The nights are fair drawing in. I know that for certain as it was still fully dark at 4.30am last Monday when I crawled out of bed. It was pig collection day. While a fairly straightforward procedure which I felt I had planned as best I could I still didn't sleep particularly well. This was the first time I'd ever transported livestock and at almost three quarters of a tonne, hefty livestock at that. I also had to meet the 8.20 Arran ferry at Ardrossan, almost a three hour drive away. So I had that groggy, getting up early to catch a holiday flight, type feeling; excitement but urgently needing coffee.
We'd had to prepare a fair bit for their arrival; we borrowed an ark, ran in a new water supply, set up electric fencing (what would we do without Youtube these days for the 'How to..' videos?), borrowed a livestock trailer, registered with Animal Health for a Herd Mark and brought in straw for bedding. I even went to some length to create stalls in the trailer so the pigs wouldn't roll in transit but it turned out they just lie down. How sensible they are. Clean too. In their enclosure all their dung is one corner. In the opposite corner is the ark which they keep entirely clean. Impressive!
The pig ark took a bit of a job getting into place. Eventually we just relied on a tipping trailer, gravity and bit of luck. Fortunately my brother Neil was around to lend a helping hand even if it did make a bit of a mess of the fence. One of the problems i'm becoming aware of is that almost everything in farming is mechanised. Long gone it seems are the days when one could manhandle rectangular bales of straw around. They all are make huge bales now for telehandlers to nip around picking up. How i will get this pig ark moved to the next location is anyone guess at the moment. Buy a cheap JCB? Keep relying on a friendly farmer to move it with tractor? Or have multiple arks and just move the pigs? Almost all we seem to do have these cost, effort and physical limitation assessments, albeit in the head. I'm sure we'll come up with a plan soon enough.
The journey was uneventful after we managed to get them shifted from one trailer to another and had sorted out the paperwork. Thankfully. We had a water stop but they didn't really need it. It was their lack of food that day that was probably most on their minds. It just made them a bit more compliant for maneuvering. A simple bucket of pig nuts just needed to be shaken and they would follow us wherever we needed. So it was fairly simple to get them into their new enclosure. I was just a bit apprehensive at the prospect of a grumpy, hungry boar with one pointy tusk that didn't know me charging me down to get to the bucket of nuts. But I wrong to feel like this. They are delightful animals. They are friendly, almost gentle and are always pleased to see you. Let's hope they settle in well and do what they're here for - piglets. Watch this space.
For now i shall leave you a gallery of some of the activities and scenery from the past month.
Although the nights may be drawing in it is wonderful to see the stunning morning sunrises again plus the cockerel isn't kicking off quite so early - it was a leisurely 5.05am this morning. However things are still growing with much vigour and the projects are endless. The week ahead will be anything but leisurely ; wood burning stove flue fitting, post and rail fencing, gate hanging and winter veg planting. Tally ho!
Until next time.