The day before your yesterday, Plonker Number Three was delivered. (One of The Fellowship is going to grow him here for her family freezer). He did not get on with the other two so he had to go into the wild card pen in the center of the barn so he could get used to the others. He was a little stressed but OK. A big boy. Then the night time temperatures plummeted, I figured he was big enough to handle it, did not close the barn up and by yesterday morning he was wheezy and miserable. Shaking and gasping. He must have become chilled. A respiratory infection can kill a pig very fast. They can get to full blown pneumonia and die at a dreadful speed. I know this now from the piglet who died of pneumonia last summer.
So I finished the milking and quickly called the man who had sold me the pig. He left work immediately. Went back to his home. Changed from his suit and tie into farm gear, drew up a syringe of a respiratory antibiotic and was at my barn door within the hour. By then Number Three was in a bad way but still standing. You could hear his breathing from the barn doors. Poor piggie. The man shook his head, pursing his lips just a little, then glancing sideways at me consciously loosened his jaw with his cupped hand, widened his eyes and assuming a casual demeanor began to say soothing things both to me and the pig. I think you may have got it in time, he said. Then he added: This happens when you move pigs sometimes. He did not add: From an enclosed warm well managed pig shed into a leaky barn. But he did add: We will see.He is a kind man. The wonderful thing about good animal managers is that they are always ready to help others. They teach by example.
After his shot I moved the pig slowly into the sunroom pen, where there are no drafts at all and a heat lamp. All day I made him treats to entice him to eat and drink, being very careful to wash up thoroughly before touching another animal. Slowly he began to eat a little more each time.
By evening milking time he was up and about and barking for his dinner (which was warm milky water with an egg – poured over bread and oats – with a little oil of oregano mixed in for good measure). His breathing was still terrible but he was active and eating and knocking all his bowls about.
So I am feeling anxiously optimistic. But the important thing is that I learnt not to wait at all before calling for help if a pig looks sick. Learning all the time. And hopefully this time I learnt from the first time and this pig will not die slowly and awfully from pneumonia.
He was sleeping well in the night. And hopefully is still OK this morning. I will be out there shortly. It would be easier if the weather would warm up but this week it is going to remain cool they say.
I hope you all have a lovely day. I will let you know in the comments how Number Three is doing.
Love your friend on the farmy
ps. Each of these shots are from one spot on the verandah. Good dogs on patrol!