Tales from Smith Hall

Tales from Smith Hall

A pig in a pick up

Life on the FarmPosted by Mary Thu, January 26, 2017 13:23:56
Well, the snow came and went. For a morning, we had snow blowing horizontally, so more layers were put on, to do battle with the elements. Today, it is bitterly cold, and the temperature in our bedroom is 5 degrees C. No surprise that I go to bed with 2 hot water bottles!
We have the standard farmhouse Aga, so the kitchen is always warm, unlike the rest of the house. The house, built around 1805, has a distinct front (gracious, Palladian) and back (utilitarian, basic) and originally had two staircases. One is for the front of the house, and has a beautiful curved stair rail. The back one for children and servants is now concealed under a raised floor. This meant access from front to back was only at the ground level. The upstairs dividing wall was knocked through in the twentieth century, so we and the mice can scamper from front to back.
The new piglets are doing well, and will soon be developing into rapacious, sharp toothed sharks on legs, that will bite your bottom if you stand between them and their feed! A friend of ours came last week to collect two gilts (young females) to fatten up. They were duly caught and placed squealing loudly in the pick up, and driven away to a nice bed of straw filled pen, only to be discovered to be a gilt and a boar on closer inspection. So a swap will have to be made, or there may be more pigs in the pen than were bargained for!
In the meantime, our old boar, who went to a neighbour`s to do his bit to get her two sows in pig (pregnant), has expired, after a long and happy life. We could never be sure if he did manage to perform, as the sows were not terribly receptive, but at least he may have tried!

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January weather

Life on the FarmPosted by Mary Thu, January 12, 2017 11:53:33
The first 2 litters of piglets were born on Monday to two experienced sows, who are happily sharing a pen, and feeding duties! Both the sows are quite socialised to us, and seek out a rub behind the ear or a scratch along the back. So very unusually I was able to get into the pen when the piglets were only a few hours old, to check on them and try to encourage the smallest to feed. Normally, sows that have newly farrowed are very defensive of their offspring, and can be aggressive, rushing you or trying to bite, so I was fortunate to see and handle very young piglets close up.

We woke up yesterday morning to a howling gale. The worry is always that there has been some damage to buildings. Our farm is situated at the top of a valley,which runs down eventually to the Trent. The wind manages to reach us even in high summer, and it can be hard to find a sheltered spot in the garden. Somebody recently told me an old saying at Hulland Ward there is a wonderful view, but it blows- how true!

Now we are waiting for snow......!

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Welcome to Smith Hall Farm!

Life on the FarmPosted by Mary Thu, January 05, 2017 13:43:54
It is nearly Twelfth Night and a new year is starting at Smith Hall Farm. This is the first blog post from Mary and Ashley, so we will be sharing all our exciting (and sometimes not so exciting) life at the farm!
There was a sharp frost last night, but not as bad as predicted. We had a delivery of straw yesterday, and so all the 90 pigs plus weaners all were snug in the shed overnight. Today they are running around with little bits of straw decorating their coat, as happy as pigs can be!
The cows are being fed silage and corn, to keep their weight up over winter. The herd stays out unless the weather is VERY cold, but are quite content ranging over several fields, finding shelter at night under hedges and in wooded areas.
The picture by the way is of Buttercup, our house cow, who we bucket fed after her mother died. She hung out with the pigs in the yard, and then refused to join the rest of the cows. We also had a pig that did just the opposite, but that`s another story!

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