While Daisy’s calf hides, growing fatter by the minute, (not too fat we hope).. though at the moment I have quite given up hope on a calf at all, is it a fantasy calf? but there sure is milk! (larger breeds will calve up to 10 days later than the average table so being an Ayrshire, Daisy is obviously shooting for the later dates).
Yesterday I received a call from the swine herd, who bred the late Charlotte and our deeply present Sheila.
“I have a gilt. Eight weeks. Bit of a runt. Can’t sell her for much. Do you want her? Are you milking yet? She needs the milk. I am going away tomorrow so best you collect her now.” (above is the kind of medium I used to work in.. sorry.. got all artsy on you). Of course I wanted her. Sheila needs company. I need another breeding gilt. I loaded up the car and off we went. She definitely is small but determined. She chugged about her box like a little fire engine all the way home.
By the time we got her home .. there was no light for photos for you. She cried and grunted about. Trying to get through the division to Sheila, who brought her offerings of alfalfa..whether to build a dam so the piglet could not get through or to try and improve her diet, I don’t know. Eventually they both went to bed on their own sides.
You are a good feeder, the old swine herd had said, raising his ancient eyebrow. (Meaning I feed my pigs too much and they are fat) . Too much milk, eggs and alfalfa, I laughed. I asked him; how old do these pigs grow to? He said, I don’t know. After they have bred three times I sell them. They are getting very high returns. I told him about Sheila and he sighed with happiness. It was as though with one good pig who can live as long as she likes (I told him that you are helping out with the feed for Sheila by buying calendars and T shirts so he ordered one of each on the spot) this allowed him to love the pigs again. A pig who can live until she dies naturally is so rare here.. will she soon be the oldest pig in the midwest?
He told me terrible stories about factory raised pigs. Disease is rampant in the last twelve months. Pigs dying everywhere. Reports of six, seven, eight hundred piglets dead per farm per month!. Could this be true? Leading to high prices for pork and a shortage they say. No-one really talking about it. No-one wanting to admit that the pork factories might be imploding. Though prices aside this is a very unsettling development. Is this gossip? I need to find out.
Is there an epidemic running through factory raised pigs here in America. He told me that it is killing off millions of piglets. People like us who raise small numbers of free range pigs who have air and light and a vegetarian diet (there is plenty of protein in eggs and milk) can command a premium now, he said. You will remember that here in America it is NOT against the law to feed pigs pork products. They are feeding reconstituted pigs to pigs. In fact all the hog finisher feeds have animal protein on them. Make no mistake – it is pork fat. The fat makes them grow faster. So is it possible that the disease is being spread (among other things) through the feed. I need to do some more research, but it does not look good. Be very careful now.. know your farmer. If you are close by to me and want pork, buy a piglet and bring it out here to raise. This is serious stuff. We need to be vigilant about our food.
Anyway our new wee Hereford gilt is very small and has no name, (other than The Runt) but let us watch and see if she pulls through first. She will find her name. And hopefully become vigorous as soon as Daisy starts the milking. Nanny Boo is of course immediately engaged. And spent the evening staring down any other animal or bird who came by to check out the newcomer.
I shall take some shots of Little Runt for you today.
I hope you all have a lovely day.
love your friend on the farmy