It was Farrowing time on the farm and that would always cause problems for the farmhand, who is always given the shitty duties, but, that is the time for learning I suppose!
Its time for all those pregnant sows to deliver their young, so before they start spitting their young out, there is some preparation required.
An area is set up that is cleaned and disenfected and then these steel farrowing cages are setup, usually 1 for each sow with heat lamps in place for when the young arrive. I know it may sound cruel making a sow go into these cages but it is all for the protection of the young and to reduce piglet mortality.
Unfortunately, pigs although very intelligent animals can be very dozy at times and have a tendency of sitting on their young which would end in a squashed bloody mess!
In the wild, sows will eat their own placenta which is also adopted by farm/domesticated pigs, these farrowing cages are not exactly designed for this behaviour so unless the placenta falls within snout reach, it has to be cleaned away.
The farmer I worked for must have had a bit of a sadistic side because when it came to mucking them out, which also included removing and disposing of any uneaten placenta’s he would allow me a wheelbarrow but would only give me a fork to pickup…. Now, have you ever tried picking up a greasy fried egg using only your fork? If you have, you will know that it will just slide in between each fork tine and fall back onto your plate.
It is very much the same when it comes to picking up the afterbirth of pig with a giant fork. The only problem with a farming fork it doesnt have that wider middle bit that I could have tried to balance the bloody blob on whilst aiming it into the wheelbarrow – in other words, there was no chance of me completing a balancing act of something that had been feeding nutrients to a little swine for the past 100 or so days.
The only option I had was to pick each one up manually and place in the barrow and then hope it would be soaked in with the other shite by the time it came to emptying into the midden – I still had the odd one or two that needed handballing in though 🤣
The only PPE we had were wellies and overalls, no gloves or soap, just cold water from the hose to wash your hands after – Don’t put your hands in your mouth – pig placenta DOES NOT taste like bacon! Didn’t have any hand sanitizers then neither so was common practice not to wash until you got home.
I loved my time on the farm but some jobs were not all that exciting but have to be done.
Tea breaks were the best with 3 of us crammed around the boiler in a shoddy little shit-ridden shed, with a plastic chair each. Breakfast was always 2 slices of heavily buttered toast and the milkiest tea you have ever seen. I think the farmers wife used 1 teabag for the 3 cups. It was always a fight though knocking the flies of your toast for them to land in your tea – there must have been 100’s of them sharing this shed with us, luckily they were attracted to whatever was rotting in the corner so when they felt you move, they flew away.
We were allowed a lunch but only enough time to walk to the chippy on the main road. The farmer had worked it out that it would take each of us 27 minutes to cut across his fields and back again, get served in the chippy and eat our dinner on the way back so we were ready to work by the time we got back to the farm yard 🙂 crafty old bastard!
But one thing I will never forget as a young teenager is how many bus drivers would ignore me at the bus stop coming back home. I just finished a 12 hour shift, I was bolloxed, I had just been hosed down with icey cold water to clear all the shit of my wellies and overalls but I had partially dried by the time I got to the bus stop with the long walk that preceeded me.
I had been chased and biten (several times) by those 6 crazy Canadian Geese that guarded the farmyard, and this bus driver just smerked at me as he drove his nearly empty bus past me. I would always have a 40-50 minute wait before 1 kind driver would pick me up – and I never sat down, I always stood up. I would make sure the drivers knew this and stood by them so I couldnt get blamed for any damages.
Just another fun shift on the farm…