Friday 15 April 2016

Eat Your Vegetables!

Ross (l) and Somerville (r)
Our tiny pigs, Somerville and Ross are both nicely settled in now to our place and our ways. This may be the case every year (you forget) but they seem so tiny to me, probably because the last pigs we had were our departing Berkshires; long since gone through 'tiny' to become hulking 70-80 kg beasts. When the new ones turn up I worry that they are so small they will get through the gaps in the sheep-wire and it takes me a few weeks to relax into the idea that they might like it here and stay voluntarily, even if they could escape.

Ross is a galia melon kind of girl.
These two were immediately the most friendly and tame newcomers we have ever met. Real charmers. Within 24 hours I could feed them from a bowl which I still held, and now, a week later they are both sprinting up to me on my arrival and 'asking' for food. Somerville (the 'spotless', sandy one) is perhaps a lot more chummy that Ross (she of the many black spots and blotches). The former will allow me to scratch her head, shoulders and flanks and is all over me nuzzling into pockets and wellies. The latter, Ross, is a bit more shy, only allowing a little touching of her forehead.

Somerville prefers a tomato.
In a previous post I said that I was a bit worried about their lack of appetite. They seemed fixed on the wetted grain-mix that I got from the breeder and turned their noses up at my 'proper' commercial pig-ration. They also ignored my offerings of apple and carrot. 'What manner of pigs are these?', I worried, 'that they won't eat anything? Were we going to have to teach them to eat their vegetables like naughty children? We are through all that now as I ran out of good breeder-mix. They are now piling into my 1/3 : 2/3 mix of barley and pig-nuts and happily accepting apple, tomato, carrot and galia melon. That is a relief.

They are also lovely looking, attractive animals and I have been able to get some lovely pictures of them glowing in the afternoon sun as they wander about in the grass patch up the side of their 'woods' next to the goose orchard. They are completely unfazed by the arrival of a camera lens close to their pile of fruit. We have great hopes for them and they might just have knocked our belov├ęd Tamworths off the top of the "most favoured breeds" list.

Happy pig-butts
Meanwhile on 'veg' Liz continues to do the swimming lessons thing with the ducklings and both of us are finding, as usual, that the official diet of pure chick-crumb is just plain boring. The ducks enjoy dibbling the crumbs up from the surface of their bath but they just look like they should be grazing up greenery and vitamins. We had some curly kale in the fridge (for us, of course) and Liz wondered whether if she finely chopped this and set it afloat on the 'bath' water, the ducklings might enjoy that. Well, talk about feeding frenzy! 6 ducklings were immediately in the water splashing it every where as they scrabbled up the bits of kale. No problem with them eating their veg.

We are fast approaching the time when we can let them out into the rabbit runs on sunny afternoons for an hour or so, and, as they become more waterproof, we will also give them a try out on the big pond. We KNOW that ducks can wreck a pond but this is a BIG pond (6m by 10 m) and there are only 6 ducklings, so we are willing to risk it. If the pond starts to suffer we may re-think this plan and confine them to a smaller run with some kind of kiddies' paddling pool, but the photo's wont be anything like as good.

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