three little piggies

three little piggies
on arrival

Friday, December 31, 2010


Our girls normally are an absolute delight. This week they have been the cause of concern, anxiety and an unnecessary phone call to the vet.
It started on Tuesday night and because I was under the weather Barry took on the evening shift of feeding the pigs and putting the hens away. I gave him full instructions and neither of us expected any problem.
On his return he commented how 'that big one is a handful' she had led him a merry dance tipping the water, grabbing the feed bucket from his hand and ultimately distracting his attention while trying to escape!
We both just put it down to them taking advantage of a new handler.
Next morning I was greeted with the same merry dance. The one we are keeping (we must give them names. Especially if we are keeping both of them) was sullen and sulky, the other one boisterous and domineering. I wouldn't let her get one over on me and even managed to hold her weight against the stable door while locking it to prevent her from escaping.
By evening feed I was worried that something was wrong. The girl we are keeping didn't get up for her feed, the other one ate a little, drank a little and walked in circles around around her sister. I managed to persuade her to have a drink. Checked the poo's they were ok, but she definately wasn't right.
I rang Barry, I rang Jane, I lay down beside her I began to panic and rang the vet. He was most helpful, went through a list of symptoms. He was most polite when I asked if he thought she was in heat, he put my mind at ease and said if I still had concerns he would come out the following morning.
I checked, yes they are both in heat. One suffers mood swings the other needs a hot water bottle, a bar of galaxy and Donny Osmond singing 'Puppy Love' in the background!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

a trip to the park

Today the stable needed to be 'bottomed'. They still had lots of nice dry straw on top but underneath was definately turning cruddy. First giving them some nice juicy apples to chew on I went in armed with brush and shovel. I managed to get a barrow full scraped to the closed door before they finished munching and decided to see how the brush tasted. Before long I realised I was fighting a losing battle so called on the help of Barry. I would keep them entertained while he filled the barrow. With the door open it wasn't long before one bolted, the othe tossing me to one side followed her sister. They made their way to the car park, didnt like walking on the gravel but Barry was making great progress emptying the stable. So we carried on walking to 'their field' where they had a wonderful romp around the field, although they didn't enjoy the skating, had a bit of a rut then with an all clear wave to say the stable was done we walked back. Thoroughly enjoying their walk in the park they settled in their nice clean straw for an afternoon nap !

Friday, December 17, 2010

They have settled into their stable quite nicely and I feel happier that they are more comfortable. They have an eating area, a boudoir and a place for toillette. Wii and plasma screen have not been fitted yet.....if they are very good girls perhaps Santa will feel generous. Their favourite pastime is pulling the water bucket off the wall but they do enjoy the puppet shows that visitors put on whilst viewing them over the stable door!!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Entertaining the pigs

Now our pigs are used to be entertained, they are used to the best life has to offer, normally spending each day exploring every inch of their field. How will they take to their new quarters? Will they get bored? It has been suggested that they should have a plasma screen fitted with a wii fit to keep them entertained!!!

A Northumberland winter

With temperatures reaching -14 at night rising to -9 during the day we decided to move the pigs indoors. Their cosy little ark was begining to look like an igloo and they were becoming increasingly disgruntled with the snow. So after the stable was cleared of debris and filled with a couple of bails of straw they began their journey to their temporary winter residence.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

all the worlds a stage

Check out the day I became a thespian.......not a natural actor may I add to vote!
You will also find this on Henrys facebook under stray fox

Saturday, November 27, 2010

dancing on ice

Never mind the wellies can we have some blades so we can practice our ice skating!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Here are some other photo's I took this morning. The santa scarecrow is certainly the worse for this year!

pigs in snow

 At first light this morning I was excited to see how the pigs responded to snow. So armed with a bucket of food and the camera I discovered,by the time I got there, they had already explored most of the pen. They seemed bemused at their wallow and tentatively put trotter in one at the time only allowing three to be in at the same time.
Then the girl we are keeping noticed me taking pics and bounded over. Powdered snow leaving a smoky trail. Her sister soon followed. They didn't have much to say more interested in food.

By the time I went down with this evenings feed, they had more to say. Grunt grunt, oink oink oink grunt. I translated this as urgh this is horrible you could at least provide some nice shiny wellies and a pink hoody.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Miss Marple/ying yang part2

I'm not convinced at all that the wipe out was due to a four legged fiend. The sign left behind are not conclusive to an attack by a beastie.
There were no marks on the dead (apart from 1 cochin who had a tear on her chest and we had to put out of her misery.) No dismembered or half eaten carcasses. The hens that had been eaten were laid out in a way a bird of prey would have fed. I dont believe a bird of prey was the culpritt either. The fence was still secure and even though and animal could have got in quite easily it would have been difficult to have got out with a chicken (so many times) without leaving exit clues somewhere. There were no feathers or distortion to the fence.
The guinea fowl were completely gone, no feathers or remnants of body parts, flown away in fright I presumed. I scoured the fields for signs of them but couldn't find any.
However last night after feeding the hungary porker's, I questioned them about their whereabouts saturday night sunday morning and although I found their oinks and grunt's difficult to interpretate for some reason (it was still playing on my mind) I had yet another look around the guinea fowl pen. It was dark, not a lot of light and I didn't have a torch, but just catching the corner of my eye tucked in a clump of long grass was a packet of extra strong mint's! Oh how our urbin foxes have evolved!!!!
I suspect fowl play by a two legged animal!

ying and yang part 1

Saturday I was full of busy. Moving the guinea fowl to their new run, moving the bees into the polytunnel to give a little extra protection. We received our new bed, heaven. with all chores completed we collapsed into our new bed, knowing we would have a day off on Sunday. It would be my neice and nephews 21st and we were looking forward to seeing them.
Sunday morning, the usual routine, weighing out food into containers to take to feed the animals. All was well until I reached the the orchard where the collection of welsommers, cochins and rhode island red's are/were kept. I could see 2 or three bodies in the run. Scared of the memories of the last masacre that greeted me I returned to the house informed Barry grabbed a bag and he accompanied me for the clear up.
Both Cochins, Rhode Island Red's, and all but 2 cocks and the 2 old welsomer hens were dead.
We cleared up Monsieur Reynard had been busy we muttered, but all did not seem right. The was not a mark on the birds. And how did he jump the fence, holding onto to chickens, without leaving a trace?
I couldn't talk about it I felt so sick. All the hard work this year of rearing a stock for next year almost completely wiped out.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I don't like the thought of the pigs being out in this atrocious weather. I felt so sorry for them when I went to feed them tonight. So while they were scoffing their tea I stole a moment in their ark! How cosy it was too, if you closed your eyes it was a snug little country cottage with chintz curtains, a wood burning stove with a whistling kettle waiting to make tea with plates of jam and scones on the table a family portrait on the wall. They will be as snug as a bug in a rug, all snuggled up!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

i hates those mices to pieces

If you have a phobia does it seek you out? Everywhere I venture mice seem to greet me. Even to the extent that cocoa the chihuahua who thinks she's a cat left me a dead one as a present !!! Urghhh (shudder)

The pigs have been a bit 'bull in a china shop' recently having broke two water buckets in two days!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

times are a changing

This weekends clock changes have brought havoc, as usual to our household. From 5 o'clock alarms to remembering which clock had been changed already. Animals also find this a strange phenonemon and are waiting for their grub long before it's due.
On Sunday I became a thespian. Taking part in a commercial promoting Shakespeare to the ordinary folk which is being commisioned by the Theatre Royal, Newcastle. I had several attempts before we had a rap, leaving Jane to continue bringing all the tools in from the field by herself. She was to be my understudy incase I got stage fright. The chickens refused to perform entirely and I informed the director 'never work with children, animals or your mother'!!!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

immunisations and iguanas

The girls immunisations were due. So after collecting the paraphanalia from the vets we discussed the most comfortable way we could do it. As I am a bit squeamish Jane drew the short straw to do the actual deed. Feed time would be best, they rarely take any notice of anything while their snouts are in the trough, we thought. Food in trough, over the fence and scchhluckgg, squishy squelchy mud we were stuck fast. Fortunately Jane was able to reach the back of the first girls neck and straight in and dispensed the dosage. With empty hypodermic in hand she carefully passed it to me and manually lifted her stuck feet one at a time until she reached the other pig. Again as quick as a flash straight in the back of the neck. All done, pigs none the wise to what had happened, no trauma, no distress. Pheww. Petting them we noticed one of the girls had a graze on her back. Jane cleaned it and checked that it wasn't anymore than a graze. She was fine.
The next morning they were happy as pigs in.... well they were very happy. While they were having breakfast I checked them over and there was no sign of the graze at all.

So what about the iguanas? They were in a tank at the vets. The tank resembled a miniture rain forest. At first I didn't even notice them. It was the peculiar noise they were making that drew my attention!

Monday, October 25, 2010

breaking ice

The girls were as snug as a bug in a rug when I took their breakfast this morning. Their water buckets had a thin layer of ice which I broke by punching it gently. Dutifully I replenished the water by which time the girls were ready for a drink. Before putting the snout in the bigger girl tapped the top of the water with a trotter. I dont know if this was instinct on a cold day or if she had seen me break the ice and had decided to copy. We do have the most intelligent pigs !

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The girls have settled into their new pen, having a good old rut. All this rain of late has certainly swamped the field. fortunately we placed their ark on the highest point so it's dry and quite snug in there. To add some extra insulation I gave them a bale of straw this morning (as it has been nippy in the mornings and we have had a frost. One morning there was even a thin layer of ice on their water buckets.) By this afternoon they had rearranged the straw, airiated it and stacked it. I hope they are not frightened of heights as it is so high it will feel like they are both on the top bunk!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Handle with care

As we were enjoying our deserved refreshments they explored their new pen. I washed the troughs and buckets collected some straw from the barn and barrowed it up to the pen. They played a game of 'lets push against the gate while Jane is on the other side' which was great fun for them but exhausting for me. I placed their clean troughs and buckets over the fence and while they were checking them out took the opportunity to open the gate and push the wheelbarrow of straw in. Now it was time to play the game 'lets run in and out the gate' but once the gate was firmly closed with them inside, their favourite game became 'lets tip the wheelbarrow and run around the pen with straw in our mouths'. I managed to get most of the straw in the arc when I spotted something brown amongst the straw at precisely the same time the pigs saw it. Quick as a flash, I picked it up and threw it over the fence. It had narrowly escaped being a live snack. It landed softly still wrapped in a duvet of straw it seemed non the worse for its adventure. I carefully placed the hedgehog and straw duvet in a bucket and took it straight back to to the barn. It seemed oblivious to it's outing and continued to sleep. I hope the rest of  it's hibernation is uneventful.
Moving is usually a traumatic experience but our girls handled it well today. On opening the gate they followed confidently into the next pen where breakfast was waiting. However moving the arc was a different matter. First attempt was to tie rope to it and the quad and drag it. The quad move a few feet, the rope snapped and the arc stayed put. Manual handling was the only way, with 2 strong men at hand I guided the way. It was no mean feat what with sloppy mud to contend with, sucking the wellies off with each step and me not knowing my left from my right. A brief rest when we reached the grass and through the gate into the second pen. By this time the pigs had finished munching and were inquisitive to why their house was hovering 2 feet off the ground. unafraid the entered. Another rest while we decided where it would be best sited. Offering apples to the pigs to tempt them out of the arc while it was positioned in its final destination. A cup of tea and a custard tart in order!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Well the belly pork was absolutely delicious, the best bit of cracknel I've had in donkey's years.
It is strange just having the 2 pigs. They have a new pen which just needs it's gate hung and by Saturday should be in their new winter quarters.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

720 inches wow

We collected our meat from the butcher tonight, much more than we had expect. In fact 720 inches of sausages.  He informed us that it was very good meat, lean, tender with little fat, high quality. We felt very proud.
Some chops have been grilled and tasted, the verdict 'tasty, very, very tasty'.
p.s. 720 is the only calculation I'm doing tonight. I'll work out exactly how many kilo's of meat soon

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

chops and chips

We have been digging some wonderful desiree potatoes. Absolute yarkers.
Gary the butcher rang today to inform me that the pork can be collected tomorrow. So by 4.30 most of it will be in the freezer and around 6, for tea, we will have the best pork chops in the world served with the best chips from our taties mmmmm.

Monday, October 11, 2010

the lost boy

On Saturday I received a phone call to see if I had 'sent the pig on Thursday' as he hadn't been delivered! I went straight into panic mode but was assured that the slaughterhouse was closed until Monday so there was nothing I could do. With all the commotion of wrong earings and forms filled in I had visions of him sitting in someone elses freezer/plate. This morning I was bestowed with the information that he had spent the weekend in the cooler, not any old cooler but Marks and Spencers, and had now been transferred to Gary. Phew!!
The postman had left me a package from the nice trading standards man that had been so understanding. Full of relevant forms to be filled in (for the next time) and a wonderful easy read leaflet titled 'this little piggie goes to market......not if it doesn't have it's herd tag it doesn't'. How apt I thought if only he had sent it before Thursday !!!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Thursday went well. All the rehearsing and practise paid off in as much as the boy pig entered the trailer, travelled from the field to the car park, was then hitched to the car. He was given a minimal amount of food to entice him in and half a bail of staw. By the time we left home on his last journey he had made himself a bed with the straw and went to sleep.
He was still sleeping when we arrived at the destination. How he slept through all the commotion I do not know. It was like entering a different world......I couldn't help thinking not unlike how Wendy must have felt when Peter Pan took her to Neverland.
We didn't need to flutter our eyelashes to have the trailer reversed for us, (a rehersal we didn't have time for) a gentleman offered before we had a chance to look helpless. Not because we were female but because he had never driven a BMW before!
Another gentleman informed me my paperwork wasn't in order! I assured him that I had filled every scrap that DEFRA had given me. But no, he definately wanted a food chain record form filled in and not the neat pile of food receipts that Jane had so carefully put in date order. The tag (that horrible earing) that identified him was also wrong. I hadn't changed it to our own heard number, it was still sporting Darrens instead. He scribbled a few notes in his  book and showed me I had his telephone number in my file of pig paperwork for future reference.
By this time two men had come to unload our boy. Surprised to see him asleep Jane gently woke him and coached him out of the trailer, 'come on my son' and he followed the men to his journey's end.
I was told by the gentleman whose number I had to go to the office and fill in the relevant forms then I was free to go. By this time there was a bit of a backlog of cattle trucks waiting to unload. The form filling was as easy as pie, a few ticky boxes and vacant looks from the vet as I answered his questions. At least I new which butcher he was going to. I asked if it was always like this or would it be easier the next time. The vet informed me that trading standards were doing a spot visit, how unfortunate I replied, he agreed. He would be delivered to Gary the butcher. (We had visited Gary the previous week had discussed what size joints we required etc. and he was to ring us for collection next week.)
We were moved on, the car was parked infront of the sensor, the electric gates were opening and closing far too many times and we could wear the battery out. We said our goodbyes and left.
The boy had a stress free end, something we had aimed for from the very begining.

My daughter has been very good, googled all the relevant information we need for the next time so she isn't embarrassed by women like us that give women like her a bad name.

I received a phone call from Gary this morning asking if we had taken the pig on Thursday as he hasn't received it yet. The abetoir is closed and I have no way of finding where he is till Monday.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


We have practised every eventualities we can think of have all the paperwork completed. With dress rehearsal over tomorrow the boy will become what his life was intended for. Meat. He has been a very fortunate pig. Not all the pork and bacon we eat have been pigs that have run on grass felt the rain or sunshine on their backs, eaten the best quality food, rutted in the mud. He was never intended as a pet, always destined for the table.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

ooh very good

 In they went 1 x 1 enticed not by melons or apples (we new the cucumber wouldn't work) but by ordinary everyday pig pellets. It's become another game for them and at least he isn't going to get distressed getting in the trailer for his last journey. Unfortunately the ground is too wet to drive them round the field, we still have a few more day's before the imminent departure so if it dries up a little we may give it a try.

We have seperated them and managed to get the boy in whilst distracting the girls so finger's crossed it will be alright on the day.

Our next goal is vaccinating the girls which we will attempt soon. Then getting another pen fenced off as the one they are in is totally rutted and is becoming waterlogged. I think the girls will like a nice new pen.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A night in the stiles!

We have a date for taking the boar to slaughter. So with this in mind we thought we would practise getting him used to the trailer. Something we had planned to do for a while but time had slipped by and hadn't been a priority. It may have been better if we had waited til the weekend, but no on a cold dark night we belived it to be possible. The first obstacle became getting the quad and trailer from the garage. I'm not completely au fait with driving and it had been sometime since my instruction from him indoors and I hadn't had any instruction to reverse the quad. So with each attempt taking me closer o the main road I rang him indoors (twice) had my neighbours advice and still it wouldn't go backwards. There was no option but to push it in position, man handle the trailer and hitch. A bit of a bumpy start, it was pitch black by the time we got to the pigs. They were fast asleep but the commotion soon woke them and they were ready to rehearse. Jane distracted them with apples while the trailer was positioned and the gate opened. Apples were placed in the trailer to tempt the pigs in. They did very well, although they didn't enter the trailer (it did look like a dark tunnel) they managed to get so far up the ramp. With apples consumed, the tired pigs made their way back to bed while we hitched the trailer for the return journey. While Jane was locking the gate and they were stood outside their ark, well not exactly stood, (i'm going to put this as politely as I can, because sometimes our parents read this!) the boar tried to have a piggy back! I don't know if it was Janes shout of disgust or the commotion of the night in general, but his sister was in no frame of mind to 'play' and promptly bit him!

Monday, September 27, 2010


After spending most of the day in the back of Jane's car, the last of the plums had fermented nicely by the time they made their way to the pigs supper trough. It was far to wet and dark to see if they had any effect on their constitution. But the aroma of alcohol left behind in the car was very strong, I hope she drove home with the windows down!!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

How many sausages

How heavy is a big before it goes to market? We have been given lots of rules of thumb and calculate weights regularly but what is the optimum weight,? Today we calculated the boy as being about 11 1/2 stone and although they are all putting on the beef they dont look like those massive pigs you send to market.

Home Design

While they were gobbling a nice tasty supper of peculiar shaped (and coloured) cucumbers we took the opportunity to bring a wheelbarrow of straw in the pen to line the ark. It has been very wet of late and a bit nippy at night so we thought they would appreciate some straw bedding. They obviously had differing ideas of where the straw should be, perhaps it clashed with the sculpured floor!!!

Monday, September 20, 2010


The two little welsommer chicks which survived the atrocities last week have been rerehoused. After the event the older worverks seemed happy to keep them under their wing. By evening it was apparent that they were not happy with them in their space so we put them in another ark close to one of the new runs we had built very close to the newest chicks. They settled down but have been very skittish ever since, trying to access their neighbours run every time I went near them. So yesterday afternoon I moved them into the run with the other chicks and tonight you couldn't tell them apart. They are much happier in a flock :-)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

wet, wet, wet

All this rain has made it impossible to dig potatoes today. Instead I decided to give the polytunnel a tidy up. Most of the tomatoes and cucumbers are coming to and end and the melons were ready for picking, so I have spent a delightful day, harvesting and weeding and adding manure to the beds, all in the company of Paul Weller. The plus side for the pigs was the mid-day snack of cucumber, over ripe melons and tomatoes and a couple of aubergines all washed down with a bucket of fine northumberland rain water!!!

A day off

We had a day off from tatty picking and had a trip to the metropolis. Leaving brigadoon behind our first sight was a wandering minstrel. Traversing up  the great north road was a young chap playing guitar as he made his way to his destination. Not something you often see in this day and age, not in Northumberland anyway!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


This morning I had the unfortunate experience of finding only two live chicks out of a clutch of 14 which we recieved last week. Through the night they had a visit from a stoat and that is about as much detail as I am going into.
I know country isn't all pretty and I have come across the preditor's leftovers before but this time I aint putting up with it. Barry is out there now with his rocking chair, poncho, gun and cigar, 'do you feel lucky'!

The pigs, too far away so oblivious to the massacre, have a constant flow of presents. Mainly apples and plums, windfalls from peoples orchards. Today they recieved a football ! perhaps they will invent a new game of 3 aside trotter ball!!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

chihuahuas meet pigs

Today was the day  the chihuahuas were taken to meet the pigs. Affectionately known as yappy and snappy, treacle likes people and barking and doesn't like animals whereas cocoa likes snapping at people, letting people know she is boss and doesn't like being told off. on entering the field the friendly pigs came to the fence to greet them, yappy immediately returned her form of greeting by yapping as loud and as long as she could. The pigs began squealing and grunting and snorting at the commotion. Cocoa took fright ran into the field next door and cowered beside the bull!!!
Perhaps it will be their only introduction!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fait complete

Yesterday found us with one coop and run completed and we felt confident, having hit all the usual flat pack snags, that the other two would be finished today. We hit more snags today, mainly a quick trip to focus to buy screws, nuts and bolts which were not included as specified!!!  Again 3 number 13's and not one number 6, we were shouting out numbers as if reading from a chinese menu rather than instructions from a flat pack. Not only did we fulfil our wish we also managed to cuprinol two of them. Not a bad days work.
I feel I must assure people that they are definately dungarees in the style of Felicity Kendall and not Dexy's Midnight Runners as some have suggested.I definately uttered 'whoops' and possibly 'whoops a daisy' on several occasions when the power drill slipped. When we discovered the sides were on upside down it was definately 'shucks' that tripped from my tongue. Me thinks DMR's may have said something stronger, whereas F K would have reacted with the same explanitives as I !

Saturday, September 11, 2010

All in a days work

As we systematically worked our way through the step by step instructions we encountered many errors. Screws and nuts and bolts which just weren't adequate for the job. Barry's garage/worshop was raided to supplement the meagre bag of included sundries. We came to the conclusion that perhaps this delivery had perhaps come from further afield than Devon!
After a long morning, a short late lunch, by early afternoon the last piece was put in place.
Voila 1 very well assembled coop.
All we need to do now is catch a chicken or two to complete it!

Felicity Kendall

Eat your heart out!
I was reminded today that she won rear of the year, possibly several times. She didn't actually set the garden, look after all these animals or build the coops. She had a whole production team to make it look easy. I will never get rear of the year or have the magic of television at hand but I still strive to fulfil the dream.
Today was the day we built the first coop. On opening a box, after taking delivery of 3 flat packs earlier this week from the devon poultry company, we realised from reading the instructions that they weren't something we could put together in an evening after work. So today, straight after the menial feeding chores were completed we set to.
First checking the contents were all there. We had 3 number 13's, according to the instructions we should just have 1. No  number 6 at all. We opened another box, that was worse. The componements hadn't been numbered at all. It only had 2 number 13's nothing that resembled a number6 from the drawing and number 4 was damaged. We chose not to send them back, time is not on our side to wait for the toing and froing of merchandise and cash. Afterall we have the imminent delivery of yet another clutch of chicks.


  • The first delivery of chicks are now close to point of lay. They have grown into fine looking birds.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

This morning the pigs enjoyed a small bucket of plums along with their usual breakfast and tonight have had a hearty supper of apples. They are such happy pigs and enjoy the company of each other and people. They let us in the pen no problem but the minute we go to leave they heave their hefty bodies against the gate to prevent us from leaving....and oh are they heavy to move now. Sometimes its just as easy to jump over the fence. Although not recommended when wearing cheryl cole trousers!!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


I feel like the old woman that lives in the shoe, with so many chickens.....etc. So after the last delivery we realised we didn't have time to build any more coops and decided to purchase some from the internet. Today we took delivery of a number of boxes containing 3 flat pack coops. After a hectic evening feeding the menagerie (including 2 grown up sons) watering, collecting eggs and all the other little jobs that need attention. we decided to open one of the boxes and read the destructions in preperation of the imminent erection. Thats as far as we got when the sun set. Janes son being far more productive digging potatoes and moving the boxes under cover. Its not a job we can do in an evening we discussed, perhaps a weekend job when we can have a good run at it. The chicks will certainly not come to any harm until then.
As we were saying our goodnights and jane got into her car, the sight of flesh caught the corner of my eye. She had torn her trousers, not in the usual manner, but down the outside seam from hip right down to her knee. In the style of Cheryl Cole!!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

birds of a feather

Another delivery of chicks today. 11 welsomers 1 black silky and a blue cochin.
We tried to count them tonight and this is how it goes:
6 vorwerks
2 white leghorns
2 blue leghorns
1 blue ancana
2 brown leghorns
3 blue cochins
2 rhode island reds
27 welsomers
and 1 black silky
There are a number of cockerals amongst them so the welsomers will be reduced. The others are either in hen/cock pairs or hens. This is not the end, more welsommers are coming later this week and next week we will take receipt of a number of guinea fowl. I doubt if any will be laying by the end of the season but we will have a good supply of eggs in the spring.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Putting the beef on

Even seeing the pigs everyday their gowth is clearly visible. Today after their weekly measure we decided to use the formula to calculate their weight! So with pen, paper and tape measure we carefully took down the details measuring first the heart girth, just behind the front legs, then the length from the base of the ears to the base of the tail. These measurements were then taken to the kitchen table and with calculator in hand and lots of advice from everyone around (maths not being my strong point) I followed the formula.
1. square the heart girth which was 36
2. multiply the girth by the length which was 44
3.divide by 400.
Now we have the weight in pounds. We made that just over 10 stone ! If anyone can be bothered to work it out and see if I'm right please comment with your answere's.

chicks on the run

The chicks are now big enough to be allowed a little freedom. Not totally free range but they certainly have enough space for a good stretch.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Ginger goats were a big hit for the janes. We can just see a couple of them chewing through the overgrowth, saving us the job of mowing and strimming. Tracy Lee also had an impact on us spookily uncanny!!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

peripheries of pigs

Introducing the trailer to the pigs or visa versa.
As I entered the field they excitedly bounded over to greet me. I think they just like the noise of the quad. Once I stopped and went into the
pen they resumed the ritual of biting my bum and seeing if I had any more apples in my pockets. Ignoring the lovely shiny trailer. It was too windy to take it in the pen so hopefully we will show them a closer look soon then can practice putting them in.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

travelling in style

We arose bright and early to get all the chores done before setting off for Scotland. First calling in at the bank for some petty cash, we took the scenic route. Past Rothbury and onward and upward we turned left for Coldstream and kept a keen eye open for the Ifor Williams distributer (instructions had been just outside Coldstream but couldn't remember if it was earlsted or earlston) We had programmed the i phone with the destination, but of course there was no reception and although could sort of remember occasional left and rights but neither of us were sure of distance. 20 miles later I spied a garage with some trailers, low and behold we had found it. The trailer was waiting for us, not quite pristine but with only one careful owner 'a hobbiest' we were told, we nabbed our bargain. Duly paid for it, hitched it, realised we had forgot the number plate too and borrowed some cardboard and a pen to make a temporary one. Without a second glance on route back home travelling the more direct A68. This was not as scenic or as entertaining.
 Our visit to Scotland was much too brief but managed to take in the sights of the Flodden fields, Floors Castle and will never forget umpty bumty burial ground. I kid you not. I would like this to be my final resting place!!!!
If we have time we may be introducing the pigs to their new to them trailer this weekend.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


We had another 4 welsommer chicks delivered today. They are 4 weeks old fluffy and cute. I am finding it difficult to keep up with them now and need to organise a plan to build more runs and cree's to house them, seperating them into their breeds. We will have to think about culling the excess cockerals when they get to point of lay otherwise they will begin to compete and eventually fight with each other.
Tatie picking is going great, just keeping up with sales. Home grown taties are worth the effort and taste out of this world.
The pigs are happier now they are on big pig food, suplemented with the occasional cucumber and apple. We are going to purchase a trailer this weekend in preparartion for when the first is ready to go to market.

Tonight instead of counting sheep I will be counting chickens !!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The minxing pigs have had a rare old time while I've been away today. When I went to feed  them their water bucket was in the middle of the field. Chances are if this rain keeps up we will be teaching them how to swim this weekend!!

electric therapy

while watching the pigs I idley went to put my hand on the fence. As i brushed against it I noticed the electric wire that the farmer had put up to keep the cows off. In a split second I was thrown slightly and immediately felt the effect of the trapped nerve in my neck being released. Now I wouldn't recommend touching electric fences as a cure all and perhaps it was the awkward way I retrieved my fall that was the cure but I certainly feel better for it !
Those cheeky little chicks are losing their fluffy feather and starting to get their true colours, not the prettiest of birds but will lay the most beautiful dark brown eggs with huge yellow yolks.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The pigs are on big pig food now. They were starting to get a bit hungry but the main reason was that the stockists didn't have any growers left. We have also put extra buckets in as their intake of water has increased too. Ivan, the farmer next door kindly gave me a couple of old tyres to hold the buckets steady. and we have put them well out of reach of his cows!
Cocoa is recovering well from her little op. Treacle was obviously in a lot of discomfort and pain so we took her back to the vets yesterday. She was examined and everything was how it should be and she was prescribed some doggie pain killers. She soon picked up and although not back to their normal yappy and snappy selves. They are recovering well.
The veg is now being harvested. Even the mini aubergines!  We are only waiting for the carrots to get a bit bigger and the melons to ripen. We  can make a veg box up or you can select only the veg you like. Give me a ring before you call and I will have it ready for you.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Poor little things, still sleeping after their little op. Hope they feel better soon

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

leap chicken

Having spent a delightful day celebrating our unit being open for 25 years, I arrived home to witness the older chicks playing leap frog. It was really quite funny to see these chickens in miniture jumping over each other. All stood in line whilst the one at the back jumped over the ones in front until reaching the front of the line. Then the one at the back starting the routine all over again. The camera, well I left it in the house!!
The pigs, I have been told, can be seen quite clearly from the train. I am informed by regular commuters their antics while I'm away. Sometimes they are rutting but more often than not they are frollicking happily in their field.

Monday, August 16, 2010

apples crunch

With all the rain we have had lately we have had to move the pigs troughs and water bucket. They were plodging in mud and we don't want them catching any nasties. They found their troughs with no problem, finding their water buckets was a different matter and even though they have had a few days to learn the new position they still go back to the old corner for water. They have aquired a taste for cucumber but had their first apples on sunday. Straight from the tree. At first I think they thought they were balls to be played with, but after the first bite they soon devoured their tasty tit bit.
We have a busy couple of days ahead then hopefully we are going to put the pig boards to test

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

monsoon pigs

At teatime tonight a cloud meant for the tropics lost its way and found itself over Northumberland. Instead of waiting for directions and going on it's way, it decided to empty it's load. It's not the first monsoon we have had of late, it's not the first monsoon to have drenched me to the skin, it's not even the first monsoon that the pigs have seen. However it is the first monsoon to happen just as they should have been chomping at the trough. Instead the scardey pigs oinked at the entrance to the ark tentatively putting a trotter out and quickly returning it to dry land. Nothing could tempt them out. Should I give them 'breakfast in bed'. No definately not as the tropical cloud depleted it's contents they soon came running for nosh.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Well its nearly 24 hours since I have seen the pigs. Jane kindly came to feed them for me last night. She said they were on top form having a good old rutt. She brushed the girls but after a good wallow, he remains a dirty boy!!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010


They ate their courgettes and cucumbers yesterday but left their cabbage!!!
Everything is growing well at the moment. We are harvesting vegetables and it won't be long before the first lot of chicks are at point of lay. The last lot of chicks have just moved into a larger shed and are begining to get proper feathers. They are still amusing to watch and already a pecking order is in place, only the smallest and dizziest of the bunch doesn't recognise this order and carries on regardless causing mahem wherever she is.
The pigs visibly look so much bigger, but measuring them today they all still measure 31 inches (I'm not sure what that is in sausages). perhaps they will have a spurt soon!!

Friday, August 6, 2010


After a fine tea of normandy pork and caramel lumpy bumpy cake, when most pigs should have been fast asleep our teenagers were up for a bit of tuition. How fast they learn. At first they tried to eat it, obviously plyboard and paint are preferable to courgettes which they still turn their snouts to (although the cows do seem to like them) but in no time at all they were walking to board.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

artistic pigs

Not only do we have the best pigs in the world they are proving to be quite creative. Without the usual source of crayons and paper they used only materials available to them to come up with this fascinating self portrait. The back of their ark is the canvas and mud as paint, I think they used their rump as a brush. What delights!!!!


I managed to transfer the bees from their travelling box to the hive yesterday. I did it too soon in the afternoon. Although it was cool I should have waited till dusk but rain threatened again and I didn't want to wait another night. The had a fair attack but I escaped unstung and within a few hours were finding their way to and from their new home with no problems.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

rain stops play!

We had hoped to continue with the weekly ritual, measuring the pigs tonight and also to transfer the bees from their travelling box to the hive.  Rain stopped play, not ordinary rain but torrential  and persistant until it was too dark to do it anyway. Both these activities will have to wait to tomorrow evening now.


The chicks are so funny, they can find the smallest gap to get through and already think the grass is greener on the otherside of the fence. But with a huge cockeral on the otherside they soon come running back. When putting them away last night we thought we had done rather well. In their hutch in double quick time and no fuss or tantrums. As we were walking away feeling accomplished two little fluff balls ran from the corner where they had been hiding. Missing their friends we soon had them all tucked away safe and sound.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

no, I haven't forgot the pigs

What fun they had after tea, a real mad half hour. Brother and sister having a bit of a tussle as other sister had a pet all to herself. All three running around the pen like racehorses (well that may be a bit of an exaggeration) but funniest was the girl we are keeping (we must give her a name or number or something) climbed onto the bale of hay and sat beside me. She will be asking for a fag next !!!


Tonight I had an assignation with a gentleman who had a very special box. We had pre-arranged a rendezvous at 9.00pm on the A69. I slipped him a wad of £20's as he positioned a prepared box in the boot of the car (they don't come cheap) (sorry that was uncalled for) And as the sun settled into dusk we went our seperate ways. All the way home a distant hummmmm could be heard. What a lovely buzzzzzzzzz when we opened the boot. They certainly sound like feisty bee's

One step beyond

The little chicks had their first step outside a cage for the first time today. At first they hesitated, soon exploring the vast open space of their enclosure which will prove too small for them in a month or two. They found a hiding place scurrying back each time they heard a new noise they weren't sure of. By afternoon they were having a wonderful time, practising flying, one divebombed landing on the back of another. One caught a worm and ran around with it hanging from its mouth, all the others chasing it, till it realised it was good to swallow. However as soon as I got the camera out they decided to became candid and would not perform at all!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

chick pics

This is one of the 4 week old chicks, its a cochin. It has already got the start of it characteristic feathered legs. They look like bloomers. We moved them into the old guinea fowl pen tonight so they are able to leave the hutch, which is a little crowded, safely. Only a few were brave enough to do so and then it was tentatively, except for the hyperactive welsommer. It decided to go piggy back on the cochin before taking flight landing half way up the hutch and falling off!!!
Pigs are doing well, coping with the trail of visitors they have each day.
My last day of holiday tomorrow, its going to be difficult leaving these animals on their own again. I'd best make the most of it

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

An acquired taste.

At breakfast this morning along with their pig food they were given a small helping of courgettes mixed with cucumber. scoffing their ordinary food with the usual gusto I hadn't time to wait and see them devour the C & C. By lunchtime when I went to replenish the water (those sneaky cows are putting their heads over the fence for a swift half bucket) the C & C had disappeared completely, I wonder by whom. Have the pigs acquired a taste or did the cows scoff the lot!!!
We have also had another delivery of chicks. 4 weeks old a variety of welsommers, rhode island and cochan.

Monday, July 26, 2010

We remembered the tape measure and low and behold they are getting bigger, the two girls measuring at a hefty 31 inches and the boy 30 inches. How they enjoy being measured, continuing to rutt away oblivious to the task. Occasionally walking away, taking me and the tape measure a few yards, me landing flat on my face.....oh the joys of measuring a pig!!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lots of visitors today, Antonia suggested calling the pig Pixy or Pearl. As usual they were very well behaved, had a hair brush but we forgot the tape measure for the weekly weigh in so we will have to do that tomorrow. They are so laid back as easy as an old shoe

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

not so fluffly chicks

The chicks are 7 going on 8 weeks old now and are losing their fluff. I still believe that we have a hen and a cock of each variety as the crown is quite pronounced on one of each pair. This is not a fail safe method of sexing hens and we will still not know for definate until they are 16 to 20 weeks old. By this time if the days are still long enough the hens will start laying and the cocks will start crowing and showing other behavoural characteristics. We only have 1 Ancana and i think it may be a hen.

playful pigs

Rachel suggested penelope pigstop as a name. She is so sweet natured perhaps we should call her honey. She just loves a brush and a cuddle and the boy, now, is always first to lie down for his tummy tickle. They now let us touch their ears and are totaly comfortable and at ease with us. This is important as it will be less stressful for them when they need their injections etc. especially when they are too big for us too manhandle. Surely it can't be cruel to give them a good life.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

to name or not to name

That is the question, everyone asks us what we call them...The Boy, The Girl We Are Keeping and The Girl We Are Not Keeping !!! A bit of a mouthful I know we can tell them apart...The Boy has a pink nose, so we know which one he is if he is facing us or not.......The Girl We Are Not Keeping has a white tip on her tail and a broader saddle.... and The Girl We Are Keeping has the narrowest saddle and is slighlty smaller than the others. We dont really want to give the ones we are not keeping a name but thought it might be an idea to give The Girl We Are Keeping a name. Gertrude and Buttercup are favourites but we welcome your suggestions please keep them original she will have to live with it for a while :-)

pigs in the mist

At morning feed time it was difficult to see the pigs through the mist, it soon cleared and they spent most of the day happily rutting whilst their neighbours stole their water, tut tut. There was another calf born in the early hours (I hope it wasn't startled by mr. fox sneaking off with the last of the guinea fowl hens).
This afternoon feed found us singing in the rain again, not quite in the style of Gene Kelly but hey ho we can't all be as lightfooted as he.
Jane sends her apologies but will be here tomorrow to brush out any tats, if your lucky she may have a mud pack and flannel......does this constitute as a pamper day!

Monday, July 19, 2010

If this weather keeps up we will need to teach the pigs how to swim, their hair will be ruined!!!

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Finishing the day with a visit from the hairdresser and a good old brush down.

Weight Watchers, Hairdressers and cucumbers

After tea we had a weekly measure, a bit like weight watchers in reverse.
girl we are keeping 28 inches
boy 29 inches
girl we are not keeping a wopping 30 inches.

They then had some cucumber to cleanse the pallette from all the mud and grass between the teeth.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The pigs are certainly fettling this field. They had tried rutting from arrival but since the rain it wont be long before there isn't much grass left at all. The girl we are keeping greeted me with a buttercup sticking out of her mouth and the girl we are not keeping bit my bum!
A little known fact brought to me by Richard  Smith tonight, 'pigs can devour a human body in 24hours and it is the most common way to get rid of evidence and the body' !!!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Well I managed to get through today without a soaking. Piggies have found a new game, tipping their water bucket. I wondered how long it would take them to learn that game. A trip to farmways tomorrow methinks to find something more suitable for them to drink from.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Great North Yorkshire Show

We had a look at the sheep too. This is a teeswater which has a lovely curly coat. In its first year the fleece grows nearly to the ground. Each year after this it only grows half that length but the quality is just as good.
We had a great time there, gathered some very useful information however once again the heavens opened and we were soaked through to the skin. Fortunately we were prepared for the weather and had our matching eden project kagools to keep us dry. Unfortunately we spent most of the day looking like Howard and Hilda!

ginger pigs and spotty ginger pigs

I think these were the best pigs at the show. The Hampshires were ok and the saddlebacks were not as nice as ours, the large whites were the ugliest pigs i have ever seen.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

canny calf's

Proud mum showing off her calf born yesterday.

courgettes and cleavage

While the pigs were at trough I picked some courgettes thinking it would be a nice tasty treat. I thought pigs ate everything...hence the saying greedy pigs...but no they turned their snouts up. My kids wont eat them, not even the pigs will eat my juicy courgettes!
Afterwards Rachel and Kyloe came to see the pigs. At first they were quite excited but then the heavens opened and while we stood round like nanas getting wet they went in their ark and settled in for a cosy night snoring. Soaked through to the skin we couldn't get any wetter and decided to show Kyloe the chicks. They were sheltering from the rain but came out to see us until Rachel informed us she had a river running down her cleavage, twanged her bra to prove it, and scared the chicks back to their quarters. Needless to say this is not an adult site so I wont be posting a photo!!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Two days in a row and I havent taken photos. They were just as playful as ever after their feed tonight but like us were inquisitive as to what was happening in the field next door. Low and behold a fluff ball...... ney a huge fluff ball emerged from the grass. We had missed the miracle of birth but were just as excited to witness its first steps. I felt it would intrude the moment to take photos, tomorrow however I think it will be acceptable. So far all the calfs that have been born are boys.

Monday, July 12, 2010

I'm not sure if we have the best pigs in the whole wide world or if we are just natural pig keepers!!! Tonight the boy, whom not long ago would only come near us if he had the support of a sister to rely on, not only came first for his back rub/scratch but virtually rolled over for a belly rub.
The chicks have settled in nicely. They have got used to the comings and goings and strange noises. the inquisitive vorwerks are less interested and their fluffy bits are turning into proper feathers.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I haven't forgotten the pigs, though i didnt take a photo today. they are still as healthy and playful but are now strong enough to knock me over if they tried. Emily thinks they are better behaved than my dogs, they are, but I do have the worst behaved dogs in the world. Their pen is begining to look more like a pig pen as they have started to rutt properly now the ground has been softened with the rain.

fluffy little chicks

delivery of these chicks came on Friday and i cant resist posting them on here. They are about 4 weeks old 1 ancana, 2 white leghorns, 2 blue leghorns and 2 brown leghorns. They are pesently living in a little ark which is secure from foxes in one of the hen runs. It won't be long before we have to make a few more runs for them as it looks like we have a hen and cock of each and the ancana could be a hen. It's hard to tell at this stage things could still change.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

how to measure a pig

  • first catch it
  • make sure you have the right end of the tape measure
  • voila, 27 it still legal to measure in inches?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The trio have had a right squabble today. Pushing and nipping each other. I noticed the boy who still doesn't have a name, had a sore eye. I should have thought 'all this boisterousness has ended in tears'. Instead I panicked, called Jane with the sad news that 'the boy' had a gammy eye. She came straight over sent me for fresh water and clean cloths. She spent the next half hour coaxing him to get his eye cleansed. How funny was watching Jane wash a pigs face with a flannel!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

I think they  have grown twice the size they were last week. They are turning into real porkers!!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

having a snooze after tea
The girls aren't getting their own way with the boy anymore. He has become more forceful, getting his fair share of the food this morning. Even pushing his larger sister out of the way. He was the first to come and see me for a pat and a stroke.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

good girl
are you ready for your close up

why don't the chihuahuas sit to command?
we'll get some canny pork chops from you

They certainly have their own personalities, even if they dont have names. We have decided which female we are going keep. She is the smaller of the 2 with the narrowest saddle. She is the friendliest of the trio but is also striking up quite a relationship with us. The male is scared of nearly everything, he comes around if you are with him long enough or he has the company of his sisters. The larger of the 2 females is extremely confident and rules the pen.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

After it rained they discovered the purpose of their ark. They have by now explored every inch of their enclosure. Enjoyed a good wallow, a scratch, rutting. mud packs however were something they didnt quite understand.
They slept outside the first night, possibly because it was too hot, probably because they hadnt quite discovered their arc was to sleep in.