I came home yesterday afternoon to discover that Gilbert and George had been naughty. Their water trough (well more of a basin) had been wrenched off the post on which it had been secured for a couple of years now, and the water had been pouring across their enclosure for most of the day.
Who are Gilbert and George you might ask. Well, they are two Tamworth / Oxford Sandy and Black cross pigs. Brothers, they are affectionately referred to as the ginger pigs. They are the latest set of weaners that we have raised. We started with a pair of Saddleback sows, then some Sandy and Blacks, a couple of sets of Berkshires and now these two, who came from Tim and Judith down the road. Gilbert and George’s predecessors on our patch have all been despatched in their time. But now the chest freezer is beginning to look a little empty, more pork is required for our winter store.
Keeping pigs, you can begin to see why people say that they make great pets. They are characterful creatures that are smart and inquisitive with distinct differences between the breeds. The Saddlebacks were docile and friendly while the Sandy and Blacks were more sparky. The Berkshires were also very amenable. But now we have the progeny of a Sandy and Black sow and a Tamworth boar. And these boys are very different.
One obvious difference is in gender – boys together seem to make for more rough and tumble. It is something about two young males in a family (be it pig or human) that leads to a higher degree of friction and general boisterousness. These two are no different. Plus they are red heads. I will say no more on the subject – I have some good friends of burnt auburn colouring, so won’t dwell on the subject, but there is a kind of Celtic edge to their demeanour. So these guys are noisy and rumbustuous lads who seem to be intent on getting hold of anything they can find and testing its physical strengths to the limit. During their stay I have found bits of wiring and a plate that they have somehow dragged in through the stock fencing. They have an ability to move large stones and even the Belfast sinks that had previously be used for feed – all shoved around with their snouts.
Pigs’ snouts are remarkable things. They are part bulldozer, part perfumier’s sensitive olfactory organ to sniff out stuff underground. It is fascinating to see them rootling away through soft turf, just ploughing up the ground with their nose. Even more impressive when the ground is hard. I would like to think that the deconstruction of the water trough was a scheme on their part to provide damp conditions to snuffle and wallow to beat the hot weather. I am not sure that they are that intelligent – but then who knows? Images of Animal Farm spring to mind.
That said, these pigs are much less interested in wallowing than their predecessors – mostly sows – who would love a good slouch around in a muddy hollow, specially provided by our own “Pig Whisperer” Josh. Those sows loved to just cool their bits off in a muddy hollow, then chase Josh around the pen to say thank you. These two boys are somewhat less confident with us, though they are betting better. One is very much the runt, but the larger (Gilbert?) is more confident, though he squeals like a, well, a stuck pig, when you touch him.
So, mending the water feeder was going to be interesting. It turned out the damage had first been discovered by The Old Man who had somehow turned it upside down to stop the water escaping. Gilbert and George saw this as just another variation on the game so that the water was once again flowing freely (or expensively if it is your water meter in question) by the time Verity came home from school and tried to right it once again. So TOM had had plenty of time to work out a solution to the problem.
Now, either I am becoming more astute and practical in my thinking, or else genetics are taking their toll on me, because the idea I had in my head to sort this issue was exactly the same as that proposed by my father. The only difference being the size of the post onto which we would secure the drinker. My idea involved a smaller, less industrial sized anchor. While I was thinking stake, he was thinking telegraph pole. If my father had his way, the drinker would be able to withstand the predations of an African Bull Elephant.
So Jim and I stood waiting alongside the damage while his lordship walked back to the house to get the drill. We agreed that while we could do this ourselves, there was no doubt that we would probably do it wrong. So, supervised by the Lord of the Manor, we hammered, drilled and screwed to the satisfaction of all. Help was at hand from the ginger boys who subtly dragged the sledgehammer into the bottom of the muddy puddle along with the pliers and a screw driver.
So the Ginger Whingers are watered again, and like the rest of the estate, basking in the warm sunshine.