How it Began

There's an agricultural college near Enfield, called Capel Manor, who have two Kune Kunes in their small animal unit, a castrated male, Marmite, and a sow, Truffle. In 1999, Truffle got pregnant by a boar down in Dorset, and Capel Manor decided that neither Marmite nor Truffle might be used to the presence of small pigs by now. So they acquired two small gilts from the same farm, who were a few months old, to keep Truffle company.

Okay: at this point Truffle has her litter of eight baby pigs, which are fed by Truff, but otherwise brought up by the masses of students at Capel Manor (and their very sympathetic stockman), not to mention zillions of visitors, of whom Best Beloved & I were two. At that stage, the farm who owned the boar were saying that Capel could keep the litter, except for a couple which they'd take as a stud fee. So the litter got brought up as pets.

Cut to three months later and the end of summer: the farm in Dorset (which had been an Open Farm, with animals for petting) closes and goes over to meat. And they decide they want all eight piglets back, plus their two older gilts - the piglets for meat, the gilts for intensive breeding. Now these were piglets that had taken to galloping up to people and flinging themselves down to be tickled. I don't mind well-treated stock going for slaughter (well, I do, but I can reconcile myself to it), but these were piglets who acted like puppies.

At this crucial moment, I went into hospital for six nerve blocks, and then came out to recuperate. By the time I was compos, Best Beloved, having had a small windfall, had managed to buy back all the surviving piglets - whom we called Baby, Stripe, Goldie, and Blackie - and one of the gilts (Middley).

And I had the idea of asking Rob at Whitwell if he fancied boarding some Kunes as attractions... just as well he did, because there's fuck-all else land we could keep them on!

These are the ones who were galloping around you, when they were in the indoor pig-shed pen, if you remember that thunderous stampede.

Of the rest of Truffle's litter, one of the two females went as a pet. I don't know what happened to the other. Two of the males were butchered. :-(

So at this point we have four castrated males (we thought) and an older, non-related gilt - so the big chaps aren't Middley's litter, they're Truffle's.

The other older gilt, now called Maui, stayed at Capel, and had a litter this year.

Turned out later that Goldie hadn't been done, and was way too old to be done, so we now rely on his obvious hormone deficiency. He's not a functional boar, so he lives with the rest of them.

So, the boys and Middley move into the farm, and stay in a pen that has two infant Gloucester Old Spot / Oxford Sandy and Black-cross boars. They're too young to mate; Middley is too young to conceive. Only, as usual, the pigs hadn't read the handbook... and by the time we discovered that Kune Kune gilts mature a year before any other pig, Middley was getting very, very round!

And, about four months later, she gave birth to Domino, Dot, Badger, Blackears, and Patch (and the little sixth one who didn't make it).

So Middley's litter aren't related to the big boys. But they are Maui's cousins...! And Gordon's grandsons. :)

The next episode, of course, would be a pure-bred litter for Middley to pay some cash into the enterprise. This is currently grounding on the rocks of Best Beloved's inability to cope with the idea of actually selling any of his babies... so maybe we'll just stay as we are.

now read on ...

last updated 21-Dec-2009

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