Originally we were going to get two boy pigs, Tamworths, and they were to be destined to feed the family. This is a BIG step for us but we do eat meat and we're now of the opinion that maybe it's better to raise your own and know that they have had a happy, stressfree life (and death) than to just buy what the supermarkets have to offer - in the case of pork, a very sad pig's life. However, the Tamworths were already 4 month old uncastrated fellows and we intended to keep them until November time so that they could enjoy all the acorns and apple surplus. That added up to a BIG pig who would be sexually mature and possibly the meat would have boar taint (a hormonal change that leads the meat to have a very strong taste, 'porky pork' as we call it, and many say that the carcass is rendered inedible. If you'd like to know more then go here http://www.aasv.org/shap/issues/v5n4/v5n4p151.html). We changed our minds and decided to go for sows as being more manageable. But Maybelline and Rimmel are so lovely that we have probably decided to keep them as our breeders. Maybe it's good to start with 'pets' first until you get to know the beast. We certainly feel that way about our chooks - the 5 we have at present will always be pets but we now feel strong enough to have some to raise for the table.
So yesterday we trundled off to a place 50 miles north of here in Normandy and there found some happy pig families who were born in the fresh air and raised organically. R and B and Calyx had a wonderful time chasing loads of piglets all around the farm buildings, sloshing about in the mud, hiding with them in the barns etc. Then we loaded up our two girls into a dog crate in the back of the Bongo and set off for home. The girls squealed for the first couple of miles then laid down and went to sleep whilst R stroked them through the gaps.
We got back, loaded the dog box onto the wheelbarrow and trundled them off across the field to their new home. They seemed to like it, pooped all over the place (and boy, pig poo is one of those smells that just keeps giving!), and snuffled and grunted about. The entrance to the house was blocked off by a board but not too high as to block off all air. I went off to get some food for them from the barn and Ben started to fix the last bit of fence. When I got back, all was quite peaceful with all three boys peering in at the pigs, Daddy working on the fence and Calyx lounging in the sun keeping a watchful eye on things. Suddenly, out popped Rimmel having leapt over the board blocking the entrance. And she bolted. Followed seconds later by Maybelline. Ben yelled to keep them at the end of the paddock away from the unfinished bramble fence, I was searching desperately for something I could use like a blockade to funnel them back into the house, the boys were screeching excitedly and then Calyx joined in the fun and started chasing the piglets. The girls were not up for that. They found a corner, tucked their snouts under the wire and wiggled on through, all in the blink of an eye. Yippee, 17 acres and beyond with the light of the day falling rapidly. Bloddie 'ell - just what we needed.
There must be something about Spring here that sets up situations to make me run, carrying a baby - last year it was the orchard fire, this year it was the damn pigs. But run we did. We finally managed to get them into our top 2 acres of garden and with a bit more chasing, got them into the solar tunnel. This was how I came to be setting up a baby's playpen in a polytunnel by torchlight - obviously not for a baby but for the pigs! So they had to spend the night in the dog box and playpen but didn't seem to mind too much - maybe they were worn out with all that running. I sure was!!!