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Country diary: These little piggies came for the pumpkins

During the autumn half-term week, my son and his girlfriend held a “Pumpkin Patch” day on the farm. As well as pumpkins for sale, we had goats, sheep, hens, cows and ponies for children to see. We set up a walk around the farm for children to do, spotting wildlife along the way, with tree-planting at the end of the walk. Each tree had a name tag tied on to it, and the children will be able to come back next year and see how their tree has grown.

The wildlife on the farm was very obliging for the open day. Everybody seemed to see the two red deer that are living in a fen near the River Lune, and the herons put on a display, soaring high and fishing on the riverbank. The fell ponies who can be haughty and aloof seemed intrigued to see so many people walking through the farm and came down to the fence, tossing their manes and inviting people to stroke them.

It was a good day out that all the visitors seemed to enjoy, but it had been difficult to anticipate the demand for pumpkins. We had over 150 of them left – what to do with 150 pumpkins? They would need to be eaten relatively quickly, so my son decided to buy four Tamworth pigs to eat them. Tamworths are a traditional breed believed to be descended from the old English forest pig.

We’ve had pigs on the farm before but not for a couple of years. We put the pumpkins in an empty barn with some small bales of straw. The pigs arrived after dark and rushed out of the trailer and began making themselves a nest in the straw. They then settled very happily and went to sleep. They are now living among the straw and pumpkins until they have eaten them all – along with their pig food. The plan is to breed from two of the pigs and use the other two for meat for our family, but we will see what happens. It may be that we decide to keep all of these placid little gilts.

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