Monday Miscellany: All The Colors of the Rainbow


Over the weekend we had a sow farrow during the day. This doesn’t happen often so I took the opportunity to “live Facebook” the births as they were happening. You can read those updates and see the pictures here, here and here. (In that order.)

There are still twelve live piglets and we’ve passed the forty-eight hour mark, which is a critical check point in piglet survival — as were the first twenty-four. The next milestone we look to at this point is Wednesday, at which point they will be a full four days old and far more nimble than they already are. As you’ll note in the updates on Facebook, the single greatest hazard to them right now is their own mother. I plan to write more about that, and the pig she killed during farrowing tomorrow.

In the meantime, I thought you might find their birth times interesting. The first pig, a small, light red spotted male was born at 10:02 am. A little under an hour later a small, white spotted female followed. They say that an ideal labor will see a pig born every forty minutes or less, and that if the labor goes over an hour without the appearance of the next pig or a placenta you should be concerned. But every sow is different — every farrow is different for that matter — and we’ve found that some just take time — especially the first few out, and most especially if one of those is large. This sow wasn’t showing any signs of distress so when the third pig — who was predictably a large male — didn’t make an appearance for nearly an hour and twenty minutes we tried to remain patient and calm. He was born at 12:12 pm and with three vigorous pigs to help her along — their suckling stimulates contractions — the next pigs made their way out in rather short order.

There was another female born at 12:18; she was quickly followed by a male at 12:19, and then another female at 12:24. At 12:31 she passed a stillborn who was not fully formed and then another live pig at 12:40. Pigs number nine and ten came back-to-back at 1:12 and 1:13, and eleven followed at 1:20. Two more were born at 1:30 and 1:36, and the fourteenth and final pig made its grand entrance at 1:56, just shy of four full hours since its eldest brother joined the world.

These particular pigs are out of Nora a half Gloucestershire Old Spot, half Hereford sow who was bred to a purebred Berkshire boar; which accounts for the grab bag of colors and patterns. It’s also the first litter of pigs we’ve had in quite some time that are not almost all boys; things are lookin’ up.

In other news, today is the tenth anniversary of the day The Man and I tied the knot. I’m not sucking up to him when I say it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, or that it most certainly doesn’t feel like it’s been over fourteen since we started dating. Time flies. In both big ways and little.

As I was updating my calendar last week I realized that the Fourth of July is just three and a half weeks away and from there, summer is on its way out. Never mind that it just started.

We have a lot to get done this summer to be ready for next fall and winter; we’re feeling that growing season urgency. More space for the expanding herd is priority numero uno and will be for the foreseeable future.

On the bright side, it’s almost canning season here in Michigan and that makes me very happy no matter which way you slice it. Ten days ago the farm where we often buy strawberries said that strawberries would be coming ripe in 10-14 days; so any time now.

I have to admit I have been feeling very stale creatively in the past few months. There has been a lot more desk time than I expected in my life lately and that doesn’t always mean good things for my brain. I’m working on better balance, and I appreciate that you’ve all stayed tuned despite my inconsistency.

And that, I think, will do it for this week. Back soon, Promise!

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