Tuesday, 8 July 2008
Every one's a weaner
Listening to: Never Mind the Bollocks (Sex Pistols)
Tonight's pork recipe: chilli
Ray was at the window waving his arms in the manner of a race course tic-tac man (or should that be 'tic-tac operative' in the 21st century?). "Misty Dawn at 5/1 in the 2.30?" I translated, before correcting myself. "The pig's got out again."
The farming learning curve is at times steeper than the north face of the Eiger. We've had a tough day on the croft after we decided to take the sows away from the piglets.
At feeding time yesterday we coaxed first Molly out into what was Eric and Ernie's paddock, then Kim followed the feed bucket around the house to join her. We connected up the electric fence, flipped the switch and all seemed well.
The piglets seemed unmoved, quite happy to tuck into their tea and carry on snuffling about the place as if nothing had happened. (I seem to remember a similar situation when I was first sent to boarding school at the age of nine - it took half-a-term for the novelty to wear off and homesickness to kick in).
Kim was happy enough exploring her new surroundings, grazing and then making herself comfortable in the hut. Molly finished her feed and then went all wobbly on us.
She has always been dominated by Kim and was clearly not comfortable as a room-mate. She was obviously agitated and after Sal tried to comfort her, we left her alone in the hope she would calm down.
There are times when you wish your animals wouldn't display previously hidden talents, but Moll seems to be an expert escapologist.
After tea we checked outside and she had ignored Scottish Hydro's finest zaps from the fence, had bust straight out and was munching away at the camomile that is growing next to the paddock.
She was tempted back in and I tightened the fence again, but she broke out again ten minutes later, this time more jumpy that before.
She resisted all coaxing and we had to put her in Teddy's "stable". In reality this is a series of wooden obstacles (including an old futon) and sheep hurdles tied together with baler twine. Molly spent the rest of the night grumbling and banging away at the barricade. Neither myself nor Sal slept much.
I ran Sal to the airport this morning and, on my return, I sat down to a coffee - the cue for Ray to make his first appearance at the window.
Molly had bust out and was munching happily at the grass outside Ray's caravan. I decided to try putting her in the camomile by the paddock. Fence it off and put the trailer in as a temporary shelter, I thought, and she'll get used to the idea of sharing with Kim.
I threw up some temporary barriers and tried again with the coffee. Ray was back, looking more worried and a little out of puff. It seems our porcine Steve McQueen had made another break for it and had been hurrying down the lane towards the main road when my 79-year-old, 5ft and not very much, 8st wringing wet father-in-law had jogged past, heading her off.
He'd lost track of her when he came to alert me, but we tracked her down to the veg garden.
We put her back, threw up some more barriers and Pat and I dashed down to the village for more fence posts and wire. We returned and were pleased to see fence and barriers still intact. Trouble was: no pig.
She was in the veg garden again, lurking around the pigshed door. There was nothing for it but to put her back in. To make a spare pen we had to put all the piglets in together. Quickly it resembled Wolverhampton town centre at closing time on a Friday night.
We tidied out the space in the middle of the pigshed (tools, straw bales and other farming detritus) and Kim's piglets were hauled, squealing, into their new quarters. Molly was ushered into her new home and was more settled straight away. Everyone was fed and seemed happy and the pig "farmer" went inside to collapse on the sofa.