Life at the end of the road

January 22, 2011

Goodbye Ginger :-(

Filed under: animals, daily doings, pigs — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 11:51 pm

The whole family and our Tamworth boar Ginger have been through allot together and this day was one that I’ve dreaded for some time. The dilemma of what to do with an elderly boar is not something you think about when embarking upon breeding pigs. I suppose most people who live on the mainland just get the vet to give them a jag then phone up the renderer, or load them into a trailer for the short journey to the abattoir and let them deal with him.

Living where we do none of these options are really viable, I suppose I could have shot him myself and taken him over to Sconser to meet the renderer but he weighs the best part of a quarter of a ton and I’d rather put his body to some use. I could have tempted him into the trailer and towed him for three hours to the local abattoir but to be honest that would have been a ‘cop out’ for me and agony on him. I could not put him through that again, for he’s a terrible traveller.

I’ll never forget when we picked him up exactly four years ago, almost to the day from Stonehead at in Aberdeenshire. It was just the boy and I that went to pick him up and my son still goes on about Stonehead’s Berkshire crackling 🙂 We’d set off the day before, as a 500 mile round trip in the day would have been pushing it for the ferry, I did a few wee jobs on ‘Harry’ Stoney’s old 110 Defender and he’d treated us to a special dinner. Sunday dawned clear and sharp as it often does in that part of the world and we spent a good while coaxing our new boar into the trailer. We stopped every half hour or so to check on our new boar, and every stop saw him more and more miserable, by the time we got to Inverness he was seriously crabbit and would not even eat one of Lidl’s apples 😦

Arriving at Arnish in the dark some eight hour later Ginger was in short, a train wreck, 200kg of disgruntled and bed tempered Tamworth boar. Letting him out of the trailer in this state would have been a recipe for tusks in shins and Lord knows what else, so we left him in the trailer overnight to chill.

The morning after we led him out and a much happier pig soon settled down to life on the croft

 pigs 010 renewables 039

and before long he was doing his stuff 🙂

Over the next few years Ginger became part of the family, below is a post from a couple of years ago

Ginger almost drowned

Filed under: the disaster thread — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:56 pm Edit This


Ginger our Tamworth boar is such a gentle chap and although we’ve only had him for a year he’s really part of the family.


A couple of weeks ago, just before Christmas I was down on the Clyde with the ferry and the dude was at a panto with his grandparents. Ginger who was suffering from one of his bouts of depression (despite having 2 young girls for company) chose this moment to get stuck in a ditch. Now bear in mind that we live 10 miles from anywhere or anyone and Mrs C is only wee then this was quite a disaster. The first I knew about it was when Mrs. C phones me up hysterical telling me that Ginger is stuck in a drain with just his snout sticking out of the water! Apparently his ears and eyes were submerged and just his 2 nostrils were sticking out of the water. Luckily she managed  to wedge his head up with a shovel and get the water flowing round him. As I said we are miles from anywhere I’m 200 miles away and mrs C is all on her own with 2 or 300k of boar in a ditch! the mobile don’t work and it’s a Sunday, luckily there are 2 strong heroes staying about a mile away at ‘the old schoolhouse’ and one of them has his phone switched on. I can’t thank these 2 guys enough for dropping everything to go and help Mrs. C and Ginger.  The 2 knights in question dropped everything and went to gingers rescue,  they managed to get him turned so he was well clear of the water and got some blankets and hot water bottles round him. At this point Ginger was pretty hypothermic and extremely stressed but after about an hours warmth and rest he still could not get out under his own steam. So the two shinning Knights managed to get a towel underneath him and with brute force lifted him out of the ditch. This was further complicated by one of the gilts coming in heat and wanting to get intimate with him!!! Ginger at this point was pure wrecked and was almost put back in the ditch by his amorous girl friend. Me I’m 200 miles away and feeling pretty useless but somehow it all worked out and after a wee spell of recuperation Ginger is back to his old self.


Since then he’s been stuck in another ditch, had his tusks caught in a fence twice and had to be cut out. However he’s sired dozens of fine piglets and been great with the sows and piglets. However of late his litters have been smaller, he’s been spending less time out of his house, soiling it regularly, bullying the sows and generally becoming lazier and lazier. Twelve months ago we bought a young boar called Rocky in preparation for Ginger’s demise but have been reluctant to do anything about it.

The other day when I went to clean out his house and it was full of jobbies was the last straw, and I started thinking seriously about disposing of him 😦 He was costing us money, the sows were suffering and I was having to clean him out far more than necessary. It was not an easy decision but it had to be made.

As I said the ‘normal’ options were out so I decided to shoot him on the croft and make use of his huge fat carcass if possible, I say ‘if possible’ because many people, books and the internet had assured me that an old working boar would be tough, smelly and full of boar taint . Still I figured a humane death in his natural surroundings would be kinder on him, and if we could turn him into sausages and hams all the better.

So with this in mind I formulated a plan, the plan being to lead him out of his field to the field next to the workshop, put some feed down on the ground just in front of the gate and shoot him twice through the head. The spot was chosen because it’s very close to where I could hang him, the gate could be closed so in the unlikely event of a poor shot he’d not be able to harm anyone and the ground at the other side of the gate would be soft enough to stop a .243 bullet ricocheting.

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I would use the .243 and my son would use the .22, the rifles may look similar and the calibres are not that different but just look at the bullets.    

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There are plenty people who use a .22 on pigs, and it’s what I use on the smaller ones but for Ginger I just wanted to make sure. So after preparing everything

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we did the deed. Ginger went down like a stone, no stress, no pain and as ‘happy as a pig in 5h1t’ until the day he died.

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It was hard work dragging round but eventually we got him hauled up and I started the long and arduous task of gutting and skinning him.

I managed to get his guts out last night and most of his very tough skin off before stabbing myself in a wrist vein with the filleting knife :-(  Now I am prone to both embellishment and exaggeration but when the point of the filleting knife came out and blood spurted 3’ across the workshop floor, I have to say that I was worried 😦 Actually I was seriously  annoyed at myself but the rag I used as a tourniquet stopped it and once the colour came back into my face I decided to go inside and call it a day. despite feeling a little feint I did have to quickly carve off a bit of Ginger’s leg to take it in and try it. After all there’d be no point doing a proper butchery job on him if he was ‘honking’, once inside the house and playing down my injury to wifey I threw Ginger’s slice of leg in the frying pan. The boy and I both tried it and I can assure you that it was boodly delicious, not exactly the most tender meat I’ve eaten but by no way tough and far more tender than anything I’ve had from The Co op 🙂

Anyway that was it for yesterday, I went to bed early, tired and emotionally drained only to be constantly disturbed by the frigging phone 😦



  1. Paul, that was a very moving obituary to Ginger

    Comment by carina — January 23, 2011 @ 8:25 am

    • Morning Carina,

      thanks for that, Ginger did indeed deserve the most dignified of ends.

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 27, 2011 @ 6:02 am

  2. I think maybe the problem with your kettle is your very soft water. The only way round it is to completely empty it every time you use it, which defeats the object really of always having a simmering kettle on the hob.

    Comment by Frances G — January 23, 2011 @ 10:19 am

    • Morning Frances,

      aye, I think th every high acidity does not help either.

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 27, 2011 @ 6:03 am

  3. I’d like to think that I’d be as compassionate as you if I needed to be with an animal but it must have been hard.

    By the way, my husband David, has started to read your blog and looks forward every day to your writings and photos. He’s not a well man having had heart attacks etc so it’s good that he has something to get him going so to speak!


    Comment by Jan — January 23, 2011 @ 12:17 pm

    • Hi Jan, and David 🙂

      Take care, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 27, 2011 @ 6:04 am

  4. Hello Paul. Now the last and final shortlist profile of the 2010 transatlantic diablog award. The winner will be announced in the coming week…–-shortlist-profile-5-lunki-and-sika/

    P.S.: Please tell us there (write a comment) why “Life at the End of the Road” could and should win…

    Comment by administrator — January 23, 2011 @ 4:35 pm

    • Good morning Administrator, I will be ‘on the case shortly’, been a little tied up of late 🙂

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 27, 2011 @ 6:05 am

  5. Paul, as usual a good post, conveying your thoughts, feelings, emotions as you did what was necessary. Now, think of your ancestors….With an oldish toughish and flavourfull boar…..Think salami, chorizo, pancetta, etc etc mate. 🙂

    Comment by Lloyd — January 23, 2011 @ 5:36 pm

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