The Tamworth Two

The horrors

Saturday when they came back to pull out the second massive stump, I had to head off to collect the piglets. I left them with my phone number, loaded the big dog crate into car (putting down the seats) and spreading a huge tarp underneath. I was only going to Clonroche but I may as well have been going to Mars. Every field in Wexford has a road around it. And the roads aren’t necessarily road worthy…….

R apparently denotes “rural”. I decided in reality it denotes “rubbish”. L denotes “local” but that should be “ludicrous”. We pay taxes for this……?

It took me 40 minutes to travel 29km or 15 miles. They obviously factor in being stuck behind the local farmer with no wing mirrors.

The piglets were in what looked like a lovely place. Two sows were stretched in the sun in a paddock with an arc. He had the weaners in a shed. He calmly went in and caught them insisting on sticking his tag in one ear and mine in the other. The only time in my 6 years of pig keeping I experienced this. So the poor little feckers were more tag than pig.

We put them in the cage with straw in but they still skidded and stressed the whole journey home. The men were engrossed in the big stump removal when I got back and my standing helplessly asking them for a hand to unload the piglets went ignored.

Eventually the elder came over and we lifted the cage out and coaxed them into their shed stuffed with straw, food and water.

I decided it would be better to keep them in a few days before letting them out. I’ve never had wilder piglets. They had obviously never been handled and were totally freaked anytime I even opened the door. I kept them in almost a week. Then let them out into a small fenced area. They approached the fence, got shocked and one promptly dived through. She happened to meet the big pigs coming back in for their post-breakfast siesta. I’m not sure who was more shocked.

The second stuck her snout on it. Ouchio.

For a few days they remained confined. Then I went to the vets to get a wormer and enquire why one was a bit bald. They told me I’d need to inject a wormer and a delouser sub-cutaneously. I’m always wary of introducing pigs into my place and I prefer to keep the new ones separate until I’ve treated them. I had never injected pigs before but Mary told me how to do it. She suggested asking my neighbour who had helped us with Honky. He happened to be driving out of his yard as I arrived back. We confined them easily and he held them while I injected them. One was no problem, the other wriggled just as I put needle in and half of the dose dribbled down her neck. Bugger.

I rang the vets and they made me up another dose. My neighbours said they’d collect it for me. Later that evening they arrived up with their bull mastiff and a French bulldog on leads. The neighbour who’d helped me earlier arrived as well. Needless to say the piglets were freaked and there wasn’t a chance in hell they were going to cooperate. They bolted. Through fencing.

For the next 20 minutes 4 adults were given the run around by two slippery piglets. We gave up. Peter took the dogs home. Larry the other neighbour had long gone so myself and Susan sat on the deck in evening sun with a glass of red and listened to the happy grunts of two escapee piglets. The woofer arrived out to close in the hens and vanished. Eventually she appeared at the gate to say she’d coaxed them back in with food. Success.

Next day the digger driver’s dad held the piglet and I injected her like a pro. However, they’d got a taste of freedom and that little paddock wasn’t going to confine them. Just as the digger man drove a fully laden dumper of topsoil over the septic tank and got stuck in it, they headed for the hills. I was running out to try to round them up when I heard the frustrated swearing. I came back to find his wheel in the tank and the concrete lid had disappeared.

Oops

I gave up chasing the piglets. Utterly pointless and instead lowered the electric fencing and reinforced gaps. Meanwhile the Diggerman pulled the dumper out with his digger. I resigned myself to feral piglets but when I went out later I found them finishing off the last of their feed and settling into their shed for the night. At least if they were going to be feral they knew their way home.

My neighbours with the dogs named them The Tamworth Two and the name rang a bell. I had a vague recollection of it so I googled it. I hadn’t realised they’d made a film about the pigs.

I often just sit and watch them, they fascinate me. These weaners are barely 8 weeks old and were just weaned when I got them. So far they’ve moved home, explored all around and still found their way back for bed and board. We really underestimate the intelligence and resilience of animals. How many human babies or even puppies could do that?

Pigs are truly amazing.

The Diggerman

Teleporter for second stump

The illusive and lesser-spotted diggerman finally made his appearance on Good Friday. So in every sense it was a “good” Friday. He had arrived the previous Saturday to look at the job. I had relatives visiting so couldn’t spend long with him. His parting words were “I’ll see you Friday. ” Then during the week I got a text from my neighbour who is a mate of his to say he’d be with me Saturday. I assumed he had asked my neighbour to pass the message on.

On Friday I was reclining in the bath contemplating a lazy day ahead when I heard a commotion outside. After a few minutes it dawned on me it sounded like a digger. I lurched out of said bath half drying myself, wrestling with underwear and giving up. I pulled up a tracksuit bottom and threw on a t-shirt and ran out in pink fluffy slippers to let him in……

The chap never batted an eyelid. He had no idea why my neighbour had told me Saturday. I then threw on a pair of clogs and ran to lock in the goats, shove the pigs into the middle paddock and close gate, switch off electric fencing, wrestle open the yard gate, drop electric fencing so he could drive over it to dump the stuff he dug up. Suffice it to say neighbour’s ears must have been doing some burning.

It fitted

The plan was to load dumper and drive out front gate and into field through field gate but I looked at the dumper and said I thought it would fit through the yard gate. Diggerman looked at me dubiously. Never, ever argue with a woman. He fitted. Enough said. We are not all spatially unaware!

He proceeded to remove mounds of stuff before tackling the tree stumps. The old pig sty which I now use as a henhouse had had a mound of soil dumped in front of it from when they dug out the septic tank. I knew there was plastic in it because last summer we tried to remove it and gave up. He dug away at it and then called me. He reckoned the wall would cave in if he went any further. I told him wall was sound from inside and to keep at it. He did and got the stumps out. What was revealed was the stone rubble base which will be left to dry out and we can hopefully repair.

Old pig sty

I couldn’t believe the space. The soil is really good as well – lovely friable loam. Well it would be after years of leaf mould.

Next he opened and moved the gates into the area beside the hay shed where the other pile of stuff had been dumped when they were digging the septic tank out. More plastic, rusty iron, glass, and an old plough. I just can’t get my head around the mentality. My dad always said the Irish were a filthy race. I’m inclined to agree even though I’m Irish and I would never, ever litter. It was ingrained in me from a child. I used be mortified when dad tackled people littering. Now I admire his courage.

He started on the sycamore that had seeded itself right beside the hayshed that I had cut down last year. I said to him please don’t damage the shed. He told me with tree stumps you just have to be patient and keep at them. He did and after over an hour got it out.

hayshed stump

Then he moved to behind my fridge/freezer sheds. These are probably built 70 years. The farmer’s wife used one as her dairy, so I’m told. The other has the dog’s name, Ross on the door and his bed was still in it when I moved in. I use it for coal and garden tools now.

There were two massive sycamores behind it. Last year they were cut down and the huge stumps were left behind. I was fed up asking people how I’d remove them. They all sucked in through their teeth and suggested injecting with weed killer (no bloody way), diesel, petrol, washing up liquid…….. I kid you not. I had reconciled myself to leaving them there and chopping down the shoots periodically.

He took into the first and started patiently and rhythmically rooting at it. His father arrived and directed him. It was like watching an opera. They kept at it then asked had I an axe. I had. They had got down to a massive root that was running under my sheds. It had already caused the huge crack in the wall. They hacked at it. They kept hacking at it until it split, then they began to loosen the stump.

stump behind small freezer shed

The stump came loose and they began to try to remove it with a digger that was way too small. The dad said to me “where there’s a will there’s a way.” They got it out.

Stump removed

Next day they arrived back to take the other one out. I had to leave to collect the new piglets. I was only going to outside Clonroache, 20 miles or so away but it would take me 40 mins. The roads around here are designated “R” rural or “L” local. R should stand for rubbish and L for ludicrous. When I got back what greeted me was the first photo here. They had got the second stump out but had to call a friend with a teleporter to remove it. It was so massive it was one third the size of my sheds. Do not allow sycamores to seed and grow near buildings. This had to be less than 70 years old. They hardly built the sheds on a sycamore…….

Today I went out to take stock and commune with the pigs, as I do. The mound added to the previous building rubble mound (from house renovations), stunned me but not because of the size – which is huge, but because of the plastic pollution in it.

Honky on plastic

The amount of plastic is staggering and it dawned on me that a lot of it is probably older than I am, and it’s still intact, albeit a bit crumbly. A good reminder that plastic is indestructible and not even slightly biodegradable.

Honky loved it. She pulled it out to lie on in the sun. Pigs aren’t stupid. She knew it would keep the still cold soil at bay.

In other news I’ve got new weaners. A pair of terrified Durocs. They’re not electric fence trained so fun and games ahead. For now they’re in the shed beside the annoying goats. Soon they will be out and about and probably in with the neighbour’s mares and foals. Which it’s why you always need to keep your neighbour sweet.