Monday 25 December 2023

New leaf for a poinsettia

Here is this year's poinsettia, an undoubtedly festive looking plant. The remarkable thing is that it has lost not a single leaf nor red bract. It is as healthy as the day we bought it more than two week's ago. We located it on the landing so you get a good view of it when going upstairs. It seems to like it here rather than a prime spot in the living room. Normally each year we watch it slowly shed its leaves until it becomes a skeletal eyesore. If I believed in omens I'd count this as one. I hope everyone is having a joyous Christmas.

Thursday 14 December 2023

In contrast...

Shortly after dark today a second sow went into labour. The signs were there this afternoon as she was very agitated and unsettled, so I was anticipating having to do nightime checks. However, when I took a look at 4:30pm she was lying down and had just given birth to a tiny piglet. One hour later there were twelve. Such a contrast to her sister's litter of four ten day's ago. All look in good shape. No assistance from me was needed other than snipping any trailing unbillical chords and spraying with iodine. There was a substantial placenta to take away too.

A litter of 12, 90 minutes after
the first piglet was born.
Note how evenly
spaced the teats are.

Friday 8 December 2023

Plenty of teats to choose from

 A couple of days ago we had a new litter of Saddleback piglets. A rather small litter of four. Although, mum's previous litter was just six. Not a problem really. They are all healthy (two boys and two girls) with good markings. They should grow away well as there is plenty of milk from the 14 teats available.  We have another litter due in a few week's time.


Friday 1 December 2023

Smallholding on frosty mornings

Like most of the rest of the country we have had a hard frost the last two days and the forecast is for a few more days like this to come. Such weather is not unusual, of course, at this time of the year but for a smallholder or similar hard frosts do have an impact.

Tending to the livestock at first light, about 7am at the moment, the water troughs are all frozen as are the poultry drinkers. With the outside taps and hoses frozen too it means going back and forth with watering cans of hot water and breaking the ice in the troughs.  Days like this inevitably mean freezing fingers.

We are expecting a litter of piglets very soon so the farrowing house is well bedded with straw and a heat lamp is set up ready. No new arrivals overnight, however. The livestock cope well with the conditions as they are hardy and well-adapted. Any tender plants still out will be finished off by the frost. Last night I noticed that there has been a sudden fall of leaves and the trees are virtually bare now.

Such early morning routines in frosty weather is not all hardship. If you are wrapped up well, going about routine tasks outdoors can be quite pleasant in the quiet stillness that tends to accompany frosty conditions. And the frost itself is attractive with some interesting rime patterns. Best of all, perhaps, is having completed the early morning exertions outside, coming indoors into the warmth for breakfast. The dogs sit beside you looking at you longingly. The cats curled up in their favourite spots. No other other species is so adept at making itself so comfortable.