Dilemma25th October 2009
I have a cat named Custard, a dog named Obi, two gerbils names Pearl and Sooty and six pigs. Not to say I don’t have more – in total there are potential bacon breakfasts running around my uncle’s farm but its best not to get attached to those who’ll see the market place any time soon. This brings me to my dilemma.
For two and a half years I’ve bred pigs; not much I grant you but its sufficient time to get to know your animals better than. Maybe they’re a tad bigger than your largest English Mastiff and they haven’t quite got the energy of the average chinchilla but there’s a certain intelligence to the animals that makes them special to work with.
Just to digress a little, this brings me to something I’d just like to point out. Many people ask me how I could breed such an intelligent animal to kill (I think pigs are something like the fourth most intelligent animal – including humans). I’ve never seen a pig, collie, dolphin or chimpanzee calculate the theory of relativity or have a grasp of quantum physics. Maybe this is the extreme end of the intelligence scale, and I’m not expecting any animal to walk around with a scholarship and degree, but the point I am making is animals are only intelligent relative to each other. Arrogant as it sounds, compared to humans animals are very, very basic. Maybe not basic enough for some but humans were designed to eat other animals; we’re omnivores not herbivores. You can get attached to any animal, whether it’s a dog, gerbil or crocodile. Its not the animal’s intelligence that gets you attached to an animal it’s the human needs within.
Anyway, off the point a bit. My dilemma is one of my pigs, incidentally the only one I haven’t named, has not been fertilised in three heats. For those who don’t understand, this means she isn’t up the duff, despite Sid (my boar) trying his hardest three times in a row. Could it be the conditions they are in or is Sid firing blanks? Well the others live in the same shed and woods, get the same food etc and Poppy, Sven and Mena all have a little litter developing inside them. They’ll even start giving birth by December.
It’s a big dilemma when you’ve become attached to an animal. I remember several cows of the herd we became familiar with and who became familiar with us. Some of the older ones keep on breeding for fifteen years, living a life with treatment, medication and plenty of food. They’ve been bred over the years to dismiss their calves a week after weaning so as to remove stress. They’re lives are pretty good. But these cows are though of fondly and when they finally have to go off to the great pasture in the sky where the grass is always lush and green (well maybe not lush, you don’t even want to see a cow defecate when the grass is lush – urgh), farmers certainly feel a pang no matter how much you get used to it.
So, she’s only two and a half but do I get rid of one of my very first sows? I’ve bred her from a piglet, took her out for her first roam in the woods and sat with her whilst she had her first litter. It’s certainly a hard choice. I might just give her one more chance.
I guess in the end farmers are humans too.