Tups, new hens and moving pigs...

Emma Heseltine - 28 October 2012

The tups have gone out with the ewes this week and have been busy doing their job. Its time to put some more paint on them so we can keep an eye on how they are doing. We have picked blue to start with and will change it after 17 days (the length of a sheep’s cycle). We are trying to be clever and do it in the field without gathering them into the shed. This sometimes works as the boys are very keen on their food and know what a bucket rattle means. James obliges us and comes over for a feed, we get him all painted up. Jimmy however has other more pressing matters on his mind – ladies. We chase him about for a bit but he is having none of it, glad to see he is dedicated to his job but we need to paint him up. We give up and get the whole lot of them in the pen and manage to catch him. I guess we will have this fight again in five days time.

There haven’t been a lot of apples this year and even the ones we have got haven’t been great. That said we have always got some scrawny ones and the half eaten by birds ones and starting to go brown ones. The pigs are extremely happy about this.

We are getting a few more chickens to add to the ranks and they arrive today. We put the six of them in the hut and that’s where they stay for most of the day; its pretty scary moving to a new home. By evening they have ventured out into the run and are packing about. Trouble is they then decide to go nest for the evening on the wire fence in the nettles next to the run. They have probably forgotten where home is. At least there is only six to find, not like when we got 25 after the great fox disaster at the beginning of the year. Bed time was pretty trying as they all perched in increasingly inventive places. By the second day they have put themselves to bed properly and don’t have to be scooped up and put in the hut, these girls are quick learners.

How to move pigs, in 15 not so easy steps

  1. Feed pigs so as to distract them from what you are doing.
  2. Turn off electricity (very important) move wire to enclose pigs in mini pen whilst they are busy eating.
  3. Dismantle pig hut, wrestle the bits to new position. Almost get defeated by enormous tarp.
  4. Get annoyed and cut enormous tarp in half.
  5. Ignore pig’s complaints at being in tiny pen
  6. Re-assemble pig hut away from fence so they can’t use it as an escape mechanism.
  7. Retrieve posts from mud and mark out new area. Try to judge how much wire there is so as not to have to keep moving posts about.
  8. Run three strands of wire around the posts. Get a bit tangled in nettle patch
  9. Stamp on nettles.
  10. Check tension of wire.
  11. Open the mini pen to let pigs into new area.
  12. Put electricity back on. Check its working but not by touching it for Pete’s sake.
  13. Put straw in pig hut whilst pigs run around you oinking with happiness trying to trip you up.
  14. Move trough and water bucket, wedge so pigs cant tip over constantly.
  15. Admire pigs rooting, exploring new area and telling you all about it. Go get well earned cup of tea.

Congratulations you have successfully moved your pigs!

Emma completed a degree in Creative Imaging at Huddersfield University before working for a photography studio as an editor. Taking a break from the office world she worked in outdoor education for several years, climbing, abseiling, shooting, trampolining and even life-guarding with children of all ages. When Emma found out about the apprenticeship scheme with the Soil Association it seemed the perfect chance to do something worthwhile and fulfilling. After much searching and badgering farms in the North of England she found a position with Hadrian Organics and started in July 2011. So far it is living up to her expectations, every day is a new challenge and every day is different.

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