Posted 02-06-2003 at 20:15:05
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I haven't quite decided if I love pig farrowing, or hate it. It's messy, it's nasty it's dirty and suprisingly noisy. The sow can be docile as a lamb one minute and a raging terror the next. You spend twenty minutes lining the little buggers up at the milk works only to have one at the bottom shift position and topple the whole pile which starts them all to squealing, which never fails to upset the sow.
So, she moves around penning a baby under her leg or neck which starts it to screaming and it seems like all you do the whole time is move baby after baby after baby until you get to the point where you don't give a dang if any of them ever eats again.
All the while you're studying the most unflattering angle of the sow waiting for the next little screamer to make it's appearance and upset the whole scheme again just by the mere fact that it exists. Ida, gilt number one, gave birth overnight at some point.
I was blissfully unaware of this development until I looked out the window the next morning to see Elvis our dog standing at the side of her hut, his head cocked to the side, his ears at attention, and his tail working like a piston. As far as midwifes go he's not bad, except for his appetite for afterbirth which can be a little nauseating first thing in the morning.
I walked out there and found twelve clean little whitish pink babies all happily nursing away. Only one baby was lost due to it's failure to free itself from the afterbirth. Within two hours Gracie, gilt number two, dug herself a hole and lay down and I knew that if I was going to get her in a hut before she got underway, I was going to have to bring it to her, so Jenny, my youngest and I, waited until she was lost in her task, lifted the hut, which has no bottom and settled it down over top of her. She gave birth to thirteen babies, three were stillborn and one was a mummy, so she ended up with nine.
Approximatley eight hours later, Hannah, gilt number three, got down to business. She chose a spot not in a pen after all, but under a tree. I moved hay to the location and she proceeded to work it into her nest. It went pretty fast for her, she ended up with twelve, but having only eleven faucets I immediatley transfered two of the strongest from her litter to Gracie's, who has fourteen spigots and only nine to feed. Just seemed like good math.
It dawned on me as I went from mom to mom checking on all the babies that part of the fun of this experience is the variety of colors and sizes of the babies. In a few, the influence of the grandfather, Hercules our red duroc boar, was very strong. It's a very special feeling to know that you are raising generaton after generation of pig families, regardless of thier destinations, and don't have to wait twenty years to see grandchildren and greatgrandchildren born into these families, but only a few months.
The fact that they are healthy and for the most part happy, and that in only a few days we will be treated to a show as these babies frolic and play and fight with each other in the morning sun is probably the greatest reward in this endeavor.
As much as I hated losing Porky our white boar, and the father of these thirty three little squealers, I am confident that one of his fine sons will fill his 'hoofprints' in a year or so, so he won't be forgotten. He did well by us. Not only did he do the deed, and do it properley, he didn't waste any time doing it as all his offspring were born within twenty four hours of each other. A pretty good performance, I think.