Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Phone a friend?

Listening to: Argus (Wishbone Ash)
Medicine: Tennents, coffee and toast
Quite impressed: by Manchester United, even though I had more fun in one weekend in Barcelona than in countless trips to Manchester. Gaudi or Lowry - you choose.

The sows are reaching the very final stages of their term and, although we are piglet-free at present, I'm sure the girls will oblige in the next few days.

I've become resigned to Nature taking its course exactly when it fancies, trying hard not to worry, but there's a snag. I'd kind of been relying on my neighbour Marcus being around for the farrowing.

Marcus is not only a fountain of agricultural knowledge, he's also one of the most helpful people I've ever met. His uncle used to own our croft and without his help things would have been very much more difficult for us.

He dropped by the other day and congratulated me on the condition of the sows - it's been a long time since a compliment meant so much. I have a feeling he's been looking forward to the farrowing. There aren't many pigs on Westray, so he maybe fancied a change from cattle and sheep.

But, having seen to his cows and sheep on Westray, he's off to the deserted island of Faray (the last islander left in 1947) for a month to see to a flock he has there.

So it looks like it's all down to me, which is a bit of a sobering thought. I'm reading my notes from the college and my books on pig-keeping over and over again. I've got a supply of clean towels, a couple of spare baby's bottles, condensed milk (in case the sow has trouble giving milk straight away), antiseptic spray. The heat lamps are ready, there's plenty of straw.

I will be at the birth with a book in one hand, mobile phone pressed to one ear, sweat dripping from my brow, convinced I am going to make the most terrible mess of it all. The sows have both been there, done that, so (in theory) it should all take care of itself.

How hard can it be?


fiwa said...

You can do it Malc - I have every confidence in you. What I wouldn't give to be a fly on the wall though...

patroclus said...

You sound *very* prepared and in control, so I'm sure it will all go swimmingly. Good luck!

Geoff said...

Will the father be walking up and down nervously smoking a cigar?

Gaudi, by the way. Jeffrey Archer's a fan of Lowry.

I, still, ♥ the views said...

it's either a Ghostbusters, a large friendly yellow letters or a Dr Pepper scenario, isn't it ("who you gonna call?", "don't panic!", "what's the worst that could happen. . .")(actually that's life in a nutshell, eh)

I've just come back from a learn how to cook pasta morning, we made the pasta dough into various pasta things including tortelinni (can't spell it) with a chicken/ham filling - I thought of you and wondered whether this could be another way to eat the meat you produce!

hope all goes well when the girls get into action

Donn said...

It must be easier than making a silk purse out of a Sow's ear.

What are you going to do if one of them can talk like Babe?

Reg Pither said...

You had sex with them in the first place, only right you should see it through to the end!!

Brad said...

So once they come will you be a real pig farmer and not a trainee ? I'm thinking yes.

Hannah Velten said...

Know you must be feeling nervous - but they'll probably farrow in the middle of the night and you'll miss it - well, fingers crossed that it goes that smoothly. Then pig farmer you will be!

Malc said...


Your wildly misplaced confidence is very welcome. thanks.


All the preparations are a smokescreen for the fact I have no idea what I'm doing.


No, not with all that straw about. Besides, cigars make me cough.

I like Gaudi too, although I have a print of 'Going to the match' somewhere. Archer? Wash your mouth out.


I think 'don't panic' is the one I prefer.

Love tortellini (?) and ham or pork will be very good. My lad makes delicious pasta.


I'll get a very good agent and we'll start appearing on chat shows.


Nothing was ever proved.




I would like to be there when it happens, but I really hope it's trouble-free. I'm pretty stressed at the moment.

Puffincentral said...

I've spent half the evening catching up on several weeks worth of your blogs. So much excitement during my absence! Caravan, sausages, failing to shoot rabbits and now the imminent pigbirths. Gosh, I'm impressed. Can't wait to see first piglet photies. Have you made a creep for them, in case mamma feels inclined to lie on them? (Sorry to be thinker of negative ideas.) Are the new hens marans? They look beautiful!

dinahmow said...

Now if you were expecting kids I might be helpful...all the best, anyway.

Dash said...

Good luck with the next few days Malc.... all this and Dave too! You'll be busy.


Ginni Dee said...

I've witnessed many births (colts, dogs, calves, my son's, etc) and altho none of them were pigs, unless the unthinkable happens(been there, done that) it's best to just let nature and the mamas take their course. Besides, they won't have time to worry about you fainting, sweating or pacing when it all goes down. Once it happens, you will have gone thru your right of passage and you will no longer be a trainee. You will be a REAL DEAL pig farmer!

Break a leg my friend. You can do it! We're all anxiously awaiting your big event!

Richard said...

Lowry was Salford and they get upset if you call Salford Manchester as it's a separate city. I don't think anyone notable has ever actually come from Manchester.

mig bardsley said...

I bet the worst will be the 'is she or isn't she' bit. You know the long boring bit when you're not quite sure if they're about to do it or actually you've got another hour or two to wait. Or three. Or four.
I should make sure you always have copious amounts of tennants, coffee and toast prepared in advance.

(Impossible to choose between Gaudi and Lowry, I want both)

snailbeachshepherdess said...

Is this THE longest pig pregnancy ever?

Malc said...


Hello, was beginning to think you had joined the Legion of the Lost Bloggers. Yes, it's been busy(ish) here. I've built creeps in both pens and both sows now sleep next to them. I hope the piglets will be tempted away from their mothers by the warmth of the heat lamps.


Kids as in goats? Now way. . . the work of Old Nick himself.


Dave came yesterday and it was a good excuse to get out and about around the island. Hope he enjoyed himself.


Don't know about the real deal, I feel hopelessly out of my depth at the moment.


I should, of course, have known that. After all, one of my two best mates is from Salford. I think I'm in for a telling off next time I see him.


Lager in fridge, coffee machine primed and ready to go, bread already baked and sliced.


I would contact Guinness World Records were they not in my mind still connected to those loathsome Paddy-bashing Nazis the McWhirters.

I, still, ♥ the views said...

any news? I suppose if there is you'd be more important things than answering that!

hope it goes well

susi said...

This reminds me of a time years ago when we were so paranoid about lambing dates that we actually paid to have the sheep scanned. One of them staggered around like a barrage balloon for a full ten days after the supposedly "guaranteed" date. In case this is not a comfort to you, I should add that she had healthy twins all by herself with no help from us.

elizabethm said...

Hope all goes well. After all i have been hearing from snailbeach about sheep and lambing, surely pigs must be easier.

The Birdwatcher said...

Any chance of you setting up a video and posting the result on U Tude? No I thought not, it was only an suggestion.