We get out of pigs
After much deliberation, and prompted by a hospital appointment, we finally decided to dispose of our last couple of pigs.
The sow was bred by us 18 months ago and was originally to be our breeding sow, and the boar was bought in for the purpose. Unfortunately, by the time we had decided not to breed them we weren’t in a position to take them to the abattoir, and have been rather coy about the decision since!
We did manage to sell the boar, but had the sow converted to bacon and mince (in the most part) which should see us through for quite a while. We haven’t gone off pigs completely, so no doubt we will have weaners at some point in future.
Preparing for piglets
After some relatively good weather in December and early January, we are just starting to see the real winter hit. Mild but sunny days have finally given way to cold winds, rain, and now some short bursts of hail and snow.
Plenty more to come, no doubt.
We have moved our two pigs into fresh pens, separate ones as Pigalilli (left) is expecting piglets shortly and will need some space to nest. Plenty of bedding in her ark, and some strategically placed bales of hay to keep the draughts out. Cosy!
The ram has settled in and we are confident that the ewes have been ‘served’. Lambs expected in April.
More piglets, but this time we are prepared
Well, since our last newsletter we’ve had some more new arrivals – another 12 piglets from our second expectant mother.
We are pleased to say that this birth was a lot more straightforward than our first one, not least because our first experience gave us a clue as to what we could expect. We also had the opportunity to segregate ‘mother’ from the others in advance of the labour this time, so she was much more comfortable and settled. In fact, it all took place overnight without any interference from us!
On a slightly more unpleasant note, one of our GSDs, Amy, is recovering from an operation to repair/reinforce a partially ruptured crutiate ligament 3 weeks ago. As you can imagine, the leg has been very tender and as a sensitive little thing she has found it quite stressful. The good news is that she is recovering well and is much more comfortable, and in line with our natural approach to feeding, we are using homeopathic treatment wherever possible. We’ve also become quite adept at packing parcels with her laying at our feet all day with her buster collar on. Quite tricky!
An abrupt introduction to pig breeding
One of our pigs became the mother of 6 tiny piglets last week, and it has interrupted our schedule rather rudely. After an interesting start where we had to collect the new arrivals in a box for an hour or two while piggy settled down a bit, mother and babies are now doing very well. We hope to be back our regular timetable for December.
Well, the clocks have recently gone back, and we don’t know about you but we found the adjustment to darker evenings and marginally lighter mornings quite hard. We still have plenty to do outside – new pig arks and animal shelters to build, fences to complete, roofs to make watertight – but with at least one hour less of useful daylight than we had a few weeks ago.
Also, according to our pigs and birds nothing had changed and it was important to adjust the feeding regime slowly so as not to cause them unnecessary stress. The same can be said for our dogs, and we’re sure yours were the same. Where we used to feed them at 6pm, it had to be 5pm for a while or they would start to speak to us! Slow adjustment saved our eardrums a little.
Perhaps more noticeable is the fact that when we’re out in the early evening now, our dogs ‘disappear’. If it wasn’t for an assortment of blinkers, strobes, and lighted collars (a different one for each dog so we know who’s who!) we wouldn’t know where they were.
Our first pig goes off to slaughter but leaves something for us to remember him by
We hope you are all well, and that the slight turn toward colder weather isn’t too off-putting for you or your dogs. We’ve certainly noticed a few changes up here, not least that the egg supply from our chickens has dipped somewhat. Nevertheless, it is certainly easier to get the birds away in the evenings and we can do so at a reasonable hour!
Since our last newsletter, we’ve been busy as usual. One of our first pigs was sent to slaughter a few weeks ago, and now resides in the freezer. Sad though it was, he lived far longer than most pigs reared for the purpose and he had a happy time with us (and his 3 girlfriends). His memory will live on in the shape of several Tamworth/Gloucester Old Spot piglets we are expecting sometime in November.