It’s Friday so time for…

The Hog Blog – August 2007, part 3

The Hog Blog - August 2007, part 3 

I arrive at 7.30am and they are asleep, curled up next to each other in a tight little ball with a huge wad of straw around them. They get a shock when I poke my head through the ark, so I feel guilty for disturbing them. Must make more noise in future. Spent an hour or so outside with them, trying to take photographs, but it’s pretty hopeless, they’re always on the move or with their snouts in the ground. As soon as I kneel down to get closer to them they rush at me and try to eat my wellies. They are not so unhappy about being handled now, even Mabel allowing us to scratch her sides and her ears.

For the first week I keep them inside the ark unless I’m with them. Alastair, my boss, thinks this cruel but I don’t know how easily they could escape until I’ve watched them for a while and I can see any weak spots in the fencing that need reinforcing.

Jules and Joe are my piggy partners at work. They invested money in the fencing and will help with feeding and looking after in exchange for meat when Porker goes. Jules grew up with pigs and has an unsentimental approach to animals, Joe is an ex-chef. For some reason they think Porker is called Rilette.

Porker is still more affectionate than Mabel and I am growing hugely fond of her which may or may not be a problem eventually. I keep thinking I’ve got my head around the idea of eating her, but the thought of it is one I swerve from.

So here I am now, committed to most of the feeding times myself – with just a bit of help from others now and then. It’s a strange new life getting up far too early, but sleeping has been tricky since they came – I keep dreaming about them. They have taken over my life even at work. Yesterday I let them out at lunch time and instead of putting them away again until I went back in the evening I decided to let them stay out and see what happened. Nothing happened! They were still there and the fencing is, so far, intact. So, their new routine is a joy to them – they run around skittering and sliding all over the place and are so happy to be outside. They love their pig nuts, they adore apples, they both hate green and red peppers. But Porker has started on the watermelon that Andreea and Jan brought them as a football food! Mabel thinks it isn’t food. She really is quite standoffish still, but I love her heavy jowls and fat pants.

The tree surgeon, whose yard I have to cross to get to the pigs, the objector, the pig hater, the chap who doesn’t own the field but thinks he does, has been thumping around this week in a real paddy. I don’t think he can quite believe that the pigs have actually come – even though he objected to it. The other guys at the yard – Alastair and Mike – are lovely. Every morning they pop their heads over the fence and chat and admire. Having my girls here is not ideal. We face the ground-fill tip at one end and the yards at the other, so during the week it is noisy with tractors, saws and booming from the tip. The pigs don’t seem to mind it really, but I do!

The noise usually starts at about eight o’clock, so I try to get up there about seven so we can have a bit of peace together first. It’s a great time and even that view over to Long Ashton and Bristol is green and leafy. The weather has been marvellous this last week, sunny and dry and of course it’s still light for so long. I wonder how the whole thing will feel in the dead of winter? Does one feed them later in the morning and earlier in the afternoon or do you stick to the same times and do it in the dark?

Nicola

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