Mixing It Up: Pigs On A Plane

It is possible, I now know. to have a relation who is simultaneously your grandmother and great-grandmother.

I had to have someone draw little diagrams to show me how, though.

My subjects? the hippy happy Habsburgs: not so much a royal line as a royal pretzel.

By the time Mother Nature declared enough was enough with King Charles II of Spain,born the last of his line in 1661, she had sent enough warning signs to fill an asylum, all of them swept under the royal hearthrug in the name of blue blood and political powerplay.

I believe the chief problem was uncles marrying nieces.Charles’s father was Charles’s mother’s uncle. Thus, Margarita of Austria, being Philip’s mother, was Charles’s grandmother; yet his mother called the same woman grandmother – rendering her Charles’s great-grandmother.

Keep up.

It does not help that the founding mother of the Habsburg dynasty was called Joanna The Mad.

No-one can ascertain whether this early insanity was in her nature, or as a result of the unhappiness of her life. If there was any genetic foundation, though, the Habsburg dynasty did not start out with favourable odds. It is said Joanna was two of Charles’ 16 great-great-great-grandmothers, six of his 32 great-great-great-great-grandmothers, and six of his 64 great-great-great-great-great-grandmothers.Though I have not done the maths.

Nature took care of it, but not before Charles had lived a wretched existence. He could not speak until he was four, nor walk until he was eight. His huge tongue was too big for his mouth, and he drooled. His personal hygiene was abominable, his grasp of kingship and its intricacies deplorable. He was impotent and rendered a beautiful wife deeply depressed, finally choosing the grave over life with him.

It is not a good idea to become too inbred. Nature will take away reproduction rights, sooner or later.

Which is why five piglets have just taken a very long plane journey.

The small islands in the South Atlantic which are a like little bit of Surrey –  The Falkland Islands – have been having a spot of bother with their porcine population.

Only three people on the islands have pigs at all; and things between the little porkers have been getting a bit too chummy.

The classic signs of inbreeding have begun to appear. And litters are getting progressively smaller.

So the good people of this improbable piece of England, thousands of miles away from the mainland, put their heads together. Eureka, they said. We’ll have some pig semen imported.

Farmer Andrez Short, whose family settled on the Falklands back in 1843, decided to teach himself how to artificially inseminate pigs, he told the BBC in a report today: He added: “I’ve done that hundreds of times with sheep, but pigs are a little different.”

No dice. Nature was not about to co-operate.

So drastic measures were called for. While the military planes are the customary supply chain for Falklands supplies, they are not permitted to carry livestock. So Farmer Short had a long chat with Chiltern Air Freight back in old Blighty .

“Thankfully they agreed,” Farmer Short told the BBC, ” although they’d never sent anything like a pig to the Falklands before.”

I’ll bet.

And when piglets arrive in a tiny close-knit English community like The Falklands, news is bound to spread.

“”There was quite a welcome waiting for them,” Farmer Short observed.

And  so: a happy ending. The piggy gene pool of the island community is safe and sound.

And no need for any diagrams to show how.

Photo credits: Thanks to Fernverrow for non-specific piglets in feature picture; and to Mercopress for the picture of the avaitor piglets with their farmer supplier,Guy Kiddy.

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33 thoughts on “Mixing It Up: Pigs On A Plane

  1. You’re perhaps familiar with the song “I’m My Own Grandpaw”? I think it applies here, to the Habsburgs, not the pigs.

    I trust no pigs fell onto Japanese boats during this exercise.

  2. It made me, also, think of the ‘Own Grandpa’ song.
    I am glad that Chiltern Air had no emergencies causing them to bomb fishing boats in the Atlantic with pigs.
    Now, of course, Argentina will claim the right of their pigs to have been sent there, and another war may well start?
    With that grandmother thing – on top of being dotty, they had multiply-split personalities?

  3. The Piglet Conundrum. I can see it in the history books in my mind’s eye, Col. Split personalities: as I say, I haven’t done the maths: really, I should sit down with the family tree and work out all the links personally. But Big Al calls.

    1. There was a famous spat called the War of Jenkins’ Ear, I seem to remember from my O-level (or was it A-level?) history, though I’m ashamed to say I can’t quite recall the specific details. If there is, heaven forbid, another spat with Argentina but over the little porkers, I’m sure the tabloids will have fun with puns like Sow’s Ears and the like. Always assuming they believed their readership would understand the allusion, of course. Though I’m not sure I do.

  4. What a cool mix today, from Charles the Drool to the sweet little piggies singing “Don’t Cry for me Argentina”. Your weaving of seemingly disparate stories is a great pleasure to see each day.

    1. Lou, you are so good to come and read…gathering this stuff and tacking it together is one of the great pleasures of my happy life, and an audience to share it with is a top advantage to living in the 21st century. There are so many links and coincidences out there, each one like a surprise wrapped in tissue in a gift box….

  5. Trust you to pick up on that news story! But it does seem particularly apt after yesterday’s flying cows. I think the farmer wouldn’t have been too grateful if his £1000 pigs had been jettisoned mid-Atlantic. And I was more than a little surprised to meet the Hapsburgs in the middle. Inbreeding is never a good thing though. 🙂

  6. Family legend has it that way back when we have a Charles as an ancestor. I sure hope it wasn’t Charles the Drool, though that could explain a few things . . .

    Love the little piggies, Kate, and glad they didn’t suffer the same fate as the poor cow.

    1. Fortunately the Hapsburg ended with poor unfortunate Charles the Drool, Penny. Though royalty does have a thing about keeping it in the family, so any Charles would have a spot of that going in!

  7. I love the way the two stories are linked.
    I’m also curious about the classic signs of inbreeding that had begun to appear in the Falkland Island pigs. Could they not speak until they were four either?

    1. I refer you to the ripping read: “Inbreeding in Swine” by the Oklahoma CoOperative Extension Service, Tinman. Pour yourself a stiff drink before you begin. The poor boars suffer lamentable decline in libido: the little piglets become fewer, lighter, and grow less.

      As I have not yet been able to conduct my own action research I have no idea whether any end up sitting on fences in smocks leering at locals and chewing stalks of wheat: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jF-CkMpQtlY&feature=fvwrel

  8. This little piggy went to market,
    This little piggy stayed at home,
    This little piggy had roast beef,
    This little piggy had none.
    And this little piggy went…
    Wee wee wee” all the way home…

    I never understood this. Once piggy goes to market he ain’t goin’ home.

  9. I don’t know which part of these two separate yet skillfully connected stories I find more fascinating! Thankfully the pigs are not doomed to madness and untimely deaths…or tongues too big for their mouths…you did create quite a picture of poor Charles. I have so much admiration for your skill at finding the obscure and weaving the stories into fabulous history lessons! Debra

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