Chubby Dog Farm is approximately 26 piglets richer this week. What an adventure we have been on, good and bad. Nature is so amazing, especially when all things work as intended with no outside interference. But sometimes, there are no other options.
Paté, in all her grumpy-faced glory, had 8 beautiful piglets Wednesday, August 31st. She found the thickest, darkest corner of the 4-acre forested paddock and made her nest to birth her babies. Every move she has made has been for the love and safety of her piglets. They are well-fed, disciplined, and guarded as only she knows how to do. We couldn't have been more excited to see what the next two sows had up their sleeves.
Thursday night, Jimmie Dean didn't come to the whistle for dinner, so we searched for her for an hour to find her bedded down in a thick nest, heavily breathing and in visible labor, a trance-like state, almost like nature's epidural. We knew it would be a while, so we planned to check on them the next morning.
Friday, as I took the doxies out for their morning potty break, I saw Jimmie Dean lying down by the fence where we feed them. We dropped everything, including my own morning potty break and teeth brushing and went in search of piglets. We immediately found two dead piglets, but we had high hopes to find more, alive or dead. After a couple of hours, we found five piglets strewn throughout the wooded paddock.
We fed the babies colostrum replacer, took a short break, and then went to feed the other pigs and look for piglets again. In the end, after many hours of searching and oinking and getting scratched up in the brush, we found ten live piglets, five female and five male, as well as three dead piglets. The final three we found had traveled 200 yards from the nest to the pen, tracking their wayward mother on their senses alone. I find it heartbreaking that Jimmie Dean had thirteen babies, and that genetically, she was ill-equipped to care for them. So... we're nursing ten beautiful piglets hopefully to weaning and beyond.
And tonight, I witnessed Maple, our third and final sow, give birth to at least eight piglets, and the sight of it made me almost want to vomit... and weep at the very same time. As Maple gave birth, the babies cleaned each other AND their mother while looking for her teats. Natural perfection!
This brings us to a topic that most non-farmy folks probably have never thought about... that the pork may be farm-raised pork, but the genetics may scream "factory-farmed" pork. For breeding stock, genetics means everything. For many factory-farmed pigs, the ability to mother and even breed has been bred out altogether. So to see Maple's piglets working together to clean each other... and mom, while searching for their dinner tells me that they are not only getting something nutritionally that they need, but also using their instincts to survive.
We trust that whatever happens with these pigs going forward will be destiny and valuable knowledge gained. New electric fencing will help keep the pigs in and predators out. Sassy and the LGD's barking will help keep predators off of the homestead hill. The momma pigs will do what their intuition tells them to do. And we will care for the orphaned pigs to the best of our ability. Jimmie Dean will soon fill our freezer, and we will invest in more of the red wattle sows, who clearly have superior mothering abilities. As always, we appreciate the emotional support from our good friends. Keep sending those positive farm-y vibes. Love, Karyn