Distance covered: 46km
Births witnessed: 1
Jelly snakes consumed: 8
Highlight: Bonding with bacon
Lowlight: The realisation that a cycle tan is from the knee to the mid thigh. Sexy!
If you're a little squeamish or still finishing your bowl of cornflakes you may want to look away now.
I'm about to detail my trip to the piggery at Hanrahran Farms. I wasn't quite sure what to expect since the night before Norma had told me that the pigs were being readied for A.I. Maybe I watched too many episodes of X Files in the 90s but I was expecting an extra-terrestrial experience, not the artificial insemination of dozens of pigs.
Before arriving at the unit I changed into an old tracksuit and gumboots as the pig aroma is one that doesn't wash off easily. Seamus even suggested I remove my necklace as the cord might take on the smell. Over my clothes I wore a white jump suit with a hood, another smell precaution. We started in the 'love pen' where boars were strutting their stuff as the sows were pumped full of semen that comes in neatly packaged plastic bags. Seamus demonstrated the light box that warms the packets and to my horror he held one to my cheek to feel the difference in temperature. I'm sure it's just another day in the office to him but being cheek to cheek with a pig's business was a bit of a shock to say the least.
There's new legislation coming in 2013 that bans sow stalls and half of Hanrahan farm has already been converted. The pigs have more space to move around and it's a much more natural environment with natural light and lots of socialising.
The piglets were adorable but it was hard to watch the smaller, weaker runt of the litter struggling for space to suckle their mother. One of the sows had laid on top of one of her young, suffocating the poor little piglet. As we were leaving one of the sows went into labour and I have to say pigs have the whole birth business sussed. Pregnancy lasts exactly 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days.
Instead of trying to squeeze a watermelon through a drainpipe like us humans, pigs can pop out up to 18 piglets with no more bother than passing wind.
I was present when one little piggy popped out, headfirst into the world and watched him confused and dazed take his first steps. Between this and the dozens of road kill corpses, I'm confronted with life and death on a daily basis. Even more reason to get busy living I say.
After a decontamination shower and hair wash x2, Norma took me and the pumpkins to Adare village for a coffee and a nosy around Adare Manor. Life was getting a bit too comfortable for this cycle tourist so I jumped back on my trusty bike, Snowy and wound my way to Abbeyfeale. Tomorrow I'm headed to Killorglin for Puck Fair, so, so, so exciting. The coronation of King Puck is scheduled for 3pm and I plan on being front row and centre.