Gosh Darn Piglets

Caleb and Brian – the chicken slaughter guys – came at 6:30 this morning which meant we were up and running at 6:00. By 7:00 we had caught 77 chickens and had our morning coffee. How’s that for productive?

Early mornings don’t normally bother me. We’ve done our fair share of 6:00 a.m. starts and it’s never been an issue. Today was rough. Why? It was still dark. Summer really is fading. I certainly appreciate the cooler weather, but I am not ready to part with the endless sunshine. Just a few weeks ago I was up at 5:00 to go running and the sun was already rising. Not anymore.

Just thinking about winter is depressing. My one consolation during winter in New York was the view as I rode the subway from Manhattan back to Brooklyn at the end of the day. There is no sight in the world like the NYC skyline at night. That view could melt my heart even on the worst of days. Here there will just be darkness. And stars. Stars will be nice. You don’t see many of those in NYC. Maybe I should learn some constellations…

Moving on. Once we’d caught all the chickens, we set about tackling chores. I fed the chicks in the brooders and headed down to check on the pigs where I found five baby Ossabaw piglets happily in their mama’s pen. I ran back up to tell Steve and Ryan who thought I was playing a mean joke on them. If only!

We found their new hole and filled it in with dirt and stones. Then we set about catching them for the 3rd time! Once they were all back out to pasture, we moved mama to a different pen that had no holes in it. It is also right next to the pasture so the babies can see and interact with mama, but they can’t get in the pen with her. Hopefully this does the trick! We need her to dry up (i.e. stop nursing) because she is going in to become sausage next week.

We don’t normally send our breeding pigs to slaughter. That’s why Ryan let me name them all! But in the case of this particular gilt we know we won’t be re-breeding her so sausage is her logical fate. When it comes to maternal instincts, pigs either have them or they don’t. She doesn’t. She rarely nursed her piglets who got most of their milk from the other moms in adjacent pens. She ate very little of the food we gave her, but even after she’d had her fill refused to share with her babies. She was inattentive to them most of the time and when she did take notice of them it was to push them away from her food or water. On top of all that, she had a very small litter – seven piglets, two of whom were born dead – and the piglets themselves are small and slow-growing. In short, she is not the quality breeding stock we want to keep around.

A few weeks ago someone on a tour asked me if we ever did roast suckling pig which completely mortified me. Slaughter one of these precious piglets?!? Never! Not until they are grown. But if those piglets are back in the pen with their mom tomorrow, I just might change my mind.

4 thoughts on “Gosh Darn Piglets

  1. You are not the first person I have read this week who is getting rid of their breeder pig. I guess they can have all sorts of changes after all their hormones kick in. Thankfully, changing your mind about keeping them (whatever they are) is always an option. Though I do confess, that for me, it is the following through that is hard. 😐

    • It’s one of those things that must be done. It’s never easy, especially with breeding stock we’ve interacted with on a daily basis. But some are admittedly easier than others. We have one sow – Crooked Nose – who we had trouble re-breeding. Everyone likes her and thankfully she’s now pregnant. Otherwise sausage would have been her fate.

  2. The approach of winter feels like a lid slowly closing on a tiny, cold, box, with me inside. It’s worse every year. If it only lasted one or two months, it wouldn’t be so bad – might even be able to enjoy it! haha Last fall I started a running list of things to like about it: no frizzy hair, more productivity (less temptation to be outside), and closed windows shut out disruptive noises (but I’ll sorely miss the crickets at night… may have to break out the nature sounds recordings). Three things! It’s a start… 🙂

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