Life at the end of the road

February 26, 2010

Nine in the nest :-(

Filed under: daily doings, pigs — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:53 pm

This is going to be really quick as there’s a piglet in my living room in need of warming up so apologies for not replying to all your comments. I’ll have plenty of time tomorrow when I’m sat in the mess room awaiting the 8:30 sailing. Well I will if my dongle works 🙂

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The wee darlings were all just fine this morning at 6:00am, 10 healthy piglets had gotten through the night and mum was glad to see me after I’d trekked up through the birch wood with 4kg of feed and 10lts of water. I didn’t spend much time there as I had to head off for work and whilst there was no snow at Arnish I knew the high windswept moor at Glame would be a different story. I also wanted to poke my nose in Brackens arc to check on her 9 piglets which I’d been neglecting due to Shona’s ‘free range’ delivery. They were all doing fine and charging about their nice warm insulated house.

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So I fired up the ‘Old girl’ and headed south for the ferry, being relieved to meet the snow plough just before I  stopped to take this picture.

Chaos on the roads to the south and east had ensured a quiet day on the ferry and no papers until 16:00 🙂 and you only have to check out Ed’s comment to see what I mean. I spent most of the day lubricating the 74 grease nipples and oiling points on the mechanical marvel that operates the drive units on the ferry. I had intended to do a wondrous post on the advantages of ‘bell crank levers’ over electronics and software but that will have to wait for another day.

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Of course I had to switch the TV on to watch my boys home movie of his dad for ‘Working lunch’ on BBC2 which turned out much better than I’d expected. Fair play to the BBC for saving the licence fee payers money by getting the interviewees to make the film 🙂

Anyway I was in regular telephone contact with the swineherd who was keeping tabs on Shona and the 10 wee ones, who all seemed to be thriving. Mainly due to the complete lack of any snow at the north end of Raasay and the lovely nest that she’d made for them.

Arriving home some time after 19:00, I was in no hurry to go and check on them as the evening had become milder and the wind fallen away. So it was almost 20:00 by the time I’d eaten dinner and gone to visit her with an apple and more water.

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I was mortified to find only 9 wee wains, to be honest I had initially thought that more would die but the milder weather, cosy nest and maternal instinct of Shona had got my hopes up. Eventually I found a very cold but still living gilt (wee girl) buried under some bracken, I cradled her in my warm overalls for what seemed like an age waiting for Shona to settle in the hope that I could get the wee thing onto one of her teats. Shona however must have just fed her brood and was not being very cooperative, preferring instead to ‘fine tune’ her nest, so eventually I gave up and took the rapidly cooling piglet home.

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Where it is just now on the swineherds knee watching Vampire diaries or something with Molly

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She’s getting warmer and livelier all the time so hopefully we will be able to put her onto Bracken for a drink later as Bracken is just a few yards away from the door of the house and not half a mile away through a bog and forest !

February 25, 2010

And then there were 10 :-(

Filed under: daily doings, pigs, weather — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 11:28 pm

Another quickie I’m afraid as it’s 21:30 and I’m going to have a bath then turn in.

The thought of Shona and her wains had me up early and away on the quad to feed her and check on them, it came as no surprise that one had died during the night, probably squashed by mum trying to keep warm. The others however seemed lively enough and despite the cold north easterly wind they were actually well sheltered in the deep nest of heather and bracken that mum had made. There was little else I could do other than feed Shona and let nature take its course so I left carrying the still warm dead piglet and headed for work.

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Whilst the north end was cold with constant light snow it was not lying, unlike at Glame where it was lying thick on the road and drifting. No problem for the Land Rover but I phoned up wifey and advised her against trying to take our son to school.

The constant snow showers and biting wind meant that few people were travelling on the roads and those that were complained of vicious showers and drifting snow at Cluanie. With snow on the A9 and in Inverness making the daily papers arrive late, not that it bothers me but lack of papers is a serious affair on Raasay 🙂 Anyway most of my day was spent clearing a blockage in our emergency fire pump.

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A task made difficult by some VERY tight M16 bolts

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so tight in fact that one snapped like a carrot 😦 Anyway some new bolts and the power washer sorted that and now I just need to clear a few broken mussel shells from the seaward side with a pokey thing from the rescue boat but that will have to wait for better weather as the Raasay service was one of the few services that was not disrupted or cancelled today.

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However whilst we ran normally today it will be a different story on Monday and Tuesday when the council do essential repairs to the slipway at Sconser.

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They’ll be starting the work on Sunday so as to minimise disruption but ‘time and tide wait for no man’ as they say and it has to be done when the tide is exceptionally low, as it will be over that period.

Whilst I was busy being a ferryman, wifey was busy being a swineherd and took water up to Shona, as a lactating sow needs plenty. She also planned to have another go at moving them but decided against it as they seemed quite happy in their nest. Unfortunately another one was almost dead but wifey thought there was something wrong with it anyway, as did Shona for she’d pushed it out of the nest and buried it.

As usual the day at work was over before I knew it and I headed home with the wind on the nose of the Land Rover encountering some thick snow at Glame that made me glad to have discouraged wifey from taking my boy to school. It must have been bad because Sandy our postman had failed to get the mail up to Arnish and Sandy is a pretty determined chap 🙂 Still he’s left it on the seat of the ‘Old girl’ for me and I smiled as I saw his zig zagging tracks up Glame brae before he’d given up. You can say what you like about the Royal Mail but in these parts nothing comes close for service and price 🙂


And I know the video is cr4p but I just stuck the camera on the dash of the Land Rover to take a still then switched it to movie to see what would happen 🙂 Anyway it was driving through this that got me even more worried about Shona, so as soon as I’d got home and eaten my haggis I went to see her.

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Taking her 10 litres of water and an apple, she came to see me had a drink of water then went back to her piglets and ever so carefully buried them in the nest before going back to the water. After drinking her fill she went back to the wains, carefully dug them out with her nose then pushed them to one side as she lay down, pigs are truly amazing creatures. At the north end of Raasay there was little snow and amongst the birch trees in their nest, mum and her brood seemed quite happy so I’ll sleep a little easier tonight.

I’ll be very surprised if all 10 of them survive but as every hour passes they get stronger and Bramble one of our Tamworth sows has been going to visit her as if to give her encouragement and help keep the crows at bay. So I’ll leave you with the weather before I go to bed as I can’t wait to see them tomorrow.

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