The winter weather has seen Cornwall taking a real soaking, not the devastating floods hitting the north and Scotland but still a steady day after day barrage of rain. At times the river has swollen and broken its banks, but always subsided again in hours, albeit with a build up of fallen branches collecting at our old bridge.
However the constant high levels of rainfall led the water table to rise to ground level down near the river a couple of weeks back. Thankfully all the cottages are now built much higher but the pigs were in trouble with their field waterlogged and their pen awash.
Nick’s shed was the other casualty with a big puddle in the entrance which was ruining the floor every time the tractors drove in and out.
None of our animals are looking happy this winter, they hate the wet more than anything and all look at us accusingly as if we somehow caused it! But the week before last it was the pigs that looked most miserable as their enclosure is down by the river where the water table had hit the surface. Nick went out to feed them to find them literally water logged just as the river was behaving and retreating. Worry of foot rot and disease together with their obvious discomfort meant we had to act quickly, however we don’t have alternative accommodation for them as pig proofing a field is not something that can be done quickly.
The first job was to coax Mum and piglets all in one section and clean out the sodden straw.
Even this had its problems, the tractor and trailer could barely gather enough grip over the sodden field to take away the old bedding while the piglets, despite having been weaned for 2 months, headed straight to Mum and began to suckle.
Now we had double worry as leaving them all together could put too much of a strain on our lovely Sally, but we really wanted to be able to give one section a chance to dry out.
The only short term solution we could think of was to create a higher level bedroom for them in the larger pen and hope they managed amicably together. Thankfully Nick had some old kitchen surfaces from some properties we are pulling down and set these up on blocks just high enough to be dry yet low enough for the pigs to step up.
We knew this would only last a few days before the pigs ate the wood base and broke their dry safe haven. All we could do was try it and hope it gave us the time we needed to see the rain let up and the water table drop. Nick returned with a large bale of fresh dry straw to spread over the kitchen units and the pigs wasted no time in settling in.
You can almost see the joy and gratitude to Nick as they snuffle through the fresh dry straw.
A week on and I’m pleased to say Sally and her piglets are still happily united in their raised bedroom, which they had the good sense not to eat. They just have concrete hard standing outside but the water table is now lowering. We even saw some sunny afternoons between the showers last week. Roll on spring, some drier weather and a reintroduction of the pigs to their field without being up to their middle in slushy mud!
If you fancy being here on holiday when the piglets are born we aim for early September.
“Tales from the farmers wife” shares the funny and interesting happenings on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. A behind the scenes look on balancing family, farming, the holiday business and cooking for all.