The great escape

EMERGENCY – The Great Escape: our newest arrivals on the farm, 6 Saddleback pigs escaped!

August update

It’s been a while since the last blog update so here’s some of what’s happened since the last post.

August saw a lot of work being done to nurture our veg and and protect it from birds and other wild animals that love to eat our fine produce.

A big harvest of beetroot
Paddock grass looks better and better every week
Although there are only a few people in this photo, the veg area is tended frequently by many members working hard to keep it tidy and weed free
The outdoor sweetcorn in particular attracted unwanted wildlife attention so some netting was put up around it
It took a lot of effort to clear upto and around our fruit trees at the top of the farm as they quickly get encased in a thick tangle of brambles, ferns and nettles
Mashed our way through the growth to reopen the path to the top
Cut ivy at the base of the trees near the composting loo, in the hope that it will allow more light through to our suffering fedge
Tomatoes are starting to look nice
A month later (September) and the polytunnel is full of gorgeous colourful tomatoes

October workday – The Great Escape

Slight emergency on the farm! With everyone just settling in for a nice Saturday evening dinner, our phones start pinging with cries for help – the new pigs arrived that same day had escaped and were out on the common at the back of the farm. It turns out that these new pigs are smaller than any we’ve had before. They are so small in fact that they actually fit between the grid size of the fence around the livestock enclosures as though there wasn’t any barrier at all.

We all rushed up with head torches and proceeded to chase around the 6 little piggies as they hid in the almost inpenetrable wild area at the top of the farm. We continued this for about an hour and a half after it had gone completely dark and only managed to recapture 2 of the little chaps – who spent the night in the trailer – being the only enclosure we felt sure that they wouldn’t be able to get out of.

After not finding the remaining 4 we called off the search and agreed to meet up again first thing the following morning.

7am on a Sunday morning and we’re back trying to recapture our missing pigs

We managed to locate them and decided that as they moved through all fences with impunity, we’d simply keep an eye on them whilst we set up somewhere to trap them and hopefully a nice route for them to follow to fall into our trap.

This actually worked remarkably well, we hastily set up an area with no gaps to trap them in.

We tried to stay well clear of them and just get behind them to encourage them to move down the farm, by not chasing or stressing them, they stuck to the easy path that we’d prepared for them, despite the fact that if they’d been panicked they could simply have darted away at almost any point.

By 8:30 we had all 4 of the adventurous little piggies back in temporary secure enclosure, cold, scared and hungry after a night out.

The rest of the morning was a rapid sequence of actions to make the temporary trap into somewhere they could live until they’re big enough not to fit through our fencing. So we got them from the holding cell and reunited them with their siblings in the trailer, while we beefed up security.

The next challenge was: what sort of shelter should we knock up quickly for these little guys to sleep in, until they graduate to full pig arc status? Harry (Kelly) had the genius idea to steal the kids playhouse.
Just before lunch our new accommodation was complete and we moved them back from the trailer to their new luxurious housing
The following morning confirmed that they had indeed slept in their new place

Having been up at dawn to catch the little fellas, work then began on the workday tasklist fueled by numerous cups of coffee (Martin hasn’t been that busy in the kitchen since Open Farm Sunday).

Don’t know why we haven’t done this sooner but we set up semi-permanent hosepipes in both the chicken and turkey enclosures
Growing has started in the new greenhouse and plans were discussed for putting extra insulation over the long table to keep smaller plants from frost damage
Finally, a harvest of grapes that didn’t get eaten by birds! Last year the birds appeared to know the exact time when the grapes would be ready and scoffed the lot before we had a chance to harvest them.
To round off the day of disaster overted and extra work done having started at 7am a large harvest to take home.