Life at the end of the road

January 7, 2012

Poor Tam :-(

Filed under: daily doings, pigs — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:17 pm

We should actually have been in Tain tonight with friends but that started to look doubtful when wee Tam took ill on Wednesday. Had the two week old piglet responded well to the antibiotics and anti inflammatory drugs we were giving him we might still have gone for a quick overnight visit. This morning though the wee boar was just buried in the bedding inside the ark on his own and complained little when I picked him up to give him his first jag.

The wee chaps temperature had plummeted, he was getting picked on by the others and he was only getting a drink off mum if we assisted him 😦

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We gave him a wee drink of water from a scoop, wifey tried to express some milk off Jamie Lea but she was being uncooperative and his siblings, who are now almost three times his size were giving him a hard time.

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Of course ‘it never rains, it pours’ and when we got back in the house the back boiler on the kitchen stove was pishing out water 😦

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It wasn’t exactly a surprise as wifey had phoned me the other day to say that water was dripping out of it, but I was hoping to tackle it on a week day when the boys where at school. The amount of water pouring from below had just moved it to the top of the ‘to do’ list.

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The trusty Morso Squirrel was actually a wood burner that I converted to oil many years ago when I lived on my own and spent long hours out at sea on my fishing boat. There was nothing worse than coming home to a cold house and having to light a fire to heat the house and water up. Nowadays with the price of oil what it is and with wifey home most days it seems a bit of a backward step but I don’t plan on being here much longer 🙂

The peaty water and direct heating system mean that the boilers only last about four years so this will be number four now and I’m getting quite good at changing them 🙂

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First thing of course is to drain the system and I do that by attaching a short 1/2” hose to the drain valve at the lowest point, put the small hose into a basin then pump it out. I used to just run the hose out of the door or into the sink but it took far longer that way due to the length of pipe.

With me engrossed in this the swineherd went to keep an eye on Tam in the hope of latching him onto Jamie Lea at feeding time. Whilst she was on ‘piglet duty’ our vet phoned to see how he was doing, which wasn’t great 😦

So after speaking to Rhona Campbell we brought him in the house to warm him up and try some different medicines on him. Of course being in the house he’d have to be fed and it was, by now Saturday afternoon with little prospect of getting into Portree for baby milk (the most suitable) and the change of medication that Rhona suggested. Fortunately a few phone calls tracked a citizen of Raasay down who was there already and picked up the stuff for us.

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Meanwhile I laboured on the Squirrel, which as you can see is a bit of a riot 😦 OK, if you were doing this the first time you’d be spending hours trying to free off and undo the four M6 bolts that hold the top onto the stove. The front two are accessed through the door and the rear ones via the top chimney hole plate. I gave up on these years ago after they kept breaking, no matter how much ‘Coppaslip’ I put on the new stainless ones I fitted. Now I just forget the screws and stick the lid on with fire cement or silicon, been that way for 12n or 15 years now with no issues and all it requires is a tap with a hammer to remove it 🙂 In fact one time I just could not remove the top right one and had to force the lid off breaking the back in the process.

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I’d no spare rope so left all just as it was and just re sealed it with silicon 🙂 Again my fire cement had turned into a fire brick when I came to use it so I sent the boys up to the new house site to get some clay 🙂 I just knew that 2m deep hole of clay would come in useful for something 🙂

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Here’s my mate digging it out three months ago 🙂

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As usual I turned the kitchen into a war zone and when I put it all back it leaked but nothing that couldn’t be sorted  with a new drain cock washer.

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Fortunately I had a good second hand one on the scrap heap, luckily it had not been buried in the hole where all the clay was 🙂

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It was all back together just in time for dinner but I think I’m going to have to wait until tomorrow for the bath 🙂

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Wee Tam has taken up residence in Molly’s bed in the living room for now, once the kitchen is back up to temperature we’ll move him in here.

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The ‘wee dug’ has her moments of acting like a maniac with the pigs and piglets but when they’re sick she seems to know and has been spending much time licking poor Tam 🙂 During one particularly difficult farrowing Molly licked all the mucus off the piglets as they were born, she just seems ‘to know’ 🙂

Well that’s about it really, I’m off to bed at a sensible time for once, so here’s hoping that Tam will have improved by the morning.


  1. There’s something about the runt of the litter that arouses all the nurturing instincts. One of the many ways humans go contrary to Nature:-)

    Comment by Kingdomcat — January 7, 2012 @ 11:02 pm

    • Hi KC,

      was wondering where you were 🙂
      “There’s something about the runt of the litter that arouses all the nurturing instincts. One of the many ways humans go contrary to Nature:-)”
      and I don’t know how many times I’ve told people to ‘let nature take its course’ in my long experience a bottle fed runt never come to anything and costs you a fortune 😦 Still you gotta try 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 8, 2012 @ 10:01 pm

  2. Poor wee Tam – but you couldn’t have done anything more for him.
    Fingers and toes crossed for him.


    Comment by Sue — January 7, 2012 @ 11:53 pm

    • Hi Sue,

      he seems to be on the mend, perhaps I should give him some of your whisky 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 8, 2012 @ 10:04 pm

  3. Well done for doing everything possible for Tam.

    Comment by Marjorie Stintzi — January 8, 2012 @ 2:34 am

    • Hi Marjorie,

      the ‘essential oils’ that wifey is putting on the stove seem to be helping. OK, they’re making my eyes water but Tam seems quite happy 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 8, 2012 @ 10:15 pm

    • Hi Jeannette,

      this ‘wee dug’ is a pain in the butt at times 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 8, 2012 @ 10:16 pm

  4. awww.
    dogs are good.
    hope wee tam responds to the sweet licks and the chow and the meds.

    Comment by jeannettesmyth — January 8, 2012 @ 4:51 am

    • we have a back boiler on our stove and its sods law that it will go at most inconvenent time
      so ive fitted valves in fead pipes hidden behind panel above and wired open ( jsut got 1/4 turn gas valves as they handle the heat , checked this out 1st)
      now when it goes it will just be quick turn off , plus not having to drain all system

      hope Tam is better soon

      Comment by wiggy — January 8, 2012 @ 11:19 am

      • Hi Wiggy and welcome, dunno how many times I’ve considered this but it would certainly make life a lot easier, around £20 worth of ball valves on the 22mm pipe would save me half a day and much aggro 😦 trouble is all the pipe work is behind the wooden paneling.

        Cheers, Paul

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 8, 2012 @ 10:26 pm

  5. Really hope wee Tam gets better. We were advised to try babies milk or condensed milk. Fingers crossed Mooly works her magic.

    Comment by Sarah & Dave — January 8, 2012 @ 6:25 pm

    • Hi Sarah & Dave, what we need is an Aga 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 8, 2012 @ 10:27 pm

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