Then, while I was lugging wallaby wire up a hill, I could hear the sound of banging on a pig shed. Tinkerbell, separated from Bella for everybody’s safety, was thrashing around in her half water tank, smashing the sides and bashing the roof as she went into instinctual mode and built a nest. Branches, fatter than my arm. Mouthfuls of pine needles. Lots of the straw we give her for bedding. And a few metres of long life, high grade chicken wire that we were using to try to stop the slips, piglets, from wandering off in the wrong direction. You don’t want to get between a heavily pregnant sow and her nesting materials, by the mangled look of this wire. I had to tie her shed down with tensioned wire, too, because she’d lifted it three foot at the back in her frenzy, pushing a pine branch up against the fence behind. She wasn’t happy about having me anywhere near her birthing centre, though I did rescue the wire and the bigger branches, because they can’t be good for a little pig to get caught in.
At dusk ,Tinkerbell had gone right to the back of her house and was lying there, doing little except heavy breathing and waiting for the birth. At 11pm, there were three live piglets and a quietly grunting mother still well and truly in labour. This morning, from what I can see, there are about eight or nine little ones; fragile glossy piglets, suckling on their mother. None of them looks to have ventured out, unlike last time when I found two slips wandering around the barnyard and paddock in the hours after. This is the second litter born on Puggle Farm, and I am still very anxious about the whole thing.
Peter Pan, my boar and the proud dad, is due at another farm for a bit of loving. Unfortunately he won’t get into the trailer. This trailer’s a bit higher than others I’ve used. It has a tailgate that doesn’t fold completely out of the way, and he has no interest in getting in past his middle in his hunt of food. Smaller pigs you can pick up and heave their hind legs in. A big, fat, heavy boar and it’s simply not possible. Three days I’ve been trying for, so now for a new approach. A new ramp, a different trailer, something to make it easier for him. And for me.
It’s the new season. Hans and Esther are milking goats again this week, so maybe there’ll be fresh cheese some time soon. The heirloom tomato seeds have sold out at the hardware store. There are buds on the hawthorn and leaves on the quince and very soon the cherries should start to bloom. Roadside stalls are loaded with daffodils, the nights are warm enough to wander the farm without a beanie and we’re in the light half of the year after the equinox.
In a month, the squid should be running again. The trout season has kicked off and those with serious outdoor pursuits are dusting off their gear. The wilderness beckons, so do local jetties and a fishing line. Just as soon as I finish fencing and shift this boar.