the sows go without having a litter, the harder it will be to get them in pig again.

So I’ve had to make a very difficult decision, one that I should have made a couple of months ago but couldn’t bring myself to.

Bailey, my lovely, friendly, gentle giant of a boar, has to go. And there are limited options for an infertile boar, even one as docile and sweet as him.

I’ve been offered a fairly decent amount if I sell him to someone who will cull him and, sadly, this is probably the most likely course of action.

I then need to decide what to do next.

I could get a replacement boar but I’ve made a few other decisions as well.

I’m going to sell Brini and Scrumpy, and just keep Tia and her daughters, Perky and Fergie. Fergles is, obviously, just a pet, but Perky has her mother’s temperament plus much much more. Combined with her impressively long back and overall size, I think she’ll make an excellent breeding sow and would suit me much better than Scrumpy. I never thought I’d say that as Scrumpy is wonderful but I guess that’s the way it goes.

There’s someone who is interested in the pair but I’ll advertise them if they don’t want them. Of course, there’s always a chance that I won’t be able to sell Brini as I’ve never had a litter from her, in which case she’ll accompany Bailey on his Final Journey. Kind of romantic: they adore one another so it would suit. You never know, I might find someone who’ll take the pair and Bailey…!

Scrumpy and Brini - 8 March 2009

Scrumpy and Brini - 8 March 2009

If I want a litter of piglets weaned before winter sets in, I need to get Tia in pig when she next comes into season in a couple of weeks, so finding a boar to lease or a “stud” that will take her ASAP is my first challenge.

Next year, I’ll lease a boar for a couple of months in February and March, putting him with Tia first and then Perky. If Tia has an autumn litter, it’ll be hard work for her and she’ll need lots of TLC but from then on, it will be one litter a year for them both.

Having made this decision, I feel horribly guilty whenever I look at Bailey, Brini and Scrumpy, but what else can I do? There were a number of other options I considered, but this plan ticks every box so it must be the right choice.

Unless I win the Lottery! Piggies, cross your trotters!

From climbing trees to the search for Doctor Who

Yesterday was another wonderfully sunny day and I spent some time doubling the size of the four pigs’ enclosure with their second electric net, giving them a circumference of 100m. No idea what the total area that makes – most of my GCSE maths has been absorbed into the unused dark matter of my brain!

Brini, Scrumpy and Perky were thrilled with their expanded enclosure and happily set about exploring the wilderness I opened up underneath a long-suffering tree, suffocated by brambles and dead branches, through to the reeds and grass beyond.

Incidentally, I’m hoping that the soft ground where the reeds are will serve as a better wallow than the area by their water bowl:

Perky - 20 April 2009

Perky enjoys the fruits of her labours. It's hard work, watching your human carry nine buckets of water across the field to refill the bowl every some pig empties it into the wallow...!

At first, the trio simply watched me, but soon figured out what I was doing, and by the time I’d cleared a path through the bramble forest, they were vigorously helping me. Brini and Scrumpy were distracted by the fallen brambles (they love the leaves) so Perky was the first one through:

Perky - 20 April 2009

Perky was the first to discover the treats beyond the wall of brambles

Fergie, on the other hand, was not impressed, partly because she gets quite confused when things change and gets lost somewhere new, but mainly because I was intent on cutting down brambles rather than dedicating the time to Fergie Belly Rubs. Never mind, she’ll soon find her way about!

While I was clearing the brambles, I made a wonderful discovery. The tree, once cleared of unwanted stranglers and the odd rotten branch, is perfect for climbing! I’d was just working out how high it’s safe to go when Jennie, who had spent the morning working on the vegetable garden, came to inform me that it was most definitely Time For Lunch:

Jennie - 20 April 2009

Get down from that tree! It's time for lunch!

It’s good to know that tree climbing is still as important to me today as it was in my childhood. Thirties, be damned!

The day passed with laughs and impressive displays of friendship (Jennie didn’t just touch the manky fruit, she handled LOTS of manky fruit. Best. Friend. Ever.) but didn’t end when the sun went down.

They are currently filming David Tennant’s last episodes as The Doctor in Cardiff and having made the discovery that they were definitely filming somewhere in the Bay area last night, we decided to go on a bit of a hunt.

Sadly, although we found their temporary base, not only did we fail in our bid to see any filming (on the grounds that we never found the location!), we also failed to achieve the main objective of the mission: not a sight, not even a glimpse, of Mr Tennant.

Ah well, it was a fun and unique way to spend the evening, and it gave me the chance to test out the night settings on my new camera phone:

Cardiff Bay - 20 April 2009

Cardiff Bay at night

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…!

4 + 2 – 1 = CHAOS!

Driving to the farm on Easter Sunday, I slowed down as B and I passed the two pig arks by the fence. Pinky and Curly were out and about in their enclosure, enjoying the sunshine, but further down the field, there was no sign of Tia and Bailey. I laughed and explained that those two are the laziest pigs on the planet and that I could count the number of times they were awake before breakfast on one hand.

Once we’d parked, the first thing we did was peer through the fence to see if Fergie and Perky had plucked up the courage to sleep in the pig ark with the adults, or if they were still relegated to their temporary home, the pig trailer.

I saw Brini in her usual place at the entrance of the ark and saw a creamy coloured pig behind her, leading me to get excited in the belief that Perky had slept the night with her adult companions.

However, I was slightly confused when I opened the field gate. The water bucket was on its side, the dogs’ water bowl was turned over (and cracked, grrrrr), and the cardboard that I use to keep the worst of the mud by the “shed” at bay was ripped up and spread around. My brain was trying to make sense of all this when I saw that the electric fence for the 4 pigs was down in several places…

Uh oh!

Who was missing?

I popped my head in the trailer and was relieved to see Fergie and Perky, both fast asleep and unaware of my presence.

Um, hang on. Perky?

So who is the cream pig in the ark?

Erm….

BAILEY!!!

As I swore in surprise, Brini woke up, as did their companion… Tia!

There was no sign of Scrumpy so leaving the three grunting pigs in the ark, I ran back across the enclosure, hastily put the fence back up as B tried to stop Perky and Fergie leaving the trailer and then shot off down the field towards Tia and Bailey’s enclosure to see if I could find my missing pig there.

Nope, no sign of her.

My heart in my mouth, I ran towards Pinky and Curly’s enclosure. Remembering just in time that their electric fence was switched on, I headed to the far side of their pen, where I found an upset Scrumpy who couldn’t have been more pleased to see me if I’d turned up with a whole box of bananas just for her. She’d clearly been evicted from her pen by either Bailey or Tia (probably the former given my previous disastrous attempts to match make) and had tried to get in with the pair of weaners, whose current ark and enclosure is on the site where Scrumpy lived before moving in with Perky and Fergie. In other words, having been beaten up in the middle of the night, she tried to go “home” but couldn’t get in thanks to the electric fence. There’s a large holly bush by the enclosure and I could see a shallow scrape under the bush where shed slept the night. Why she didn’t just go in the trailer with Perky and Fergie, who were presumably left undisturbed the whole night, is beyond me!

Anyway, she was so distressed by the whole thing that she happily trotted behind me as I led her back across the field, even though I had nothing but gentle cajoling to entice her.

That’s when the fun started.

By the time I got back with Scrumpy, Perky and Fergie had pushed past B and had left the safety of the trailer (it only later occurred to us that we could have just put the ramp up!!). Brini was overjoyed to have her man back and strayed no more than two inches from his side. Bailey was thrilled at having doubled his harem but was not pleased to see Scrumpy and proceeded to chase her about. Her squeals set off the two weaners, who then got chased by Tia, who neither knew nor cared that the pair are her daughters.

Leaving B to keep the peace (well, stop Fergie being trampled, anyway) I chucked the pigs’ breakfasts together and we set about attempting to separate them into their proper groups.

Scrumpy kept offering to leave the enclosure and had to be shooed back in. Tia was tempted out but Bailey wasn’t so keen. When I finally managed to get him out, he was accompanied by Perky and Brini. In the confusion to get them back in, Tia managed to slip through as well. All six pigs were shrieking at the top of their lungs, which set Pinky and Curly off at their side of the field…

Finally, ear drums bleeding, we managed to get Tia and Bailey out and I rattled their bowls and set off back across the field. Thanks to all that noise, they’d worked up an appetite and followed me happily enough. While they were eating, I quickly put their fence back up and scooted back to B and the four pigs who had screamed themselves hoarse and had resorted to glaring at her instead.

We fed them and I stayed on Fergie duty while B fed the chickens and checked for any eggs. Once they’d finished, I went back across the field (again!) to feed Pinky and Curly, who really didn’t understand what the delay was all about and told me so in no uncertain terms. Loudly.

Animals fed and watered, I gathered up my gardening gloves, hedge loppers, the spare battery and the energiser and we made our way to Bailey and Tia’s enclosure, determined that the previous night’s wandering would not be repeated. We were a little late as we met Bailey en route!

I’m not sure how, but we turned him round and I managed to return him to Tia, using a combination of methods such as pushing him from behind and darting to either side of him to steer. We were both panting by the time we arrived, though he came off worse as he made a break for freedom… right into the deepest mud in the field! His grunts of indignation as he sank to his belly provided some much needed comic relief and we were able to enjoy the time it took to cut back the brambles and rearrange the electric fence in such a way that it could be safely switched on (which is why they were able to make their break for freedom in the first place. Oops.) to prevent any more escapades.

Bailey tried to get out once more as we were there, so once I’d finished, we made sure to connect the energiser in the same spot. As soon as it was switched on, he knew something was up and snorted suspiciously at the fence. He moved to a different spot and then inched his way forward, stopping to snort as though he was challenging the fence to come and have a go. Even though he obviously knew that something was going to happen, temptation eventually won through and he got zapped right on the tip of his nose.

He squealed like a, well, zapped pig, and rushed to the middle of the enclosure, snorting and protesting at the insult. Once he’d calmed down, he glared at B and I and thought about trying the fence elsewhere. This time, however, caution won through, and in the past few days, he is yet to venture closer than six inches to the fence. Tia, who was not the instigator of the breakouts, got zapped accidentally that evening, which is no bad thing.

As for the four pigs, Brini spent the day in a slump, depressed because I’d taken away her man. Again. She’s over it now, thankfully. Scrumpy, however, is still in shock over her rude eviction, and huffs and puffs to herself. She’s also spending a lot of time asleep, but as she’s fine and dandy when there’s food about, I’m not too worried.

How was your Easter Sunday?!

Making friends… slowly

It’s been over a week since I put separated Pinky and Curly from Perky and Fergie, and put Brini and Scrumpy in with Fergs and Perks and things have finally started to calm down.

Pinky is slowly forgetting about her sister and best bud and no longer stands at the fence screaming and wailing, which is great for my nerves. Poor thing, she was miserable for a while, but seems quite happy now. And Curly’s thrilled to bits that he’s only got one sister beating him up, not two, so clearly believes he’s on to a Good Thing and is relishing the extra fuss that being one pig in a pen of two, not four, brings. Shame it’s got to end, but time is ticking for the pair!

Brini is also relishing her new status. For the first time ever, she’s climbed the social ladder and never wastes an opportunity to reinforce her new standing over Perky and Fergie. Unfortunately, this also includes the ark, so the two wee uns are still sleeping in the trailer. Hopefully, she’ll thaw a bit this week and once or twice, I’ve caught Perky and Fergie catching an afternoon snooze in the ark, even with her in there. It’s all calm and peaceful … until Brini wakes up and promptly lets rip at the cheek of the pair for sneaking in while she’s asleep! The reason I’m optimistic is that she just screams and charges, but no longer tries to bite.

As for Scrumpy, well she’s always been a bit of a bully, and coming on heat really didn’t help matters, but she’s really started to accept the pair. Well, Perky more than Fergie, but she rarely beats them up now, and then only at meal times, and then it’s more of a gesture than a proper pounding.

She’s taken a liking to the trailer, which worried me at first, but as you can see from the photos I took the other day, it’s actually not that bad:

Scrumpy and Perky - 9 April 2009

Scrumpy and Perky

Scrumpy, Fergie and Perky - 9 April 2009

Fergie feels left out

Scrumpy, Fergie and Perky - 9 April 2009

Well shove over then!

Scrumpy, Fergie and Perky - 9 April 2009

That's better!

Scrumpy, Fergie and Perky - 9 April 2009

Mmmm, night night everyone

I was sitting in the straw at the back of the trailer while all this was going on but stopped being so charmed by the peaceful scene when Scrumpy let rip with a vile sounding (and smelling) fart… so I was forced to interrupt their beauty sleep as I made a very hasty departure!

Fergie and Perky, meet Brini and Scrumpy

I’ve just realised that I haven’t done a proper piggy update for ages so here’s a brief summary of what’s been going on.

Harold and Scratchy have fulfilled their destiny and after 10 and 6 months (respectively) of causing chaos, mayhem and laughs a-plenty, now reside in the freezer, having been converted into truly scrumptious sausages, chops, roasting joints, etc. I’ll write another post on the subject another time.

Pinky and Curly will be going the same way next month. Pink’s ready now, but the abattoir is closed for refurbishment until mid-May so she’s got a reprieve. Curly won’t be ready for a long while yet, as he is so diddy, but he’s a boy and has been getting far too interested in his sisters (yes, indeed) so he goes at the earliest opportunity.

And Curly and his new appreciation for his sisters is, I’m afraid to report, the reason why Perky and Fergie and currently having all colours of shit beaten out of them. I’m not not bothered if he covers Pinky as she’s going soon, but I’m keeping Perky on to see if it’s possible to get bacon from a Kune Kune and we’re obviously keeping Fergie for good, so the thought of either of them carrying their half-brother’s offspring is not appealing, especially little Fergie! I don’t think her body could cope with it.

So… on Thursday I took action and on Thursday I broke up the Terrible Two, putting Pinky and Curly in one enclosure and putting Perky and Fergie in with Brini and Scrumpy.

Pinky and Curly - 2 April 2009

Pinky and Curly - 2 April 2009

Pinky is devastated and can’t understand where her sister and best-bud has gone. She’s lost without Perky and has become extremely affectionate, following me like a little puppy, instead of charging around like a mad thing (her usual behaviour). I feel really mean but what has to be done, must be done, and she’s getting a much better time than her sister.

Scrumpy, Perky, Brini and Fergie - 2 April 2009

Scrumpy, Perky, Brini and Fergie - 2 April 2009

I introduced the two pairs of pigs by putting them in the trailer for the morning. My pig trailer has an internal gate, so I created two pens and let them get used to each other’s scent without Scrumpy and Brini being able to get to the smaller ones. The plan worked really well as although Brini and Scrumpy are being horrible to their younger companions, no blood has been split (touch wood!), which is the usual result of introducing strange pigs.

However, Brini and Scrumpy refused to let Fergie and Perky sleep in the ark and when I arrived on Friday morning, I found the pair asleep outside in a hole they’d dug! It was due to rain that night, so I dragged the trailer over and prepared it for a new role as emergency accommodation:

The pig trailer, ready and waiting for its first guests! 3 April 2009

The pig trailer, ready and waiting for its first guests! 3 April 2009

It was an easy job, just a matter of draping a couple of tarpaulins over the top to keep the rain out, making sure the wheels are blocked with heavy stones to stop it rolling off anywhere, and as it’s only got the two wheels, that the ramp end is supported so it doesn’t tip when the pigs enter or exit, like a see-saw!

However, things were made much more complicated by the wind, which kept snatching the tarpaulin out of my hands, and the pigs, who kept stealing the string!

But I got there in the end and it soon got the Fergie Seal of Approval:

Fergie - 3 April 2009

Fergie - 3 April 2009

However, Brini and Scrumpy haven’t stop proving that they are the dominant pigs and Fergie and Perky spend a lot of time being chased, bowled over and generally pushed around. Thankfully, they’ve now learnt to keep their distance and since the scuffles only really take place at meal times, I’m not too worried. I’m yet to hear them squabbling when I’m not around (believe me, the way the younger pigs shriek, I’d know!) so it could be a lot worse.

I’ll keep you updated on how things go!