Sunday, 7 October 2007

The Westray One

Listening to: Drinking the Water (Jack Johnson)
Watching: Scotland v Argentina
What's for tea?: Lamb, mash, mint sauce
Reading: too tired to read

Much as I wanted to watch the South Africa v Fiji game today, events have taken over - Eric and Ernie have moved in. And what a day it's been.

The sow had basically asked them to pack their bags and leave home two weeks early, so the day I have been getting ready for for the best part of two years had arrived.

I had hoped to pop the boys in the back of Lennox (they're about the size of a medium-sized dog) but the breeder said they would trash the upholstery. I put aside the thought that a bit of trashing would probably be an improvement and agreed she should run the pigs up in her van.

That's where the fun started. Ever tried to catch a pig? Didn't think so. It's not as easy as you might think. The trick is to grab a back leg, ignore the squealing, wrap your arms tightly around the little devil and get it to wherever you want it as quickly as possible.

Two pairs of hands speeds the process (one pair to grab, the other to carry) and the chaps were soon in the back of what appeared to be a bullet-proof white transit van.

A big snag soon became apparent as soon as we got to the croft. There was no way of driving the van up to the door of the pig shed, opening up all sorts of pig escape scenarios. A little head-scratching led to the usual conclusion - 'call Marcus'.

Marcus arrived five minutes later and, with the minimum of fuss, carried one around the corner into the shed himself and passed the second through the window to me.

Job done, goodbyes said, I was alone with two small, red-haired animals named after Britain's greatest ever comedy duo. What now?

They snuffled around the spacious shed (there's room for at least a dozen weaners) took a look at their bed, their water trough, the rocks I'd put in there for them to push around - they seemed happy enough, considering they had been taken away from their mother, their brother and sister and put in a strange shed with dogs barking in the barn next door.

Like a bloody idiot, I decided not to leave well alone. I went to get a bucket of feed which I scattered over the floor as you are supposed to, then managed to drop the bucket, startling the pigs who raced around the shed, bashed into the hurdle I had put across the doorway, the impact sending it flying and they charged outside.

I caught Eric in the veg garden and shoved him back in the shed, while Ernie managed to squeeze his way through the fence into the top field, much to the surprise of the cattle in there.

Ernie set off for freedom, heading towards the main road, pursued by four cows, their calves and - finally - a red-faced, wheezing me, having leapt over the barbed wire and trying hard to sprint in steel-toecapped boots.

He doubled back a couple of times, short, fat, hairy legs pumping like mad while I had visions of the Tamworth Two and becoming the laughing stock of the island. Eventually the Westray One was cornered at the bottom of the field and I got him with the kind of tackle that Ireland's rugby players could only dream of.

I marched, gasping for air, with a squealing pig in my arms and managed not to drop him while I stumbled back over the fence and into the shed, where I immediately set about improving security.

Half-an-hour later I stumbled, exhausted, into the house where the dogs were looking at me with that 'you've forgotten to take us for a walk' look. Thanks chaps.

MONDAY UPDATE: Eric and Ernie were slumbering peacefully in the straw when I went in with their breakfast at 8am today. Think we're going to get on fine from now.


Arabella said...

Have to say a welcome hellooo to Eric and Ernie.
Happiness is chasing a pig round a field? I think you might be on to something.

Malc said...

It certainly clears out the tubes.

I, like the view said...

sounds brilliant!

would have beena little boring if they'd just sat back on the sofa and passed the blip back and forth between then as if they'd never been anywhere else


and good exercise to boot (dunno if you need it, but exercise is always good)

weather update: miserable grey and drizzle in south west London

glad the sun is shining for you!

Malc said...

Yes, I do need the exercise, although the beer gut is shrinking by the day.

And it looks like pig-keeping is going to be anything but dull.

Dave said...


Hannah Velten said...

Glad to hear that E&E are safe and secure. Your blog really made me laugh - the times that I had to round up a sow and/or piglets when I worked on an outdoor pig farm in Hampshire was always a hoot. We started off with Plan A (food trail into trailer) and usually ended up with Plan D (chase around and rugby tackle) - pigs are far too intelligent for us humans to try and trick. Having found your blog, I shall keep in touch to share your highs and lows with pigs - wonderful!

Malc said...

Hi Hannah. Yep, plan D certainly seems the most effective. I'm trying to get the lads used to me being the bringer of breakfast in that nice black bucket. It may work, but probably not.

The Birdwatcher said...

Chasing Pigs has to be better than chasing after younger fitter rugby players! Mind you they squealed like pigs in the front row :)

Malc said...

Squealing in the front row? Surely not! Strong manly grunting and muttering darkly about the 'ladies' was more the thing when I was fit enough to play without bits dropping off.

The Birdwatcher said...

You haven't seen our front row.

Malc said...

Fancy a tour to Westray? Kirkwall cried off at the weekend.