The Arrival

The journey took 4 hours. 4 hours with your heart in your mouth is a long time. I was following behind watching a wonky wheel and praying (to dad) it wouldn’t come off. The sun came out and at one stage beyond Bray I smelled burning. I rang my son. “Pull over, I smell burning.” The reply, “what are you on about you crazy woman? Now hang up I’m trying to listen to the rugby” or whatever. He also killed me for making him answer the phone while he was driving. A few miles down the road he indicates and pulls in. I come screeching in after him. “What’s wrong?”. “Nothing, I need a pee”…………

But at least I got a look at the pigs and they were fine, Honky was lying down and the other two were looking out wondering what the hell was going on.

My view for 4 hours………

This photo was taken on the M3 on a bank holiday weekend. As Conor Faughnan of AA Roadwatch once said “you can play hockey on it.” Further on the traffic was horrendous with long tailbacks into Ferns and Enniscorthy. As we rolled through Ferns a woman came out of her house walking a spaniel. Honky had her snout stuck out the side and grunted at her. The poor woman almost had a heart attack. I was watching behind laughing.

We inched along all the way to Wexford and at the Duncannon roundabout there was an accident. Of course there was, it was the bank holiday and we had already been stuck in what seemed like hours of traffic. Luckily it was only slowing down the Rosslare traffic and we were able to turn out THE most hateful road on the planet – The New Line road. It took me a few weeks to learn that this was what it was called, but I hated it long before I knew. It’s a narrow straight two lane road with an 80km limit and those sneaky bastard speed vans parked intermittently along it. If you get stuck┬ábehind some plonker that decides he will drive well below the 80km speed limit, you are that word that rhymes with ducked.

Towards the end of the road my son obviously got fed up and put the boot down. I could see the trailer hurtling along behind and was convinced that a wheel would spin off. Eventually we got to my place and he backed into the field. We opened the ramp and the pigs staggered down. One or more had been sick (who knew pigs got travel sick?) probably towards the end when he speeded up.

Checking out their new accommodation

I immediately got their food and put straw in the small sheds in the picture above. They were quite happy to be out of the trailer and were exploring. Later I went out to check them and they had completely ignored my efforts to make them comfortable and had moved themselves into the big hay shed around the corner. So I had to drag all the straw out and move it into them.

We unloaded the poultry and fed and watered them. Let the cats into the house and he announced he was going to drive back. I couldn’t believe it. It was almost 6pm and was getting dark and we had had nothing to eat. I persuaded him to come up to The Hollow and get something to eat first. He did and then drove back up to Meath.

A very welcome plate of food and a glass of wine after a long day

I crawled into bed that night and passed out.

The Animals

Saturday morning of the October Bank Holiday was to be the day. I had organised the trailer from my farmer friend neighbour for the previous week but luckily he could still manage without it the following. It was a big cattle trailer and I figured I would need it for the three pigs for the long journey. I persuaded my son to go and pick it up the day before and we reversed it into the stable yard in front of the stable. I had really wanted to have had time to do this a few days before but it wasn’t possible. That first evening I put the pig food into it and Honky and Parker (the pets) shot up the ramp like pros. Lady Lavinia was having none of it and went without her tea.

I rounded up the poultry as usual that night and managed to grab them one by one to put into a big cage the previous owner of my house had left behind. I fed and watered them and left them in the garage. The cats were still in the house, still freaked and still fighting. They had hated each other from the beginning. I fed them and went down to my son’s and fell into bed. I spent the night “rehearsing the dance” as my mother and her sisters used say. Pretty apt when you are all worked up about something and you keep doing it over and over in your “half” sleep. I woke up in the morning still exhausted, weak and worried.

My son who rarely stresses about the stuff I do can be a monumental pain and takes forever to get organised when it’s not him that has to be somewhere. So I went up to the house myself and he was to follow. In the meantime and unbeknownst to me another farmer neighbour stopped my ex and warned him that the trailer I was borrowing had only ever been used around the area and up and down lanes and might not be able for the long motorway journey and I should check the bearings etc. The ex rang my son.

When I heard this I almost had a nervous breakdown. It’s all well and good if something happens towing horses as you can take them out and hold onto them. I had visions of smoke coming out of the wheel and burning which had happened to me with the very first battered old used Rice horsebox I bought. But what the hell do you do with pigs on a motorway? The son did the usual shaking the wheels and then went off to get a gun thingy to tighten the nuts. Another farmer friend called over with a goodbye present and he did the same sort of shaking the wheels. If there was anything wrong with the bearings all that shaking couldn’t have helped. Then we had to try and load the pigs.

Now farmers are the best in the world but they are utterly useless when it comes to pigs and they aren’t much better with horses unless they are used to them. So I had all sorts of “helpful” advice. I grabbed the bucket and the pair of brats shot up the ramp. Lady L was starving but she stopped on the ramp. My son shouted “back up, back up.” I backed up and she backed down. I came down the ramp again and this time she put her back feet on it. She stuck her huge head into the bucket and I couldn’t move. My son was growling at me to back up. She was digging into the grub and was in danger of reversing. Then out of the blue she stepped forward and he slammed the gate behind her shoving her up the whole way. And I was trapped inside. “Oh don’t worry,” he says “there’s a jockey door.” Except a bit like the ball bearings it had never been opened or closed and was jammed shut.

I told him to open the gates a smidge and I would squeeze out but don’t on your life let her out. Somehow she was still eating and I escaped.

Honky, the greedy guts up first
All loaded up
Poultry, fencing stuff, feeding troughs, water containers all in

I went into the house to get the cats. The fat cat was so freaked out he had crawled under the kitchen units where the dishwasher had been taken out and I had to dismantle the kick boards to get into him. He and The Thug were put in separate cat boxes in the car along with the dogs. I was following the van towing the pigs and the poultry.

It was to be what felt like the longest journey of my life.