Thursday, March 6, 2008
I don't think we'll be raising pigs. This is the second time I've said that in the past few months. First I said it because we had some naughty pigs that kept getting out of their pen and rooting up our yard. When the snow melts now, and we have warm days, our yard is horribly muddy because they rooted up the grass. So, those boys went to the processor a couple months earlier than planned because we just got tired of chasing them back to their pasture.
Then we realized that one of the gilts was pregnant, so I thought that we might wind up raising pigs after all. She farrowed two days ago, and it was a rather traumatic day for all involved. Jonathan came running into the house in the morning yelling, "We have piglets!" I had to leave for work, but Katherine ran out there right away. The rest of my day was spent fielding phone calls from home as the story unfolded. First I learned that only four piglets were still alive from the eight that had been born. Two had clearly been squashed, and one was clearly an unhealthy runt. The last of the four dead ones met a mysterious death.
A couple hours later, Katherine went out to check on them, and another one was dead. He had been squashed also. She phoned, begging me to say that it was okay to bring the rest into the house and raise them. "They'll all be dead by evening chores if we leave them out there!" I couldn't disagree.
About 15 minutes later, my phone rings again. Katherine is crying so hard, I can hardly understand her, but the word "cannibalism" stands out. I finally discern that when Katherine went back to take away the three remaining live piglets, the mama pig had begun eating the dead one. When they took it away, the mama grabbed one of the live piglets and began chomping. We now have two piglets living in our basement.
Like most baby animals around here, they spent their first night in Katherine's bed; however, she said they are much more challenging than baby goats. They must be fed every hour or two, and that first night, the girl piglet wanted to eat every half hour, and she'd start biting when she got hungry, so Katherine was awakened more than once by a piglet nibbling on her -- and they have needle-like teeth. Last night, Katherine slept on the futon in the basement with them in a box next to her. It was less painful for her that way.
I agree that if we had left them out there, they would have been dead fairly soon. Both have scratch marks, bite marks, and bruises on their bodies, but they seem to be healthy. While I hope the piggies live, I am not happy about bottle-feeding a couple of animals that will eventually become dinner. Katherine insists on naming them. I've suggested that she name the boy Pork Chop, although I haven't come up with a suitable name for the girl. Any suggestions?