Monday, 2 January 2017

-5C. Crikey, that's cold!

Yesterday was -5C.
While the frost lacings on everything, and the murky misty fog gave a magical effect overall, it was just a touch on the cold side. So Rayburn lit as soon as Lester had finished milking, and I went back to bed. Yes, I did. Electric blanket on, and I hunkered down. Lester, meanwhile, manfully carried on with farm stuff, applying himself to the ordering of the vegetable seeds for the Back Veg Plots.
A word about the pigs, who are now no more....

Max, the boar, and Mum Pig.....

... our two adult Tamworths, who were not inclined to make any more piglets.
We had said at the beginning of 2016 that if they did not produce youngsters by the end of the year then they would have to go.
They didn't.
So they have.
But they had had a lovely few months out on the veg plots, digging up roots, tilling the soil, then resting in the sunshine, but time was going on, soon it would be the cold weather, then on to the New Year, and then early Spring when the pigs would have to be put back into their pens.
I knew they would not like that, not after having been free range out on the veg paddocks,
the financial cost was becoming a drain on our finances,
and still no sign of piglets.

Then it became time. The weather was dry, and fire wood was gathered.
Out of the courtyard the big tractor came.
I was handed the rifle.
Extra rations this morning..... milk, pasta, and bread.
Max to his food trough, Mum to hers, both close to the fence.
Everything calm, everything peaceful.
Rifle handed to Lester.
High velocity bullets put in the chamber.
Quietly he moved the barrel to within an inch of Max's forehead.
Max still happily munching his food.
In less than instant it was done.
Mum Pig still happily eating.
The same we did for her.
A pause, then, to let things become still again.
Then they were lifted over the fence,
the tractor just about managing to carry each one,
although there were a few scary moments when the tractor wobbled about a bit,
as if to tip over, but it didn't, which was good.
Then along to the fire, which was lit.
No butchering for these pigs.
Max would not have tasted very nice anyway,
and we felt too affectionate towards Mum Pig to eat her.
So Max had to be quartered so that he could be moved into the fire,
then Mum Pig was moved, still intact, to lie beside him.
This was not done with tears of emotions, but with respect for these two pigs.
They had lived together, made piglets together, argued together, and played together,
just like a well established married couple.
This had to be done.
And as they lay in the fire, side by side,
I thought that this was the best end we could have given them.
So no more pigs for the moment, but later on this year we shall be buying weaners to bring on, but we shall not have any more adult pigs. It was a grand experience, though, to have piglets, and I treasure the experience.

(March 2012)
Hope you laughed with me.
It is good to have shared laughter!
Bye for now


Rhodesia said...

The time comes for this sort of thing in farming and and small holdings, emotions have to be controlled though not always easy. Our car was reading minus 6 driving back from the UK where we both had a terrible Christmas full of English bugs and colds. So happy to be back in France where we at least have a warm dry house and we can recover in peace. FIL's house in the UK is icy cold and damp so we were happy to leave him to it, he does not seem to feel the cold! All the best for 2017, Diane

local alien said...

A really interesting farm story!! How was the smell of burning pig though?? Memories of pork roasts in times gone by.

Loved the video

Vera said...

RHODESIA, Sorry to hear that your Christmas was not the best it could have been, but at least you have got back to France safely. Hope you recover soon, and all the best for 2017.

LOCAL ALIEN, ah, actually there was no smell of roasting pig for a couple of days, and then I did get a waft. Glad you enjoyed the vid.

Dawn McHugh said...

A line has to be drawn somewhere, throw money into animals that are no longer paying there way for the sake of sentiment, or put money into animals that in turn can pay there way and put food on the table, I got Martin a captive bolt gun for christmas although he has his rifle, but after a miss with the goats and nearly taking his foot off it put the wind up him a bit.

Cro Magnon said...

Rather a sad end, but that's life (and death) I suppose. When I dispatched our chickens, I first gave them wine-soaked bread, then when they were feeling 'happy' I used a gun in the same manner.

DUTA said...

Where I live, it's also cold, but no minus temperatures, so it's bearable.
The story of your pigs made me very sad. I couldn't raise and keep any animal, as to me they are like kids, and I wouldn't kill a kid. This is of course hypocrisy, as I eat meat, wear leather/ wool items and use other animal products. One of life's biggest dilemmas.

Vera said...

DAWN, we have used a bolt gun successfully for some years now, but Lester now prefers the rifle, but he does go along to the local French gun club most Sunday mornings for practice on their firing range!

CRO MAGNON, interesting idea about the wine soaked bread!

DUTA, you are right about the eating of meat and the use of meat related products, it is a dilemma which we also sometimes have.

Mama Pea said...

Hard decisions have to be made by a homesteader. Some can't make gopd and rationale decisions which leads, eventually, to ruin. Unless you happen to be independently wealthy, of course, and then you most likely wouldn't be a homesteader. What a lovely life your two piggies had. And a humane and painless end. Kudos to you both.

Vera said...

MAMA PEA, Thank you. We did the best for them in life, as we do all our animals!

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Vera, this is the decision that all who try to live beyond the clutch of commercial modern society feel. If it makes you feel any better, I am tortured by plants that die on me.

Vera said...

TOIRDHEALBBEACH BEUCAIL: we do sometimes feel that we are living on a different planet to those people who live a life which is more commercially based!

Cottontail Farm said...

Vera maybe I missed it, how. Old were the two of them?
How many babies do you think they raised for you?

Vera said...

COTTONTAIL FARM, the boar was six, and the female 5. She raised four litters for us, of about eight piglets each. We could not sell them on, nor would we have wanted to because of the experience we have had of other people's ways of 'caring' for their animals, plus they would have been too large to transport, Max especially. He would also have had attitude. The two of them were very bonded and it seemed appropriate that they be put down together, then neither would have missed the other. This was a tough decision to make, but it was the right one for everyone concerned.