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  • Writer's pictureTina

A Refresher

After last week’s debacle with our Scarlet dying after giving birth to 11 piglets, the weekend was a much-needed refresher of how marvelous and rewarding farm life can be. Our big girl, Edna, aka Special Eddie, gave birth to a litter of eight healthy piglets. Eddie didn’t need any help and the delivery went the way we wish all deliveries would go. My bibbed wearing buddy needed a break from what seems like a never-ending run of bad luck.

Eddie is a big girl; she weighs in at close to 600 lbs. On Saturday, before going to market, at the uncivilized hour of 3 a.m., she decided she had had enough of her isolation in her stall and wanted to go outside. It felt eerily like a replay of the beginning of labor with Scarlet. The Bibbed Wonder was unable to keep her from charging the door of her stall but he was able to coax her back in with milk before she got too far. He breathed a huge sigh of relief and off to market we went.

Upon coming home, he of course made a bee line for the barn to check on his girl and the orphaned baby piglets. All was well with the babies; however, Eddie had destroyed her stall. She had knocked over her water barrel…which was no small feat. The barrel is a 55-gallon olive barrel with a drinking nozzle on it specifically for pigs. Not only had she knocked over a barrel filled with 55 gallons of water and ratcheted to the wall, she had ripped the stainless-steel nozzle off like an angry child would break a pencil. Apparently, she had also attempted to climb the wall and had in turn torn the hinged door off the little nursery area The Bibbed Wonder created for the babies so they could get away from mama if need be. Now do you understand why I fear these large creatures?

She was still irate when Eric went into the barn. He is fearless when it comes to dealing with these large and often intimidating girls. He cleaned up the mess she had made, put a fan on to dry her stall, and later gave her fresh bedding. She was still very anxious and aggressive but her gave her a bale of hay which helped to appease her. She then focused her angry energy on building a nest. It appeared as though her water had just broken and she was making a considerable amount of milk. This could only mean that it would not be long until the babies would begin to arrive. We all held our breath in anticipation.

Fortunately, all went well. She delivered eight little perfect piglets without any trouble. When she was finished, she settled in to being the good mama she is and all was right in the world. Eric was finally able to breath a sigh of relief and take a brief respite until the next feeding of the orphaned babies. We have one more week of feeding the babies every few hours. Thank goodness, they are all doing well at this point and are beginning to nibble at solid feed. Once they are able to eat solid feed, they grow at a phenomenal rate and they are a bit hardier. We still have several weeks before they are out of the woods but we are hopeful they will thrive.

On a final note, Eric was able to speak with our veterinarian about the passing of Scarlet. The veterinarian feels that Scarlet had an allergic reaction to the penicillin shot Eric gave her. With the spike in temperature, the discoloration, and the strangled noise she made upon passing, he feels she went into anaphylactic shock. He prescribed medicine and non-penicillin antibiotics for us to keep on hand if the need should ever arise again. We feel a mixture of relief that it was not a disease that could be spread to the rest of the herd but are saddened and grieved at the thought of it being something we could have prevented. With knowledge comes power and we will be better prepared if it ever occurs again. It is good to know that it is also a genetic trait and her sister, Eddie, as well as all the little ones have a possibility of having the same allergy.

I hope your weekend was equally as uplifting and refreshing dear reader. As always, continue to stay safe, continue to exercise common sense, and of course, continue to wash your hands.

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