Hi folks, I’m going to put up new sample pages from Go Slow England tomorrow but for now it’s time to finish off the first lot of instalments from Nicola’s Hog Blog. Don’t worry though, there is plenty more pig action to come!
The Hog Blog – August 2007, part 4
I have a dog – a Tibetan terrier – who comes to work with me, so now she comes to feed the pigs too. Bobbie doesn’t much like the pigs. Incessant barking appears to be her default mode and she’s well into it. I don’t think she’s scared of them but they do collaborate a bit in teasing her and chasing her around. They are not in the least bit intimidated by her barking which she can’t understand, having practised mainly on sheep in the past who cower and run. I fear she thinks I’ve gone bonkers, that she feels cheated. After all she signed up to be a townie pooch and overnight she has to deal with pigs. She’s deeply jealous when I stroke them, and she’s developed a passionate love of pig nuts. Isn’t that strange? Must remember to take food up for her as well then she won’t feel so left out. Wish she would stop barking but not sure she ever will.
My children have reacted differently to their mother keeping pigs. Minnie (22) is in love with them, Harriet (29) is scared of them and won’t go in the pen in case they bite her, Alfie (16) thinks my boiler suit is cool and likes playing footie with mates or canoodling with his girlfriend in the field. Tom (25) hasn’t met them yet because he lives in London, but he loves pigs and he sent me a lovely text saying ‘well done mum, you are a pig farmer now’.
Two weeks into pig keeping and it feels like the most natural thing in the world. The days are still light and long, the weather still dry and warm. I go and let them out of the arc first thing in the morning and give them their pig-nut breakfast – Bobbie tries to eat most of it even though I imagine it is disgusting to her – change their water, clean out their night-time droppings and watch them for a while. Nervously I scan their bodies, looking for signs of disease or sickness, examine their bottoms for possible slicks of diarrhoea, check their ears and tails for bite marks. Each time I decide they are perfect I sigh with relief. They love their food and they are bumptious, scatty sometimes, breaking into a run for no apparent reason and making a special grunting noise for running – just for the joy of it, I suppose – then standing completely still, ears pricked up, then slumping into the mud hole they’ve created already. Rolling in mud then shaking is one of their very favourite things to do.
I must get a shed before winter creeps in. Cannot continue to keep feed and straw in the back of my car. Jules says she has a garden shed that is not being used and that her husband can put it up. Hurrah!