Rootling free

Now, pushing five months old, our two Gloucestershire Old Spot boys have well and truly decimated their quite sizeable pig run. Not that we’re complaining – they’ve turned over the earth and extracted the roots of all the nettles, thistles and comfrey (we still have plenty more of this great fertilising crop in other parts of the garden) that had covered the area very thoroughly indeed, meaning that we’re now even considering growing vegetables on it come spring. Their rotovating action is amazing to watch and pigs’ natural urge to rootle just staggers me. In fact, it was when James and I visited Helen Browning’s farm in Wiltshire, that we realised this behaviour is so fundamental: piglets just days old were determined to burrow their tiny snouts under the soil. Never has the idea of intensively reared pigs on concrete floors seemed so abhorrent – the animals must surely go mad through the inability to act on this instinct. No wonder they fight and bite each other’s tails.

Taking a quick break from rootling
Taking a quick break from rootling

Our Old Spots’ desire to dig and our need to turn over various places in the garden means that we have a very neat arrangement and have set up a new extension to their current run.

Since we extended the pig run, the place is beginning to resemble a proper, albeit tiny, smallholding
Since we extended the pig run, the place is beginning to resemble a proper, albeit tiny, smallholding

With the use of black stick electric fencing (what a brilliant invention!), powered by a solar panel, we’ve given the pair access to the previously wild area where we hope to plant trees early next year. This easy way to move them about the garden means that there’s no stopping us – next will be the site for the new fruitcage! And perhaps a little money-earner: we could hire them and future pigs out to green downshifters who want their gardens dug over.

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