Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Travels with Marianne.

Thanks to my friend, Marianne, I have had some rip-roarin' road trips over the five years I have lived up here.  There are often three of us - Marianne, Melanie and I - and we have picked up pigs, dropped off a variety of life poultry to be picked up packaged, visited farms, tasted cheese, bought strawberry plants, put lots of miles on Marianne's truck.  The latest road trip was of the former variety - pig pick-up.  Marianne raises Tamworth pigs, a truly marvelous animal in all respects.  They are smart, not too huge, very attractive pigs with their red hair and blue eyes, and, most important, provide the best pork I have ever eaten.  Marianne has had to go through the long, frustrating process of trying to find young pigs to raise every year.  They are not easy to find, being a relatively rare breed.  And Marianne is not one to sully purebred genes, if she can help it.  She had found some very nice Tamworths a couple of years ago and held onto one of the gilts (young female) with the intention of breeding her and raising the piglets herself.  Because she did not have a barn, she ended up having to trade a neighboring farmer her gilt to breed in exchange for a number of piglets in the spring.  He bred her late, and Marianne ended up having to raise her pigs well into the winter.  Enough!, she said. make a long story relatively shorter, she had a barn built, saved two gilts from this year's herd and found herself a purebred Tamworth breeding boar.  In Pennsylvania.

We were each wearing six layers of winter clothes when we left NY.  M had to keep both hands on
the steering wheel, so she couldn't grab my camera!

Since she voiced her intent on driving down and back in one day to fetch him - by herself - I, being ever eager to go Traveling with Marianne, offered to take a vacation day and go along for moral support, help in emergencies, and for comic relief.  We were all set for a Tuesday trip when, whizzbang out of the blue, Marianne's gilts went into heat on Sunday.  Apparently, there is a very small window of opportunity for breeding once the gilt is in heat.  So...we left early Monday morning.

The trip began in minus double digits, as Sunday night was the coldest on local record for quite some time.  I basically had time to throw hay at the sheep, throw feed in the closed-up coops, hook up fresh water bottles for the rabbits (which, I am sure, refroze in minutes) and race out the door.  Five hours and three states later, we located the farm and met the farmer who was holding the boar for Marianne.  It was quite a spread - big barn, lots of acres, perfectly neat and tidy, with it's new house, outbuildings, fences.  The boar was smaller than we thought he would be and even for his age.  And there were other issues which I won't address here, as it gets me (and M) steamed just to think about it.  But he went easily into the back of her pickup, which was crammed with nice, fresh hay.  G buried his snout in it and sighed.  He made a nice nest and settled in for the ride back.  We decided (notice how I am so proprietary with M's pig) to name him Giovanni, hoping that the mere name would endow him with successful romantic accomplishments.

The farmer's wonderful red border collie with a Tamworth charge.

Five hours and three states later - but this time with pig shine-ola on our boots in a warm, closed truck cab - we arrived at her farm in the dark.  Thank goodness for four wheel drive, as M had to power up an unlit, snowy hill to her barn.  Where we were met by her two gilts...outside!  (Enclosed in an electronet fence, however)  Apparently, they had  maneuvered a board or two on their pen and had gone on a little adventure down the drive and into the road.  Some very nice neighbors were able to herd them back up to the barn and into the fencing.  What ensued after our arrival was not what M had had in mind.  I, by contrast, had nothing on my mind, being totally numb.  The two, larger PMS-ing pigs attacked G at every turn.  They bit him bloody.  M found that, contrary to what she had been told, G had had no experience with electric fencing, so he plowed right through it.  Thank goodness Melanie had met us there!  I wimped out after half an hour, my excuse being having left the dogs alone for over 12 hours.  (Now, don't think I'm a cruel, uncaring person - my neighbor and frister, Kay, had bravely come over to let them out in the afternoon.)  It was -8 degrees when I left, with M and M struggling to put the girls back in, keep the boy from heading down the drive and setting up a place for him to stay that was NOT with the girls.  It all resolved itself after I was safely home, and I got a lovely loaf of bread out of it to boot (thank you, Melanie!)  Unfortunately, I spend so much time gawking that I forget to take pictures even when I remember to bring my camera.  Maybe next adventure. 

For now, I have filed another exciting  road trip with Marianne in my favorite memories album.  I hope there are many more to come...that don't necessarily involve pig shine-ola on my shoes in a warm, enclosed space.


Mama Pea said...

I'm sure it made the whole trip a much better experience for Marianne having you along. You'll both have good memories and get lotsa laughs recalling the trip . . . probably a little later.

Poor Giovanni! I hope his introduction to the girls didn't put him off women forever. The situation may have gone better for him if he could have met the girls one at a time. Maybe. Or maybe not.

We may not be able to excuse you next time if you forget to take pictures on such an adventuresome day. Even a picture of your accessorized boots in the warm, enclosed truck would have been interesting. ;o)

melanie said...

Damn good thing she couldn't grab your camera...although probably a better thing she doesn't generally read blogs!!

Everyone here loves the picture - even though it does not do her justice...

The Apple Pie Gal said...

I am trying to get a vision of a pig flying solo in a truck the commercial where he screams "WEEE WEEE WEEE" all the way home! HA!

Oh I am going to insist that you have the camera at ready the next time you girls galavant and state hop! I gotta see that pig in action :)

Well I hope that G isn't still getting beat on! You will have to let us know how he is doing.

Great story and thanks for sharing! I hope you didn't sensor on our part ;)

Tiggeriffic said...

Cute Cute story.. I have never heard of these kind of pigs. I'm sure here in Iowa we have them somewhere.
Glad you went along for company for Marianne.. IT's always better when you are driving that much to have someone along to help you. I'll bet you girls had a great time talking and laughing..
ta ta for now from Iowa

Susan said...

Mama Pea - yes, forty lashes with a wet noodle on me for lost photo ops! I think that meeting the girls gradually will bring back his self confidence.

Melanie - of course it doesn't do her justice! Winter doesn't do any of us justice, when you have to wear long underwear under flannel lined jeans under turtlenecks under fleece jackets under down parkas over Carhart coveralls, topped with woolen hats and two layers of hand coverings. There's not much left! I will surreptitiously take a more "true" picture of her in the spring. But, as far as I'm concerned, she has the type of beauty that shines both inside and outside - no matter what the dressing!

APG - no, it was censored due to my darn lack of picture-taking. I would have shown you blood, sweat and shine-ola.

Tiggeriffic - you are so right. Having company on long road trips makes the time go by quickly. We always get a lot done - talk over ideas and plans for the future.

Amy Dingmann said...

What an adventure! Good thing you had company on your trip. Makes everything even more enjoyable. Love the picture of the dog with the pig!

Macnean Farm said...

They always try to establish a pecking order can look quite scary at times. We breed our Tamworths outside all year round, not quite the temperatures you get (down to -16c) but nevertheless they shrug it off.
Vey funny pigs to keep, full of character.

Erin said...

Thanks for sharing this fun story! Poor guy, I'm sure he'll settle in with the girls once the hormones aren't raging, sometimes I feel like pummeling my hubby as well LOL. These are truly times to treasure and good bonding time with friends. Nice that you took the photo of the pig, it truly is a good looking breed - of course the border collie always dresses things up, growing up on a sheep farm I truly appreciate all things herding dog, can't get enough of them! And M is beautiful just like that - anyone can look good when they prep for it, but it takes a beautiful woman to look good in her truck with her woolies on, bravo girls!

Susan said...

MamaTea - it is always fun. I am especially fond of red border collies - they are such beautiful, intense creatures.

Macnean Farm - Thank you for commenting! Of course, biting ears and tails produces lots of blood for small wounds. They have all settled down, according to M. I loved your blog and have sent it to M.

Erin - Yes, even though I know it will embarrass the heck out of her, M is one of the most beautiful women/people I have ever seen up close! It is fitting that she raises a beautiful breed of pig! I would have loved to have slipped that dog in the back of the truck (with us, not with G).