Monday, February 2, 2009

On being a pig's midwife

It was a beautiful sunny day- birds singing, snow melting and Gertrude one of our Red Wattle hogs didn't come out of her house for breakfast. When a pig won't eat something's up! So I turned the heat lamp on in the baby bumper space and went on with my chores.
When I checked her at noon- no babies. I checked Gerty again at 2- no babies.
My son, Anders, came over to help with the chores around 3:30 and Brian's daughter, Kate, and her boyfriend's family showed up about the time we were going out to feed the hogs.
As we came up to the hog fence I glanced into Gerty's house. OH WOW! We could just see 2 little golden rigling piglets.
I sent Kate for some rags and the camera. I got over the fence and crawled in with Gerty. Now I never would have done this with any other pig I've ever owned, but the RW's are sort of different. I talked quietly to Gerty and she gruffled back at me. I sat down by her and checked out the 2 piglets. They were fine, big, copper red and hungry.
While Kate was gone to the house, Gerty had 2 more piglets. Then over the course of about 2 hours she had 5 more piglets. As each one was born, I cleared it's nose and mouth, dried it a bit and tucked it in among its siblings at a teat.
When she was all done, there were 9 squealing, squirming, hungry piglets nursing away. Gerty just grumbled happily to the piglets and turned more up on her side so they could get to the other row of teats.
Gerty was quiet and calm through the whole ordeal. She didn't even notice when I took pictures and video!
I closed up the door when I left to keep the drafts out. I couldn't wait to show Brian the pics! He's laid up and it's really bothering him that he can't be out here for his hogs first litters.
This morning, when I went out to feed, Gerty was waiting by the trough and the babies had discovered the comforting warmth of the heatlamp.
All is well.

more pics at:

1 comment:

writeontheriver said...

Our best to Gerty and crew!
I know how exciting this is! Reminds me of taking my daughter (then 6)and son(then 4)to Living History Famrs in DesMoines IA. Ida was hanging on the pen, watching a sow who had a project like Gert's in mind.
An old "farmer" (visitor guide) came over to little Ida who was all dressed in her city clothes, and said, "This is a lady pig who is going to have babies. Isn't that nice?"
"Great!" she said. She jumped down off the pen and ran to get her brother yelling, "Hey, Seth, get in her right now! There's a sow that's gonna' pig!"
What fun!
Congrats to all!