Highlights of the Week
It’s been a busy week here at the farm, dear reader. In total, we have nineteen new baby goats. We had an unexpected birth of quintuplets born to our Tiger Lily. We also had a surprising set of quadruplets born to our Boer goat, Waddles. Not only do we have baby goats everywhere, we now have seven little piglets born to Rose, one of the three Large Black Hog sows we traveled across the state to pick up. I would like to say it was an easy week, but alas, it was full of challenges.
For the most part, the goats’ births went well. Waddles is Jordan’s Boer goat, and she is a loving seasoned mother. However, a few years ago, Waddles developed a terrible infection in her left teat. The condition was so aggressive she ended up losing that teat. It was a scary time; there is a condition called blue bag mastitis that is very serious. Does who develop blue bag or gangrene mastitis have to be culled. We were fearful Waddles had developed this, but the vet assured us it was a case of acute mastitis. With strong antibiotics, cleaning, and care, Waddles was okay, but the effects of the infection took their toll. Waddles lost the use of that teat, and she is now down to one teat.
What are the chances a goat with one teat has four babies at one time, right? Well, dear reader, it’s us, and although the odds are improbable, it happened. Luckily, we have very docile, accepting goats. We took the runt of the quads and placed her with Flora, who delivered twins simultaneously. The little girl got a good beginning on Flora. She had plenty of colostrum and got on her feet. However, Flora has noticed the difference and will not allow her to nurse without intervention. We have several goats who produce too much milk for their babies to handle, so we will put them on the milk stand, let them eat to their heart’s content, and allow the little quads to nurse. It is a system that works well, and we don’t have any bottle babies. Crisis averted.
On Wednesday night, one of Eric’s porcine princesses went into labor. She is a first-time mom, but the Large Black Hog breed is usually very calm, has a strong mothering instinct, and births go well. The Bibbed Wonder went out to the barn at eleven. At 12:15, I got a phone call asking me to come to the barn and help him with the pig. The poor man texted me three times, but I slept through the text. I went to the barn to find Eric in a panic. The mother pig was extremely nervous, wouldn’t settle down, and wouldn’t permit the piglets to nurse. Eric was trying his best to calm her, but his presence appeared to heighten her anxiety. As an outsider looking at the situation with fresh eyes, I told Eric I thought he should back off and let her get accustomed to the little ones. Pigs are large, cumbersome creatures with very little grace or agility. This mama was not being careful at all with her little ones. She pushed them roughly and even stepped on one. It was hard to watch. The Bibbed Wonder finally took a break and went to the garage. I stepped outside the stall and quietly watched her. Once she was alone, she settled down and allowed the babies to nurse.
Although irritated with the whole situation, Eric was relieved she allowed them to nurse. However, once again, she was pacing and nervous, and the little ones were in jeopardy of being squished by their mom. Eric kept removing them from her direct presence and placed them in a warming box with a heat lamp inside the stall but boxed off. The mama pig was unhappy with this setup, and we were afraid she would knock down the heat lamp and burn down the barn.
Finally, at 3:00 a.m., I told my fussing bib overall wearing pig lover to leave her alone and accept that he may lose some little ones. It was time to allow nature to take its course, and he needed to go to bed. Actually, these words were spoken rather harshly, and although the same sentiment, much more colorful language was used. I believe I may have dropped the f-bomb. It was three in the morning; I couldn’t be held responsible for foul language. Eric grudgingly agreed, turned the lights out, and went to bed.
In the morning, seven of the eight piglets were alive. One little fella who was just asking to be squashed because he wouldn’t stay away from his mama’s back end didn’t make it. The piglets were nestled in with their mom, snuggled under her long floppy ears or under her neck. She was calm, they were safe and warm, and she appeared to have settled into motherhood. Eric unplugged the worrisome heat lamp, quietly slid fresh water and food into her, and left her alone. All was right in his pig loving world.
Atop all the hubbub of baby season, we are also trying to prepare for the Saturday event. We anticipate one or two more does will deliver today. Hopefully, this will occur without incident, and we can get the mowing and decorating done. Honestly, there is very little to do besides mow, place signs, run ribbon for parking, and do a little cleaning up. With this outdoor event, the prep is pretty easy.
The weather for tomorrow is supposed to be beautiful. All the mama goats had their babies outside yesterday, so we hope they will be outside and active tomorrow with the warmer weather. Eric is going to open the pasture next to the driveway. Perhaps you will get an up-close view of our beautiful babies. The mama pig is still too nervous to be outside with her little ones. She will remain in the quiet of the barn and left in solitude. Eric just reported that she squished another baby, so we are down to six little pigs. Sigh. There has to be some forgiveness and understanding for a first-time mom. It’s disappointing to lose little ones, but it has to be expected and accepted.
It will be good to finish a busy, stressful week with friends. I hope to see you here at the farm tomorrow from 9-1. We will have our new hand soaps available as well as our new spring scents. I hope you come with an appetite and enjoy the day. As always, dear reader, stay safe, be smart; we hope to see you tomorrow and keep washing your hands.