Blankets for Pigs

Last night was not so cold, but late in the night I got it into my head that Sheila, my big Hereford pig, needed a blanket – and you know how these thoughts are, after the initial thought, nothing will turn it away.. not even the promise of sleep.

last-day-of-november-001 last-day-of-november-062 You see, when I went out last evening, to turn the lights out in the barn and check Kupa (still holding his own), I could see that Sheila had spent a lot of evening time building her bed up high and tidy.  She had actually taken mouthfuls of straw (how clever without hands) and plastered them across the gate to cut the draft. She had pulled all her straw in, clearing a good two feet of materials, dragging it into her sleeping area. Pulling it up and up, creating a wondrous bed. She must have spent ages on it while I sat inside in the warm  – writing about the cold.

So my torch in hand I found an old sleeping bag that no-one wanted and took it back out to the barn.

Sheila barks when she talks. A low grunting woof. So when I laid the unzipped teal sleeping bag along her body and it drifted onto her head  she barked loudly, I pulled it slightly so it came down to her shoulders, she barked a little softer, her body still down but her head rising, but still with a query in her voice. So, I pulled it down even more  so it rested across her hips and settled over her belly. Good, Good, she breathed, little woof barks – the tiniest of pig sounds and laying her bead back down – she settled into her bed.( She pushes the straw a good foot deep – trace the elbow to your wrist – that deep – this is a real bed. Remember she is a good 500 pounds this pig  – 226 kg (1/4 of a ton),  she needs a deep mattress.  When she settles, she really settles back down.)

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Much later in the night, out of a sheer curiosity that would not allow a deep sleep, I rose and pulling my floor length forest green cotton dressing gown over my tiny pink nightie,  I tiptoed out to the mudroom and put on my gumboots without socks,  took the little blue plastic torch down from its hook,  and followed by three dogs and two cats I crept through the kitchen with it’s shuttered night time what are you doing up light, out the door, across the red floored verandah it’s white posts shining in the moonlight, down the dreaded steps,  out over the dying winter lawn and under the broken tree, past the debris of the ruined tree house, along the track under the elms and through the tiny twisted willows, maples, walnuts and oaks of the Fellowship Forest  and back to the barn.

Walking on the pads of my feet like the dogs, my breath held in the cold, steam in my lungs, I stepped over the thresh-hold into the barn,  shone the light over the gate and down to my dear piggie. My big fat pig. She was still tucked up, under the blanket. Snoring ever so gently. Warm.

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I was not snoring, she said. Not raising her head. Her snorts full of mischief. You can tuck me in a bit more.

Grunt, she said. Grunt yourself, I answered. Tucking her in a bit more.  My little Honey Suckle. And turning off my torch light I turned, clicking my fingers for the dogs to fall in, we made out way back to the house, silent and slender moon shadow ghosts, the cats flowing like muted flickering old time projector lights, across posts and along gates, following behind us, before us, under the trees, across the lawn, up the steps, through the door, down the hall and back to our own blankets.

It is early morning now. I will go out shortly and see if Sheila has slid out from under the blanket or simply  ripped it up and eaten it.  She is a pig after all.  But all night I  slept smiling, knowing that Sheila was warm under her blanket too.

last-day-of-november-071

Like me.

Your friend on the farmy,

celi

ps the bees were out yesterday for a toilet break and some house keeping.. a good sign.last-day-of-november-073

pss.. this is what happens if I do not heat the animal’s water.

last-day-of-november-065

have a lovely day

c

70 Comments on “Blankets for Pigs

    • Nope, when I went out early she had been up and was laid back on top of it. I rescued it later and will do it again tonight!.. we will see how long it lasts!.. c

  1. i love that sheila! what a classy gal….

    last night, in sub-zero windy wind gusts, i went out to trapper’s house [my rabbit….with a multi-level condo of sorts] and stuffed his wooden sleep-box full of fresh straw and hay. must take care of those who cannot hundle in the house, you know….

  2. You’re very noble braving the cold to give a pig a blanket. I eat very little meat, as you know, but I always thought that “pigs in a blanket” were sausages,wrapped in bacon on a cocktail stick…:)

  3. Lucky Sheila to have you to tuck her in. Lucky you to have Sheila to take care of, fuss over and coddle. Lucky us, to be able to follow your life (even if some of do think you’re bonkers to venture out in a nightie and cotton dressing gown and bare feet in gumboots IN THE WINTER… Who will cherish your animal family if you catch pneumonia?)

  4. You old softy , you…I thought that people with farmys had to be hard , firm, let the animals acclimatise then leave them.not creep out in the wee small hours to give a pig a blanket. Oh how I love your way of doing things, your love of animals and the care you take of them is over whelming. A person like me..that is what I would do…as it is my animals are all inside but everynight they have some milk, then toilet before sleeptime, then half a biscuit. Into bed..a pat on the head…..goodnight Rosie, goodnight Charlie, Goodnight puss cats and goodnight Benji ……….sleep tight and see you tomorrow…
    my husband thinks I am nuts……..xxxxxxxxxx,……makes me happy to know thati am not alone

  5. A girl after my own heart! Yesterday I hauled a big straw bale into the chicken hut and broke it up, piling it up against the walls, to keep the drafts out. My hut is made of slotted wood and there are very tiny gaps in between the slats so was worried it was too cold for them. I have read so many articles on line since Erin died yesterday, to see if I am not providing enough warmth for my girls. Some articles say DON’T put heating in the hut, some say do. So I am torn. I am on a fixed budget so electric bills are always worrisome for me, especially in the winter, so I would have to cut a corner somewhere to provide heat for them. Any suggestions from the farmy friends would be helpful!

    • How about some insulation on the outside! It will keep out the moisture and the cold drafts that the wind blows in. Put plastic underneath the insulation. I use heat lamps that are covered with a wire mesh so that no straw can get in. But insulating would help considerably!

      • I don’t heat. Way too dangerous even with guards, those feathers fly about and a burning hen house is the most dreadful thing. In the past I have stapled old feed bags along the inside of the walls, but also I take in whole unbroken bales of straw and place them to create an area out of the drafts, when the wind changes I just change their position.. the problem with sheets of insulation is that they will peck at them plus they are so ugly.. having said all that – mine are in a drafty unheated shed with their outside door open all year, I just think she was old honey and ready to finish up. Chickens are pretty tough.. look at my barn chickens! c

        • Insulation on the outside. Not the inside. Bales of straw work good only the draw mice. Some tyvek would work nicely and not look ghastly. You just staple it up. Keeps the wind out and is easy to put up.

  6. The discarded sleeping bag is just temporary until the goosedown duvet arrives – right? 🙂 Laura

    • I have so many comforters that I share with my furbabies! 🙂 When it gets warmer I use them to cover my tomatoes etc., if there is a frost!!! 😀 Yes! Kevin says I am always washing and drying something!!!! So I have one of those drying racks down by the fire in the basement!!! 😉

      • Yep my old Boy has his own fleecy blanket that he gets tucked into too 🙂

  7. Celi, this is why I love you! So tender hearted, yet so very strong. So gentle and kind, yet so very strong. So concerned and loving, yet so very strong. Who could not love you!
    What is a farmy without a woman with all of those qualifications? Not a very safe, happy, or good place to be!
    Animals know who is good and who isn’t…you have their trust. Ours too!
    Love you sweet friend! (((Celi))) Feel the hugs!!!!!
    p.s. Please put on a warmer coat and socks next time!!!! 😉

  8. I will have a smile and a giggle for the whole rest of the day! today I need to build a bed for my crippled sheep (serious cold coming tomorrow) and will tell her all about you and your Sheila. It will make her utter soft little sheep chuckles.

      • Do you put coats on your sheep? I don’t, so i did wonder whether old Mama could do with a coat, though nothing is better that that big wooly one she is wearing now I guess..c

  9. It’s a visceral thing, making someone snug and cozy. When any of my dogs or cats came in out of the rain or snow I’d wrap a big dry towel around them and sweep them into my arms to cuddle and snuggle and dry them. It probably made me happier than they!
    I’m dying to know what you discovered this morning, Celi.

    • Ton has to go to the shower to have his feet cleaned before coming in at night and i am sure both he and I enjoy the toweling at the end, though the shower on his feet is not his favourite.. Sheila was still sleeping with her blankie this morning, not under it but ON it! so she at least had not ripped it up or thrown it out.. c

  10. Absolutely heartwarming to think you’d get up from your warm bed to care for Sheila. You’ve made my day reading this.

  11. Your blog has caused me to go do research more than once. My first thought in reading this blog post was, “why one would worry about a pig needing extra warmth. After all, doesn’t pig fat keep them warm in the barn?” So I did my research only to discover that I know so very little about caring for and raising pigs. Now I wish we hadn’t thrown away all those old sleeping bags in the garage. I may have needed them one day.

    • Never throw away anything Deb! Especially old doors and blankets! However these heritage pigs can take the cold much better than those fat white ones in their heated houses, but Sheila wants to live alone now, I am going to do some extra work on her bedroom today, dealing with those drafts, using the old doors.. c

      • Everything can be recycled on a farm! I will hang on to stuff forever and sooner or later it is great to have!!! LOL

  12. Morning, c! Lucky piggy-wiggy tucked into a sleeping bag! When should we know if the Duke with worm-free?

  13. Perfect! A blanket for lovely Shelia! Get very ready as winter is about to blast into our worlds very soon. It’s snowing lightly here now and we have a huge weather warning for this coming week. SIGH! But it is to be supposed as it is December and we must have nasty cold for January and February since it isn’t our time for summer.

    Linda
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com

  14. Such a lovely lovely story that warms the heart… so beautifully written about a precious moment… wonderful for Sheila bless her, and I worry about all the the pigs and creatures in that cold without a Celi to care for them and keep therm warm !
    Could a Celi buy herself a good warm dressing gown and some fleece-lined boots for any future night sorties into the barn???? Just wondering !

      • Celi, check out nomorerack.com! They have Ugg boots on sale for $19.00!!! xo

        • Oops! Just checked the site and it’s Sheeps and Dawgs and a couple other warm boots that are under $30.00. Uggs are there, but cost $182. Yikes!!!

      • Wait til just before Christmas and they will all go on sale!!!! I got mine on sale a few years back and I live in them!!!! So warm and comfy!!! I wore them around the house first and then said oh what the hey…and on my feet and outside we went!!! Toasty!!! 😀
        Loveliest boots I ever bought!!! Especially when it is waaaaayyyyy below zero!

  15. Oh C. I loved your description of you tippy toeing out across the cold yard to the barn with a blankie for sweet Sheila! She would be the piggie that cried ewe wee wee all the way home to her mama! 🙂 I bought one of those big dog coats for my old goat Dave last winter and when he died, I buried him in it…you know…to keep him warm forever! So, we farmy people kind of think alike about our animals! Some a little more daft than others! 🙂

  16. Bringing new meaning to the breakfast commodity “Pigs in a Blanket”. 😉
    Love your writing, Celi!

  17. How very sweet. Can you get a picture of Queen Sheila under her blanker for us to see? Sounds like you are feeling better, too.

  18. It sounds like Sheila was grateful to have a blanket, how sensitive you are to the needs of your farmy four-(and two-) legged friends.

    • I want to train her to sleep under a blanket so when it really does get cold i can keep her warm.. pigs don’t have a thick coat of hair..c

  19. The good part of the beautifully told tale :that you could manage to put on your gear and could somehow get down the steps: the pain must be a tad less? The ‘naughty’ part’ – OK, you are saving up for ugg boots [feel like sending you mine: I don’t have to go out in the middle of the night!], BUT what are you doing in a cotton dressing gown and a little slip of a nightie during the Christmas month, hmm?? What about warm flannel onesies of pj’s? 😀 !!

    • I cannot wear nylon, even the bed is piled with cotton blankets, though if I could afford wool.. oh that would be wonderful.. my dressing gown is real turkish cotton and very heavy, it even has a hood, keeps me very warm Eha Mama. not to worry. I am a nightie girl, I have never liked pajamas.. still a beach girl at heart.. c

      • To tell the truth I am a nightie gal also and love sleeping in the nude best of all:) ! [Have done so for the last few weeks already!] And yes, pure wool is wonderful ~ bought a doona on a terrific special beginning of last winter and smiled all season!! And love Turkish cotton: you know how to pick’em!!! Ni-ni from mama and hope those pains just a tad . . . .

  20. Got to read this yesterday, but no time to comment with two Small People fighting over lap-space…I had to know if she ate the blanket or wore it! Smart piggy, snuggling instead of munching!
    Angel’s in love with Queenie, by the way. 😀

  21. Little Honey Suckle? At 500 pounds, I’d hate to see a large honey suckle. She may be a pig but she sure is a lucky pig to have landed on your farmy.

  22. adorable story- we don’t have water heaters here for the water I put out each morning- so they get fresh water each day- just use plant saucers for the birds and deer. Also the squirrels that don’t hibernate.

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