Friday 18 July 2014

Bust Squared x Length x 69.3

Taking the 'bust' measurement of a 99 day old Tamworth
Bust Squared x Length x 69.3. It's not every day we do 'sums', but this formula is a good standard used around the pig world for estimating the weight of your pigs. 'Bust' is a measure of the pig's chest just behind the front legs. 'Length' is  the length of her back from between the ears to the base of her tail, both these being quoted in metres. The formula in my title line then gives you weight in kg. Doing these today, Mapp, who we knew was slightly smaller, comes out at 31.8 kg and Lucia is 36.3 kg.

According to 'The Good Book' (Liz Shankland's (Haynes) Pig Manual), "traditional breeds reach pork weight at between 5 and 6 months old", pork weight being 55 kg or there abouts. Baconners are normally much heavier ( more like 80 kg ) and there is an in-between standard called 'cutters' which is kept for 9 months to produce bigger joints than you'd get from a 'porker'. We think we are therefore doing OK, with ours having reached 30 kg in 3 months.

Apparently you do have to watch it with Tamworths lest you just build up 2 inches of back-fat all along the spine which weighs a load but is not really cook-able unless you like very fatty bacon. It will be interesting to see how ours do compared to Anne and Simon's cross bred trad which are a good 2 months in front of us and are being fed on a little (organic) pig-nut but mainly fruit and veg obtained from shop back doors, a way more cost-effective solution than our 'mainly pig-nut' diet. Ours get some fruit in every meal but it tends to be a cut up apple, nectarine and tomato between them per bowl of nuts. We get the fruit from the Supermarket 'reduced' bins, a bag of apples for a Euro style. Anne thinks hers will be ready in about 6 weeks.

Hole ripped by a fox.
Meanwhile a tragic end to our Guinea Fowl keets saga, 3 rips in the chicken wire of their new run, one where the wire had been pulled out of the staples and a place where the wire had been torn up from buried under soil and rocks, a few sad feathers and some blood, but all 5 keets gone. We thought at first this might have been a mink but Anne has looked at the run, the big holes and the complete absence of bodies, and thinks more than one fox was the culprit, possibly parent animals out with learning cubs. The big rip was an entrance hole and the smaller ones may have been foxes snatching keets through the wire as they panicked trying to escape.

Goldie is in clover
We are kicking ourselves again - it is always the human's fault. We are meant to keep the birds out of danger. I know in theory that chicken wire is no protection against a fox and the run contained a perfectly fox-proof house, but the keets were devils for not using it and preferred to sleep in a huddle among the rocks on the ground. You cannot easily persuade guinea fowl to go where they do not want to go, so we had stopped trying to lock them in the house at night and instead trusted our belief that we did not really have a fox problem. Famous last words. Poor things. It can't have been a very nice end.

Pirate tucks in to home made fishy cat food.
Better news in the Pirate department. The lad is doing very well on his week of incarceration in the caravan being fed lots of lovely food, antibiotic tablets wrapped in salami, and having his good eye smeared with ointment. He is also warm, dry and not having to fight rival cats, dodge dogs, scramble through barbed wire fences and bramble thickets so he does not get new cuts, scratches, tufts of fur missing and a bloody nose every day.

Bulging tummy on a skinny cat!
He is looking cleaner and whiter every day and must be enjoying not always having to nurse sore cuts and bruises (all be it he may still be feeling a bit sore around the surgically closed eye-lid and the... um....manly bits). He is still quite thin and you can feel all his vertebrae so we are always quite amused by the view down on him from above when he had eaten a great wodged belly-full; his stomach sticks out either side like a cartoon snake after it has eaten a big animal. Liz got a couple of enormous fish-heads from our fish-van lady yesterday, poached them down to make stock but then peeled off any edible bits ('neck' muscle, brain, gills etc) and created a delicious (to cats) cat food to which she added back the oil rendered in the stock. Pirate thinks this is WONDERFUL stuff and cannot get enough of it.

He is also getting very affectionate towards us and who ever is feeding and medicating him sits down in the caravan for a nice long cuddle and fuss which he cannot get enough of even though his full-to-groaning belly must be telling him to go for a lie down. He is on this regime for one more day, after which he has completed his course of antibiotics; we will probably keep giving him the eye ointment till we run out of that too. But he's not house trained (why would he be?) so he is making a bit of a mess of the caravan despite our giving him a litter tray, so we are now in two minds whether to confine him for a week or more longer till he 'really gets to know this is home', or whether to throw open the caravan windows and let him come and go at will.

Elder-flower 'fizz'
Time enough for that decision on Sunday. Tonight we are relaxing with some of this year's very successful elder flower 'champagne'. It's always a bit of a judgement call - stop this wine too soon and you end up with bottles going off like soda syphons, too late and you have flat wine. We are pleased to have got it just about right this year. It comes chilled from the fridge and we open it at a lean, then smoothly (no glugging, no allowing it to pour back into the bottle) decant into a chilled jug. It stays crystal clear that way for your 2nd glasses and the dog end! Cheers.

Oh, and that pig-weight formula applied to me? That'll be 'bust' 1.25 m, 'length' 0.82 m, so weight 90.1 kg. Now that'd be nice! I will be claiming that my legs are 'extra' and not really piggy shaped.

1 comment:

Mr Silverwood said...

Pigs looking good, shame about the Keets, but Pirate looking good, I think he knows when he's onto a good thing.