If you were hanging out in the Kitchen’s Garden Lounge of Comments yesterday you would have read that a piglet was lost in that first cold night. I found him dead on Poppy’s side of their quarters. Being the Lady Pig Farmer is not always easy. All our focus these first few days is keeping the babies safe and well fed. This task feels mutually exclusive at times.
Although this does not happen often in my set up it does happen. The sows are very, very big and prone to rolling over without warning then they find it hard to move very fast when a piglet gets stuck beneath them. They are pretty nonchalant about their piglets. They wade through them. When they are ready to lie down they will often wait until the babies are away from them. But it looks to me like Poppy is a bit lazy this time around. She is not being as careful. But pigs are not people and the words lazy and careful do not apply. Nature has her way. I think us people just get IN the way.
For the first few days the sow is very tired and sleeps much of the time, this gives the babies time to get their feet. Then they are like street urchins playing chicken with a Bus in traffic. By now they have learnt to be quicker on their feet if they want to survive.
We lost one of Mollys this time last year too. Another big piglet. A combination of too much straw, too cold, and with Poppy – me shifting her bed and giving her more straw for warmth. I knew the straw was a risk. And I have now been taught by these mother pigs that it is a risk I cannot take again.
Poppy will just have to deal with it. She still has straw and shavings but not as much. I went out late at night and cleaned around the perimeter again, there are gullies and tiny safety corridors around the outside of the pen as escapes for piglets – if she fills these in, making big beds for herself, (which she did the other night with all that extra material) they can get trapped. And last night was the last of the really cold nights, I hope. She is a very big sow now.
All went well last night though – we still have six fat and warm babies sleeping in their creep nest. I ran out and checked at 5.30am so I could give you a report.
With this nice sun I will open Poppy’s door when I go outside – the fresh air will be cold but everything goes better with the door open.
Sheila (below) is more than happy to be out of it. She never had babies and never much liked boars. So she has never had to go through this. She has been doing her housework getting this part of the field ready for seeding. Happy in her work.
Beautiful calves. With all this attention on Poppy and her piglets, I have not paid a lot of attention to the calves. And they really are a friendly bunch.
I did get a lot of the winter dug out of the chook house yesterday, though. When I am feeling out of sorts I like some good hard work. And shovelling winter chicken shit is good hard work.
The West Barn is a bit of a feed-lot as we wait for the grass to grow. I hate it but it is the season. I need the fields to feed them for the whole summer so we have to let the forage grow.
They tend to mill around their hay feeder most of the day. And it was sunny yesterday with the Northerly still blowing. With a little sun this is the best seat in the house as far as best seats go at the tail end of this long winter. Nice and sheltered. Yesterday, the cows, they stood, still and absorbent, their heads poised, wide-asleep. with cold backs and sun warm fronts waiting for spring. Or something. No cow is terribly sure what.
And so to work. Maybe I can get that chook house finished today.
It is still quiet on the farm. Next week I will be bringing in a small herd of pigs to grow on. (They are baby show pigs that do not have the right markings). And the following week the chicks and ducklings come. THEN the work begins.
So for the moment I am making the most of this little hiatus.
I hope you have a lovely day.
WEATHER: A little more sun and a little elevation in temperatures. It is a bit like a weight loss programme: if we shed the cold weight slowly maybe it will STAY SHED!
Sunday 04/08 0% / 0 in
A mix of clouds and sun during the morning will give way to cloudy skies this afternoon. High 42F/5C. Winds light and variable.
Sunday Night 04/08 60% / < 1 in
Variably cloudy with snow showers. Low near 30F/-1C. Winds light and variable. Chance of snow 60%. Snow accumulations less than one inch.
6:24 am 7:25 pm
Waning Gibbous, 48% visible 2:19 am 12:11 pm