15 July is the date we complete on our Home. A wonderful house in W12. Derelict, but what a garden! Perfect for pigs. I should add at this point that my Lovely Husband thinks that he is going to go all rus in urbis on me and grow vegetables in the garden. I know that a successful marriage is all about compromise but clearly pigs and growing vegetables do not live side by side. Pigs live because vegetables die. Lovely Husband will have to be encouraged to continue with his hobby for classic cars and leave the garden to Snout and Crackling.
When I was seven months preganant with Resa, Snowy and I spent four days up in Yorkshire at Dale House Farm. Simon and Judith Whiteley breed and sell Kune Kune pigs and I was keen to take Snowy to mix with pigs and check that he could at least tolerate them and perhaps learn to enthuse about them to some degree. Simon showed us around his farm on the first morning and I climbed into a sty with ten piglets who very quickly sat all over me, chewing at the toggles on my Peter Storm mac and yanking at the laces on my boots. It’s a tiring business being pregnant and before long, I lay down in the straw with all the piglets and fell fast asleep. Snowy continued his tour of the rest of the pigs and then he and Simon wondered where on earth I had got to. Unable to find me, but sure that I would not be far away, Snowy retired to bed upstairs and lay down. I woke up about forty minutes later with a thick duvet of gently snoring piglets all over me and my bump. Reluctantly I moved the piggies back into their straw, found my husband and together we set off to climb Ingleton Peak in the drizzle.
The following morning, whilst in the pig shed, helping Simon weigh a pig that didn’t wish to be weighed, Alfie the Boar sidled up to Snowy for a scratch. He bumped my husband in a “here I am, please scratch me” sort of way and all one hundred and ten kilos of Snowy fell over like a ninepin. Strong things, pigs. I meanwhile was trying to inject another boar with some medicine. ”Hard and fast”, were Simon’s instructions as to sticking the needle into the hide and pushing down the syringe. I did as I was told and wacked the needle into the pig. Unsurprisingly the pig bolted forward and in my anxiety to push the syringe, I kept hold of it. There was an audible snap and to my horror, the needle was left sticking out of the boar whilst the syringe was in my hand. Simon was kind. He had often done that too, he told me. I bet he hadn’t but he made me feel a bit less awful. We retrieved the needle and I tried again. The second attempt was successful and Simon allowed me a faint smile to let me know that I hadn’t done too badly.
After four relaxing and piggy days in Yorkshire, we left, assuring the Whiteleys that as and when we were able to buy a house with the right size garden for two pigs, we would be back. They were generous enough to believe us and when I emailed them nearly two years later to say that I had really meant what I said, they instantly said that they would keep me informed as to when the next litter was due.
Snout and Crackling were born on 14 July 2011 and four days later I was downing coffee to keep me awake as I drove like an excited Fury up the M6 to North Yorkshire to visit the offspring of Mandy, the black sow and Sean, her enormous porcine lover. My drive north was marred slightly by the fact that I had flipped a quad bike two days earlier, whilst doing a wheelie on an airstrip and my left buttock was black and swollen, my left knee red and enlarged and my left ankle felt broken. But nothing was going to stop me from going to see my pigs and I re-arranged my diary at work, borrowed Snowy’s car and was off.