This month is now showing hints of Spring: hedges and trees are starting to sprout
buds, even some daffodils are appearing….and whilst it is not our most productive
sewing and planting month, our peppers and tomatoes have already gone into the
tunnels and large amounts of onions have been sewn into trays. Other mainstay crops
will follow soon and the next issue will go into more detail on crop planting. A new
Polytunnel is going up, to increase propagation and provide more planting room- see
Goi’s update on this tunnel on p.5 ; recipes to use up our root veg before we move onto
lighter recipes for Spring appear on p.10 and an article on our Pigs follows this.
Getting to the Root of it: some facts on our Farm Pigs By Raquel Dafouz
Last week, while some of our neighbours from Cloughjordan watched and with
supervision by the volunteers, Pat moved the pigs to the area where the onions were
last grown. Now the pigs have a new field to continue exploring and digging in and they
are doing an excellent job rooting up the ground.
The four pigs that are currently on the farm are male and are growing fast into healthy
animals; they are already 7 months old! Their feed is based on one half of pig nuts and
the other half oat cereals. The oats give the pigs much more energy and are digested
much better if germinated so, two days before feeding, the grains are immersed in
water so that they can germinate and provide all the nutritional benefits to our piglets.
The task of feeding them is carried out twice a day, in the morning and in the evening.
And… you know what? They love to eat while you scratch them behind the ear and leg!
This is something simple that helps to establish a bond and more trust between the pig
and the caretaker.
It is important to know that pigs play an important role on the farm. They bring oxygen to the ground when they churn it around with their rooting technique. This activity is also beneficial for microorganisms in the soil as it helps to decompress the soil, an activity that favours the maintenance of soil quality and also the biodiversity, which is so important for our crops.
Have you been to the pig’s field and wondered where Georgina, the mother of our little pigs, is? And the famous Peppa is also no longer here… if you’ve been wondering about them, don’t worry! They are happy and enjoying their well deserved ‘retirement’ at the Kildare Animal Foundation animal shelter, about 100 km north-east from Cloughjordan.
And finally, if you have not yet been to visit the pigs, we invite you to approach the pigs’ field where you can watch them playing, sleeping, sunbathing or digging in the dirt!
Now that we volunteers have got to know the pigs better we can say that we are happy and grateful to have them as they bring so many benefits to the farm.