The Week That Followed…

The week that followed – 6 March 2009

The property market has been quiet on the farm this week with the recent residential ‘comings-and-goings’ seeming to have settled down.  Shared motherhood is suiting Lil, Jules and Win. There clearly is some merit in this approach as all piglets have put on weight and seem to enjoy the company of so many ‘siblings’.

Whenever we approach the barn, there is a squeal of delight and a high speed charge of 20 piglets to the far corner of the pen. The ‘Cool-mamas’ simply stroll to meet you and ponder if you are carrying a bucket or other tasty morsel. Seeing all is safe, there follows an equally swift chase back to the gate by the piglets, awaiting a stoke and a tickle. Of course, if no bucket is immediately evident, interest wanes and they all wander off to resume their usual routine – feeding, foraging, lounging and working on an escape route. It is, at these moments that they are a beautiful ‘waste-of-time’ and I can easily be distracted for hours just watching them.

Peg has had a quiet week of it – all offspring in one place, at the same time with no Alctatraz moments. Napolean (Chairman of the Escapee Committee) remains a hero to his little sister, who is ever present at his side, in awe of the potential for another daring escapade. This adoration is alarming as it won’t be long before he becomes ‘man-enough’ for the inevitable and, sister or not, she will need to have her wits about her.

Rolo’s gang have not weakened in their belief and endeavours to attract a suitable partner – intensified if anything! This may be that the Angus heifers have reached that ‘all-girls-together-synchronisation’ that any women will know if they’ve ever shared a house with other women. The temptation for the boys must be painful. The Hereford steers in the next pen continue to be shadowed, in voice at least and have not attempted any athletics as was our fear last week. No doubt it is the calm before the storm, but we shall see.

I’ve been musing this week on the similarities or otherwise between two and four legs. I conclude that farm animals don’t succumb to the boundaries and social graces we two-legged creatures observe – not rocket science but it’s worth noting the differences.

They pay scant attention to cleanliness although the pigs, contrary to common misconception are the keenest observers of this creed.

They dismiss the gentile queuing we would follow if faced with a buffet table ahead of us, preferring the ‘Joan-Armatrading – Me-Myself-I’ approach.

Amorous intentions are pursued with vigour, whatever the genealogical/gender relationship and with scant attention to any preamble. This area sees the pigs lose the brownie points gained in cleanliness, whereas ovine and bovine gain the edge. Pigs are very direct in this area whereas at least the rams let the ewes know they are interested! Using a combination of ‘shoulder strokes’ and ‘grinning’, being a sniffing exercise to ascertain readiness (or a Chanel Number 5 habit.) the ewes are ‘warmed up’ but the finesse of execution leaves something to be desired – you can’t have everything! Similar strategies are followed by the bulls to cows but on a larger, altogether more dramatic scale.

With the younger members of the flock/herd we witness the ‘rights of passage’ practice sessions with the ram lamb’s motto being – “I can and I will!” When I refer to ‘I can…’ I obviously mean ‘I think I can, and I’m going to have a jolly good try’

Lavatory manners are all but non-existent, with the exception of the pigs and even they don’t request ‘Labrador puppy goods’ present at every event.

Logic and reason don’t feature so they don’t carry out risk assessment therefore have no need of ‘elf and safety’ rules – if a fence or gate restricts your progress then simply hit it hard, with your head and it will give way! This approach is equally enforced when a farmer (or his wife) stands between sheep and food. A carefully aimed launch at the sternum area usually moves said divider. Pigs and cattle don’t need to launch themselves as the former have upper and lower teeth (can therefore bite) and we are wise enough to avoid ‘discussion’ and the latter are big enough for us to bow to that superiority!

So, that’s 2-1 to the pigs so far with a couple of closely fought draws!

Chickens are excluded on the grounds that we a) only have girls and b) their existence here is purely aesthetic – although they are going up in my estimations on equal parity to their increase in egg production.

The Boss, he’s been busy carrying out his own perfumed operations this week – spreading slurry and chucking muck out in preparation for the rainy days to wash it all in (or in the case of heavy rain, wash it all off) Not necessarily a crowd seeking couple, we find ourselves the centre of discussion with the neighbours – wonder why? However (as the saying goes “Where there’s muck, there’s money”) – the fields are greening up already.

I’ve concluded that muck in a barn follows the same mysterious passage as road cones. It multiplies overnight and then again the next night. I can’t make the equation tally between the volume of silage/grass that goes in and the volume of muck we get out. If anyone wants to start a rose farm – please call us!

My literary attempts are now being thwarted by the Boss as he is cooking biscuits and I keep being called to check their progress – why can’t the M&S cook-book tell him what they ‘feel like’ when they are cooked? No doubt if I were a ‘real farmer’s wife’ I would have made them myself before dawn?!