Sunday 7th May 2017
Back on the 1st of May, we mentioned pigs!! Well, these VERY cheeky little monkeys are our new weaners and on their first day with us, they have led us a merry dance to be sure. They are Gloucestershire Old Spots, known for being gentle, great mothers and excellent foragers and are almost eleven weeks old. Our plan was to create a small paddock at the top of the 4-acre field behind the Collecting Area. We asked Mike Ford Fencing to put a fence in for us (it only needed one side as the other three are already there) but unfortunately he has been massively busy and so we are still on his ‘to do’ list. In our wisdom therefore, we decided just to put electric fencing in place in the sure and certain knowledge that despite there being no stock fencing the other side of the electric wire, the piglets would NOT try to break out!
Worst of all, we tried this seven years ago when we got our first pigs and it did not work then either.
The problem is that having taken a zap from the fence - usually in error as they are simply exploring and not really trying to escape - the weaners’ instinct is to carry on rushing forwards. If they met the stock fencing they would have to back up, probably getting more shocks and so learning NOT to try that move again!! With no stock fencing however, this can mean that without being zapped again, or maybe just receiving one more minor shock, they are through the wire and running off into the distance…If they could speak they'd be shouting: 'yipeeee, well, that wasn’t so bad was it?'
We got them back once, only for them to get out again, this time much quicker!!
Plan B was quickly thought up and rather more slowly achieved. It was this: to herd them into the field shelter, evicting the geese beforehand and then barricade the entrance with hurdles. It only took us ten attempts!!!!
Once in, they ate some food, burrowed in the straw a little and then totally and utterly crashed out! At that point we decided they are rather sweet after all???
We had of course hijacked the geese quarters, so the next job was to herd them into the Collecting Area complete with shelter, where we decided they can live for a few days whilst we work out what we are doing with the pigs!!! Incidentally, 'herd' was the right word to use here, it is entirely possible to herd geese. It is NOT entirely possible to herd pigs, in fact it is nigh on impossible and we actually think they know this!!!
Our weaners are boys and are destined for meat. They will have a short (6 months ish) but happy life. We would love to breed pigs again (we raised saddlebacks for a year back in 2011) but winter pig keeping is hard work on wet ground and we ‘probably’ have enough to do breeding cows, sheep, goats and poultry!!! Fortunately we have pig-breeding friends down the road from us (Poole Batten Farm) who have supplied us with these two boys and hopefully can do the same again when we want more next year!! Their pigs are kept in fabulous free-range conditions so it is the next best thing to raising our own.