Sunday, 6 July 2008

Who goes, who stays

Listening to: Trouble Sleeping (Corrine Bailey Rae)
Weather: turning grey and cold

Tough choices in the pigshed this week after the piglets proved exceptionally popular with potential buyers.

I advertised in the shops on Westray and in The Orcadian and now have orders for 14 out of the 20 piglets. There's actually a waiting list and I could have sold the lot.

It means I had to choose who to sell and I decided to keep it simple. With orders for eight males and six females, it's a case of Molly's litter plus two of Kim's.

The two to go from Kim's are Spot and Splodge. Spot injured his foot early on and you can't help but form a bond when you are checking him on a daily basis and making sure he has enough to eat. They're lovely pigs and I'm quite fond of them. For that reason they have to go - sold to a colleague of Sally's who I know will take care of them.

That, of course, is a problem now. I find myself fretting about whether the folk who are buying "my" pigs are going to care for them properly. God, it's complicated this pig farming business.

We're keeping four of Kim's big, healthy boys and they will be sold for meat in the winter. We are also hanging on to the two gilts (young sows) Little Kim and Sock. Little Kim is, obviously, a chip off the old block and will join Molly and her mum in our breeding programme. Sock has one white and one black back foot and we will either keep her or sell her as a breeding sow.

The immediate job is to wean the piglets and that happens tomorrow. As I said before, Molly is worn out and it's time to step in. She is fearfully thin (feeding off her back is the correct term, I believe) so she's going to get a rest. Her piglets are quite happy eating cereals and potatoes and so, for that matter, are Kim's.

Eric and Ernie's old paddock is clean and tidy, extended with a covering of grass just waiting for the girls. Apparently the best way is to just take the sows straight out and away from earshot.

How hard can it be?

Don't answer that.


Z said...

Well away from earshot, I'd say.

Brad said...

What a heart wrenching thing to be a pig farmer. Your better stock than I. I couldn't do the job. Good luck mate.

dinahmow said...

You're doing fine, Malc!
Once you've got over your first weaning(earplugs for the farmer are a smart move!)perhaps you'd consider doing a Ziggi and having a Pig Pub Crawl?

fiwa said...

There is a lot more to this than I would have ever expected. As an ignorant bystander, I'm totally impressed by the job you're doing.

Good luck. :)

Dave said...

Waiting for post telling of hilarious exploits of pig farmer chasing pigs in twenty different directions, none of them where pig farmer intends.

Ian said...

Hi there,

Sorry to be a bit off topic here but...

You were recommended by Hannah Velten who blogs at 'Round the Water Trough' and you can find a post about her at

I'm a big fan of farm blogs and I have been frustrated by the lack of a single place to go to for farm blogs, not just from one country, but from around the world.

Hence, I've recently started a blog called

The idea is very simple: I ask farm/rural bloggers who have been recommended by other farm or rural bloggers to recommend their favourite farm blogs. I then link them to my blog roll, and write to them and ask them to do the same thing - that is to say to write to me with their favourite farm blogs.

I've linked therefore your blog to and if you'd like to send me an email to info AT ianwalthew DOT com with a few words about your blog, and about your favourite farm blogs, then it would be very much appreciated.

I should make a couple of things clear:

Firstly, it is not my intention to sell advertising on this blog, or take your content - simply steer people in the direction of farm blogs I find interesting, which means that...

Secondly, I am really trying to identify farm blogs that are primarily about farming/rural life (as oppossed to blogs written by people who may live on farms, but the subject of which isn't primarily about farming).

Very much hoping to hear from you,

With kind regards,

susi said...

Selling animals to people you don't know is always a worry. We have only sold sheep at an auction twice in sixteen years and both times I was running around finding out who had bought them - not too difficult at rare breeds sales where a lot of people know each other. I would never sell at an ordinary mart. Is it easier on a small island to know who people are and what they are like? Or are you selling outside the island?

Good luck with the weaning - out of earshot is right. We don't have enough land to achieve this with the ewes and lambs and everyone baas themselves hoarse at weaning time.

mig bardsley said...

*away from earshot* - presumably on the same principles as when the children stop howling the minute their despairing parent has left the school, playgroup, wherever?
It's good to know Molly will have a chance to recover :)
I have to say, it's a real tonic to come here and read about how well you deal with whatever life and pig farming throw at you.

ziggi said...

my god Malc, anyone would think you were a proper pig farmer!


Take the mums out for a long drive, lunch, spot of shopping (new shoes help) and they'll soon cheer up.

Daphne said...

I find it tricky enough worrying about the care of one cat, three geckos, one corn snake and five baby Giant African Land Snails. The combined IQ of this lot is about twelve, so I'm not surprised that you worry about the welfare of such intelligent animals as pigs. How the industrial-style pig farmers can bear it I don't know. Lack of imagination, probably.

I, like the view, still said...

for some strange reason this has brought back the traumas of having to give up breast-feeding with less than 24 hours' notice

yet I'm totally with Molly on the exhaustion and feeding "off the back"

good luck all round

you, Sal, the sows, the piglets: everybody (animal of any sort!)


(I do quite like zigz' idea of new shoes tho. . .)

Ginni Dee said...

Congrats on populating your area with quality piggies! You will go down in the history of your island!!

I'm laughing at that last sentence in your blog post..."how hard can it be?" Only time will tell, Malc, only time will tell!

I, too, look forward to the stories and exploits of the young farmer at weaning time. For your sake, I hope it's a piece 'o cake...but for ours, well, I hope there are stories!!! (snicker)