Swine and Cheese

A passion for Pigs and Food

Oh No!!!!

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Mike with Flora

Mike with Flora

Despite a busy weekend for Neale and me the highlight was collecting our new pigs from HMP Hewell Grange on Saturday morning. We set off this time in our work’s van, an old Ford Escort van whose boot we’d stuffed with loads of dry straw. We didn’t bother using our friend’s Landrover in the end as sadly he was away. Mike Bant, the farm manager, is one of those really interesting guys who has got a good story to tell no matter what subject you might be talking about so it took some time to actually get round to the subject of the pigs. The prison farm is a nice little set up and the two prison inmates we met were interested and polite, although Mike did say he could see why some of the others who work on the farm had ended up in there; no initiative or work ethic, cutting corners wherever possible etc….!

Pigs in van!

Pigs in van!

Due to the restrictions on movements of animals we could only collect this weekend because Mike was expecting two Gloucester Old Spots back on Monday who had been loaned out to the Ironbridge Gorge Museum. This meant the farm would be closed off on Monday for three weeks before any stock movement would be allowed again. Unlike last year when Neale bought the pigs in late March and had whatever was left, hence three different breeds from three different litters and all different ages, we literally had the pick of the litter of Gloucester Old Spots Mike showed us. We wanted to have two gilts (girls) so we could grow them on beyond six months if we wished without worrying about boar taint becoming an issue. Boar taint which becomes apparent after six months renders the meat pretty much useless for anything other than sausages (where seasonings can help to mask the taint).

Pigs in their house!

Pigs in their house!

The weaners were only 8 1\2 weeks old and had just left their Mother 10 days earlier so they still looked like piglets to me. In the end it was more the case of what piglet Mike could catch that decided our final selection and in fact we ended up with three, Fatima, Flora and what was clearly the runt, Freya. Mike popped them all in to a holding pen whilst we went inside his office to do the paperwork and payment. They’d gone up this year to £55 per weaner although Mike gave us a fiver off for the runt. When we went back outside Freya the runt was ambling round the yard happy as Larry! She was small enough to squeeze under the holding pen gate so was off having a nose around oblivious to the Jack Russell – the only ‘Great Escape’ from HMP Hewell Grange. Worryingly she was already becoming quite a little character.

Freya was remarkably easy to catch and didn’t seem at all phased but her two sisters screamed so loudly it was deafening, but once inside the van they settled down very quickly and the entire journey back was really uneventful, even peaceful with them gently snuffling around in the straw. I really wish I’d been there the year before when our Berkshire, Gloucester Old Spot and Tamworth were in the back. Apparently they fought for most of the journey as obviously they had only just met each other and were scared having been removed from their own litters. Neale said it had been hilarious with the car rocking from side to side with the pushing and shoving. This time the three sisters didn’t appear at all stressed and by the time we arrived home an hour later they were asleep.

Another error we made last year was turfing the weaners out of the car into the pig pen without introducing them to their pig house. As a result it took them a few weeks to realise they could sleep under cover in comfort. This time we carried them into their house, stuffed to the rafters with straw which they immediately burrowed into, and blocked them off in it for a couple of hours. They clearly loved this so much we had a job to coax them out but our trump card was Sydney our labrador.

Single file please

Single file please

Wait for me Mum

Wait for me Mum

What's going on?

What's going on?

Sydney who has an eating disorder (basically eats anything and everything non metallic) had eaten our turkey and several boxes of chocolates this Christmas so he currently looks like a medium sized pig. Well our weaners certainly thought so because they made a bee line for him and followed him around the pig pen. Very much a symbiotic relationship in Sydney’s view as he can amble around surreptitiously eating their pig shit whilst they think he’s eating grass and follow suit! At one point I though Sydney was going to get a shock as it looked as if they hadn’t been completely weaned! Amazingly it was the runt, Freya who was the first to come out of the house, the first to come up to me and the first to nuzzle Sydney. “Oh no” I thought – I knew what was happening! The human gene which recognises cuteness had (in my case) clocked Freya’s unbelievable cuteness both physically and in character. Neale is fighting it hard but on several occasions I saw his nostrils flaring widely in an attempt not to succumb. I can see this particular batch being very adorable. I’ll keep you posted.

Introducing from L to R Fatima, Flora and Freya

Introducing from L to R Fatima, Flora and Freya

And again from L to R Flora, Fatima and Freya

And again from L to R Flora, Fatima and Freya

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Written by Sarah

February 1st, 2010 at 11:15 am