Pork Life

Confidence is a preference for the habitual voyeur of what is known as (Pork Life)
(apologies to Blur)

We haven’t spent much time on the blog talking about pigs, but we should.  They were the first animals to arrive on Achray Farm (apart from the cats that we brought with us) and have helped to set the scene for what we have thought about and planned since.

These are ‘Brave’ and ‘Red’ (or sometime ‘Napoleon’ and ‘Dynamite’, names that never really stuck).  They are Oxford Sandy and Black, or OSB for short.  An ancient line of British “rare breed” in all but official capacity (it’s complicated!).  They were recommended for their temperament and hardiness and have fitted in perfectly and been a pleasure to keep.

The boys arrived in the middle of April, when a keen wind could still blow up from the Loch and spent their first week heading out to the fields in the morning after overnights bedding  down in the straw in a stable.  After a week their “ark” a heavy-duty recycled home arrived from Solway Recycling and they moved permanently outdoors where they have remained.  It’s hard to imaging them now, the pair arriving together in one dog crate in the car — we’ve just invested in a small livestock trailer to move them next!

Running Achray Farm on permaculture principles means that everything has more than one purpose and each element works together.  Pigs are enormously powerful diggers and rooters and their job was to clear, and overturn rush-infested fields and fertilise at the same time – ready for planting.  That worked amazingly well in one paddock and we leaned that scaling the size of run to the animals is important to see results.  In their three fields the pigs have made dens, wallows and can run at some speed when an errant crow bugs them.  Below is Red enjoying a wallow they created whilst Scotland enjoyed a long dry, sunny May.

Wallow

Pigs are also renowned escape artists and one evening, 24 hours before leaving the farm with sitters for a break, we came home at dusk to see a mislocated shape munching in the duck pen.  All gates appeared secure and a frantic coaxing with the feed bucket in the dark brought Red back into his field. The next morning, a stockfence post was discovered loose from scratching and we worked out he had trotted through the polytunnel and veg garden without destroying anything on the long way round to snack on the duck feed.  Very lucky!

We’ve loved our boys and leaned a lot – including how to weigh a pig who really won’t stay still!  Now, in September, the story comes to another chapter.  It is time for the beasts to go to market before they become too big for the abattoir.  This is a difficult time, our first and we are feeling pretty conflicted. We know they have had a great outdoor life and we have shown that we can produce high quality welfare food for the local community visitors alike.

If you are local and are interested in our food supplies, you can find Achray Farm produce in fantastic local food establishments such as Nature’s Corner, Callander, or contact us directly via this website or the Facebook page.

Loose Ends

 

The mornings are getting busier on the farm now with the arrival of another 8 mixed hens to join our 7 Isa Browns.   The new girls have just started to lay pullet eggs after two weeks.  Though it seems a bit cosy in the Solway hen house, everyone seems to get on OK now.

Breeds include Speckledy, Blacktail, Silver Sussex, Sussex, Bluebell and Rhode Rock.

They all currently enjoy a run with the shelter of the Bothy on one side and a fenceline on the other, providing shelter and security, but without the possibility to create variations on the chicken run. The plan is to move the run adjacent to the new vegetable beds as the birds show little interest in the greens but love the seeds of invasive grasses, as well as the slugs.  Within the new field we can also alter the fence to make rotating “teardrop” shapes and fertilise new beds whilst also permitting free roaming when we are around.

Of course the daily result of feed and water (those girls drink a lot!) are beautiful fresh eggs, prefect for poaching.  Local human-powered food mile supplies by bike from eggs@achrayfarm.co.uk

Finally, in egg-related news, we now have six duck eggs in the incubator and expecting new arrivals this week…