Pigs on the loose

The pigs are off to slaughter on Tuesday and that can’t come soon enough! They escaped on me a couple of times today, the last time while I was away training Bud.

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I met them at a cross road about 1/4 mile away from my house so ushered them back down using the 4×4. What a pain. Tuesday can’t come soon enough – even though I will miss them. Such personalities.

Here is a wee video of them being ushered homewards.

Morning routine

Lovely morning here. Round about -2, the first properly frozen morning of the winter. Thought I’d just run through what I do most mornings.

First up for feeding are the hens.

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Only two eggs today. The eggs have dried up at this time of the year. Hopefully they’ll be plentiful again by spring.

Then I feed the wee lambs that I have in front of the house. They had a keen audience for their breakfast today.

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But those sheep didn’t have to wait long, I gave them some feed too. I don’t normally feed them but I’m giving this flock a wee bit so that I can get a close look at the eye problems.

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You can see that the one in the middle is still suffering from it in her left eye. She’ll get another injection on Tuesday if I hasn’t cleared.

Next up are the chicks. Some of these are 12 weeks old today!

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They had an audience too but these sheep didn’t get any extra feed!

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I do my rounds with my helpers each morning. Bud is keen on the sheep now.

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And the cats follow me everywhere!

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They all got fed too, now it’s my turn!

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Saturday – first half!

It’s currently 11.30am and I’m sitting down to have my breakfast – mainly because I forgot! Got a lot of work to do today but I thought I had to share what I’ve done so far!

The chicks have been outside for 2 weeks now, so I decided to extend their run a wee bit this morning. Didn’t take me too long and you can see from this picture, how bare the ground on the right had become.

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I sold 4 of the chicks this morning, these are the first ones to go. I started off with 24 but 3 died in the first month or so. Since being outside, I found one of them dead inside the henhouse, taking me down to 20. When I went out yesterday morning, I could only find 19, so there was obviously another one gone and when I had a proper look this morning, this was all I found of it. The only thing I can think of is if it flew up and got stuck in the netting above them and then crows/gulls took it. The leg was found inside the run, with the rest of the chicks.

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On a cheerier note, before I move onto the pigs, I’d better show sone pics of the other chicks!

What you lookin’ at?

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This one has a bad hair day.

The pigs are off to slaughter in 2 weeks, so they are pretty big now, almost ready for the chop. I have to admit that it is a bit of a chore feeding them in the dark before work every day, but I’ll still be sad to see them go. The sausages will be appropriate compensation!

Due to the recent wet weather, their pen has become very wet, so I’ve been moving them down to my main pigpen during the days, before they are taken back up to their current pen, where their bed is.

I move them most mornings, when it’s quite dark and I’m usually in a rush but I decided today to film them as i find it quite entertaining! I stopped before they got into the pen because one of them had smelt food somewhere else and done a runner! I caught her before she got too far.

Anyway, I’m off to do some work, lambs to move, sheep to check and henhouses to repair. Enjoy the video!

Feeding in the dark!

Man, it is a miserable morning out there!

Got up today around 6.45 but took me a wee while to get myself ready for going outside – psyched myself up first then put on the survival suit!

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It was pitch black when I went out, around 7am. My usual routine is feed the pigs first, then the hens and chicks. Bud comes with me every morning – you should see how excited the wee fellow is every time I put my wellies on!

Today, did the pigs as usual but I found it darker than normal. I usually feed them nearer 8 but since I had extra to do, they were earlier this morning. Don’t think they fancied getting out of their warm bed at that time but funny how powerful an influence food is!

Next I walked out the croft to leave Bud with my mother for the day, and I picked up some crystalix mineral licks for the sheep that we got on Friday but I forgot to put them out on Saturday!

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The sheep go wild for this stuff. I fought off the temptation to use my pickup to take it in to the sheep (as I was soaking and filthy) so the tractor got fired up instead

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As you can see, it was still pretty dark at that time.

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A quick spin in the croft – the sheep are in the furthest sections away of the crofts, about 1/2 or 3/4 of a mile away – and I was greeted by sheep hiding behind the shelter myself and Innes put up 2 years ago. They need it on a morning like today.

As soon as they realised I had food, they came flying over. They love it! The only problem for them is they have to lick it – even though they’d love to bite off a big chunk!

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They’re always a bit ott with the stuff at first and it can lead to some bullying but they settle down quite quickly. I gave licks to 3 of the 4 flocks this morning. I’m leaving the blackfaces as I think they’re ok without.

Took the tractor out to my parents house after that, it’s going into the barn for the winter – and hopefully some TLC!

Walked home, fed the chicks and hens, now I have to contemplate a shower an going to work! The joys!

Why do I do all this, you may ask? Because I love it. Real sense of satisfaction – even on days like this!

Piggies no more (thankfully)

I have introduced the pigs before and there are several posts about them throughout the blog but today,the Kune-Kunes finally went to slaughter. They were nice, lively pigs but an absolute nightmare as well, as they kept getting out of their pen!

They were booked in to the slaughterhouse and I took them over this morning. They jumped straight into the trailer after I threw some pig rolls in, blissfully unaware of what was before them.

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Over to Stornoway they went, never to be seen again. There was a queue at the abattoir this morning, 6 trailers of cattle and sheep – 5 of them from Ness!

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They’ll be back in a week or so, ready for the freezer. The Gloucester Old Spots are still here, but they’ll be booked in for slaughter in a month or so.

Pigs

The latest batch of Gloucester Old Spot pigs arrived in mid-June of this year and have come along quite nicely. They should be ready for slaughter by the end of October. We usually have them on my croft but it was decided to have them on someone else’s croft this year, so that meant a new pen. Unfortunately, this pen hasn’t proven as stock-proof as mine! (mine was the same at first, pigs are intelligent and always find ways of breaking out).

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There are 4 of them and they’ve grown quite a lot in the 2 months we’ve had them

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They’re inquisitive animals but they settle down once they get some food.

They’ve been getting out quite a lot recently. Below is a picture of them coming back when I called them, they were out at Cross School, which is over half a mile away from where they should have been!

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So we’ve been trying to patch up the bottom of the fence to keep them in.

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This seems to have done the trick. The pigs stick their snouts under the fence, lift it up slightly and make their break for freedom! Barbed wire is usually a deterrent around the bottom but hasn’t been as successful this year.

The pigs themselves really churn up the ground, as can be seen here

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So hopefully the drama of the escaping pigs is over and we can concentrate on making sausages!

Arrival of the new piglets

I have had pigs twice before, once in 2009 and again in 2011.  This year, my neighbour has got 4, one of which is mine.  Pigs are social animals, so you have to keep them in groups of 2 or more.  It makes sense to keep all 4 together – especially since these are all siblings!

I went up to Calanais to get them this evening.  Calanais is famous for it’s standing stones but that’s not why I was there!  Here are the piglets, sound asleep in a barn

I was playing football for Ness tonight (yes, I am playing despite my dislocated finger) so I couldn’t leave until after 9.  Calanais is 30 miles away, so it was a late one, not arriving back home until 11.30pm.  I prefer getting it out of the way now, so I don’t have to use up some of my Saturday – which is going to be busy!

Anyway, here are the piglets feeding, once they’d woken up.

These piglets are Gloucester Old Spots and I’ve been getting them off the same guy since I started with pigs.  This is Cudaig Macleod (Cudaig is Gaelic for cuddy, a small fish).  He is a crofter and has also just been elected as a councillor to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council).  Here is Cudaig carrying one of the pigs out to the trailer.  I know it looks a little cruel but this is the best way to hold them – the pigs are totally calm.  They tend to scream their heads off if you hold them upright but they don’t even struggle this way.  Less stress for all involved.

Here are the piglets in the trailer, with a very very excited Bud looking on.

This is back in Ness at 11.30.  The piglets new home.

My brother Innes came to help me once I got back and the pigs are now settled down for the night.  Perky (my neighbour who’s taking responsibility for them) is back home in the next few days, so I’ll keep an eye and feed them until them.  Fingers crossed they don’t escape!!

Piggies!

I first got pigs in spring 2009.  I’d been talking about it for a while but did nothing about it, until my dad spoke to a guy who had some piglets and the rest, as they say, is history.

I learnt some lessons with the first piglets I got, namely not to give them names and not to get too attached!  They are brilliant animals, lively, interactive and friendly.  The first ones I had were named Bubbles & Jim Lahey.  All was good until it came to slaughter time, I had to leave the trip to the slaughter house to my dad, I couldn’t be involved at all.  However, due to a problem with the slaughter house band-saw, I had to saw Bubbles’ head off once the carcasses came home!

I didn’t get any pigs in 2010  but I got them again in 2011, 4 this time.  2 for me, one for my neighbour and one for my cousin.  Here they are when they arrived. I had to choose the 4 that would be on my croft, for the next 6 months.

They spent the first few days in the shed that would be their home/shelter, until they acclimatised

and they settled pretty quickly!

They were soon having lots of fun outside…

running around the field

They soon grew up to be pretty big….

and ended up looking like this!

The sausages were absolutely phenomenal.  I guarantee you can’t get better elsewhere!

So that was goodbye to the Gloucester Old Spots and I thought that would be that for a while, but less than a month later, with the pigs’ bed barely cold, some Kune-Kune’s arrived!  This picture was taken in my parent’s kitchen (and I think this is the first time I appear on my own blog!)

These are much smaller than the G.O.S. and will take about a year to mature.  Very cute, though

The only problem with their size is that they always escape!  This is them in with the rams!

These pigs will go to slaughter sometime in the autumn but I expect to have plenty more pictures/adventures between now and then – and there are also more Gloucester Old Spot piglets arriving next door in the next month or so!