Tag Archives: pigs

Pinky and Pinky

5 May

“Heeeere, pig-pig-pig-pig!” sang a voice over the hedge. “Heeeere, pig-pig-piggy!”

I had gone up the lane to photograph some of the lambs that have been gambolling in the fields since the beginning of April, but who can resist a pig-pig-piggy? I hurried to the gap in the hedge, and stepped through to find the two brothers from the manor house leaning on a gate admiring their latest arrivals. Two young large whites trotted through the undergrowth toward us. I was informed they were four months old: born on January 17th.

Don’t they have a nice meadow?

“How long do you think it’ll take ’em to turn it into mud?” the Pig Man’s brother asked. “A day?”

“An afternoon?” suggested the Pig Man.

They ran through some possible names to call them. Pinky and Pinky seemed good contenders.

The sow’s charming floppy ear is the result of a haematoma, poor thing. Perhaps another pig bit her. It’s very swollen, and she seems to appreciate having it held between cool hands.

The pig Man turned to me. “Would you like some freshly-laid eggs?” he enquired. “We’re selling ’em for a pound for six, but I’ll give you a freebie”.

“I’d love some,” I said.

He led me though a patch of woods and garden to the shed where he kept his chicken feed. He pointed out a robin’s nest in the corner, and said it has little blue eggs in it and he has to be careful going in and out. I really wanted to photograph it, but it was too dark to tell whether the robin was in it; she would have been distressed by my flash.

The Pig Man took me to his chicken run and scattered feed, then showed me into the hen house, where a cluster of six eggs lay in a nesting box as though the hens had thoughtfully gathered them together for me. He gave the eggs to me in his feed scoop, asking me to return it later.

In the garden, his wife was planting beetroots and carrots, and I had a little chat with her about the merits of growing different vegetables. The sheer friendliness of these people made my day. What a contrast to that angry farmer last month! It made me realise how unwelcome I had been feeling here lately. Thank you, dear neighbours, for restoring my faith in people.


His Own Private Balcony

15 Feb

Meet Nibbles, the giant lop. His favourite hobbies are frolicking in the snow and lolling on the sofa to watch TV. Nibbles lives up the lane, at the manor to which our cottage is the gatehouse. Like our own furry companions, Nibbles lives the life of Riley, but unlike our lot, he has his own private balcony.

“Nibbles is in the dog’ouse today,” said his owner, who always reminds me of Richard Briers. “Well… rabbit’ouse.”

Richard Briers had settled down on Nibbles’s sofa to watch television, and Nibbles had taken umbrage at this invasion of territory and had peed all over him. The indignant rabbit was promptly shoved out to his balcony to think about what he had done. He doesn’t look very repentant.

I have been gathering the impression that Richard Briers is the one who keeps pets and builds wildlife habitats, and his brother is the one who keeps livestock and goes hunting. I asked if the turkeys I’d seen recently were his brother’s.

“The turkeys are gawn,” stated Richard, with a Significant Eyebrow that suggested it was best not to ask where. “But, yes. They were my brother’s.”

“Still,” he added brightly, “there’ll be some new pigs soon.”

Not Tamworths, apparently. This time, his brother is getting a breed less known for its intelligence and propensity to wander.

Richard Briers

The Good Life

11 Jan

This morning I left our wee gatehouse and strolled along the lane towards the old manor. The sun was breaking between the trees lining the way, casting stripes of gold and shadow across the snow. I could see bird prints and cat prints and pine marten prints criss-crossing over the tyre marks. The air smelled of meltwater and damp wood. A fine start, I thought, to my New Year endeavour to become fit and healthy by going for walks.

The old manor is home to three generations of an eccentric family intent on living the Good Life. That is to say, they dream of becoming self-sufficient, of producing their own food through farming and hunting. Their grounds are beautiful and a haven for wildlife, and what the family lacks in knowledge, they make up for in enthusiasm. When I first moved here, I saw two highland cattle – all horns and hair –  grazing on their lawn. But the cow failed to calf, and was given away to join a herd some miles away. The bull remained on his own, growing grumpier and grumpier until he too was given away. The following year, a pair of Tamworth pigs appeared. These animals greeted all passers-by with an abundance of delight, squealing the place down and barrelling towards us so fast that they were unable to stop, and would skid uncontrollably through the mud until they hit the gate. Within the first week, they had churned their meadow into a mudbath. After a month, the pigs’ legs had disappeared in the mire, so their owner started placing wooden planks on top of it as walkways for the animals. More and more walkways appeared, crisscrossing the meadow between sty and gate and trough and hay, and were gradually subsumed into the mud. And so the pigs were got rid of. That was last year.

Here’s what I found this morning when I emerged from the trees.

And they’re brown! A lovely chocolate brown that I have never seen on turkeys before. The ones I grew up around were black and white.