Time to try something new – pig showing

For the last couple of years I’ve managed to come up with good excuses for not showing our pigs at the local county show. However, this year I decided that I really should try it at least once so I can decide whether I want to consider as a regular thing or not.

Preparing pigs for showing can apparently be quite time consuming so I had been worried about over-committing myself in the past when there were other more important things to tackle.

This time around I’ve decided that I’d just like to take part without worrying about the results so I’ve managed to convince myself it won’t take too much extra effort.

The decision was taken to enter just 2 classes so that should help limited the workload. One class will see Sissy taking on any other older sows and the other class will be this years gilt (female) piglet from the litter Esther produced.

We bought Sissy at 2 months old and she’s been with us ever since so a day trip out to a show will be a real novelty for her. I hope she can contain her excitement and display her usual excellent behaviour on the day.

Hopefully she is in-pig after my AI attempts a month or two ago but it’s proving tricky to be completely certain from a visual check. If it turns out that she isn’t carrying piglets then I’ll have no choice but to try a “real” boar rather than keep trying with my amateur attempts at insemination.

The current show focus is on preparing both pigs – and myself – for the various tasks involved with showing. Everything from personal hygiene, a presentable appearance and impeccable manners when walking around the show ring.

In order to show a pig they have to be registered pedigree pigs so the younger piglet has duly been officially registered online and has been recorded as Allendale Maple. This is the formal name on the pedigree herd book and is made up of our herd name followed by the maternal blood line.

I’m carefully maintaining very low expectations for the show results and would just be very happy to have successfully got there, shown them and made it home again all in one piece. Anything else would be a bonus and, of course, whatever happens they’re both No.1 in my eyes!

Other pig-related news

A little over 2 weeks for Esther since her litter were weaned and she’s adapted very well to the quiet life. It’s all very well being a good mother but that period with demanding piglets can take it out of a pig so sometimes it’s nice to see her relax

No worries about showing for her, just a chance to catch up on her sleep and build herself back up. The plan is that she should be ready for another litter by the autumn with piglets to be born around January 2020 – assuming I can handle the AI without making a mess of it…

A sunny day means lots of moving around

The miserable weather seems to have gone away (for the moment) so I could start on some of the pending jobs that have been put off due to the wet ground.

First up was a move for the cattle into an adjacent field which, although not perfect by any means, is definitely better for them than their previous watery, muddy home.

There was a slight detour at first when the back garden seemed a lot more interesting to them. This was mostly due to Daisy taking advantage of an opportunity but I managed to herd them back to the right place without too much collateral damage.

Frank is usually the curious one

Once they were into the correct field they soon settled in with a bale of hay and some fresh water. A short time after the photo above they were spotted having a quick snooze in the welcome early spring sunshine.

As I had hoped, a similar kind of move for Esther and her litter went completely to plan with no detours or other shenanigans. So long as the piglets can see their mother they will happily wander along behind her. However if they lose sight of her then all bets are off!

Esther and litter stop for a snack

The hardest part with these moves is keeping everyone moving along together because they can be easily distracted by tasty tufts of grass, an old tree branch or a quick root around in the mud.

There was even a chance for the new (and nosy) neighbours to check on things as we made our way through the woods to the new pen.

Keeping an eye on the proceedings

In no time at all the pigs were happily into the designated pen and exploring their new space. Of course, Esther had to adjust the straw in the pig ark because she’s never happy with my initial efforts but she’s a great mother so I can put up with that.

It may not look much yet but it’s home!

For the piglets the first hour or so also involves testing the electric fence with associated brief squeals but it doesn’t cause any permanent damage for them and they soon learn the limits of the pen.

Now I can see that the weather forecast shows -2° C here overnight but I know the pigs will be fine, huddled in a pile with their fresh straw.

As for the Dexters, I’m not sure they’ll notice as they’ve still got their thicker winter coats for the moment.