Now that the weekend is over I can reflect with some satisfaction on the wide range of events that took place in a relatively short space of time. Each in their own way could have had a different, more troubling, outcome but in the end all have been completed fairly successfully
One event that had been in the calendar for some time was the date for Esther to farrow her next litter. She caught us out earlier this year when the previous litter arrived a couple of days ahead of schedule and we had not yet moved her into the farrowing shed
I used to maintain that a benefit of using AI for our Tamworth pigs is that I can more accurately predict the farrowing date, within a day either way usually. However it appears that Esther is intent on teaching me that complacency can be a big mistake for smallholders.
We were fully prepared for the scheduled farrowing day (Tuesday) with the various accessories and implements on hand. Esther had other ideas though and popped them out in the early hours of Sunday morning.
She produced a healthy looking litter of 6 in the end – 4 girls and 2 boys – and, after a tiring farrowing day, Esther now seems to be coping really well. Equally important is that the piglets have found both the heat lamp and the milk bar so all is well for now.
It was also time for another attempt at AI with Sissy which I approached a little nervously given the resounding failure in the recent past. It has proved to be more difficult to identify when Sissy is in season than with Esther.
Recent regular checks on her – pigs are in season about every 3 weeks – have shown that Sissy favours a slightly longer gap than that. Just a day or so here or there but enough that if I’m not paying attention would mean that the AI attempts could be out by 2 days and therefore they won’t work.
Now that I’ve identified this about her, I’m hoping that the latest attempt proves to be more successful but I’ll have to wait three weeks to see whether she comes back on heat or not.
If this doesn’t take then the plan is to locate a suitable pedigree Tamworth boar somewhere fairly near. I’m sure that nature can handle this much more efficiently than I have managed in the past.
It was also the time of the year when we send off the latest Dexter steer for beef. This is always an event fraught with concern for his welfare (and ours) during the loading and transport.
Over time we’ve slowly found better ways of doing this with different arrangements of cattle hurdles and have now almost got it down to a fine art. But not quite perfect as it turned out..
After sneaking through a small gap in our preparations, Frank decided to take 3 laps of honour round the garden first before calmly making his was back into the pen and leisurely strolling into the trailer.
I had feared a repeat of his escapades with jumping walls but luckily he decided that he’d rather stamp pot holes all over my lawn instead.