Posts Tagged ‘piglets’

You are all probably fed up of hearing about the ups and downs that have been part of life here at Oldfarm.  And sorry for that.

Life keeps throwing stuff at us, and we have to re-assess and re-imagine.  Does this happen to you?

In my previous life I was a secretary, PA, self-employed (so wore many hats), sold houses, ran a shop, Business Advisor, mentor, trainer, and now I don’t know what I’d call myself!

As you know we changed the ‘business model’ last year, and just grew pigs to order.  That worked reasonably well in that we had 10 happy customers at the end of the year, who were enjoying delicious free-range pork and ham.  Unfortunately, when we sat down and did the sums, it really was not a good financial outcome.


A very very small return for a lot of work.

We decided to give it another year.  We thought if we upped the number of pigs/customers we might have a better result.

Sows were pregnant.

Customers were lined up – double the number from 2017.

All was looking good.

Then, disaster struck.  One sow ‘self-aborted’…. yes, pigs can do this.  It can be caused by stress, or they just don’t like being pregnant… anything at all can bring it on.  We suspect that she just didn’t like that we had gone away overnight and a neighbour had fed her!

Second older sow continued with her pregnancy, and gave birth to 4 piglets.  We needed over 20, and had been hoping each sow would at least have 8 each.

Back to doing the sums, and facing the reality that buying in that many bonhams was just not viable.

Another decision had to be made, and we have made it.  After over 12 years of being in the free-range pork business, we are cutting back.

We will continue to keep pigs.  There is no way we could go back to eating ‘shop’ pork and bacon.  Just no way.

We will run our pig-rearing courses where we will continue to share the knowledge we have gained – sometimes the hard way – over the years.  However, now we will just be growing pigs for ourselves and family.

Thank you to all who have supported us.  Thank you to all our loyal customers over the years.

It has not been an easy decision to reach, but we are comfortable with it.


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Blogging Mojo

I’ve been berating myself lately that I haven’t written any posts in a while…. I’ve just about managed to keep on top of the Friday photo challenge.

This afternoon I spent some time in the polytunnel weeding, and there is nothing like pulling weeds to give you a bit of perspective 🙂

I realised this afternoon that I have about two dozen blog posts half written on here, half written in my head, or lined up on one of the endless lists.  So the bottom line is that it’s not my blogging mojo I’ve lost…. it’s my time management mojo that’s gone missing.  And again that’s not true when I reflect upon what’s been happening here in just the past week, it’s no wonder I’ve not been on the computer much.

Oldfarm piglets settling into their new home in Galway

Oldfarm piglets settling into their new home in Galway

Friday last:   deliver 3 pigs to Moycullen (Galway) and 2 chooks to their new home in Galway.

Saturday:      Clean and tidy house in preparation for the arrival of some AirBnB guests – oh, and cook dinner for them too.

Sunday:         See guests off after yummy breakfast.  Start the washing and cleaning routine.

Monday:       Routine day of feeding animals, fencing, menu planning for next guests.

Tuesday:       Welcome AirBnB guests who are staying for 3 nights and prepare dinner for them.

Wednesday:  Morning spent with TV crew here (big secret which will be revealed in time). Managed a bit of time for some computer work/website updating, etc.

Thursday:     Said good-bye to guests and caught up on some indoor and outside chores again.

And in between times emails are answered, fruit harvested, jams made, meals prepared, pigs fed, fencing changed, ducks and hens looked after, orders taken and shipped out, courses planned – the list goes on.

My advice…. take time out to smell the roses, or even do some weeding… it gives you time to think.  And there is the added bounty of the harvest.

home grown french beans

home grown french beans

Really we are not as lazy as we think we are 🙂

So how has your week been?



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We have new babies here at Oldfarm…. born yesterday morning 🙂

Piglets (Bonhams)

Piglets (Bonhams)

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New arrivals

It has been an incredibly busy week here at Oldfarm.

The bees that arrived 2 weeks ago are settling in.

We’ve had our first chick – yes, just one – born here in the 10 years we’ve been living here.  I’m not sure how many decades it has been since there has been a hatchling here, I must find out.  I am like a ‘clucky’ grandma watching over them.

I’ve made a special ‘chick feed’ and thankfully both Mum and baby are thriving.

Annie (Austrolorp) and chick

Annie (Austrolorp) and chick

And then this past Friday, Perky had another litter…. again all doing well.  It will be a few days before they will venture out.  They were barely 24 hours old when I took this photo. 🙂


So as you can imagine it is all keeping us busy!


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Yes, it is a reality!

Pigs do get sunburnt.

Mind you, it has fascinated me that over the past few months ‘sunburnt pigs’ has been one of the major search engine terms used to land on my blog!  Not sure what country people were searching from, but it sure as anything wasn’t Ireland.

However, for those readers not living in Ireland, we’ve had Summer here!  Yes, sunshine for 10 whole days!  A record for sure!

We had bitterly cold winds all through May and then on 30th May the sun shone…. and did so up to yesterday.

The sunshine has meant that we’ve had to check on the pigs more often than usual to ensure that they have water to drink and water for a wallow (mud bath).

Clarence enjoying a bath and shower

Clarence enjoying a bath and shower

You know the way people say pigs are dirty because they cover themselves in mud? The reason for the mud?  Pigs don’t have sweat glands so have no natural way of cooling down.  Rolling in the mud cools them down, and the mud caking on them draws out the heat.  So it acts as a sunscreen.

I have often considered getting some sort of a spray on sunscreen for them – especially  for the little ones, who aren’t as proficient at rolling in the mud. Sunburnt ears can be quite uncomfortable and I’m sure itchy!  However, when you read about all the nasty chemicals in sunscreens, maybe we should consider the mud option 🙂

Gosh, they were all in such bad temper yesterday – heat was getting to them for sure.  Temperatures soared to 27 deg. C on Saturday and Sunday here.

It was cold showers all round.

Queuing for the Shower

So if you do keep pigs, remember they need even more attention and more water in hot weather.  And if you don’t keep pigs, don’t ever think they are being ‘dirty’, they are just looking after themselves 🙂



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Friday Foto

And the good news from Redwood is ……


Perky had 11 babies this morning …. all thriving 🙂

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Dear Auntie Laura (3)

I hope you haven’t forgotten about me, Auntie Laura!  I’ve been so busy here, I’ve just not had time to write to you.

My eleven babies have all grown well and are all fine strong pigs now.  The first few months are always the worst with babies, but now at least they are reaching the age when they can fend for themselves…. and I will hopefully have some peace.

Piglets at water trough

Where do I start to fill you in on what’s been happening here?

Since your visit I don’t think we’ve had a single day when it hasn’t rained.  Can you imagine what my house was like?  Me, the 2 bachelors and 11 babies in one house! Oh lord, the mud!

I had to get the humans to move our house one weekend, the garden was destroyed and there was mud everywhere.  Trying to keep the place clean was impossible!  The new garden is nice and a lot drier too!

The two bachelors moved out a couple of weeks ago.  That was a relief I can tell you.  They were really terribly untidy.  I’m not sure where they’ve gone off to … I heard mention of pig pastures in the sky… but I’m not fully sure what that means.  I am just relieved to have them gone out of the house.

Then just last week, four of my girls moved to Limerick.  They were four fine girls and I know they’ll enjoy living in Limerick.  The family that came to get them had two very small humans who seemed to be very excited to see the girls.  Can you imagine the girls got to travel to Limerick in the back of a jeep – not in a trailer! In the back of the jeep!  I hope they behaved and didn’t make a mess!

All this moving about means that we’ve plenty of space in the house now, which of course has meant I also have time to write to you.

But guess what happens, now that I have a bit of space …. the hens have decided to come on a daily visit!

Have I told you about our neighbours here? We have dogs, cats, hens, ducks, other pigs, and the goats!

Did you meet the goats when you visited?

We have 2 goats living in the paddock next door – Mars and Snickers.

At first we all that it would be fun to have them living next door.  However, I’ve changed my mind!  They are the moaniest pair ever!  I mean I don’t like the rain, but what can we do, we just have to get on with it and make the most of when the weather is dry.  Mars and Snickers all they do is bla bla bla bla the minute the rain starts.  It would drive you demented!  I often pretend I don’t see them at the fence when they come to talk!

Oh no! It has started to rain again, so the gang have all come back indoors! I’d better finish off now.

They send you their love too!



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New arrivals…

This week has been a really busy week for us here at Oldfarm.

We have had 25 new arrivals!

Perky and her litter

Perky and Floppy, two of our Saddleback sows had litters this week.  The Daddy was a Landrace/Saddleback cross, so the litters are a mix of black and white and pink and black pigs.  All for the sake of variety!

Perky was first to produce…. and it was really only luck that we spotted her and realised how close she was to having them!

For the uninitiated, the pregnancy time for pigs is 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days! All very well if you know when they’ve been busy????  However, Farmer Alfie has a theory that the sows also get very cross when their time is due, so he had noticed that Perky (normally quite a placid pig) was very cross last week.  Then on Tuesday afternoon we happened to be in the garden, and I glanced over to see her pulling dry grass from everywhere she could.

It is quite fascinating to watch the sows when they are ready to have their litter. They literally build a nest!  They scout about for their preferred spot and then start nest building.

Last year Lucy (our oldest sow) went to a lot of bother with her nest building.  She managed to find some plastic put that on the ground first, and then piled straw and dry grass on top!  They really are quite clever.

Back to Tuesday and Perky’s nest building… to help her along we gave her an extra bale of straw which of course made her task easier.

And then on Wednesday morning when we checked there she was with 12 new babies.  Four days later, they are thriving and if the sun is out and there is any warmth at all they are out and about with Mammy.  Once again nature is terrific to watch, even at this tiny stage (they are the size of pups) their instinct is to route!

Having fun outdoors!

All of this, of course, does make you feel really bad about pigs that are born in those factory-style schemes.  Born on concrete, mother not able to move, never getting to route about in the earth.  Definitely not a good life.

Our pigs, do end up on the table, but they live a healthy outdoor life before then.

On Thursday, Floppy had her litter…. she had 13 babies…. she always has the biggest litter.

Cuddling up together...group hug piggy style!

Look at these little guys – just hours old!

Now the task ahead is pork sales, suckling pig, bonham sales or even how about ‘adopt a pig’??  More later!

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Friday Photo

Time to snuggle up!

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