Sunday, 29 March 2009

Trust your sow

So, a busy week down on the "farm". The piglets are growing fast and are getting out and about. . .

. . . and are indulging in a lot of pointless zooming around which makes getting decent pictures a bit tricky. . .

. . . and there's been time for some family activities, such as snuffling around in case there's anything tasty in Molly's bedding. . .

. . . and when that's all over, it's time for a nap. . .

The pig "farmer" started the week flapping around nervously, scared that the piglets were in danger of either freezing to death (it's been a bit parky in Orkney) or being squashed by a careless Molly.

I shouldn't have worried. Molly has, so far, been a terrific mother. Saddlebacks have a great reputation as careful, caring mums and the piglets are growing fast.

When she had her last litter, Molly struggled with 12 rowdy piglets and ended up thin and tired after six weeks. This litter of nine (five males, four females) seem quieter, if just as cute, and I've put Moll on double rations to keep her weight up.

Every time she's ready to lie down she checks the bedding for stray piglets and ushers any wanderers back into the creep until she's ready for them to feed. It's very sweet.

Tonight (Monday) Kim is off to Orphir on Orkney Mainland to see The Boss, so if all goes well she should be ready to farrow in July.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Grand Slam, thank you ma'am

First we had this. . .

. . . then we had this. . .

That'd be Ireland's first Grand Slam for 61 years and nine healthy piglets for Molly the sow. If there's a more exciting evening for a vaguely Irish pig "farmer" who's quite keen on rugby, then I'd like to hear about it.

SUNDAY - they're all doing fine, feeding well and Molly is proving no breed of pig matches a Saddleback for high-quality mothering. If Saddleback sows were humans they'd be the ones to dab your face with a moistened hanky, make sure you had enough sandwiches to feed a football team every time you left the house and treat every girlfriend you brought home with suspicion.

Anyway, here's the gang, doing what piglets do best. . .

. . . and there's always one who'll hang on in case there's seconds. . .

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

On tour

So. . . I went to England. . . I came back again. Jolly glad I was, too. Was it always that noisy?

I saw several old pals and, of course, they are still the finest of the fine. I saw my daughter who is, naturally, the loveliest 16-year-old on the planet. I stayed with Sal's brother Mart (a brewer of excellent stout) and his wife Kath who is still gurgling happily about her new grandson Henry.

On two other nights I collapsed in a Guinness-sodden heap at the house of Reg. Since I left he's developed into the male equivalent of a mad cat lady.

Reg was always a serial dog rescuer, but he's now in charge of five, including Dave the Alsatian, Tilly the Beagle, Katie the Australian Cattle Dog (so handy in suburban Wolverhampton), Henry the three-legged err. . ., and the latest waif whose name escapes me at present but who looks a little overwhelmed, if very grateful not to be tied up in the back garden of a house that was vacated by a family of complete arseholes two weeks earlier.

All have behaviour issues, so entering Pither Towers gives you a taste of the army's house-to-house training. Reg achieves the entrance, while you act as back-up. What follows is a lot of barking and growling - some of it from the dogs - before they are all packed off into the back garden to disturb the neighbours' barbecue.

Having de-Regged meself, on the way back from England I met up with Mr Hotel Proprietor and The Boy. We drank beer in Edinburgh's Cafe Royal where the pre-match build-up was interrupted by the full pipe band and The Oxford Bar where I was disappointed not to bump into Inspector Rebus hot on the trail of gangster 'Big' Ger Cafferty.

The three of us then attended Scotland v Ireland at Murrayfield at which I enjoyed several wild mood swings before the blessed relief of an Irish victory.

I got home two days later. Sal had been baking lemon cake and chocolate brownies and today the sun was shining. It's good to be home.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009


Ireland's rugby players have the chance to win the Grand Slam when they face Wales in Cardiff on Saturday teatime.

Molly the sow is very heavily pregnant, her belly has dropped and her teats are filling up with milk.

There's a certain inevitability about it all.

I'm getting a telly installed in the farrowing pen.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum

It's wasn't so much the whispering and occasional outburst of muffled teenage giggling I minded, it was the thought that kept nagging away at the back of my mind - who the bloody hell eats crisps at two in the morning?

That was to keep me awake for another hour.

I was aboard the floating lunatic asylum that is the MV Hrossey, heading from Kirkwall south overnight to Aberdeen. I had settled in the "quiet lounge" where some of us were trying to get a bit of sleep in not very comfortable reclining seats that didn't recline to any great degree.

The pig "farmer" had boarded a couple of hours earlier and taken a stroll around the ship. Disappointed to find no game of deck quoits in progress, he retired to the bar for a nightcap and possibly to hob-nob with fellow passengers.

"Yer see, yer've got tae chin him afore he chins youse," said the 5ft 4in bundle of pent-up aggression to his new best mate who was doing his bit for cordial Anglo-Scots relations by grinning stupidly while hanging on to short-arse's shoulder to stop himself falling over.

"I know mate, you've got to stand up for yourself. You've got to be the man. . . the man!" he blurted, spilling his rum and coke in the process.

The pig "farmer" revised his hob-nobbing plan and sipped his beer at a table in the corner before retiring for the night.

The girl who had insisted on holding a lengthy mobile phone conversation with her (I assume) boyfriend about - among other things - whether she should have breakfast in McDonald's was silenced partly by the intervention of the other middle-aged curmudgeon in the lounge, but more by the fact we'd sailed out of T-mobile range.

An hour later the two lads at the back decided they were peckish, the rustling started and a troubled pig "farmer" drifted in and out of sleep, dreaming of Gary Lineker.

Thursday, 5 March 2009


Sal's been away in Aberdeen for about a week. She's unlikely to be back in Orkney for a few more days.

I'll be in Aberdeen for an hour or so on my way to England on Saturday morning so she's going to meet me off the boat and see me onto the train.

"We could have some breakfast," said Sal.

"It'd have to be on the station," said the pig "farmer".

"Oh, that'd be good, just like that film. . . Close Encounters."

I should have said something, but sometimes I just don't have the heart.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

You're beautiful

Watching: One plucky sparrow standing up to half-a-dozen starlings in a fight over the fat-ball Mrs Pig "Farmer" pinned to the fence.

That's it. I think it might be all over for the pig "farmer".

A quick look at iTunes recommendations (you bought/own Judy Garland so we think you'd like to buy Megadeath) has given me a bit of a turn.

Tiger Feet was one thing, there are people out there who like T Rex and Mud. . . I suppose.

But James Blunt.