Spring has well and truly sprung and April duly delivered some really varied weather. We started the month with a serious frost which had us all worried for the blossoms that were out. Mid-month, for Easter, we had a full-on British heatwave which had all the pigs demanding wallows and then ended the month with …. normal April weather.
The grass (and nettles) are growing so fast now – Robert has had the tractor out flailing some of the tracks to try and keep things under control. One of the good things about last year’s heatwave was that from June to September, not much grew. But, who knows what this summer will bring so keeping on top of things now is important … just in case!
The Guinea Fowl
Our Guinea Fowl have had an interesting start to the year. We had an egg in February during the very warm weather which is a full 6 weeks earlier than normal. Since then, they have been very fickle – moving their nest daily, doing their best to hide from us (fair enough I guess, we are trying to collect their eggs) and laying where the nests can easily be robbed by crows. The end result is that so far, we haven’t managed to collect enough eggs to load up the incubator yet. Very frustrating and I am really looking forward to our first batch of little keets. However many times you do it, it is always a magical time, watching them breaking out of their shells!
We’ve had a bit of a challenging time with our pig breeding programme recently. We breed three breeds here on the farm and buy in weaners in the other three breeds. A number of our sows have past their best years and so we have been finding retirement homes for them (for example, Blackfoot and Minnie went down towards Salisbury to a children’s playzone.) So, we’ve been bringing on some new breeding stock but sadly, not in time for them to produce Spring litters for us.
So, currently, we have two boars in – which is a first for us – they are both very friendly but we have made sure they are well separated. There’s a stock fence, an electric fence, a ditch and a hedgerow between them!
First to arrive was Dai – a Large Black boar, who, as you can probably guess, has come across the bridge from Wales to spend a few weeks with Frosty. He’s a big lad who took up residence in the wallow within moments of arriving and when I saw him scratching himself up against the ark, I have to say, I feared for the survival of the ark. But Frosty is a big girl too – she’s not letting him have it all his own way, especially at feeding time! And while you can never tell with Mother Nature, fingers crossed, piglets will turn up in August or September!
Dai was followed later in the month by Reggie, the Oxford Sandy and Black boar. Reggie has a busy time ahead of him as he’s now in a field with three lovely ladies of top pedigree – two of ours and one who will be moving on to a new home in a couple of months. (photo at the top of this post) He’s young and fit – I think he’ll be fine. As many of you know, we name our breeding stock, not with a traditional girl’s name like Susan or Jane, but something linked to the way they look or their breed line. These two are both from the Gertrude line so one is now known as Gertie and the other Goldie, based on her very golden colour coat!
However, we have two young Berkshires that are so far un-named who will be staying with us as breeding sows. I think we’ll run a contest to get suggestions for names – keep an eye on our Buttle Farm Facebook page and I’ll post it there as soon as I get a decent photo!!
The Farm Cottage
The cottage on the farm has been full recently – lovely that the guests have been able to enjoy the wonderful sunshine and the raised beds around the terrace area are bursting with new growth – give it a few weeks and it will be a sea of flowers! We still have a few weekends available in the next few months, so check out the calendar HERE and come and see us!
Come and Visit – June 2nd
And last but not least, we launched the marketing campaign for our Slow Pig Day – what are you doing on June 2nd? If you’ve always wanted to visit the farm – or want to visit again – follow this link to find out all out the day. You’ll have fun, learn lots, meet others who care about where their food comes from and go home well fed!