My bib-wearing buddy and my bean had a long night last night. Eric's porcine princess, Nueve, delivered her first litter last night. I wish I could report that all went well and it was an easy delivery, but alas, that was not the case. Nueve is a first-time mother, and for the past three days or so, she has been 500 pounds of angry and confused. When a five hundred pound creature makes up her mind to do something, little can be done to alter her path.
The Bibbed Wonder is a loving and attentive farmer to all our farm family. He has had the nursery stalls cleaned, prepped, and ready to go for weeks in anticipation of his ladies giving birth. Each stall is outfitted with a feeder, a water barrel, a warming area, an overhead fan, and thick bedding. As the girls progress in their pregnancy, he moves them into the nursery stalls to get them used to being separated from the others and indulge their nesting instinct. Once the girls are in their new accommodations, they seem to appreciate the quiet time and enjoy the extra attention. Eric is always giving them treats of fresh eggs, apples, pears, and the occasional marshmallow, as well as a daily ration of fresh, warm milk. Typically, the girls enjoy the pampering. However, Nueve had different ideas as to where she wanted to deliver her first litter.
Several times a day, The Bibbed Wonder goes to the barn to check on the girls and give them some outdoor time if they want to go out. Most of the time, the girls go out, use the restroom, talk to their friends, and return to their stall in a half hour or so. Eddie and Charlotte did precisely that. Eric noticed Nueve was being exceptionally grumpy and was doing a lot of angry barking at her friends. He talked to her calmly, checked her teats for milk, and discovered she was making milk. When a pig begins to lactate, that is a sign she will be giving birth in the next few days. Eric quickly put the finishing touches on her stall and gently coaxed her in with fresh eggs and milk. She was content to eat her treats until the gate of the stall closed. She then began to bark at Eric, pace angrily, and knock about whatever was not tied down. Eric talked to her, gave her more hay, waited until she settled down, and then left the barn.
A few hours later, The Bean went out to the barn to visit her beloved baby goat, Finnegan. She came racing back to the soap studio and announced that Nueve had broken the door to her stall and was nowhere to be found. My bib overall wearing mother hen rushed to the barn, examined the damage, and found his angry, frustrated porcine princess at the farthest point from the barn, across the creek, in the woods, by the road building a nest of rocks, sticks, and dry grass. We are not sure what is so appealing about this area, but it is always here that the girls decide to make a nest. Considering the temperatures are still cold at night and the weather forecast is calling for rain, Eric could not allow Nueve to deliver here. He now had the task of repairing the broken stall door, fixing what she had tossed about, and coaxing one very angry, frustrated mama-to-be pig back to her stall.
Luckily, The Bibbed Wonder is like a boy scout and always prepared. He always has lumber on hand in case of needed repairs. He spent an hour or so fixing her broken door, as well as reinforcing it. He then crossed the pasture to try to persuade Nueve to return. She followed him willingly until she came to the creek. She then began to bark in protest angrily and turned to go back to her newly constructed nest. My brave bib-wearing buddy got behind her and began slapping her on the backside and pushing her with his knees. It took a bit of bribing and a bit of pushing, but she reluctantly went back to the barn and entered her stall. The Bibbed Wonder breathed a sigh of relief.
Last night around ten o'clock, Nueve's water broke. She passed the first piglet on her own, but it was deceased. The Bean went out to check on her dad and give assistance if needed. She pulled the second baby, but it too was deceased. The Bean pulled the third baby, and fortunately, it was alive. Nueve delivered three more at once, two alive and one dead. She delivered a total of eight piglets, but four were deceased, and four are alive and well. Now that she has settled down a bit, she is allowing her maternal instincts to lead her behavior, and she is a good mama. Eric was, of course, disappointed that half the litter was stillborn, but with first-time deliveries, one never knows what to expect. I believe The Bibbed Wonder and The Bean returned to the house around 1:30 or so. The Bean is still asleep on the couch. My considerate little imp did not want to awaken me and quietly slipped onto the couch to sleep away. My poor bibbed wonder was up at 6:00 a.m. to do the barn chores and check on his new charges. I believe a nap is in order once he has a filling breakfast.
I am so proud of my bib overall-wearing husband and my little farm girl. They are both so caring and attentive to the needs and comfort of our animals. It is a demanding, busy lifestyle that we choose to live, but it is so rewarding. This is an experience that builds character in my girl, gives her such vital life lessons, and pushes her to go above and beyond for the creatures she cares for...she amazes me.
If you follow us on Facebook, I am sure The Bibbed Wonder will be posting pictures of his new tiny bacon seeds. He is like a proud papa when it comes to his beloved piggies. We will spend the day caring for our new mama and her little ones, making moisturizers, and hopefully sneaking in a much needed nap. I hope you find your day fulfilling and rewarding. As always, dear reader, stay safe, stay smart, send out some good vibes for the new mama and babies, and keep washing your hands.