One of our surprise piggies punctured his mouth and split his lip. It is almost like he gave himself a clef palette. We took him to the vet when we realized how deep the puncture was and that there was internal soft tissue damage.
The vet is amazing! Im grateful that we have a large animal farm vet that has a heart for the animals. She sedated the piggie and sutured his mouth. The puncture went almost into his eye socket. It was very deep. Luckily, he had not developed an infection and we caught it early. Eight sutures later our little Scar Face boy is back together.
This is the number one reason our farm will never be organic. On an organic farm I would have had to kill this piggie or let him suffer. We got him the care he needed. This care includes an antibiotic. An organic farm can not give an animal an antibiotic.
We are back home now and my little Scar Face is not allowed to go back out with Mom for 24 hours. We are allowed to take him to nurse from her in the morning. Tonight he will stay with me, he still has too much of the sedation in his system. He does not like the idea of being away from Mom. So he screams. Non-stop screaming. I force fed him some goats milk by syringe and eventually by bottle. He took some but most drained out his cut mouth. Im praying he is going to be able to nurse! The milk has calmed him down some. He is almost asleep.
I hope, I will be able to transfer him to a dog crate soon so I can get some rest. Caring for this baby reminds me of the poem, So God Made A Farmer.
On Sunday, when we were sorting pigs, preparing to load them for butcher, we noticed that one looked like her belly was hanging lower to the ground. It almost looked like she was bagging up getting ready to have babies. We kept her back and decided not to send her to butcher. Every year we butcher one hog for ourselves and then we sell off the others. We knew that keeping her from going to butcher meant that we were going to loose our family’s hog for the year. We were willing to make that sacrific and not abort these babies IF she was pregnant. God blessed us with very large hogs this year and there would be enough. He always provides.
It is difficult to pregnancy check a pig. If they are a really tame animal you can ultrasound them towards the beginning of the pregnancy, but other than that it is pretty much a wait and see game. We had no way to know 100% if this pig was pregnant or not. We just knew she did not look right. We are fairly new to having pigs born on the farm. Normally, we buy babies from another farmer and raise them out till butcher weight. We are very inexperienced when it comes to breeding pigs. We have a boar on the farm and we had been trying to get our dear sweet sow Elsa pregnant for years. Turns out it was not in God’s plan for Elsa to have any more babies. The boar works just fine!
Going back a couple months, we had two times where the pigs busted through the gate to get in with the boar. Unsure if they became pregnant or not, we scheduled our butcher date late enough in the year that we would be able to wait and see. We had a sow deliver in October as the result of one of theses midnight rendezvous with the boar. Well, turns out the girls got in one other time that we did not know about.
The pigs were sent to be butchered on Tuesday. It is Thursday and we found six babies.
Momma choose to have babies in a huge pile of leaves. It was the best she could do on her own, but we stepped in to help her keep the babies warm. Using the insulation of the leaves we made what my daughter calls “ham in a can”. We put a metal port-a-hut on top of the pile of leaves and mixed in a bale of straw. We took more leaves and covered the whole hut like a hobbit house.
Over the door my husband built a tunnel to keep the wind out. When I crawled in the hut to check on the babies this morning my glasses fogged up. It was warm and toasty inside even though there was frost on the ground. What a blessing! I am worried we are not out of the woods yet. These little piggies are going to need extra care, being born in the winter is not easy. Praise God for blessings and the wisdom to not send her to butcher.
This last picture is just for a size reference! That is a baby piggie next to my cell phone.
The past two week have been very emotionally draining. We are a working farm. We produce our own food. In order for me to have bacon, I have to butcher a pig.
I write a post like this every year. If you have been around for a while, it would not offend me if you skip this post. I think it is therapy for me to write it. Part of farm life is butchering animals. It never gets any easier. Our family does not become numb to it. It is always difficult. This year we butchered a sow that had been on our farm for several years. We loved her. She was a 700 pound pet. Her name was Elsa. Elsa came when she was called. She loved apples, belly rubs and to “watered” with the hose on warm days. She acted more like a giant Golden Retriever then a pig. Elsa was getting up there in age and she was not able to have babies anymore. She was also slowing down. It was time. She was not sick, we think she was just tired. We had to choose to butcher her or probably end up composting her. We felt like butchering her was a better way to respect her life. Still did not make it easy. We cried. The night after she was butcher I was an emotional mess. I missed my princess girl! That was when I saw this article.
This is an article about the largest hog operation ever that is being built in China. The company will raise millions of animals a year, in a multi-level factory setting. Those hogs will have no quality of life! Never touch grass. Never feel the sun. Never eat an apple or have belly rubs. In an instant I remembered why we do what we do. It is difficult, but I know that the animal had to best possible life. After reading the article I was able to take a breath and have peace. This is why we do what we do.
Our hogs are not raised on concrete. They are raised in a field, with grass, mud and sunshine. Our animals are fed extra veggies from our garden, whey from cheesemaking and extra eggs from the chickens. The grain that they eat is locally grown and made from real grain, not by products or chemicals. If they are sick, they see the vet. We care for them the best we can. We are still learning. I pray we never stop learning and improving. At the end of the day, they are happy pigs. I can feel good about eating happy pigs.
What are you eating? Know your farmer! Grow on! God Bless!