Listening to: cockerel crowing, curlews and snipe calling, rabbits laughing at me behind my back
Weather: opposite of whatever the BBC says it's going to be
It was a long, busy night in the pigshed - Molly the sow produced a litter of 12 piglets.
It proved to be far more of a 'hands-on' experience than Kim's farrowing on Wednesday (you may remember she fired her eight piglets out in an hour while I was having my tea).
It also turned out to be exceptionally messy. I've no idea why I'm surprised by that; I was present at the birth of both my children, I've seen quite a few animals born and blood and goo are all part of nature's miracle. The stash of old towels we had put aside proved to be very useful.
Molly had been in a mood all day and I became increasingly anxious as time went on. She kept lying down and sitting up, occasionally discharging a little blood. With my neighbour Marcus away from the island until the end of the month, I called John-Paul the Saddleback breeder in Thurso.
"She keeps sitting up then lying down again, is that OK?"
"Yes, she's probably stacking the piglets up before giving birth."
"Stacking up? As in air traffic control?"
"Fair enough. Live and learn."
Molly finally settled down at around 6.30, going into the kind of trance that often accompanies a farrowing. There was a lot of heavy breathing and the occasional contraction, but very little happened for two hours, by which time I had convinced myself the piglets were going to be stillborn and we might even lose Molly.
I consulted the books, got the hot soapy water and 'investigated'. There was no obstruction, so I made a couple of calls.
"Stop worrying you fool and let the sow get on with it," was the gist of both conversations, so the fool stopped worrying and let the sow get on with it.
About 9pm the first piglet slithered out, an hour-and-a-half later we had eight and the process slowed. Molly reached double figures, but the 11th piglet was tiny and wasn't breathing. There was a faint pulse so I cleared the gunk out of his airway and held him upside down for a few minutes as you're supposed to. Sal rubbed his chest for a while and, as a last resort, I tried mouth-to-mouth, but there was no response and he just faded out.
Two more piglets followed and both Sal and I were relieved when the appearance of the afterbirth signalled the end.
With 12 piglets and 14 teats, competition was fierce for the best spots and there was far more nipping, shoving and squealing than there had been with Kim's litter. We did our best to referee, but were both tiring. Sal went off to bed and I spent another hour trying to get them organised before deciding to let them sort it out for themselves at around 2.30.
I checked them again first thing this morning and all were happily suckling while Molly rumbled contentedly.
I'm going back to bed.