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Happy new year, escaping pigs and creep...

Emma Heseltine - 06 January 2013

Christmas was still a busy time on the farm. This year the boss is going to London so I’m looking after the animals. I get all the feeding done in record time so I can enjoy my Christmas lunch without worrying about having to get all muddy in the afternoon! It’s a good few days and I also get chance to go see my family back in Leeds (after a disastrous car failure we get there in the end). So what’s in store for us this New Year?

The pigs' new years resolution appears to be escape as much as possible. They get out in the orchard this week and although they don’t cause any massive damage it’s still pretty annoying. They seem keen to mess up Mike’s neat compost piles, my bag of straw for their hut and the parsnip patch (which they are welcome to). It’s a good job they are extremely food motivated and will follow me with a bucket anywhere despite the fact that the bucket is clearly empty. Optimism you see – my pigs are bucket half full type gals. I move them this weekend and give them a whole new patch to devour, the rest of the parsnips and what appears to be the remnants of some beetroots. Those girls love beetroot. I have also fashioned a new floor for their hut as the quantity of rain that has fallen recently means that I’ve been fighting a loosing battle to keep the water from forming a lake in their home. I put the new floor in their pen and they test it thoroughly by stamping, chewing and rooting it. Seems to pass the test, so I cover it with a tarp and construct the ring-feeder dome over it. The pigs meanwhile do their best to hinder me by using the ring feeder/me as a scratching post and generally being in unhelpful places. Like right behind me, or where I’m trying to put the tarp. When I’ve finished they go inside to inspect my handiwork. I hope it keeps them a bit dryer.

The special case calves at Tarraby might need a bit of extra food this winter. Kendal had joint ill and Karina is a little bit little; calves born in the back end don’t have the benefit of summer to give them a good start. John has a calf creep feeder that is just right for the job but needs a little TLC. The creep feeder allows the calves in but has a narrow enough entrance that their big horned mums cant get in with them. This one has a couple of bends and a sticky sliding door. A spot of weld, a good bash with a hammer, some attention with a wire brush and a lick of paint and it’ll be fit to go in no time. I’m sure the little calves will appreciate it.

Emma completed a degree in Creative Imaging at Huddersfield University before working for a photography studio as an editor. Taking a break from the office world she worked in outdoor education for several years, climbing, abseiling, shooting, trampolining and even life-guarding with children of all ages. When Emma found out about the apprenticeship scheme with the Soil Association it seemed the perfect chance to do something worthwhile and fulfilling. After much searching and badgering farms in the North of England she found a position with Hadrian Organics and started in July 2011. So far it is living up to her expectations, every day is a new challenge and every day is different.


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