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Monday 26 March 2012

The Hogman saga continues ... Still haven't got my piglets despite a solicitor's letter to him plus two follow-up e-mails in response to Hogman replies. He is acting now as though he is the injured party - poor old Hoggie. Fancy having to actually pay a debt without putting absurd conditions upon it! He's claiming his reputation is being ruined with businesses and locals.

Hoggie's also now saying that the boar stud service was a failure. This is despite him saying in a long phone conversation I had with him on or around 1 March that "the piglets are yours, but you have to do some things first".... then went on to say I had to apologise to him and get an RSPCA check. Therefore, he's explicity admitted that he has piglets and owes me two.

While all this is causing a great deal of stress, we did have a giggle about it at the weekend. We were passing the turn-off to his road and Bronte said "have you got a texter, we could find his mailbox and write 'The Horrible Hogman' on it?" Luckily sanity prevailed.

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Recent sunrise

It seems impossible that just over two weeks ago we were sweltering in above 30degC heat and worrying about a possible bushfire threat. Now, despite it being quite mild – almost hot today – it feels positively autumnal with misty, moisty mornings and short days. The bushfire in the Derwent Valley which was concerning us in the last blog, eventually burnt over 4,000Ha, but luckily no-one was hurt. Horrid to think of the stock and native animals that perished.

Remarkably it has been a fairly uneventful time since then, apart from one significant upset. I followed up on the two piglets owed to me by the ‘Horrible Hogman’ (he who borrowed our boar and then abused me by e-mail over my position on the forestry question). An e-mail to him bounced back and there was no reply to a text message, so I eventually called his landline. He was quite irrational, saying that I cannot have my piglets until I apologise to him for “lying” to The Mercury (whereas he was the one that sent bits of an e-mail I’d sent to him to The Mercury under my name and also sent in a spiteful piece about me personally) and also have our place checked out by the RSPCA. What a cheek!

Needless to say I was extremely upset following the call, but nonetheless determined to pursue the issue. I’ve engaged a solicitor who will begin by writing to him; I’ve requested a claim form from the Magistrates’ Court and familiarised myself with the small claims procedures; sent out an e-mail to various networks warning people to be cautious when dealing with the Hogman, and have collated all the e-mails and information on the case prior to filing a complaint with the police. I will write to him laying out my position and giving him a chance to repay the debt, but if he still refuses I will pursue him relentlessly.

It turns out that I am not the only one to have a problem with him. A neighbour has apparently (this is hearsay, not confirmed fact) had a long-running dispute with him over boundary issues and the way he treats his animals! Typical, I can just guess what sort of state his place is in. I rang the RSPCA and asked if they had received any complaint about us and it appeared Hoggie had never contacted them.

On the farm front, I’ve been greatly helped by having friendly, reliable and helpful WWOOFERS who have been able largely to take over the animal feeding chore leaving me more time to build fences etc. I finished my quoll-proof fence overhang all around the main bird enclosure, mowed around the house and up the drive (again), completed clearing the track for the new goat fence and have at last begun putting in stakes.

New quoll-proof fence around main bird area 

Beginnings of new goat fence

A brown goshawk has taken a few of Henry’s young chicks from the enclosure, but it is hard to begrudge him as he’s so handsome and so incredibly bold. We first moved the young ganders in there thinking they might make a noise and put him off, but instead they appeared curious rather than concerned. I then made an evil-looking scarecrow and mounted it in the pen, plus we caught the remaining chicks and installed them in the covered peacock run. To my surprise, the peacocks have laid more eggs which are now in the incubator. No idea if they are fertile, but I can candle them in a couple of weeks and see if anything is happening.

Currently, we have two WWOOFERs: Yona, a willowy Canadian girl and her boyfriend Simon, a French guy. Prior to them we had young German girls, Kristina and Laura, who both stayed for over two weeks and were so friendly that it was a pleasure to have them around. We always end up being sad to see our WWOOFERs go and feel rather protective towards them as they continue their travels! We joked about being visited in our dotage by former WWOOFERs - what fun that would be. Laura helped plant trees and adopted one as her own, making and installing a sign for it before she left!

As well as being very decorative, Yona and Simon are good company and a great help around the farm and house. They are terrific with Luke too. They play the Wii and kick a ball around with him and take an interest in all his activities. I’m sure he (and us) will miss them hugely when they leave at the end of March.

Happy goats

Already they have cut heaps of willow browse for the goats (before Autumn claims the leaves) and renovated the old goose run ready for the pullets currently in the large turkey run. We’ll leg ring the pullets to identify them as 2011 birds and clip their wings to discourage them from flying out. The young roosters can stay with the turkeys and lone peacock until fat enough for the freezer. Before Simon arrived, Yona picked a heap more blackberries, which we’ve turned into another load of jelly, complete with labels decorated by Luke.

Jars of blackberry jelly in background

We’ve been out and about a bit: to the Taste of the Huon at the weekend and to Hobart to take Luke to a friend’s birthday party for a laser skirmish. Since Bronte shirked his duty and made me & Yona take Luke, we dropped him off with the other parents and treated ourselves to fish and chips in Fish Frenzy on the harbour. The Taste of Huon was the ‘same old’ enlivened only by the street entertainer ‘Mr Inferno’ who juggled with a chainsaw, fire and knives as well as winding-up some of the more straight-laced in the audience. Luke thought he was “awesome”.