More rosettes at Northumberland County Show 2023

This time around we took Elsie as the most senior sow, Beryl who is Elsie’s daughter and also our most recent addition Dora that we kept on from Doris’s litter last year

Settling in before the judging
Settling in before the judging

They all behaved impeccably although Elsie did get very grubby because she enjoyed digging up the fresh grass in her show pen. She still got a second place rosette for her class though!

As usual, it was an excellent day out for all concerned plus a great way for the public to meet our Tamworth pigs and find out more about them

Rosettes for each pig
Rosettes for each pig

An excellent day at the Northumberland County Show

We took 3 of our Tamworth pigs to the Northumberland show with each one entered into a different class by age. The main reasoning being that if we entered enough classes then surely we’d at least win something for our efforts

Elsie, Doris and Beryl all behaved impeccably especially during the judging. It was 1st place rosettes for all of them

And to top it all off, the youngest (Beryl) was named as the Reserve Traditional Breed Champion which isn’t bad for less than 5 months old

After our unexpected success at the last show in 2019 I wasn’t sure that we would do quite so well this time around but we enjoyed the event just as much anyway. Looking back on the whole day, I don’t think we could have had a better time all things considered and the pigs were suitably relaxed despite having no previous show experience

A rewarding day at Northumberland County Show 2022

A day trip for Sissy and Fifi

Since we moved to our smallholding almost exactly 6 years ago, we have made the Northumberland County Show a fixture in our calendar for us on the second Bank Holiday Monday in May.

It’s always an entertaining day out but this year was our first ever attempt at showing pigs there so I made sure my expectations were suitably low. Not least because it would be a long and slightly traumatic day out for all concerned if everything didn’t run smoothly.

As it turned out I needn’t have worried because our Tamworths were impeccably behaved. They coped very well with the attention and the crowds didn’t seem to phase them too much.

Fifi ignoring the general public

As might be expected, I was more concerned about the showing and judging aspects than the pigs were. However this part always seems to be a certain type of organised chaos with pigs wandering in all directions so our 2 fitted in very well.

We had only entered 2 classes – one for Traditional Breed Sow (Sissy) and one for Traditional Breed young gilt (Fifi) – so the hope was we’d maybe have one rosette as a reward for our combined efforts by the end of the day.

Sissy has caught the judges eye

Right at the start of the day we had a small setback when Sissy must have stood on Fifi’s back leg at some point during the journey. Luckily the excellent show vets were able to check her over (it was just a bash, nothing broken!) and gave her an anti-inflammatory injection which really helped.

Sadly though she was still limping during the judging of her class so she was marked down as a result and only got a 5th place. However I’m proud of her for battling through in such difficult circumstances.

Things soon looked up though and by the end of the judging we had amassed quite an impressive haul of rosettes because Sissy came first in her class as best Traditional Breeds Sow.

The win in that class meant she went on to enter the Traditional Breeds Female class against winning female pigs of different ages from other classes. Happily she won that as well to be judged the Traditional Breeds Champion Female and also got another rosette for being the best placed Tamworth at the show.

All in all it was a very enjoyable and successful day out but by the evening we were all happy to get back home to familiar and more restful surroundings

Maybe we’ll try this again next year? Perhaps… but maybe not because it’ll be difficult to match the achievements from this year!

As ready as we’ll ever be…

We’ve finally made it to the eve of the Northumberland County Show and, much like exam revision at school, I’m of the opinion that it’s far too late to do any more serious preparation now.

After 4 years of the leisurely outdoors life for Sissy, there are some patches of ingrained dirt that not even a jet wash can shift. I just hope the other pigs don’t snigger behind her back during the show. With any luck she’ll win just by sheer force of her personality and charm… but I doubt it.

Sissy is looking forward to a big day out

It’s also about time for me to announce that our second entry at the show with the pedigree name of Allendale Maple has now been named Fifi for day-to-day purposes.

This name was not chosen as a tribute to a distant Aunt or favourite actress but simply by using the first 2 letters from each word of her official herd number which is 55. However that definitely does suit my fondness for giving our sows old fashioned ladies names – Esther, Sissy and Fifi sound great to me.

Fifi has scrubbed up nicely since this photo

Now it’s time to relax with a cup of tea because we’ve done all we can. The trailer is even in position ready for loading and an early start heading of to the show ground.

If you’re in the area and going to the show tomorrow then please pop along to the Pig tent and say hello if you can. Sissy and Fifi would love to get some visitors as it’ll be a long day for them (and us)!

All set for the morning

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…