Norfolk is well known for its pigs - the landscape is dotted with large fields in which pigs roam freely. Given that pigs are known for their sensitivity and intelligence, it seems cruel to pen them in, battery-style. Here is an entirely typical scene I took a while ago:
The fondness of East Anglians for pigs is so great that there is a covenant (local by-law) on my house specifically forbidding the keeping of pigs in the back garden. We have, naturally, found a way round this proscription:
We've been here before, of course. When bird flu was all the rage, quite a lot of attention was directed at the large intensive poultry installations run by Bernard Matthews, one of the region's biggest employers. We have our backyard poultry, too.
We started with two Pekin bantams,
housed in an eglu, manufactured by omlet, which is a kind of spaceship for chickens.
We added a pair of Polish bantams
and then a couple of wyandottes
so that the eglu is now full. Now it's spring, the chickens are laying eggs with great abandon. Trouble is, there is only one nesting space in the eglu, and the rows, tantrums and arguments as the chooks jostle for space is like teenagers queueing for the bathroom.
Happily the solution is at hand. We've ordered an upgrade, the eglu cube,
Which can hold up to ten full-sized chooks, three of which can be laying simultaneously...
The temptation would be to get another couple of bantams, but we're already overflowing with eggs. Just about anyone who comes to the Maison Des Girrafes these days goes away with a boxful. Roll up, roll up.
What of the old eglu? We could sell it - these things hold their value - but it so happens that omlet manufactures a conversion kit allowing you to remodel your eglu for rabbits or guinea pigs, replacing the roosting bars with a flat base, feed bowl and so on. As chance would have it, we have eleven g-pigs, and are keen to move some into the eglu. As g-pigs are almost as filthy as the larger, non-guinea variety, we're keener to have them in the moulded plastic, easy-to-clean eglu than in their collection of wooden hutches, which is beginning to look like some kind of barrio. So everyone will be happy. And most of us will be thoroughly spoiled.