Posted 08-07-2003 at 18:17:28
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If the path from the house to the pig pasture was paved with fresh cream I would be up to my hips in butter by now.
Rocky the steer, I'm sure, has decided that I've lost my mind. It's not unusual for me to go out there a time or two on any given day, but I'm back and forth out there six or eight times a day lately and he just waaaaatcchheess me go by and then he turns around and waaaaatcchheess me go back, flicking his tail in irritation. I don't know why I think he's irritated, he just has that look about him.
I got to thinking about it today, it must appear to everybody out there, pigs, dogs, goats...that I'm in a great big hairy hurry to go through this farrowing ordeal again, which couldn't be further from the truth and the closer it gets to time, the more it preys on my mind. Fourteen of them. Dang. It hasn't been that long that I have forgotten what it's like.
It's messy. It's nasty. It's dirty and surprisingly noisy. The sow can be docile as a lamb one minute and a raging terror the next. You spend twenty minutes helping line 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 just by the mere fact that it exists.
The one good thing about the runnning back and forth and 'checking', is that the sow is getting comfortable with a human in the immediate area and even gets to look forward to the short belly rub and the gentle tug on the nipple, looking for signs that the colostrum is ready.
Despite all the bad parts, there are some good parts too. Each baby is unique in size and depending on the daddy, in color. Some have spots, some are solid, some have 'pigmunk' stripes, and some may have just one big spot or may be half one color and half another. It does help to pass the hour or two of birthing just waiting to see what the next one will look like.
I think the best part of all though is when that baby comes out and you are drying it and checking it and weighing it, that's probably the only time that that pig will be handled in it's entire life, that it does not scream it's head off like you're killing it. The one time that I get to enjoy them as babies. I've said it before and I'll always say it. There is nothing cuter than a brand new litter of baby pigs.