Friday, July 16, 2010

No, I'm not dead...just been a little busy.

It's been about 5 months since the last posting, so a lot has happened.

Aidan is living with us full-time and attending the school I teach at. He's going well, and so are Sue and I.
The goats are in their new home which has a reciprocating roof: no centre post. It certainly makes it easy to move about inside, but it's a real pig of a thing to get roofing on. The corro for the roof and the roller-door walls are all courtesy of the local tip-shops.

The goats are enjoying having a lot more browse
in their new paddock and are certainly cleaning up the woody weeds and blackberry.

A condition of our school is that secondary students have Mac laptops. Aidan graciously accepted his. Strange: I never realised that Need For Speed and Grand Theft Auto were part of the curriculum.

We bought two Wessex Saddleback x Berkshires and moved them in. They should fill out to be about twice the size of our mini sows.
When we unloaded the piglets, we put them in their prepared run. But...I didn't realise that they had not been trained to respect an electric fence. Straight through it they went and into the enclosure of janice and Reagan. They promptly chased the saddlebacks, who pushed through the hingelock fencing and ran free, with much squealing on the way. Copping about 7200 volts across the bum would make you squeal too.
We cornered them in the old chook run (fowl run) and Sue kept them busy with snacks of sliced apple while I did a very rapid bit of fencing. After the fence was up, I managed to get a plastic tub over one of the piglets and Sue then sat on the upturned tub while I caught the other. Finally, we got both of them where they needed to be.
Sue is getting much more confident with the animals and has decided to get to know the saddlebacks before they become giants like their

The pigs are in the old goat enclosure. The goats had eaten the bracken and blackberry back fairly well and the pigs enjoy getting at the roots and eating them. This picture is of Janice: up to her eyeballs in the ground, rooting out a ball of blackberry root.

We had our two miniature sows mated a few months ago and Regan was the first to have a litter: 13 of them with 11 surviving. This is one of them on its first day. Regan had an easy labour. She was restless most of the day, and quite swollen about the vulva, but there was no fuss about her. I just found a bunch of piglets feeding happily when I went to feed her in the morning. So the pig herd suddenly increased from 4 to 15.

She had a variety of colours: black, dark brown, honey coloured, striped, solid, spotted.

Aidan and Alex, who was down for a visit, were fairly impressed as you can see.
Aidan is holding "Goldie," his little gilt that he is going to raise with the intention of breeding her next year and selling her offspring to get himself some extra cash.
He's taking some real responsibility on.

If Regan's was an easy labour, Janice had to be different. She was moaning all day, just two days later, and obviously in some distress. By 6 pm, she was lying in the hay in her shelter woofing and groaning and beginning to strain. I sat with her and rubbed her back and side for an hour or so and was getting worried that she might have a bad presentation. I took a break from duty to eat dinner and went back down having decided that if there was no movement I would break out the vaseline and do a bit of an investigation.
9 piglets! All of hers survived, although she was crushing one between her back and the
shelter wall when I got there. She allowed me in to free the baby and get it to a nipple.
Next day, she was highly protective. I was checking her babies, something that Regan hadn't been at all concerned about, when she let out a "whoof," raised her hackles and ran at me. I was in the shelter, so had nowhere to go, so just raised a hand and spoke quietly to her, avoiding eye contact as I sidled out. It was just a warning, but a firm one.
So the pig herd had gone from 4 to 24 in 48 hours.

Just before the Janice and Reagan did their thing, Sue did hers: she broke her arm while I was at school.
There is only one ambulance for our area, and it was on an emergency, so Sue had to sit around for 3/4 of an hour for me to drive home and take her to the hospital to have it put in a cast.
She insisted on a red cast. Those of you who know her will be saying, "of course."
That's about it for the updates.
I'll try not to be so slack in future.

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