If you’ve been in the U.K for the past few days, most of you have experienced a taste of global warming where during the first week of April, we had a mini heatwave.
It caught many of us by surprise, there were several posts about melted chocolate Easter eggs and sunburnt shoulders. None of us prepared for it, including me and the pigs.
When choosing pigs we went for a rare breed called a British Lop, a traditional pink pig. They currently live in a woodland and we timed it so that we’d have pink pigs in the winter/spring and black pigs in the summer. This is because pink pigs can get sunburnt and we wanted to avoid running the risk.
But the British weather, being wonderfully unpredictable, gave us a number of particularly hot days over the weekend. The trees in the woodland have not quite grown enough leaves for full shade and because the pigs are still quite young, their pink skin is still vulnerable to the sun’s rays. Additionally, they helpfully decided to bask in it rather than take shelter in their pig ark, so they all got sunburnt.
I was upset and chastised myself for not preparing enough. I should’ve slathered them in suncream, I should’ve followed them around with an umbrella, perhaps put sun hats on them. I should’ve dug them a wallow and they could’ve rolled around in cool mud to protect themselves. Should-er, would-er, could-er.
These are all great ideas in hindsight (ok maybe not the hats) but being a first time pig keeper, you make mistakes. I thought the woodland and pig ark would’ve been sufficient shelter. But it wasn’t. Like us, their skin went bright pink (even pinker than usual) and looked sore. On the first day after excessive sun exposure, they were all rubbing themselves against the trees, clearly in discomfort. By the second day, their skin started to scab over a bit. Today though it looked like it was healing and they seemed pretty happy.
We attempted to build them a wallow today, to counter any future April sunshine, but instead of instinctively rolling around in the muddy puddle we’d created for them, they drank some of the water, blew bubbles in it with their snouts and then peed in it. Brilliant.
Just goes to show animals are a lot more resilient than we think they are and as much as they were silly enough to lay in the sun, rather than seek shade, you have to remember they are still essentially children at only 16 weeks old, and just don’t know any better. They haven’t got a mummy pig showing them what to do (and no I’m not about to show them) and even us seemingly intelligent beings tend to do exactly the same when given half the chance!
We only have the pigs for another 3-4 weeks, till they go off to be prepped for our freezer, but we’ve certainly learnt a lot in the short time they’ve been here. As I’ve said before, it’ll be hard saying goodbye, but in the meantime, they’re being inundated with lots of fuss, belly and head scratches, in between trying to eat my wellies and bite my fingers off. Little scamps.
In other news, there are only 4 days left till the chickens are due to hatch in the incubator! I’m very excited but actually starting to feel the pressure of becoming a new parent now. I took the day off to sort out the brooder, so everything will be ready for their arrival. I guess in humans this is referred to as the ‘nesting period’?! Where you flap about the place worrying you’re not prepared enough and what the hell have you let yourself on for? Yep I’m at that stage.
I’ve prepared myself mentally for all of the eggs not hatching too. Even if they do all hatch, the chances are some of the babies might die. Unfortunately that is Mother Nature for you and these things happen. As the saying goes; where there’s livestock, there’s dead stock. But I am going to do everything in my power to keep them alive and deliver some yellow fluffy chicks on Easter Sunday, wish me luck!