Monday, 16 June 2008


Listening to: Seldom Seen Kid (Elbow - yes, still, but it's that good)
Weather: lovely day, giving way to light rain
Aching: all over (floor excavation has started)
Drinking: port (left over from making the pork liver pate)

Molly's had enough. You can see it in her eyes. The poor love is shattered, hungry and desperate for a little 'me' time. She looked at me tonight as if to say 'get me out of here'. I'm a bit worried.

Compared to Kim, Molly is small, mild-mannered, gentle - a real sweetie. As it happens, Margaret Thatcher was a real sweetie compared to Kim.

The trouble is, Molly's 12 piglets bully her something rotten. They're well into solid food now and there is nothing short of a stampede when I appear with the bucket. Even if I manage to spread the food out so everyone can get at it, the piglets still pile in as close to Molly as possible and - unlike Kim - she's too nice to knock them out of the way.

Kim, admittedly a foot taller and 100lb heavier, takes no guff from her eight piglets. Feed time in her half of the pig shed is an altogether more well-mannered occasion.

I used to live next door to a mum like Molly. She never seemed to get angry, just very whiny. "Please don't do that Theo* my darling," she would be heard to beg as the apple of her eye spit-roasted the cat. Theo, of course, paid not the blindest bit of attention.

At least Molly only has another three or four weeks to go. It's a challenge for the sort-of pig farmer. Slapping her about the face and shouting "have a little backbone woman" is obviously out of the question. I have to make sure she gets enough food. I've taken to sneaking her the occasional apple and a big pan of potatoes was an excellent way to get food down her - she'd eaten the lot before the piglets could work out what the bloody hell these warm lumps were.

Today I've even held the feed scoop in front of her while she scoffed away - not very dignified, but we're not out to impress anyone.

An exhausted Molly lies dreaming of the single life

* Yes, he really was/is called Theo. I couldn't help but think of Kojak. He'd be school age now, but he's a stocky wee lad and I don't foresee any problems in the playground.

While I'm on, a couple of free ads. . .

It was my birthday the other day and, despite the fact I was 47 and would have been happy with beer, chips and an early night, Mrs Sort-of Pig Farmer decided we would visit The Creel at St Margaret's Hope - far and away Orkney's highest-rated restaurant.

It was bloody terrific. Fabulous fish cakes with an avocado tartare sauce, followed by sea bass, langoustines and scallops with mash and the most fantastic pesto sauce I ever tasted. I was able to kick off with a pint and then enjoy a wonderful, rich southern Italian white, the name of which escapes me at the moment.

It's wasn't cheap, but it was excellent. Save up and go.

The other recommendation is for Bidgiemire Pig Company. They once supplied a pig arc to Gordon Ramsey for Channel 4's The F Word and now they've stepped up a notch by supplying Westray's foremost breeder of British Saddlebacks.

Getting the two flat-packed pig huts to Orkney was, of course, far from simple with plans changing by the minute on Friday. To cut a long story mercifully short, they were superb, not turning a hair while I chopped and changed the plans. There's a link somewhere on the side of the page if you're interested - and I hope you are.


Ginni Dee said...

A belated happy birthday to you Malc. And may there be many more!

Your meal sounded wonderful. Avocado tartar sauce...YUM! I'll have to find a recipe for it would be great on my crab cakes!

I can only imagine how Molly and Kim are feeling having all those babies tugging and pulling on them all the time. I think I'd be ready to call it a day too! But I guess the mark of a good breeding sow would be to be tolerant of all that craziness.

Dave said...

I trust the arcs were a birthday present.

I'll bear that in mind, should my garden smallholding ever go that far.

Oh, and many happy belated returns.

ziggi said...

Happy Birthday Malc - can you supply a map as well for when we've saved up?

And as for the ark - are you expecting a heavy downfall?

Jessica at Bwlchyrhyd said...

Pen-blwydd hapus iawn i ti!

Murph said...

Lovely pic of the Spikemeister!

Rol said...

Belated birthday greetings - and more power to your Elbow!

snailbeachshepherdess said...

a belated happy birthday from sunny Shropshire ...have been keeping up with your escapades via peeking in at lunchtimes but gsi wont let me do comments. I hope you realise I sobbed when E & E went to that bacon factory in the sky! Poor Mol ...i know how she feels ...I still get bouts of post natal depression...the eldest is 29, the youngest 17! And will you please ditch that will whiff soon.

susi said...

Birthday greetings from North Yorkshire as well!

The bullied pig problem - holding a separate bucket of food for her will work but will be very time-consuming. Perhaps a raised trough the piglets cannot reach?

P.S. Margaret Thatcher was never a sweetie compared to anything.

elizabethm said...

Good to catch up and poor old moll. Perhaps there are parenting classes that some government type would bring out to her.
SBS and I could teach her the voice if we were only closer (and if she wasn't a pig). Worked wonders with ours.

mig bardsley said...

Poor Molly! Perhaps she'll be able to push them around a bit more when they're not babies any more? Otherwise you might be having extra feeding duties for a while!

Belated Birthday Wishes :)

Malc said...


Thanks. Let's hope there are more - if I behave myself.


They're good for goats as well - if you were that way inclined.


X will mark the spot.

You can't be too careful. There's a lot of hammering and sawing noise coming from the Noah's just up the road.


I love it when you talk Celtic. Diolch yn fawr.


It is a good one, showing his best side. We'll not tell him that though.


Thanks very much.


I felt quite sad the other day when I cleared out Eric and Ernie's hut, but the meat is so good.


I think that might be a solution. I just didn't have time when building the pens to put in anything other than the basics.

And yes, you're right about Thatcher.


Moly is a rare breed, so that makes her an ethnic minority. Can't see Orkney Islands Council going for that one somehow.


I think it's only a couple of weeks now until the sows can move out. Molly can have a rest for a couple of months then.

Richard said...

And a happy birthday from here, too. I'll try and make it when I'm next in the area!

Anonymous said...

Malc, though I didn't get to wish you a proper happy birthday on the day, you had a good one anyway! Good job, Mrs. Pig Farmer!

Wish I could come and rub poor Molly's back.

Pebbles said...

Hi Malc

Belated happy birthday!

Bidgiemire Arks are fab people. We met Linda at the Royal Highland Show last year and popped in to see her at this years show yesterday. She is playing host to our two sows next month for a three week shagfest - hopefully we too will have a squad of squealing spotty pilets and two exhausted sows in the not to distant future.

Must apply myself (like you) and get my b****y blog up to date.

Pebbles :)

lettuce said...

ah, sweet molly. who'd be a pig, eh?