As the world’s finances continue to crumble next year’s wheat crop is firmly planted in the ground. At last the weather is good and the soil conditions acceptable. Two tractors and drills are working flat out and Jethro hopes to have 500 acres sown by Monday if we have no breakdowns and everyone works non-stop through the weekend.
The promise of a new crop and a new beginning is always a good time on the farm, once the seed is in the ground. Until then it can be somewhat nerve-wracking for everyone, and Jethro has been a might tetchy in the last few days.
One of my tasks today is to clear a patch in the current brassica bed ready to plant some overwintered onions and garlic for next year, and clear out the herb bed which is now hidden under a tall tower of fat hen and thistles. The pigs will no doubt be pleased with their additional greens when I have finished.
On the subject of the pigs, we weighed a batch of youngsters last week to see how they are doing. This involves a lot of bribing with food to enter the electronic weigh scales and then be let out into the clean concrete yard beyond for a mass exploration and chance to talk to all the other pigs. This task has to be done so gently and kindly as you cannot and should not make a pig do anything against its will, they are just too strong and scream too loud. If you push them they just rebel, and you can’t budge them. However, once they get the idea of scoops of free food under their noses and this regular weigh in it is usually quite straightforward.
Nevertheless for this group [who are aged about 15 weeks] this was their first weigh-in so it took rather longer. While we were weighing the very last pig one of the smaller ones stuck his head into the bucket of meal and while frantically gobbling food as fast as he could, before his brothers noticed, he somehow looped the bucket handle right over his neck. Disaster! Poor little pig, he got such a fright and took off around the yard with such a squealing and clattering all we could do was howl with laughter at this ridiculous sight and watch in amazement through the tears of hysteria that cheerfully leaked from our eyes. All the other pigs in the group took off after him, chorusing their own delight, as from this full to the brim five gallon bucket poured piles and piles of lovely meal and treats for all.
Eventually the bucket emptied, the squealing stopped, and the perpetrator of the deed freed himself from the handle and rushed off to join his friends for his early tea. We left them all out in the yard to clear up the meal and run around and while we had our supper they put themselves back to bed in the clean straw, replete and happy and Jethro found them all fast asleep lying close together – back to belly, looking exactly like fat pink sausages in a pan. All he had to do was shut the door.