On Saturday morning, we were – typically – still preparing the ark for the new residents. Having disinfected it we still needed to fill it with straw. Then there was a great kerfuffle trying to find papers containing our County Parish Holding number (still total novices, we’d quoted our herd number instead!), after which we finally headed over to the smallholding of Linda and Dave Aldous, on the edge of the charming village of Wethersfield, north-west of us in Essex. Having visited three weeks earlier, we’d picked out our two little guys so Linda and Dave had wormed and tagged them for us ready to go.
However, we couldn’t resist a peek at the couple’s litter of fortnight-old piglets – just beautiful! It inspired us to consider breeding from a sow one day – imagine them at a day or two old: even smaller!
Next came the task of lifting the surprisingly heavy and seriously wriggly chaps into the dog crate in the back of our car – James volunteered to attempt this and I was only too glad because the squealing was ear-splitting.
Once home, after a circuitous, windy route down country lanes due to a diversion, we introduced our newcomers to their digs. They immediately seemed dwarfed by the comfrey, thistles and nettles through which they will rootle and munch before long.
James and I took our lunch down so we could enjoy watching them settle in and it was hard to tear ourselves away, but we left them to it while we resumed our cockerel coop build for which we’re converting part of the layers’ undercover run.
We were soon back to admire the porcine pair and dug out and filled a wallow they could cool down in.
On Sunday, we set up a table and chairs by the entrance to the run and invited James’ parents and sister Jackie over to meet our latest acquisitions.
Everyone enjoyed observing their antics, though the boys spent a surprising amount if time snoozing. In fact, these two seem to sleep for quite a large part of the day compared with the Gloucestershire Old Spots, though perhaps they’re more active at night.
Pigs are meant to be crepuscular a creatures after all. I was delighted that the Oxford Sandy & Blacks received such a good welcome on Twitter. Liz Shankland (of @TudfulTamworths and author of the excellent Haynes Pig Manual), breeder of the eponymous ginger variety even gave them the stamp of approval.
We are so besotted with them that we are going to pick up a third this evening! Sounds a little crazy, I know, but we’re a little concerned that it’s becoming all too easy to become attached to them and if we’ve a trio they’re more of a herd than a pair is. We checked with Linda and Dave that introducing one of the piglets’ brothers won’t be too disruptive but they’re confident that the animals will all remember each other and there’s no chance of bullying the way there might be with chickens. So James is picking me up from the station tonight when I get home from CL HQ and we’re then shooting over to Wethersfield where there’ll be one more little porker to pop in the car and bring home to the Smallholdings.