Digging out ‘dim’ motorists (and their accents weren’t from the Highlands!)

There is no doubt the ‘Beast from the East’ left its mark in the area: snow drifts higher than the forklift, roads filled to the tops of hedges and, of course, rather dim people who thought their rear wheel cars would manage to plough through drifts that came up to the bonnet of their vehicles.

Without being parochial about it, the drivers had accents that sounded more from the Home Counties of England than the Highlands of Scotland

The local worthies who remember these things came to the conclusion it was the most snow since the early 1960s. Thankfully, it was March, not November, and within a few days it was all but gone. I was also feeling very smug that we had delivered all our slaughter pigs for the week and had plenty of feed in stock – the only real difficulty for us was getting staff into work.

We dug out all these people who were stuck, got them home safely and the road was marked off as closed with no-one getting left in their cars all night. I did find it ironic that this all happened the month we received notification from the Government of the latest dreamt up tax – shooting rates!

In our case, the tax is less than the administration cost, but who did the authorities turn to to clear the road? Of course, it was yours truly, the farming community. Needless to say, pointing this out to the local officials fell on deaf ears!

The problem we now have with the thaw is huge pools of water that you could almost swim in. As this is obviously going to delay drilling, the last capital spend on extra slurry accommodation has proved worthwhile.

I am a great believer that ‘you learn nothing at home’ so when I got an invitation to attend a Pig Club in Yorkshire being organised by Richard Bows, of AHDB, I was delighted to accept.

There are two reasons for this. First, we have been thinking about changing to a Duroc-type boar, on the back of information from the Scottish Monitor farm. I just think the Duroc might add a bit more robustness.

And secondly, we are still struggling with weaning weights from gilt litters. Plenty of pigs born and good birth weights – it’s great weaning large numbers, but if the pigs are 6kg as opposed to 7.5kg, it’s not so good.

I reckon, and my figures would back this up, that 1kg at weaning is at least five extra slaughter days – that adds up to a serious cost. We are trying extra water, revamped diets and better pre-weaning diets but the weights remain stubbornly lower than desired.

It took a little bit of leverage, but when I got some debate going it was a good night and we received information from serious producers. Thanks for the hospitality – it was also great to have a look round York.

Back to the snow, let’s just say the pig market was disturbed by the weather, with pigs rolling over. Let’s hope an early Easter gives us the impetus to put a few more pence into the price.

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