Saturday, 3 July 2010
Prestcombe Dinah 47 (Kim)
Kim poked her nose out of her hut as she heard the gate into the top field rattle and the unmistakeable shake of sow nuts and barley in a bucket.
She eased herself out of the doorway, carefully put a front foot on the ground then decided she couldn't manage the second. She went down onto her knuckles and shuffled towards me.
I hurried over and put the food down. She tucked in - so clearly nothing wrong with the appetite. She quickly got back up to her feet and, as the morning wore on, she moved easier around her paddock, if still a little stiffly.
This has been going on for a couple of weeks and - if I'm honest - Kim hasn't been right since her last litter nearly a year ago. While the ground was soft it wasn't a problem, but we have had a long dry spell in Westray with cool northerly winds so the soil is packed hard as concrete.
The vet came by on the monthly tour of the island and gave Kim a thorough examination. The old girl was good as gold, but didn't really want anyone touching her ankles. The vet's diagnosis came as no surprise. Kim has arthritis, it's unlikely to get any better and she almost certainly won't be able to stand up to the strain of carrying and nursing piglets.
So the decision I've been putting off for several months now looks unavoidable. Kim's been a real pal and taught me more about pigs than anyone else. I'd love to keep her as a pet, but she's in pain so it's probably time to say goodbye.
Sometimes I hate farming.