Girl Pig had her first litter yesterday.
Sophie and I were hanging clothes on the line when we heard what was clearly Two Pigs Fighting coming from the pig shed. I ran to investigate and found Girl Pig in a tussle with Boy Pig and it seemed like intervention was in order.
Knowing she was pregnant and likely close to pigging out, I figured she was trying to nest and he was ruining it for everyone. I managed to get him out of the shed, but he kept getting back in.
The third time I got him out, I noticed that her mucous plug was coming out and that’s a clear sign that piglets are imminent.
I called Dave for back-up.
Dave arrived quickly and wired off a small area around the shed to keep Bubble and Boy Pig out of the newly-minted Maternity Ward. This gave them the shed-in-the-woods and the lion’s share of the pig run, leaving the old shed and a small bit of land for the new mama and her litter.
She immediately started nesting and positioning the hay to prepare for birth and within ten minutes, the first piglet was born!
Girl Pig was definitely surprised by the proceedings.
It was fascinating to watch her agitation and uncertainty after each of the first four piglets were born. They came out roughly 15-20 minutes apart, and it seemed to take New Mama the better part of the first hour to digest what was happening.
She had a break of almost an hour between #4 and #5, but then she found a comfortable position, settled in, and easily birthed the rest.
Within hours of birthing the piglets and placentas (pigs have two), all of her offspring were nursing and doing really well. We saw no signs of a runt or of any deformities–an unusually high success rate for a first-time mama, for sure.
Of the ten, beautiful piglets, there was one who didn’t survive the night.
The one that didn’t make it was moved aside by Mama.
While this is totally to be expected (newborn piglets can fail for a number of reasons), it still totally bummed me out, so I went to go visit the rest and watch them nurse for awhile.
Aside: If you are in a bad mood, please feel free to stop by to watch the piglets nurse. I promise you will feel better after doing this.
Girl Pig was born right here last August and has now made a litter of her own. It’s a very cool thing to see happen. It’s important, however, that we keep Bubble and Boy Pig away from these guys for the first few weeks lest jealousy, aggression, or other piglet-harming behavior arise.
This is especially important because Bubble is also pregnant, but isn’t expecting for about another month, give or take.
Ideally, we’ll keep Bubble separated from Girl until she also pigs out. At that point, we’ll finish Boy (his work here is done and it’s time to move on to porkier endeavors) and allow the ladies and their offspring to start having playdates.
In the meantime, we’ll be snuggling piglets.
Wow. Cool. I am envious and slightly repulsed by the process–not a unique perspective, I’m certain, nor one that makes me particularly proud. i grew up in town–there will always be a parf of me who appreciated livestock “delivered” the way gods intended: on stryrofoam, wrapped in cellophane. Nevertheless, the rational side of me thanks you for sharing this cool post.
Ha! Love this comment!
Wonderful! Made me think of a favorite poem, St. Francis and The Sow by Galway Kinnell:
stands for all things,
even those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as St. Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking
and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.
Oh my goodness. Thank you for that wonderful poem!!
You must be in piglet cuteness heaven, they are so adorable. I love pigs and piglets, thank you for posting and making me piglet happy!