Once I’d rinsed my mouth out of any last vestiges of Boar no.35 that might still be lurking in there, I made a note in my diary of the mornings rather disastrous first AI attempt.
I then had to endure a tortuously long 21-day wait to see if my ‘love making’ with Miss Piggy had actually worked. This nail biting time meant that I was back on vulva watching duty from day 17 onwards. By day 21 there appeared to be no sign of rosy nether regions, nor swelling, or any of the other features that hinted that she might be coming back into oestrus.
I rushed to the phone and telephoned all my friends ‘I’m going to be a Father!’ I shouted to them excitedly. ‘A what? A Father!?’ ‘What the hell are you talking about Lottie?’ ‘I’ve made my pig pregnant! She’s going to have piglets in 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days time WOO HOO!!
3 months, 3 weeks, and 2 days later I herded my beautiful, heavily pregnant GOS pig down the yard and into a large, clean pen inside the barn ready for farrowing. I watched her as she started building her nest out of dried brackens and rushes, piling the bedding up into a mountain and pulling at bits of the vegetation with her mouth and using her snout to move her bedding around just how she wanted it. I waited for her to settle down then went back inside to look after my own brood.
Later that evening I went out to her pen and sure enough, there she was on the top of her mountain of dried foliage grunting, groaning and pushing the first out of what ended up being 13 piglets and no stillbirths. To say that I was excited! Hell I was over the moon! I sat down beside her, celebratory whisky glass in hand, and watched as each piglet searched out a teat to suckle on. She was so gentle with her babies, so concerned not to squash their tiny bodies, that any tiny squeal that they made, and she was up checking that they were all ok. It was quite an extraordinary thing to witness.
The following morning, once I knew that the tiniest one had had some colostrum, I took the runt away to be hand reared by a neighbour on our goats milk. I knew in my heart that it didn’t stand a chance in the fight for the teats. 12 teats and 13 piglets just doesn’t work.
To this day, I still don’t know whether it was beginner’s luck, God smiling down on me, or my great inseminating technique, but I did a few more inseminations after that and they all had a happy outcome. In the end I did eventually buy a boar, but that is another story, for another day with not such a happy ending.
Now we get onto why I for one, will not be eating Babi Guling.
I was in Bali last weekend and Wayan and I went out shopping together near Ubud. There were several small items that we needed to buy for the house and I knew that she would know some good places to get them, plus she’s great company.
We made our way off the beaten track and away from the tourist shopping areas and found a street were there were warungs selling lots of rattan, baskets, glass, etc. We found a warung selling few items that we needed and we set about making a pile on the counter of things that we wanted to purchase. Nothing was terribly expensive but Wayan, always keen to get a bargain, couldn’t resist haggling with the elderly Chinese man who was the owner. It was then that I noticed a crate of pigs through a side door of the shop. I told Wayan that I wanted to take some photos of the pigs and it would probably be better if she laid off the haggling for a bit so that the owner wouldn’t be annoyed at me taking some pictures.
After getting the blessing of the owner to take some photographs, I then went down the steps outside into what turned out to be a yard full of crates of pigs. There was little, in fact no shelter in some areas, to speak of from the scorching sun, no water in their tiny cages and nowhere for them to walk around. The flooring of the cages was made of bamboo poles so difficult for them to even stand and the cages were full of shit and pee. Aside from the absolutely revolting and cruel conditions in which these poor animals were kept, they were also in bad health. Many of them were coughing and sneezing (a sign of chronic worm infection) and although they looked plump enough, that too can be an indication of worms. Despite the stench, I dared to venture round the corner and to my horror discovered that there were yet more cages all over crowded with pigs of different ages and sizes. Only the larger pigs at the end had a proper pen with a concrete floor and could actually move around properly but even they were cramped. It was an absolute heartbreaking sight and I felt quite sick to think that this man could be so proud to keep his pigs in this way.
I eat meat. I have dabbled at being a vegetarian at times in my life, but on the whole I am a carnivore through and through. This does not mean that I don’t care about animals; on the contrary, I care very much about them. There is no place for cruelty to animals, whether kept as pets, or as livestock EVER. IGNORANCE should never be used as an excuse either. If we eat meat, it is our duty to care about where our meat comes from, how it has been reared, from birth to slaughter. If more people gave some thought and really cared, then there would be no place for all the bad husbandry, cruelty and intensive farming methods that still go on today throughout the world.
This man, and many others like him, have no excuse to keep pigs in living conditions such as these. Lack of money is no excuse for cruelty. The fact is that these poor beasts will take twice as long to fatten due to their poor health and chronic housing than ones that lead a happy life and are cared for properly. My pigs were never ill. I did not need to resort to medicines to cure them. My husbandry practices meant that I prevented illnesses. They lived in the right conditions outside in the fresh air. They had shelter, the right food, a constant supply of fresh drinking water, (even if that meant me boiling up kettles and kettles of water in the bitter N.Yorkshire winter’s when the outside taps were frozen. ditto all the rest of the farm animals). Clean bedding to lie down on. Pigs are incredibly clean animals. It is an absolute fallacy that they are dirty. They never dirty the area where they sleep. It is not in their nature.
Thanks to a good friend Lisa, I have also been alerted to the appalling methods practiced in the abattoirs here in Indonesia. When I next see her, which I hope is very soon I’m sure that we will talk about it. I’m getting off my soapbox now but I’m sure they’ll be some more rants soon.