The weather forecasters have changed their tune of late. Not only have we got an awful ot of snow on the ground already in Shelburne, but we are now probably in for about sixteen inches, with another storm on the way. We have quite a deep accumulation already – it is about two inches below my knees, and about four or five inches over the top of my boots – and it is already providing a lovely layer of insulation that we have not had yet this winter.
In the local daily newspaper today, you can see a photograph of two of our pigs in the pasture. The fellow on the left with his head down is Big Red, and on the right, with her head up, is Olive, who is due to farrow (have piglets) at the end of March. Big Red is the “daddy.” He has also sired the ten piglets who were born to Ruby a couple of weeks ago.
Olive the pig is black and white and is a Berkshire pig. You can get a nice overview of the breed by looking them up on wikipedia. Here is the first paragraph from that entry, as a brief introduction:
Berkshire Pigs are a rare breed of pig originating from Britain. In New Zealand it is estimated that there are now less than a hundred purebred sows.
In Britain breeding is maintained by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust at Aldenham Country Park, Hertfordshire and at the South of England Rare Breeds Centre in Kent. It is listed as ‘vulnerable’ as there are fewer than 300 breeding females.In the United States, the American Berkshire Association, established in 1875, pedigrees only only hogs directly imported from established English herds, or hogs tracing directly back to such imported animals.The pig is also bred in Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan, under the trademarked name Kagoshima Kurobuta (かごしま黒豚, lit. black pig).
Beatrix Potter’s Pig-Wig was a Berkshire.
Pigling Bland sat by the fire,
eating his supper.
All at once at his elbow, a little
voice spoke–“My name is Pig-
wig. Make me more porridge,
please!” Pigling Bland jumped,
and looked round.
A perfectly lovely little black
Berkshire pig stood smiling beside
him. She had twinkly little
screwed up eyes, a double chin,
and a short turned up nose.
Enough about Olive. Big Red is a Tamworth. He looks just like “Crispin Tamworth” according to the Program Director of WFCR (NPR for Western New England). Crispin is a spirited little pig in childrens books created in the imagination of Ted Dewan. The Tamworth is listed as Threatened in the United States by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. They are reddish, have a very long body and long snout. They’re considered a medium sized breed, with the boars ranging in size from 250 to 370 kg (550 to 820 lb). Big Red is still growing. He’d probably weigh in at about 500 now.
The newspaper photographer called our pig’s pasture “an enclosure” – which is a step in the right direction – at least (!) he didn’t call it a “pen” because it isn’t… it is probably closer to half to 3/4 of an acre at present, and was grassy and pleasant, until the mud came. Now, no worries about mud anymore.
We are blanketed in snow. The pigs are blanketed in snow. The photos that I snapped this morning, with the waterproof camera (not as many pixels, though) as the snow continued to come down, shows the same two pigs from the newspaper photo, today. That photo is on the right, of the two that are together. The pic on the left is from inside the house, looking at the depth of the snow on the garage and barn roofs. The barn had already lost the snow off the dutch lap slate roof. That is a better situation for the structure of the barn (the old timbers are feeling their age) but not so great, as there is now a humongous snow pile in front of the barn doors, of snow that used to be on the roof.