Friday, 18 March 2011

The metal man, the excavators, the ping!

Out in the front garden, taking advantage of the rainy weather to do some digging, and along comes a man in a van. He stops. The only word I can make out is 'metal'. Presume he wants some. Have old washing machine in gate porch. 'Machine a laver?' I say. Seems to do the trick. To the gate he drives.

Uploads machine. Hubs appears. Takes over. Man offers money for the caravan. Can't have it. We are still bedding down there. No sign of builders yet to come and remedy the situation by finishing off the Half Barn for us. No probs, though - they will come when it is time for them to do so. Meanwhile....

Man goes, saying something about 'cinq avril'. Question Hubs. Does he mean he is coming to pick up the caravan on the 5th April? 'Bit inconvenient', I think. Too cold for sleeping outside in a tent. Inside is not do-able. Rats, you see, are still floating around although most are now in heaven swinging about amongst the clouds as rat-angels, although not in the Half Barn which is rat-proof. We think.

Anyway: 5th April. 'No' says Hubs, 'He's coming to pick up two lambs'.

'Oh', is all I manage to say.

'The young male..... (oh.....the one I bottle fed, still comes and says hello, and is our first born lamb) ......and one of the young females'.

We look at each other. And go on with our day. Quietly. Pondering. Not saying much to each other. Just in thought.

Lunchtime. Reclining on settees for a few minutes, Hub say, 'I'm not going to let him take the lambs. It's not right......' With much relief I hear him echoing my own thoughts. Not that I am necessarily attached to the male lamb. I always knew he was going to head towards the freezer eventually. It's just that I wanted to be with him as he was sent heavenwards. Sort of honouring his life. Saying thankyou to him for the lessons he has taught me, which are many.

The metal man offered a fair price for the two lambs, which would have contributed to half the feed bill for all the animals for one month.  But he did not have the look of an animal person about him. He saw only profit. To buy and sell. That is what he does. Which is OK for inanimate objects, not for real live beings. In other words, he would not have respected them.

We are going to eat our lambs, and we will pass on our surplus to wherever it needs to go. Hopefully some of it will be sold to pay for the animal feed. But we will make sure those lambs will have a good life right up until the moment when they cease to breathe. That  mindset was reinforced for us after the visit from the metal man. So another step in the learning curve of How to Make a Small Farm out of nothing. Taking responsibility for what we eat, that is what we are trying to do here.

Ping! Oh what a mighty shock was had by our chief excavator. The trainee excavators are doing very well in the Sheep Paddock, and have dug up half their patch already. Hubs thinks he ought to get some electric fencing toute suite, as they seem to prefer the margins of their patch, just by the fence. He fears lest they make an escape sometime soon. Trying to catch the little ones in the confined space of the ex-office he found to be quite stressful. Slippery things, piglets are. And they squirm and go all wriggly when held. Having them out and about and galloping hither and thither? Absolutely not! Trying to catch them again, would, quite frankly, be a nightmare.

But the fences of Max and Tess's paddocks are strong, with poles securely cemented in, strong wire, and an inner fence of electric. The electric works a treat. Hubs has had a jolt. Max has had a jolt. Tess has had a jolt. And I have too, although only a small one which came up through the shears I was using to cut the grass which was busy using the electric wire as a support.

Feeding time. Out goes Hubs with the buckets of food. Both Tams were prancey, Max pushing and shoving Tess out of the way so he could stand by the fence and get first go at the food. Tess was in a mood, as could be seen by her lowered head. She can sulk big time, can our Tessy. It's surprising how miserable she can look sometimes, and I have come to the conclusion that female pigs are real drama queens. This was confirmed by the squeals of outrage which came from the littl'uns in their nursery paddock after Hubs let the sheep out but didn't then go on to feed them. They squealed and squealed at him as he walked away. He told them that he waiting for their feed to cool down, but they weren't listening. Drama queens of whatever pursuasion rarely do.

So: Hubs was fiddling about with something or other and was slow to give the Tams their food. This enabled Tessy to get in between the fence and Max, which is rare. Unfortunately Max then took it into his mind to shove Tess away, but pushed her into the fence. Electric on? Yep. Shock sent through? Yep.

The thing is, that when electricity is travelling through soft tissue it will keep going. This Maxy found out.

Now such is the way of a male pig, that he feels the need to have a regular sniff of the rear end of the female pig, just in case she happens to be having an unexpected season. So he doesn't miss the opportunity to make babies, that's why he does that.

And so, because he was in the right position to have a sniff, midway through the shove to get her out of the way of the imminent arrival of food, he took a quick moment to have that quicky sniff, which put his nose exactly at the other end of her body. Unfortunately his actions did not do well by him, because the shove pushed her onto the electric fence, which then catapaulted a charge of electricity through her which carried straight on into Max via his snout which was resting deliciously on her fanny. Ping!!!!

Apparently he sprang back, surveying the much longed for botty of Tess with surprise written all over him. Meanwhile, she got first munch of the food, was noticeably more cheerful, and I suspect that she was secretly pleased that Max had been given a 'reward' for his bullying behaviour! It remains to be seen whether or not he will now develop a phobia about her rear. Hopefully he will not regard that part of her as a no-go area and will get over his fright at what happened when he was giving her a friendly sniffing. We hope so too, although Hubs is investigating artificial insemination as a possible alternative in the future, if he does not manage to do his job. But he still will have the opportunity to father piglets with the two new girls next year. All that is in the future, though. For now, he is steering clear of the apparently high energy area of the rear end of Tess. Aw! Bless.

The Chicken Project: The White Cockerel now permamently resides in the ground by the Oak Tree, being interred there by Hubs last weekend. So what happened? Well, he was a small bird, but a mighty General nevertheless. He kept all the hens on their toes, and was a good leader of the band. But he was too small for the bigger hens, and we need those big hens to be the provider of the table birds, the bantams being too small to eat really.

Ummmmm......oooopppppssss....I have just realised that this blog is turning out to be a tad on the long side, so I will tell you what happened in the next blog!

Bye for now, and hope I have made you smile.


DUTA said...

You have some very noble thoughts regarding the lambs and animals in general, Vera!

I must say I find your description of Max sniffing the rear of the female pig - very, very amusing.
Speaking of pigs, I remember I happened to see once, in my childhood, a man chasing a pig which had escaped from his pigsty. Well, the poor man couldn't catch it, and the people around watching the chase were highly amused - which was rather cruel.

Have a wonderful weekend!

French Fancy... said...

Delighted you are still developing this new life of yours so well. I love your attitude to these animals.

Vera said...

Hello Duta: Lester's nightmare is that one of the piglets, or Max, escapes. The piglets, because they run so fast and are so highly strung and flighty that they would not allow themselves to be caught. And Max, because he can be a grumpy devil! Despite his fears though, the Tams remain Lester's favourite animals here.

FF: Glad to hear from you. Will see if you have a blog running so I can find out what you have been up to. Hope you are well and in good spirits.

Jean said...

Poor Max, so funny, the earth really moved for him !!
I would have felt the same about the lambs. Too many animals are treated with disrespect so we should do the right thing for them if we have the chance.