Friday, 5 October 2007

Shock treatment

Listening to: Better Together (Jack Johnson)
Eating: Porridge which has gone strangely rubbery
Reading: seed catalogues (winter's on its way)
Eggs: the usual one.
Weather: bright and breezy
Surf: 3ft and messy
Birdwatch: lapwing, golden plover, starling, redshank, wheatear, oystercatcher, shag, little auk, gannet, sanderling.

Alarm bells are ringing and red lights flashing at the croft - Eric and Ernie are on their way.

I got a call the day before yesterday with the news that Eric and Ernie's mum had decided to stop feeding the litter and they were ready to move out.

This is two weeks ahead of schedule, but there are only four in the litter (eight or more is usual) and the sow was very milky (think pig equivalent of 36F), so they've had one hell of a good start.

I'm excited and scared all at the same time. After more than two years of banging on about how I wanted to be a pig farmer, I'm finally getting ready to shed the 'wannabe' bit.

Despite the courses, the books, the visits to farms, the cleaning out of the shed, the fencing off of their little paddock, I feel totally underprepared, so far out of my depth that I'd get the bends if I tried to come up.

To make myself feel better I took a trip to Kirkwall yesterday and, among several other pretty dull visits (bank, council, Orkney Enterprise), I trundled up to the agricultural merchants.

It's an indication of how my horizons have changed that I get excited about a trip to Kirkwall and that I can spend a hour or so browsing steel-capped boots, barbed wire, feed bins and gates.

I marched in, trying to give an air of confidence like I knew what I was talking about, and went straight to the counter marked 'agricultural enquiries'. Resisting the temptation to point out that 'inquiries' is the preferred spelling, I gave a cheery 'good morning' and inquired as to the availability of pig feed and electric fencing.

No problem. Pig feed I understand and ten bags were ordered and dispatched to the depot to be shipped to Westray. Electric fencing was something else. I thought about bluffing, but quickly changed my mind and put myself at the mercy of the little guy behind the counter.

"You'll need this," he said, getting some sort of energiser/transformer thingy off the shelf. Noticing my complexion pale at the £110 price tag, he added: "Don't worry, we'll do you a price." 200m of galvinised wire, a dozen posts and some sort of wire holder wotsits were added to the goody box, my card swiped through the machine and I strolled out, feeling pretty good.

That's the easy bit, I'm just off to pick it all up from the depot in the village, then I've got to put it all together without electrocuting myself. Can't wait.


Mr & Mrs W said...

Electric Fencing - Oh dear, it's sounding a bit serious and scary. Better have that nice neighbour of yours on hand - and put A&E on standby !!

Malc said...

Don't panic. Electric fence on hold after some of the bits I needed failed to arrive. Helicopter crew at Aberdeen has been stood down.

I, like the view said...

beware of electrocuting small children who climb on the fence to take a peek at the piggies

I speak from experience (of being electrocuted)

Malc said...

Couple of zaps and they won't do it again - bit like the pigs really.