Spring cleaning (479)

by Max Akroyd

There’s lots to be getting on with in the vegetable department at the moment, but for the next few days the needs of the animals will be paramount.

Despite daily mucking out, there comes a point where everything has to cleared out of the animals’ lodgings. I’m not sure if it’s down to the increasing illumination provided by the sun but all the animal houses seem in need of a deep clean all at once. The animals are restless. Just like the lengthening day you can pick up on their instinct to be outside more and more… they’re tired of winter slumber and want to get out and graze/scratch/root around all day in the growing light.

I’m going to have to take the plunge soon and let the piglets out into the big wide world. Mum and aunty have done brilliantly but now need some more space. Although only five weeks old, the piglets are about half way to being weaned already: the sight of them all in a row with their heads in the trough is the happiest of the day. Characters are emerging clearly now and there’s one piglet who always rushes forward to greet me and another who likes nothing more than to dive bomb his siblings from the top of the trough while his more sensible brothers and sisters are trying to eat breakfast. Maybe those are the two we should keep…?

 

Mum and Aunty when they were piglets. And a hen.

 

I’ve operated a mum-first system since the piglets arrived, with mummy and the piglets getting all the best scraps and a daily portion of rooty weeds to eat, and today will be no exception. Her barn will be the first to get new straw and the spring clean treatment.

***

My efforts resulted in a bit of a patchy outcome. If anything I’d underestimated the animals’ seasonal cheer and tidying up was abandonned after one too many piglety escape attempts. Switching my attention to the goat house was similarly truncated: when one goat got loose I feared a repeat of the Great Goat Escape but I think she could see I wasn’t going to tolerate a replay of that particular escapade…

So, one almost clean pig barn and a half-clean goat barn: I shall have to resume the struggle tomorrow. At least today’s endeavours yielded a dozen or more big barrow-loads of old bedding and the like which filled my vacant trenches nicely.