There are some things you do which make you feel as if you have crossed a line and you are a little closer to being a proper whatever it is.
So dressed up in beesuits with Kerry last summer pushing a wheelbarrow with four supers full of honey in through the campsite we felt like proper beekeepers. This feeling continued as we spun out lots of lovely honey, it continued right up until the moment the front garden completely filled up with bees when I remembered that becoming a proper anything is a long journey of learning and experience.
I felt it when alone I helped my first lamb come out, when I tubed my first lamb with colostrum and definitely when I convinced the mum of a single lamb that she had actually had two lambs – Oh, I thought, maybe this is what it might be like to be a proper shepherd.
I felt it when I looked the chicken in the eye, killed it and then ate it for dinner.
Yesterday, I took a step in the direction of being a proper pig farmer.
We’ve been watching our gilts’ cycles – waiting for them to come into heat. This happened on Friday so we rang up the pig sperm bank and ordered some Large Black boar semen. This weekend we were going to learn to do artificial insemination!
Luckily we were not alone on this journey, a lovely friend offered to show us how to do it – without his help I am not sure we would have managed it.
On Saturday we got the girls comfortable with coming into the trailer – this was easy.
On Sunday, we tried pig 3, but she wasn’t really ready. So we tried pig 2. We got her into the trailer, James sprayed some boar spray around to get her in the mood (I can’t really believe I am writing this) and then pushed down on her back to see if she would stand (for the boar). She stood. So in went the catheter with the spirally end, it went in a long way, gently being turned anti-clockwise. When it locks in place you are ready. We popped the bottle of boar semen on the end and waited for her to draw it in – she did. So fingers crossed she may have got pregnant.
Ideally you want to inseminate a pig for three days. So yesterday we tried again. But number 2 was not in the mood anymore, so we thought, what the hell, let’s try number 3 again.
In she came and this time I got to help my friend with the insemination. Being able to get the feel of something with someone who can talk you through it and provide guidance and advice is invaluable. Although she seemed ready she didn’t draw the semen in despite my best efforts – probably best to leave the description at that.
So now we wait. We plan on doing it again in just under three weeks. Whatever happens, we have learnt a lot and I certainly feel as if I have crossed a line ….. not sure if this is a good thing or not.
N.B. no photos of the actual event as it is important to protect the modesty of all involved and it is hard to be in a trailer with three people and a big pig and to take photos.
N.B. If this doesn’t work we will look into taking our gilts to a boar. We have no plans on getting our own boar – not enough space.