His brainwave......for us to use any available barn space for winter quarters for the girls. Sounds so simple, why didn't we even think about this. Well our barn is on the periphery of our land and has a road running through it and is currently divided into three stables and a wood store, so it was (in our minds anyway) already fully utilised and unsuitable. But last night after reading Max's comment I redesigned it in my head, and after discussions with Lovely Hubby (who would have to do most of the work) we think we can do this.
The plan is to take the doors off the three stable enclosures but leave the walls in place, thereby making it virtually open plan but with cosy 'bedroom' areas. To fence off the back of the gap and to put a fence on the front with a gate in the centre for our access. And then to purchase some electric fencing to make a small outdoor area for the girls. This area was to be our worm bed area so we can, with a bit of planning, maybe still do that and it may even help as the pigs will root out all the weeds for us and make the land even more fertile and flat Then for next winter we can electric fence off the other side and leave the new worm beds in place.
We will have to move all the supplies into the wood store (the little room on the right in the top picture), but it would mean the pigs straw can also be stored nice and close to their living quarters. The only other thing is there is no water supply to the barn...but what's another hosepipe trailing along the ground between friends!! We already have a 'spaghetti junction' of hosepipes so this will just be one more to trip over in the dark.
All this will obviously rest the orchard, and in Spring the pigs could be re-instated, but after more work has been done to make it easier for us to access the pens. If Betty ever has her litter of piglets she will maybe move back a bit sooner as she would need to be in the farrowing arks.
So thanks go to Max for his comment, that raised the idea, that started the plan, that will no doubt involve much lifting, shifting and hard work, but that means we get to keep piggies here on the farm.