Monday, August 31, 2009

Well dang

So Swinehilda's litter is a complete loss, all 10 of them. Last one (a boar) passed this AM. After much discussion, input from more experienced readers and a refresh of the Story's guide to pigs I have some conclusions.

There were some things working against 'Hilda. She was a first time mom, she farrowed 10 (that's apparently a lot for a smallish gilt) and she failed to nurse right away. These babies looked like skinny mice. One source says that if the babies don't get colostrum in the first 4 hours, they're basically doomed. Failing this first does of timely "life goo" the piglets will die over the next few days, food or no food. Not only did she not nurse early, she never really nursed at all. Her milk never even came in. What a bummer.

'Hilda will get another shot in the spring. If there's a repeat performance, I'll have to retire her. That's a bummer too, but I am always hopeful. Sigh.

Good news is that even thought I mangled a PTO shaft for my mower I should only be down a day or two and I'm not in any hurry. I'll mow some weeds and move some pipe in the mean time :)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hog pix

Pictures of the fun part of this weekend. That would be the part that is not today.

Matildas babies on Big Momma. Hopefully a good sign of things to come.

They really were small and veyr skinny. I think this may be why getting 10 piglets from a new mom is not a real good thing.

Someone come get this weekend, I don't want it...

I write this post in the quiet of the living room. Kids and the Mrs are at church. I don't have it in me to go today. Alone with my cold coffee, hot computer and the gentle sound of two grunting piglets in a box at the other side of the room. How shall I explain?

OK, so it all started innocently enough. Saturday I tried some farming, but busted a bit I needed (PTO shaft) about 30 seconds after every farm supply store closed. Well, I was hot under the collar, but I got over it. Take the day off. I can call it my sabbath she says. Fair enough. Some friends of ours came over for dinner and the last of my farm implements (which have been on vacation helping out a friend down the road) came home. We fed him too. Got a ton of pictures of the piggies doing cute piggies stuff. Big Momma let Matilda's piglets try nursing on her. Big Momma won't have babies for a month yet, but this is a good sign. Pictures of this are on this posting. Later on Daphne let Olivia's piglets try nursing on her. Daphne should be due soon. Predictions of her labor were premature, her "milk fat" isn't even in yet, so it'll be a day or so.

Swinehilda was seen sort of nursing her new babies.

All was well. So I thought.

Then Sunday come. Good thing I rested yesterday.

So up at 5 AM, make some Jo and go check on my babies. Well Matilda's babies (who can hardly be called that anymore) and Olivia's (from Tues) are looking good. Not so much for Swinehildas. First off she is using the heat lamp and sitting on half of one of them. She seemed somewhat indifferent from the start, but this was nuts. I shove her off and take toll. One more dead. Two getting there and two somewhat ambling around. I think they look starved. I cobble up some warm goats milk and try feeding. The two wigglers eat like they've never eaten at all. The two gimps will swallow but not nurse. I collect them all, scold this lazy momma and get them to the house.

Long and the short of it is that I have two bottle babies and that's all out of Swinehildas litter of 10. The pig book says that the little ones need to nurse withing 4 hours. If they don't get colostrum, they're pretty much hosed and will never thrive and probably ides in the first couple of days. Wife thought 'Hilda was not nursing them, I guess she was right. The thing I saw last night was probably just two weak piglets catching her on her back.

From here on out all my babies are getting 2-4 mil of goat colostrum (we have it fresh and from the store) as soon as we find them.

Good news is Swinehilda farrowed 10. Unfortunately this don't mean much if she won't care for them. She'll be in the freezer if she repeats this with the next farrowing.

OK, so next I send a couple of kids to grain the mommy pigs and throw in the AM hay to those that need it (alfalfa). A few minutes later I look out the window and see Matilda in the hay field. My oldest daughter was not minding her gate when she went to look for additional feed pans.

No biggie, as Matilda trotted back to her pen (and her babies when she heard me coming down).

Now I find that most of the critters have not been given their hay. So I and my eldest start to feed hay. All is well, until she decides to leave the gate to the buck (and now boar) pen open while tossing in some grain. Sir Francis (who did not want to be in that pen in the first place) decides to go for a stroll. So now I and my wife get to coax the fat luggard (300# big wandering pig) back to the pen. Took a minute, but he's sweet and my little boy so he tolerates a lot of pushing and prodding from me.

Ahh...peace at last. Oh wait one of the kids plugged the toilet. Nice. Oh and the water is running in the hall and UNDER THE WALL AND INTO THE LAUNDRY ROOM. I clean up, plunge and cuss. A lot. Our house is a berm house on a concrete slap. The drywall is about 1/2 inch above the floor, so no wall damage. I pull the moldings and stab the framing. No give. Not rotten. Maybe not the wort day ever. Yet.

Next I'll charge the pressure tank. I think I'll avoid power tools thought.

Sigh. Gotta feed my piglets. Again. Argh.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Oh my...

Well at lunch I had to rescue to of the new piglets from a wallow. All is well and the chicken wire is up to keep the rascals out (until they're big enough to use it properly).

During the impromptu pen repair I found 3 more piglets. 1 was not so good, two alive and kicking. If your keeping score that mean Swinehilda farrowed 10 and had 7 keepers. I am sure one of these was trampled but I don't know by whom. The little bugger made it through the fence and may have been squished by goats or other curious hogs.

The remainder of the chicken wire goes up tonight. Better late than never...

Oh yeah...wife called...Daphne is in labor. Finally a daytime farrowing :)

And again...

This AM it was Swinehilda's turn. 7 new little ones under the heat lamp, 2 that didn't make it out the gate. It really is amazing how fast they get up and moving.

That puts us at 19 total. Daphnie is due here soon. Her littler is the "pork litter" as she was bred to her brother. I have no doubt they'll be some dynamite pigs, but they're a little to inbred for breeding stock. In my opinion anyway.

Big Momma should farrow in a month or so.

The oldest litter is three weeks on Sunday, so we'll be getting the vaccination and notching out of the way. After that I'll do the litter notification, and FINALLY contact folks who have expressed an interest in getting a few little pigs.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

More Piggies!!

Edit...wrong pig name. Fixed
Olivia farrowed this AM. At first we had 5, then at lunch there were 6. Not sure if this one was hiding all morning or was a late arrival. The boar (Sir Francis) was spooning Olivia while she was farrowing. Hanging out with his lady like a good poppy.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Some new stuff

I picked up our two bucks from White House Goats. Really sweet little boys. Sure they'll grow up to be big, stinky bucks, but for now they're cute little guys. Redbeard is sweet as they come. He runs right up to you when you get in the pen and wants to be petted. Very social. Hershey is a bit more stand offish, but has bonded well with the two older weathers (St. Nicholas or "Nick" and Tooth Gnasher or just "Nash") we put in with the little guys .

Buried main line (irrigation) was put in last week and has already made sprinkling water easier. I can finally rehab the goofy fescue patch as a proper alfalfa/grass hay field.

I cannot wait for fair season, the end of watering/hay season. Been a long summer of driving, fixing, building and it will be nice to breath the cool fall air, chase a few Steelhead and relax a little. Soon, but not quite yet.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Why buy heritage pork

Embarrassingly enough, I have to admit I have yet to munch on one of my hogs. Or any Large Black Hog for that matter. Soon. We'll 5-7 months anyway. BUT be that as it may...another LBH fan posted this link to the association blog. It summarizes the general value of heritage pork raised on an outdoor system. A friend of mine once called it "pork like grandma used to make."

I think there is a future in "Pork: the other Red Meat."


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More to come

My other three ladies (Swinehelda, Daphne and Olivia) are getting ready to pop. Looks like we're on track for a late August early Sept farrowing.

Mattilda's litter is 2 boars and 4 gilts. The original litter was 5 boars and 5 gilts. I'm not sure how common a 50/50 split is, but I thought it was kind of cool.

Looks like (depending on Big momma's farrowing) we should have at least 6 breeding pairs available. Once Big Momma does her thing we'll know the final count and I know how many "singles" we can deliver. Should be able to get folks the second hog in the spring.

Fed everyone this morning, a little extra feed (grains) for everyone, as feeding one hog and not the others is a sure way to breed hate and discontent. I like to keep 'em smiling. Large Marge and Maggie Rose were out in the furthest reaches of the pasture and when I yelled "c'mon pigs!" heads came up, and hogs cam a trottin'.

They are so neat.

Monday, August 10, 2009

And then there were 6

So we had the still born piggy and then two we took up for some TLC. Both of those (including little Todd) are gone. Sigh. Another of the litter (who didn't look to good yesterday) was gone this AM.

BUT there is good news. The other 6 were out of the hut at lunch exploring the farrow pen. I think the whole litter is early (notably so) so I am tickled pink (or black in this case) that so many are doing so well. I imagine that the stress of travel and our recent heatwave was just too much for Matilda's body to take and it did what it thought it needed to do to preserve Matty.

So am I bummed to lose so many? You bet, I'll be bummed with every one. The babies are just cute as they come.

But it is so exciting after almost a year to finally come "full circle" and see new, little, black faces running around the pen.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Eh...what's making that noise?

So the Mrs reports that one of my pig helpers is having trouble getting the hay in the pens. So I trot on down and give her a hand. As we toss clumps of green goodness over the pen wall...I hear squeaking. What's that??


Matilda dropper he litter sometime early this AM. Dalan Farm Nobel Sam 1/x and Dalan Farm Matilda 1/x are here!!!. 10 in total, 7 running around like crazy pigs, two got cold/too small and one on the bottle at the house (Dalan Farm Nobel Sam 1/1 "Todd"). Not sure if Todd will make it, but he's drinking goats milk, pooping and is warm. His litter mates are already terrorizing the pen. Full of sass.

For those who are on the list for piglets, I'll be hassling for $150 deposits in a few days. Just want to make sure we don't lose any more. And I need to get them notched/birth notified.

Monday, August 3, 2009

We're in this thing together...

It's been a tad hot this week, 102-103. But there's still work to do, and the kids have been really getting into "helping" lately. I have kids helping pick up bales, move irrigation pipe, feed the critters in addition to their regular critter duties. Heather and Nat and I combined to move pipe last night. The Mrs was piloting the tractor and Nat and I lumped pipe. Maybe not a bunch faster, but having company makes the time go faster and it was a lot more fun and the pipes look way better than when I do it on my own!

Other farm updates...

Pigs continue to enjoy the mister hoses. And full wallows. I saw them relaxing in them as I was mowing pasture and bailing hay this weekend. I decided that, when the temperature is over 100, the pigs are decidedly smarter than I am. I spent Sunday evening (before I moved pipe anyway) imitating them with a lawn chair and a kiddie pool. Smart piggies.

We freed the larger group of mutant chickens (Cornish X). They are now happily waddling about the orchard eating bugs, grass and the rather abundant apricots. It's kind of funny, they act just like the pigs. Any time someone comes in to feed or water, 80 awkward chickens come a lumbering :) They've proven to be quite personable and are doing better on the outdoor system than I thought they would.

Soon the smaller class of mutant chickens, the midget white turkeys and our fuzzy headed hens will be released in a similar manner. We just need everyone big enough so that no bullying happens.

Well this week we'll (i.e. I) will be bailing some straw and getting the rest of they hay up. And then I need to finish those farrow pens...I can see it now. I will have a zillion little piggies and no fences to keep them locked up.