SIX WARM PIGLETS

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

celi

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.

Sun
6:24 am 7:25 pm

Moon
Waning Gibbous, 48% visible 2:19 am 12:11 pm

60 Comments on “SIX WARM PIGLETS

  1. How do you manage to keep going like you? Are you a female of Hercules…?He had the strength and stamina to keep going through thick and thin ..which is what you are doing..day after day..l do so admire your spirit and determination… I am pleased that piglets are fine..one loss is sad but you still have 6 porky pies running around. Have a great day Miss C and may the sun shine forever on your halo

  2. The remaining piglets are beautifully alert, plump and glossy. Being Molly must be rather difficult in confined quarters, like a large ocean liner trying to manoeuvre around a flotilla of small tugs. I feel as if it’s not that she’s uncaring, it’s just that they’re not ‘people’ to her – yet. I’m with you on the therapeutic value of shit-shovelling, of whatever variety. Plus, it keeps you warm!

    • Yes – she was a lot smaller when she started with this business. Her door is open now until it starts to snow at least so she is much happier lying in the sun.

  3. Pingback: SIX WARM PIGLETS — thekitchensgarden

  4. I feel you on the hard work when things aren’t the best. I don’t have a chook house but when necessary, I have yard that is not yet garden or a compost pile to turn. A few hours with a shovel makes most things feel a little better.

  5. Poor little thing, though I’m reminded that pigs have large litters because of a high infant mortality rate and you do very well on that score.
    They look so big already!

    • It is true and when the sows are crated they lose just as many. The crate is more for convenience. Injections, farrowing interventions, piglet maintanence, space retraints. The sow will still lie on her babies if they don’t move out of the way.

  6. It’s hard when an animal does not survive! I know we always think, “What else could we have done.” But with the Poppy and the babies, I can’t imagine what more could be done. And especially after they had all survived several days. The triplet baby goats are doing fine. Two of the three are still quite small, but they all are eating. Mostly they have been sleeping piled up in the straw. After three nights in the shower stall, and their days outside, we figured they could take the cold. Our other mama goat had one big kid yesterday, and she fared the night temps of around freezing well, thank goodness!!!

    • WONDERFUL – I am pleased. I am trying to find a proper pattern for the lamb blankets I made out of old sweatshirts. Basically they are like a rectangle of fabric with four slits cut into them, forming a smaller rectangle (if you connected the dots) . The coat will drape like a horse blanket. You put both left side feet through the two slits on that side and slide the fabric up and over and down and then do the same on the other side, bending the legs and stretching the fabric slightly so the holes end up (losely) in the armpits. When I have a sec I will see if i can find them on this blog from back in the day. I find I cannot describe this. c

      • So I should look for child sweatshirts at the thrift shops, right? Two of the three triplets are quite small. And one of the two got hypothermia and had to be brought back to life. She is still moving super slowly, not running and jumping like the other two, or the one born yesterday. My John says it will just take a little longer for her to catch up with the others. After tonight’s last cold night, all should be well with temps in the 60s tomorrow, thank goodness!

      • Thank you for this Celi!!! Do I cut through both layers of the sweatshirt and then sew the shoulders together? Do I need to stitch around the whole thing to make it one warm layer, and then cut the leg holes in it? Sorry for all the questions! I do want to make at least two ASAP. I’m still worried about the baby that got hypothermia and I had to bottle feed for two days. She just stands there looking around. The two others, even the smaller one like her are running, jumping and kicking. Today it will be warmer so I will watch her and hope she begins to move more. I’m not sure what else I can do. Any suggestions??? Thanks so much Celi!!!

        • Get a coat on her today. The sweatshirt is just fabric any warm breathable fabric will do. No stitching needed. cut out a big square . Drape it over her- back – feel for her hips – make marks for the armholes. Cut where your marks are and put it on her. It will drape a bit on the inside of her legs leaving the belly open to pee.

            • Also with weak lambs I would feed them a little bit – often- just like a real mother – warm milk in the belly about 6 times a day. Just tiny bits – the usual amount over all but divided up into smaller more frequent feeds

  7. Mama mja you certainly do not need to go work out at a health club….your farmy is it’s own health club! Cheers!

  8. I am sorry for the one that’s lost. Another pigette to depict with a halo… Maybe I missed something, but where do the other show pigs, ducks and chicks come from? Did you purchase them or are you raising them for someone else? I understand the part about cleaning your demons away. For me it’s dishes and “eliminating” “stuff” as loudly as possible. For another friend of mine the best medicine is floor-washing. The sisterhood of scrubbing away the Mean Reds. (Ref. Holly Golightly, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.)

    • Oh woops – that was bad writing in the early morning. The ducklings and chicks are coming the usual route – in the mail! The extra pigs (they are about 60 pounds he says): I am buying from a friend of mine who raises Herefords for FFA and 4H kids who buy them and show them and make enough money to pay their college tuition (if they win and if they can sell them). The ones who are not pretty enough for the show route will come to me for fattening. 90% of the show route pigs also end up in the abbatoir after the fairs so my lot will just be taking a different path. c

  9. Oh, Ceci! That photo of Poppy nose-to-nose with her baby is priceless! I swear she is smiling at it! Thanks for the delight in my day – does my heart good!

  10. Yay, 6 warm, lively and growing piggies. Babies Reilly are tiny in comparison to Poppy. Looking forward to the me arrivals. Laura

  11. Being a farmer is hard work and often there are these instances of sadness as well. I’m sorry that one of the babies was lost so early. Lovely pics of the other animals. I hope the warmth has come to stay.

  12. I’m sorry about the loss of the piglet. Strange how yesterday I was working through sadness too. Punkin the squirrel showed up not looking well at all. She had not visited in a couple of weeks, but in that time she’s lost half of her hair and seems to be miserable – perhaps it is mange or some other type of disease or disorder. There is little to be done since she’s wild now. Sometimes all we can do is hope for the best or move on positively somehow.

    • Sorry to hear about Punkin, Lori. I enjoyed that recent photo of her little face sticking out of the hole in the tree. It is hard to let go of the outcomes for our animal friends.. xx

      • Thank you for your kind words, Ardys. I have done a little research, and I still have hope she might overcome whatever it is that has caused her to lose her hair. More than anything it was difficult to see how her eyes looked. They weren’t bright and open wide.

          • I’m not sure. I plan to call Wildcare in the morning to see what they recommend. We don’t see her often so we may not be able to treat her. I feel it’s either mange or some type of fungus. I have read that is common in squirrels and if weather conditions are good, many make it through and grow hair back.

    • Thank you Lisa -the blog is kind of a daily journal of my small far adventures and I love writing it and love that you are enjoying reading it. Have a great evening. c

  13. You call this busy worrisome time a hiatus! We have different views of hiatus, I think.
    I hope the adjustments work well for you. I wondered what the mortality of young piglets in the wild is, and according to one paper I found when I googled it averages 15%. I didn’t have the access to see the list of causes. I imagine they are similar to yours with an addition of predators when the mother leaves her young to forage. Which made me realize that instinct to be hidden in a snug place while mom is gone out to eat is why your creeps work so so well.

  14. Really sorry about the seventh little piglet, Celi. Hoping the group that is left will all survive and thrive. xx

  15. Can’t believe how fast piglets grow . . . I do hope that includes brains to shush out of Momma’s way 🙂 ! And it won’t just be piglets shortly down the track . . . ! And Sheila – perchance just a cheerfully gay auntie enjoying her ways . . . .

  16. I loved this poem: ”

    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.

    • Your piglets are adorable. So as your chickens – Oh my they are huge! Love the calves too. Hope it will get warmer soon.

  17. Will you be keeping any gilts as replacement breeders? I didn’t work on the pig operation long enough to know how many litters a sow generally had before they replaced her. I hope the show piglets grow out well. Sometimes hardiness is not a consideration when breeding anything for show.

  18. We lost a couple of babies this year when our mama stepped on them. I brought one of the babies inside after it got stepped in. We had to bottle feed her and heal an open wound. A couple weeks later she was all healed and back in the barn with her siblings.

    • Oh well done. That is hard work. It is always such a worry – those sows are big! We are at the two week mark now – so i am beginning to relax. But there is always the chance of an incident if the sow gets over excited. I over feed the Mama to combat any exciteable behaviour. But often it is just luck.

  19. Reblogged this on Happiness Between Tails by da-AL and commented:
    Guest Blog Post: Six Warm Piglets by Cecilia Mary Gunther

    Warning: reality check, then Cuteness Overload! It’s not for nothing that the human star of the pig movie, “Babe,” went vegetarian…

  20. love this so much I just reblogged it — hope you enjoy how it looks on my site & that it brings you lots of new visitors 🙂

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